"That girl you were just talking to? Becky."
"She's my date for Prom."
So I have a confession to make.
In this trilogy (and actually, possible quadrilogy) of blog posts documenting my last days at Ashcroft, I omitted one small detail from the first post.
Before heading off to the picnic, there was one thing I felt I still needed to do - especially as it was the last day.
I've known Becky Davies on and off for quite some time. We first met probably about 9 or 10 years ago, doing a holiday project at Group 64. We got on quite well - not exceptionally, but we definitely had a scene or two together in the 'Play in a week' that we put together that half term, and had a lot of fun doing it.
I then didn't see Becky again - that is, until, I went to the open evening for Ashcroft (or as it was then, ADT College).
After a brief bit of "Didn't we meet a few years ago at such-and-such", and a "Nice to see you again", we were both on our way.
The years went by, until finally, in Year 12 (a full 6 years later), our paths crossed for the third time. Having not gone to Ashcroft in Year 7, Becky had gone to Ricards Lodge High School, but decided she wanted to do the IB (International Baccalaureate) in Sixth Form, and so had come to Ashcroft.
Once again, there was the initial not-being-sure-is-that-that-person-I-met-at-that-thing-donkey's-years-ago, but we soon realised that our paths had crossed a third time, and became quite good friends over the following two years.
I hadn't gone to Prom 'with' anyone back in Year 11 - I hadn't really felt the need to. But Year 13 felt...different somehow. It felt a more momentous occasion.
It wasn't just celebrating the end of an era - it was celebrating the last time that many of us would all be in the one place, as a year group, and potentially the last time a lot of us saw each other (at least for a while).
I've never been very good at asking people out. I still don't really know what the right etiquette is (but then, does anyone? I sometimes wonder...)
But that day, on the last day of school, dressed head to toe in my Cat In The Hat costume...
|I didn't strike this pose before talking to her, before you ask...|
I can't remember exactly how the conversation went - it's a bit of a blur. But it was something along the lines of:
"Becky, can I ask you something?"
"Would you like....to go to Prom with me?" (Which, let's be honest, could've sounded more like 'Wooble-yaruff-leek....teebibble-gotwonga-Proomitawee')
Nevertheless, Becky seemed to make some sort of sense out of it. She thanked me, said it was very sweet of me, and yes, she would.
"Great..." I sighed, grinning from ear to ear, a combination of relief and elation that it had been a positive answer. "Well, I'll text you, nearer the time, and we can work out what we're doing!"
I then immediately felt the urge to tell someone, and luckily, saw Mÿca just behind me. I went over to her, and like the schoolgirl that I am, told her I had a date to Prom. Mÿca squealed with delight - she was so happy for me.
Truth be told, I'd wanted to ask Becky to Prom for a while. Meesh knew this - I'd confided in her about it a few weeks before. As I say, Year 13 Prom felt different, really. I wanted to go with someone, and I wanted to go with someone that meant something special.
Becky is a girl I've known for much of my life. She represents two worlds - the world of Group 64 that I have loved and adored so much, and the world of Ashcroft which I grew to love, too.
It felt right, fitting, and special that I was going to Prom with her.
The day arrives. Mum drives me to Becky's house (she had offered us both a lift), I ring the bell, and go upstairs to collect her.
Her parents recognised me, it seemed, from our various encounters over the years.
Now, one could argue it's simply terrible form not to compliment one's date to Prom on how they look - I would certainly agree. But when Becky stepped out of her room looking like this...
I couldn't help but exclaim, 'Wow...'.
I mean seriously, there's no denying it - she looked absolutely beautiful.
I gave Becky a corsage that I'd bought her (which her Mum rather liked too!) and we then all walked downstairs and out to the front of the house.
This is the only picture I can really find of the corsage - it unfortunately doesn't quite do it justice (given that you can't see it from the front) but it gives you some idea!
We arrived at the venue, and spotted my old mate Jonathan on the way - Jono had been away in New Zealand on a gap year, and I'd not seen much of him in that time, so it was great to have him back with us that evening. He was helping the rest of the Prom committee with the last-minute bits of organisation!
We walked into the venue, running into Mÿca, Cathie and Holly on the way. When we finally got up to the top of the building, where the dancefloor and balcony was, we ran into Bear and Philippa:
Lovely to see them both as always. Bear, in fact, had actually arrived back in London the week before, and hung out with me not long after arriving. So where with most of his former Ashcroft classmates he was saying 'I haven't seen you in ages/2 years', with me he was saying 'I haven't seen you since...what, last week?'
I introduced Becky to Bear and we hung out together. Cathie arrived and said hi and more and more people started heading to the dancefloor...
After a little dancing and gazing at the wonderful view out over the Thames...
We went back downstairs to the main bar. Jodyann arrived and received a warm welcome from us.
We all just basically began enjoying our evening. Me and Becky hung out a lot, but allowed each other some space too - naturally she was closer to her fellow IB friends than some others, and danced with them quite a bit too. But that isn't to say I didn't also enjoy hanging out with them... :)
More and more people arrived over the course of the evening. Jono got to finally join us, as did Michael (who had a prior engagement before he could come.)
|Jono: "That's the money shot, right there!"|
Soon things really started to kick off. While Cathie's sister Gemma and her boyfriend Ben were snapping photos (you can just about see them in the back of the shot above), many of us took to the dancefloor as some big hits were played...
Unfortunately, despite our enthusiasm for it, me and Bear narrowly missed Dizzee Rascal's Bassline Junkie...
We danced the night away - I Jumped Around to House Of Pain with Michael, skanked (as the young 'uns say these days) to H Town (Dizzee again) with Michael, Shaq and Jhaleel, and we all went mental (including Jodyann and Philippa!) to German Whip.
Certain Cha Cha Slide related injuries were had, and then it was time for the awards:
|Zak and Waqas, 'Best Bromance'|
|Abdi and Anjimae, Prom King & Queen...|
|And Michael, 'Class Clown'|
After the awards, I basically spent a lot of the rest of the evening taking photos with as many people as I could. Here's a selection of those:
It's difficult to sum up that night. So many emotions - it was SO much fun, and I got to see all these people, some of them for what could be the last time, others at least for a while. I danced with Becky, Bear, Jodyann, Michael...everyone, really.
This was the true end to the era - and yet it was a happy one. In my personal opinion, it was even better than the one in Year 11 - perhaps because I cut loose a lot more!
I'm not sure how I can wind up this post, really...so I'll leave you with what I posted to facebook, once Becky's Dad had very kindly driven me home!
PART 1 - "The 'Last' Day at Ashcroft...":
PART 2 - "Category Busy Bees..."