Those two days in '64 continue to haunt me, and I still have regular 'flash-backs'. Maybe writing about them will finally lay them to rest.
It was the last day of term, and my last day as a schoolboy.
The headmaster had invited me and about four other 'worthies' to tea in his study at 3pm sharp. It was served in dainty bone china cups by his diminutive and long-suffering wife.
As we sipped at our cups, he explained that a new phase of our lives was just beginning, the world was our Oyster, and that we should grasp all opportunities with both hands. He rambled on about duty, kindness, ambition, and being 'humble'. It was a tedious lecture, and we all would have preferred to be elsewhere.
Then he came to the most important part of his well rehearsed moralistic banter (we knew it was coming). He bored us with a short lecture about alcohol, and the opposite sex. We all wondered why we hadn't collectively turned-down his kind invitation and gone to the Pub' instead.
That night I was alone; everyone else had gone home. The dining hall was closed, so I ate no supper. The ancient rooms and corridors where I'd spent the previous four years were empty and strangely silent. I had never witnessed them like that before. I walked around in eerie silence, visiting rooms that I'd not previously entered. I was saying a permanent goodbye to a former life that I'd loved.
In the early morning I tidied-up and packed my small suitcase (my trunk and box had gone in advance). As I had about a couple of hours to wait, I made a final quick 'contemplation visit' to the cathedral before heading for the railway station.
I felt as if I was cutting an invisible umbilical cord. I unscrewed the very battered brass door knobs from my study door, put them in my bag, and left (I still have the door knobs). The building's interior was to be totally gutted and refurbished during that Summer holiday, so I was probably the last boy to see it in its old state, and I had saved a souvenir from certain death. The building itself was said to be the oldest residential building in Europe (built circa 970 AD).
As I passed under the great college archway (The Porta, above, circa 1400), I felt as if a huge and important part of my life had suddenly been taken from me. A very strong sense of 'belonging' had gone forever. I felt very lonely as I walked by myself down the hill to the station.
On the train to London, I remember feeling uneasy. My boater, crisp suit, and new 'old boys tie', confirmed that I was somehow still a 'schoolboy', but in my mind I had suddenly become an adult.
At Victoria Station I dumped my bag at the Left-Luggage, and met-up with three school-friends who'd left the previous day. We then had one final meal together at a nearby Italian restaurant that we'd visited at every beginning and end of term for the past three years. When we explained to the waiter that this was our final visit, the manager came out with a complimentary bottle of Chianti, and said how much he would miss our visits. He had no idea that two amongst us would become household names.
It was all very emotional; I knew that I would miss those meals far more than he would miss us.
Bizarrely, I had not given much thought to what I might do now that I was no longer at school. I'd turned-down an offer to study Architecture (don't ask), and was at something of a loss. A friend suggested that we both offer our services to The London Stock Exchange; so that is what we did. We both hated it, and some time later went into business together in antiques; it was only then that my adult life really began. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, until college beckoned.