Tuesday, 4 June 2013

You've Got a Friend in Me

The theme of friendship is one that I hope comes across strongly in my novels.

Friends come into our lives for all sorts of reasons, don't they?  Often from the most unexpected of places and those who stay with us the longest are sometimes the most unlikely.

My two closest friends are both very different but I know that they will always be there for me with either a shoulder to cry on, a friendly ear or lots of giggles.

Friend #1 has been around since I was 18.  She was the year above me at drama school and I always thought she was so in control and grown-up (I soon learnt that was just an act!).  She'd moved from Scotland to live in London and she just seemed so worldly-wise. She was (is) also a Tourette's sufferer and (perversely) I found this fascinating.  At 18, she was just so DIFFERENT to anybody I'd ever met before.
A drink at the pub after a rehearsal one night and we were soon inseparable.  I'd often be found at her piddly bed-sit (read 6ft x12ft servant's loft room in Notting Hill Gate) 'topping and tailing' in a single bed and talking through the night as we tried to remember all the characters names in 'Crossroads' or the lyrics to a Bay City Rollers' song.

Never able to afford cabs back from parties or clubs we'd simply pick up a shopping trolley on the way and take it in turns to push one another home.  To this day, we can still be seen sticking out a thumb to a discarded trolley and shouting 'Taxi!'

Thirty one years later we are still friends - she moved back to Scotland and married, having a son two years and two days after I'd had mine.  We've spent good times (and bad times) together as families and, although I have some issues with the way she is choosing to live her life at the moment, I know we will always be there for one another.

Friend #2 came to me via my son's best friend from prep school. She's my 'Fenella'!  Chalk and cheese in so many ways and yet so alike in others.  She really is the 'Have' and I am the 'Have Not'!  Think a city version of 'The Good Life".

It was a cheeky ciggie that brought us together at a parents' quiz night many years ago.  Finding the company of the other parents a little too over-powering, I'd sneaked out to the front of the school for a nicotine fix and some peace only to find that she'd had the same idea.  As we started to chat it began to snow - huge magical flakes were beginning to surround us - by the end of the conversation we were ankle deep in snow and she'd invited me for dinner.  The rest, as they say, is history.  We often laugh about how our coupling happened because we'd both felt so out of our depths with the other mums and her favourite line to me is 'You had me at the snow!'

That was eleven years ago - our boys, having changed schools, have still remained friends and I am also Godmother to her lovely daughter.  We have also become close friends with her ex-boss and we share dinners, drinks, family celebrations but, most of all, laughs.  She (and her husband) have been more supportive than I could ever have imagined all those years back in our Winter Wonderland fag break.  Yes, she holidays in the sun, has beauty treatments, shops till she drops and thinks nothing of having cocktails, a theatre trip and a meal all in one night, but we just 'click'.  We get one another and I know that we will be friends for life.

Another of my closest friends came about in a strange way.  I was friends with her (now) husband first, and she was actually my sister's friend before mine, but thirty-four years later we have stayed close and meet a couple of times a month usually for a huge meal and some silly games - I was the person she called in panic when her husband suffered a heart attack and I was pleased that we could be there for her.

Others have moved away - our dear friends who were caretaker and teacher at my son's prep-school (again a union made from 'not belonging'!) went back to Oz but we chat on the phone and they stay with us whenever they pop back to the UK.  It's thanks to them that I have my lovely little antique writing desk and my Kindle - constant reminders of a shared affection.

My closest gay friend took his life four years ago and is still sorely missed.  I can never replace the friendship we had and will often see or hear something that I know would appeal to his bitchy sense of humour and I have a little smile for him.

And of course my best friends EVER are my lovely husband and my mum - I couldn't ask for better.  The love and support they give me are priceless and I count myself truly blessed.

So what do you look for in a friend?  Are your friends similar to you or totally different?  Do you choose your friends for different reasons?  Who's your oldest friend?  Could you live without friendship?

I'll end on this song purely because I love it and it reminds me of my other little buddy's growing up years - my son.  It was also once played, by accident, on a loop at a school assembly until it drove us all mad.  My son's Headmaster stood and said, 'Well, it's just as well I like that song!'


  1. Aww .. you are lucky to have friends that go back so far. my oldest current friend did her PGCE with me. We were the oldest students on the block, so stuck together. We meet up every half term and hols for a coffee and moan.nno wait --- I am still in touch with Rachel, who shred a flat at UNI but she lives in Scotland, so it is a letter/fb thing. Glad your hubby and mum are your best friends. I think my husband is too 39 years of marriage must mean something and we still laugh together - he is the other half of the 2 Grumpy Old Sods blopgs that I write.x

  2. The older you get the more important friends become, my bestfriend is someone I have been through so much with. We do not see each other very often as she lives miles away from me, but when we meet up its like we have never been apart.