His marriage, he said, had collapsed around the time he had started suffering from depression.
He said his wife ‘hated’ him, though he still loved her, but she had cast him adrift.
He made some dismissive remarks about my career as a journalist, and was quick to tell me he drove the Ferrari he’d always wanted.
He was wealthy, he mixed with powerful people, and he lived in the most beautiful house in the most prestigious area of his particular suburb.
We drank lager and blackcurrant in country pubs, and wrote each other florid love letters.
I still have mine from him, the prose as purple today as it was then. He wore flared trousers and Fred Perry shirts, and gave me the album A Star Is Born so we could sing along with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, pretending ours was a doomed, destructive love affair like theirs, rather than the callow teenage liaison it was. My dreams were to get into university, to write for a living and to travel.
He scoffed at me, wondering why he should take advice from me when, he said, I was no more ‘sussed’ than he was.
What I’d once seen as chutzpah began to look like arrogance; playfulness became aggression, and he was hard work. Quite brutally as I recall, in a matter-of-fact conversation by the lockers outside Room 18, explaining it was pointless to be together, since we’d both be heading off to pastures new quite soon.
He argued, told me I’d regret ‘dumping’ him, then stormed off in yet another huff. Then we lost touch until last year, when I saw his name on an internet forum dedicated to our old school.
Fast forward 33 years and that same ‘boy’ and I are speeding through the dusk in his flaming red Ferrari.
I am nervous, but he seems relaxed, chatting about his bad day at the office, and describing his second home in the country. The march of modern technology makes it easier than ever — I had stumbled across Tom’s name on the internet — but with hindsight I think the past is best left well and truly alone.
Tom wanted to be stinking rich, and to own a Ferrari — ambitions I neither understood nor shared.