Scraping the hard frost off the car windscreen this morning I came along my old deputy headmaster who calling upon his daughter,(who lives in the house opposite) came over to wish me "Happy New Year".
We shook hands warmly and made superficial conversation about how each spent the festive period. As we chatted I looked beyond his words, beyond his wrinkles and I attempted to look at the history we shared in common & that was still apparent in & around his eyes.
In his eyes I saw reflected my memories of my school years. Lines of young men wearing the same school uniform. Some giggling, others poking & teasing one another chatting noisily as they left the school hall. I heard voices of authority telling them to "be quiet!". In his eyes today I saw his present and moreover his past temperament-quiet, yet menacing in his authority. Passively imposing the power of his position. I didn't see any any love for his past experience, rather I saw a resignation for his role at that time it being his 'lot in life', his duty.
Around his eyes today though I felt I saw a softening. Expressed perhaps the wrinkles in his face, around his eyes- the 'crows feet' as if time itself had pecked & prodded-as crows do in a meadow-across the meadows of his life. I felt & saw a thawing expressed by the tones in his voice, in his attempts to find a common theme in our conversation. But yet..... I still found this ground as hard as the very ground upon which we both trod upon this frosty January morning. Little equity did I feel in the relationship even after all these years.
He was & still is my Deputy Headmaster. Though now in 2010 I felt no fear nor awe of him Just an awareness of the distance that was established all those years past & still exists to this day, & that I felt sadly biting my heart as strongly & as sharply as the cold stung my face this morning.
I wonder if 'Sir' felt it too??