I am not by nature the most gregarious of people, which is perhaps why I am careful to maintain my oldest friendships. And I have been lucky enough that the friends of my teenage years also still some of my closest. Over something like thirty years, despite the inevitable twists and turns of life we have all remained in touch, albeit rarely managing to all be in the same place at the same time.
However Friday was one of those occasions. We met for the funeral of a man who played a bigger part in those formative years than any of us realised at the time, the headmaster of our school. The school was a Catholic one, and the man was a priest - but that is in many ways irrelevant - he was quite simply a good man with some genuine wisdom, and one of those rare self-effacing people who exert a greater influence on people than they ever know.
It is said that there are two types of atheists - Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists. And I know that I fall into the first category. Despite the fact that none of us have stayed with the hocus-pocus to which we were subjected in our youth, we did honour the occasion the man, and perhaps the passing of our own youth, in authentic Catholic fashion by following the funeral with a piss-up of truly epic proportions.
It was a bitter-sweet melancholic evening that perhaps only we can understand, but which I felt it only right to share here.