I’m not sure what made me do it. Perhaps it was my book launch last October. When I was going to give a lecture at London South Bank University I suddenly heard the cry of “annnimmaallll!!” across the lecture theatre, and there was Ferret loping across the place.
Now, if Ferret was going to turn up at my book launch then surely I could reconnect to all the guys I used to hang out with at Safeway. And for those of you wondering what I am talking about here – I worked at Safeway in Sandhurst, Berkshire, from 1987 to 1991. It was mainly a student job, stacking apples while I studied, but once I was supposed to be out in the world of work in 1990, the UK was in the midst of a recession. I stayed on working full-time at the supermarket until I could land my first job in technology – at Siemens Nixdorf in Bracknell. Thank you Siemens 🙂
But, after heading off to work at a Japanese bank in the City in 1992, and buying my first home in London in 1993, I pretty much lost touch with a whole group of friends back in Sandhurst.
And they all moved on to new places too. I used Facebook and Friends Reunited to track down a whole bunch of them and we arranged to meet at the Jolly Farmer pub in Collegetown, Sandhurst. So called, because it’s the part of Sandhurst right next door to the Royal Military Academy. We used to get Gurkhas tooled up with their big knives walking around the supermarket.
The pub looks OK from the outside. I even “walked” around the street using Google Streetview to see what has changed in 20 years. It looked OK, so I fixed the reunion there. However, this was never a great pub. It was always a bit rough, the kind of place with an old off-sales counter and snug. But I never figured it might actually be worse than it was 20 years ago!
Spit, sawdust, disinfectant… a strange smell in there… but it was our local pub 20 years ago so we had to do it…
Once everyone started gathering there, it was too late to move on to a nicer venue, so the Jolly it was! And that also meant that our plans for a curry were also dashed. No Raj Tandoori, just some grub from Skippers… ah it really was just like back in the old days!
It was great to see the old gang again. Only a few were missing. One or two were not found and a couple of them just couldn’t escape work or other commitments like a wedding… we got most of the old faces together though.
And Ferret even managed to entertain us all on the Jolly Farmer karaoke that evening…
Thanks to everyone who made it. It was a great night, despite the venue. People came from Doncaster, Dorchester, Farnham, London… all over the place and all back to the old Safeway supermarket. Which is now a Waitrose.
Next stop, Frome in Somerset in July. To meet the guy who hired most of us into Safeway. Ferret was supposed to call him up for this reunion, but after Mike didn’t answer the phone once, I think he gave up. At least it gives us all an excuse for a night out in the West country this summer…