School reunions are, in many ways, a wonderful institution. The now abolished state grammar schools in England used to trace the destinies of their pupils to the third or even fourth generation. I regret that, with the rise of so-called comprehensive schools in Britain, this tradition is dying out. The factory-like school buildings usually decorated by obscene graffiti and the alienation of the majority of the pupils exclude a love of their alma mater and the crude input of politically biased information during the school years together with a disabling curriculum are best left abandoned and forgotten.
Nevertheless, I could not resist highlighting the absurdity these grammar school gatherings can produce. Generally, only the most successful former pupils attend these events with the inevitable of jealousies, rivalries and naked competition, all cloaked discreetly within the confines of English politeness rituals.
For this reason, I chose the theme ‘Afar and Asunder’ from my old school song (the school was failing grammar school undergoing abolition in the grim north of England) in order to highlight the absurdity of highly successful pupils being confronted with those whose lives have been a litany of disasters. This is also a time when school romances can, even in later life, become dangerous if the protagonists are suffering from failing marriages. In addition, there is the absurdity of sensitive, serious pupils meeting others whose only goal was to disrupt classes and humiliate the teachers.
The tone of the playlet is one of gentle irony. The wonderful other-worldly headmistress reflects types who are fortunately still with us today – despite everything.