The Thamensian

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‘New friend and a new enemy, all in the same day ...’

I AM standing in a field in Derbyshire.

It is minus 500 degrees and my fingers are threatening to give up the same ghost that my toes abandoned ten minutes ago.

Ray Mears and Bear Grylls are crying in the corner and brass monkeys are attempting to start the soldering iron. In short, it is cold.

A young man approaches. He seems friendly and clearly has no idea that I can snap at the least provocation, or that the last time I was in a field I was haranguing a vicar.

“I recognise you,” says the stranger. “You are from Thame aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I reply, showing my vast social skills. “Me too!” he claims. Note that I use the word ‘claim’ here, as any old stranger could come up to me in a field in Derbyshire and claim to know me.

“Did you go to Lord Bills?” I test him with. He replies immediately: “Yes. I was head boy”.

Hmm. I have no answer to this. I was not head boy.

I have only vague recollections of being part of a rebellion that refused to be prefects since that was part of the elitist grammar school system that had no place in a modern day comprehensive. (That plus we didn’t want to have to guard the gates at lunch-time when we could be at home sampling my dad’s home brew).

“Great,” I continue. “So, where do you live?”

“Well my parents live on Southern Road,” he offers. Got him.

The next question will show if he is really from Thame. “So, you must know ... Janet?”

His smile grows even wider. “Of course I do, she is great isn’t she? Everyone knows Janet.”

Well what do you know? I have a new friend.

Over the next few minutes we discuss mutual teachers at Lord Bills and a shared admiration for Mr Jones, a teacher who helped shape both our future careers (my new friend works in sport for the BBC while I stand in fields talking to people and freezing for a living, just like Mr Jones taught me in PE). We both used to drink in the Rising Sun. We have mutual acquaintances. We get on just great.

“Thame is a top place to live and I miss it,” says my friend, who we will call Mark. Mainly because that is his name.

We go our separate ways but I am happy to have met this fine fellow and am really pleased how friendly the people of Thame are.

I am still smiling when my BlackBerry bings with a new email.

I open it happily. “Dear Thamensian, You sir, are a self obsessed, self righteious ****.

That is all.”

I am appalled. What is the world coming to? Who would ever think of sending an email that spelt righteous like that?