Perhaps McLuhan was right – or is now right – that the world is a global village. I was playing some music today, and – and it is curious how music has this capacity – it occurred to me that the first time I had ever heard it was a couple of months after moving to Exeter, that is, in about September or October 1973. I could remember where I was, and with whom – a friend called Anna, whom I first met on a ‘prove-you-can-deal-with-children’ week which preceded my PGCE. I can’t remember there being any other student teachers there, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it was a student-bonding exercise – it was deep in Somerset – and there were no children at the place as such.
My PGCE couse at Exeter was the only co-educational year, as such, of my entire education. From 1957 until 1969, I was at all-boys’ schools, and between 1970 and 1973, I was in the very last contingent of students whose Oxford colleges were unmixed (about six colleges cracked the year after I left, including mine, St. Catherine’s). It is true that lectures were mixed, although not tutorials, or the fashionably new ‘seminars’. It is not true, however, that I went to many lectures. (Debate about this another day.) So you could actually say that Anna was the first female co-student I encountered on my way through the system.
And she came to mind, as I say, just because I remembered hearing the songs. She also, it occurred to me, had once given me the cover of an LP because it was an original, and I coveted it. She just said, ‘You have it.’ ( I didn’t quite trust my memory, so I looked; it says ‘Annie’s’ on the reverse.)
What, I wondered (since she has a memorable Eastern European surname) if she was still in the world? Google turned up three Tasmanian hits. Possible. I had last heard of her in Papua New Guinea, in perhaps 1974 or 1975. So, I thought, what if she were on Facebook?
I know Facebook takes a pasting for a series of reasons, and that it is forever being accused of identity theft etc. etc., but it took me thirty seconds to type in the name, one further second to find a photo that looked highly likely, one further second to request a connection (or to request, in its slightly soppy Facebooky way, that she be ‘added as my friend’), and about thirty minutes before Anna, whom I haven’t seen for 35 years, to reply – not from Tasmania, but from England, where she is on holiday.
Say what you like, that’s a delight. And she has already reminded me of an incident which I had forgotten, but which has lurked in my head for all that time, one which involved a local hunt surrounding my car. I suspect we can remember everything. We just need to be prodded a little.