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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
'My Friends Reunited reunion'
At a Friends Reunited reunion
From left, Sigi Daniel, Fifi Hodgeson and Callum Jacobs
A website which puts old school friends back in touch is a hit in the UK. But what's it like meeting up with people you last saw behind the bike sheds? Callum Jacobs, 31, now a teacher in London, finds out.

It was with some trepidation that I registered with Friends Reunited a few months ago, slightly concerned that some of the oddballs and psychos I'd gone to school with might try to get in touch.

Callum Jacobs
"I registered with some trepidation"
Perhaps more alarming was the realisation of just how much time has passed since my school days.

Browsing the brief biographies of my peers, I noticed not only how many of them had got married and had children, but that half were on second or third marriages with housefuls of kids. I shuddered at the thought that people I'd last seen flicking each other with wet towels now had small children of their own.

First contact

It wasn't long before I received an e-mail from someone I hadn't seen for years, suggesting we get together. She was still in contact with some mutual friends and we arranged to meet for dinner. It seemed like a good idea.


We had been drawn together at the age of 12 by a mutual love of Boots Country Born setting gel

My only solid memories of her were of a wildly charismatic and slightly mad girl of 12. Nineteen years ago she had become my first proper girlfriend.

We arranged to meet in Covent Garden: me, my first love Sigi, Fifi and Bronwen, each of whom was stuck in my memory from early adolescence.

I recognised Bronwen first. She really didn't look a day older than when I had last seen her 15 years earlier. Fifi looked like her older sister. Sigi was late - so no change there.

Bronwen Buckeridge and Sigi Daniel
Bronwen Buckeridge and Sigi Daniel
After a moment's awkwardness we were soon chatting away like in the old days. But the topics of conversation had changed somewhat, with gardening, grey hairs and house prices replacing fave pop groups, how to get someone to buy cider for us and whether "Fatty" Ramsden had kissed Becky in PE.

Our lives had changed too. The wild girl of my earliest fantasies was now an investment banker. So was Fifi, and Bronwen did something very clever in new media.

We dredged up the past, of course: which of our friends had managed to kick their smack habits; who, shame of shame, had never left our small Sussex home town, and so on.

Bad hair days

The startling revelation of the night came when Sigi and I discussed our early romance. We had been drawn together at the age of 12 by a mutual love of David Bowie and Boots Country Born setting gel.

Sigi
Reminiscing about hair gel and David Bowie
I had always thought she had agreed to go out with me because I had dyed hair and was perhaps just a little bit wild and dangerous. Turns out the reasons were quite different: "You were such a nice polite boy," she said.

By the end of a thoroughly enjoyable evening, I think we all went away with slightly revised opinions of our school days - something I was pleasantly surprised to reassess after all this time.

But the acid test: will we meet up again? I hope so. But if that kid who always smelt of prawns and used to say hello by giving me a dead leg e-mails, I'll pretend I've moved to Kabul.


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