This reunion happened on 3 November 2010 in the middle of the Southern Indian Ocean and it stretched out over several days. Never would I have thought that we would meet again some 9,000 miles (14,480 kilometres) from where we were first thrown together. The place a beautiful island called Mauritius.
Back in time, January, the year 1963 a bleak UK winter and each of us are travelling by British Rail to reach our destination. Thomas (Tom) travelling from his beloved Scotland and myself from the South of England. Trains were delayed and sometimes halted by the severe frost and ice. Nevertheless, we were on our way to a new adventure which would begin at RAF Cosford near Wolverhampton. Listed in those days as the Royal Air Force’s number 2 school of technical training, on our evening arrival it offered a depressing sight in the darkness of that winter. External water heating pipes had cracked due to the frost and icicles could be seen hanging here and there where leaking water had immediately frozen on contact with the air. We were issued extra blankets and housed in wooden huts with a single coal stove for heating. How fifteen year old boys just out of school and probably, for the first time, separated from their families stuck out this introduction into manhood is still a mystery today. However, that was the start of what would be our lengthy training period and our time together. After graduation we would never meet again at least not during our working lives.
Here we are in idyllic settings, 46 years later, old boys having found themselves first on Facebook and now in person. I am retired and living in Mauritius while Tom has another year before retirement and living in Scotland. Thomas was always interested and involved in boxing so it is not surprising that today he has a column on the subject in two British newspapers. Needless to say that our time together on the island was charged full of memories and catch-up conversations which probably left our ladies in the exclusion zone.
This time has been an emotional one. Finding a friend from days of youth so many years later and in the knowledge that the person is doing well in life is in itself gratifying. What we experienced together so many years ago created a special bond. This comradeship transcends time and is fortified when and wherever a reunion is held. A treasured moment which is truly a reunion of a lifetime.