Friendship is one of those unusual things in life.
Good friends are thin on the ground at times but are true forever.
Most of us go through life making a few close friends and probably hundreds of mates and acquaintances.
Due to modern life being so busy we can tend, at times, to lose touch with our friends. They may be gone from our recent and day-to-day memories but they are never gone from our hearts.
Four years ago, just after I retired, I thought that I would like to find out what had happened to all my school friends from the 1950s and 1960s.
I had stayed in touch with a small number over the years through work and sport but most had disappeared off my radar. I decided, together with one other old friend to organise a reunion of our 1966 third form boys' school class.
They were, mostly, a great bunch of guys. Using my old sleuthing skills and networks I managed to track down about 80 of the 120 boys who started college together in 1966.
At least eight had died over the years. I found them all over the world as one would expect nowadays.
After a bit of letter-writing and some organising of venues and meals, around 60 managed to meet in Lower Hutt for a two-day reunion. Many came from overseas and, of course, most from New Zealand.
Most of us left school around 1969 and 1970. Many went into government careers, on to university and the professions or into trades or their own businesses.
A few disappeared overseas, coming back to New Zealand in later years as very successful businessmen.
Not many seemed to have failed at life, which I expect is a credit to our mostly working class parents and the discipline and self-belief instilled in us by our excellent teachers.
During a lifetime of work, many also found time for tertiary education if this was not an option for them straight after college.
What was humbling and amazing is that, after a brief get-to-know-you period of a few minutes, we were back where we were 50-odd years ago being, in our minds at least, young guys again.
Tall tales were told by those of a story-telling bent. Old songs were sung with the voices a bit affected by age but still strong and clear as we were taught.
Arguments continued on why so-and-so got booted out of the Second XV to be replaced by so-and-so, memories of things long forgotten were rekindled and we all caught up with each other's lives and families over the two-day period.
This may sound a bit wet but I was reminded just how good these guys were as boys and are now as men approaching the end of their working lives and looking forward to some easy years.
Many are still practising Christians. Many, like me, are lapsed but respectful. Many are leaders in their communities and now, after or nearing retirement, give back to their communities constantly.
We talked of teenage romances, usually with the girls from Sacred Heart, and where those girls ended up.
Quite a few eventually married their teenage sweethearts and most seemed to have weathered the storm of "domestic bliss", raising good kids and settling into a life of indulging grandchildren.
The gay guys had "come out" and felt safe with their old friends. They always were but times were different back then.
We talked of friends who had died, both men and women, and remembered the antics they got up to as a tribute to them all.
We talked about putting a few scrums down as the nights wore on but we were all talk. Too many false hips, bad lungs, dicky tickers, broken backs, glasses and false teeth for that sort of carry on.
Most of us played sport, especially rugby, into middle age with the usual varying degrees of ability or lack of. Sport was a huge part of our school life. Playing rugby was compulsory unless you had a note from mummy or the doctor. Not many boys took this option for obvious reasons. Athletics and cricket were the summer options. All part of producing a well-rounded young individual for the vagaries of life I guess.
I am very proud of my old school St Bernard's College and thankful for the advantages and friendships it has given me in life.
It is not a "posh" school, just a private school for boys from the working end of town. In my day it only provided either a professional or a commercial education.
Many of my old friends now still meet or contact each other regularly again and are now making new histories.
There is a lot to be said for old friends.