Jayne Dawson: Older and wiser? You’re ready for a school reunion

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What’s your view on school reunions then?

You might right now be having a funny turn at the very thought; shuddering with distaste, sobbing at the notion. All of that.

I can sort of see why. I went to one when I was a lot younger than I am now.

I found it a bit of an ordeal. I felt like a lot of effort would have been saved if we had all worn badges proclaiming our name, marital status, number of children, annual income and whether we had achieved fully detached.

Yes I know, a lot of information for one badge but none of us needed reading glasses at that stage so the type could have been small.

But you get the point. There was a competitive edge, a lot of unspoken comparison between the laughs about teachers and times past. You could feel it in the atmosphere. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was just there.

And there is another type of reunion too: the type where people find themselves new partners. I think those reunions reached peak popularity a decade or so ago in the days of Friends Reunited, but people remember these things, and it tends to put them off.

I actually attended an all-girls’ school so the chances of a partner-swapping reunion were statistically a bit less, but my friend who went to a proper mixed school said the reunions were legendary for picking up where you left off, so to speak.

Anyway, here’s the thing. I actually went to a fantastic school reunion recently, one which blew all others out of the water. The difference? Older and wiser.

If ever you require proof that age makes you kinder, wiser and all-round nicer, attend a reunion when you are getting on a bit.

You will find the edge has gone. All that exhausting anxiety about keeping up: about having the best job, living in the right place; about your children going to the right schools; about having the best holidays and a decent car. All mercifully gone.

I can’t tell you exactly when and why it happens.

My mother has a theory that women are nicer to each other as they age because their changing hormones allow them to stop subconsciously competing for the men. It’s a bit hunter-gatherer but then that’s what we are. She could be right.

I think it might be to do with the workplace. Women of my generation start to leave work in their mid-50s - a combination of wanting to and being forced to - even though their state pension has been taken away from them, but that’s another story.

But suddenly the daily grind is less and relationships become the most important part of life.

Anyway, a combination of forces ranging from the battering of life to the wisdom of experience means that you look at that woman who once upset you when you were 12 and realise that was not a significant event.

What is significant is the history you share. You were together during those precious few years at that impressionable age when everything is heightened.

You are in a room with women with whom you shared your first cigarette, did your first ever in-public dance at the youth club, or talked to your first real boys..

You shared confidential information about everything, you were more intimate with these people, in your young, angst-ridden, naive ways than you would be with almost anyone again.

Sometimes that meant brutal unhappiness, sometimes euphoric highs but, boy, was it intense.

It means that, in the end, you are comfortable with each other. Admittedly, it does your head in a bit - you know these people and yet you don’t.

But you are old enough to be okay with that also. You know these people enough to enjoy reliving the bit of history you shared, and that is precious. After all, some of you didn’t get to make it this far.

Reunions - I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Yorkshire is not like that

Michael Parkinson has had a fantastic career, the stuff of dreams.

He went from working on the Barnsley Chronicle to interviewing the biggest stars of the day on television. And he is still working at the age of 81. His latest project is a book about his relationship with Muhammad Ali.

All great, but I wish he would stop playing the Yorkshire card. Michael lives in Surrey with Mary, his wife of more than 50 years, yet he still persists in being a professional Yorkshireman.

Okay, I get that it is part of his television identity: the bluff, genial, Yorkshire bloke, but it doesn’t have to figure in everything.

Back in the 1970s Michael interviewed Helen Mirren, and their meeting is shown every now and again as an example of rampant sexism in action.

It does make uncomfortable viewing when Michael talks about her “sluttish eroticism” but I have always being willing to accept his explanation that that is how men talked to women back then. I was there: they did. It was awful.

But now he has added another explanation: “Am I sexist? No, I’m Yorkshire” he is quoted as saying.

Please, Michael. Don’t do that.

Yorkshire is a beautiful county full of the same mix of people as anywhere else.

Don’t portray our lovely region as a haven for out-of-date views. You may have moved away, but we deserve better than that.

It’s our palace so we need to fix it

Some people are having a fit of the vapours about the cost of the Buckingham Palace refurb.

And it’s a good old sum at £370m, though really I don’t know why I’m bothering to write the figure, since an amount that large means nothing to me.

But really, it’s got to be done. Anyone who says otherwise is a numpty.

The palace is an iconic building, one of the world’s best-known tourist attractions and a fantastic UK money-spinner.

It hasn’t had a facelift since before the Second World War and to leave it to fall any further into decay would be madness.

And as for all this talk about the Queen paying, why should she? It’s not her house, it’s in public ownership and by all accounts she doesn’t even much like the place.

The palace is ours, we just ask her to live in it. Get over yourselves with all the moaning.

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