I am one away from twenty posts. What better way to end the teens than to talk, for an hour and a half, to Derek Whetton; Newton Burgoland lad, fellow school bus passenger and childhood friend.
The last time we spoke, we were at the end of our teens. He was going into accountancy, I was wondering what on earth to do with my life. It was 1986. A lot of water has gone under the bridge at Help-Out Mill since then.
‘Miss Tellis’ he says as he answers the phone.
I’d like to share in detail what we talked about but I didn’t take any notes. We talked ten to the dozen, not having heard each other’s voices for twenty-eight years. The last time we spoke, middle age was what happened to other people, computer games came on tapes and Simply Red were Holding Back the Years.
My phone runs out of battery half way through the call. I run downstairs to pick up the plugged in version, he hasn’t taken it as an insult and he rings me back before I can redial.
He tells me that he thinks I should make this blog into a book, then at least I’ll be sure of selling 364 copies. I tell him that I have just heard that 42,050 copies of ‘If my Dad were a Dog’ have sold and now that it’s coming out in Mandarin Chinese, I hope to be calling him next time from my 40 foot yacht. He hasn’t heard of my book! Where has he been? Everyone else is sick of it and waiting for a new title!
He is a Grandad. What? So many of my school friends are grandparents. I have a seven year old closer in age to Derek’s grandchild than his children. He tells me that he went on Facebook to keep in contact with his wife’s friends because as a teacher, she wanted to steer clear of it. And after 28 years of trying to forget all his Ibstock/Ashby friends, we all rush him on the internet. Now we have Facebook chats as if we are all under the ever watchful eye of the librarian at Ashby Grammar School.
We talk about the sad loss of Rik Mayall yesterday, Derek watching Ade Edmonson playing folk music, his career changes, my career changes, life being an eventful journey and he asks if it was me that worked on a phone sex line.
‘Not me’ I said and then I went on to tell him about a job I went for when I was backpacking round Australia. The job description was really deceiving. It was as a… no I won’t tell you that story. I told Derek and, when the school librarian wasn’t watching he put up a post on Facebook saying:-
“To the wonderful Miss Tellis.
What a pleasure to catch up after 28 years. Don’t leave it so long next time.
I will always think of you as a little hand maiden in training!!”
I would have hit him with my pencil case if I could.
Here he is on the school bus. The boy next door.