Who the hell is Barry Flint?

I HAVE just received an e-mail from Barry Flint.

I was at school with Barry. I know this because he tells me.

Apparently my contact details are on a website detailing people who left school with me in 1961. He told me that, too.

God knows how they got on this website, but I couldn’t resist a look. Sure enough, there’s my name: Left Chiswick Grammar School in 1961.

Beverley Dine’s name is there, too, and John Collard’s, and their e-mail addresses. Buggered if I can remember Barry Flint though.

It was a curious feeling, especially for someone like me who hasn’t been in touch with anyone from my school days since I emptied a drawer full of shredded exercise books over the headmaster’s head.

I felt… wanted. Here was this person whose name meant nothing to me, wanting to know if I was still there and what I was doing. It was like fan mail.

The down side is that he could have been some kind of nutter. Might still be. Someone who collects body parts of former class mates and mounts them on the walls in the cellar with the name and date underneath.

So I didn’t reply. I mean, this is a dangerous age. You can’t be too careful. And it’s not as if I remembered him, or anything. He must have been pretty nondescript, and they say they’re the ones who turn out to have bits of torso blocking the drains.

But I did shoot off a quick note to Beverly Dine and John Collard. I had a bit of a thing going with Bev, even for a short time after I left school. And John Collard and I were mates right from primary school.

It’s been two months now and I haven’t heard a word.

At first I thought they might have changed e-mail addresses; then the awful truth dawned on me.

They don’t remember me! Somewhere out there in the electronic website soup Beverley Dine and John Collard are scratching their heads and saying: “I don’t remember him. Must’ve been pretty nondescript. Probably one of those people who block the drains with bits of torso.”

But they were my friends! We shared secrets. How could they not remember me!

Or maybe they remembered me and thought: “What the hell is he bothering me for” and sent my message to the trash bin.

I had no idea until this happened that I had built my self-esteem on quicksand. I have lived my life in a fuzzy nostalgia of warm thoughts about old friends and teenage bonds, but I obviously meant nothing to them.

Well I hope they are scanning the same website at this very moment and saying: “Good heavens, there’s my old mate Barry Flint; I must get in touch with him.”

If there’s any justice Barry Flint’s memory will retain not the slightest remnant of Beverley Dine or John Collard, and serve them right, too.

On reflection I might get in touch with Barry Flint myself, whoever he is. Or was. At least he remembers me. I could grow to like him. I might even grow to remember him.

He might have a cellar, too, and he might let me share it.