Here’s the thing; I’ve had cause recently to wonder about the nature of friendship. I thought we were rock-solid in this regard with a decent number of truly great friends. I wouldn’t say we were the sort of people to collect a huge circle of mates but over 30+years we had formed some very strong relationships, some very deep and loving. But stuff happens and sometimes things get loose-wired or even disconnected. It can cause a lot of hurt but things also work in the opposite direction.
Just recently we’ve caught up with a number of friends we haven’t seen for a while and the great thing is that on a number of levels the depth of the relationship has not only been reaffirmed but actually strengthened. A couple of weeks ago we shot up to to see A&M in North Wales. We all used to work together at Cellnet back in the Middle Ages. Our daughter R is godmother to their lovely daughter O and is devoted to her. We used to go up to their place en masse for the best week-end parties in their converted Welsh chapel. They moved to a new home some years ago though we hadn’t been up to see them for ages. Anyway we had a rare old night with them. Playing cards (haven’t done that in bloody years) and drinking far too much wine (might have done that occasionally in the recent past) and chatting, reminiscing and laughing till the very early hours. It was like we’d never been away.
Then M dropped the news that as well as running a successful promotional company they’ve only gone and bought a local trout farm; a move not unlike our decision to buy a home in Italy…some place at which to eventually spend all our time. A crazy idea requiring huge amounts of work and commitment …yeh but one with which we could readily identify. A place to chill, grow our olives and fish, potter about in the open air and drink the odd glass of chilled wine at the end of the day as you survey the landscape and reflect that life’s been ok on the whole.
We popped down to see the farm the next morning, after the guys had left early to get on top of the workload. And also after I had broken a huge vase containing the roses we’d bought for A the day before (one of my hidden talents is flower arranging…I know it’s shocking but that’s my sensitive side for you). I was stripping off excess leaves as the roses were drooping and picked up the very fragile vase to transfer it to the sink in my rustic hands but sadly didn’t make it. As nearly happened to one of my fingers; the dangly skin on which was separated from my finger bone by the shards on the vase. I’m not good with the sight of blood and detached skin and when it’s my own I turn very unmanly. I’d never make it in ER. Long story short I managed to staunch the blood flow (I’m practised at this although it’s usually spewing from my ears/head post-clumsy shave) with the help of 17ft of kitchen roll and didn’t pass out once. Though I nearly did twice.
And after clearing up, off we toddled to the farm. It was bloody fantastic. Whilst M showed us around, A rustled up a huge breakfast in their on-site restaurant. And we were joined by their fine son D who we hadn’t seen in over a dozen years. He’s a good lad and largely manages the facility for them.
We had to leave but the last thing M gave us was a huge trout for dinner which he took fresh from the pool. It was delicious. It was so good seeing them all again and we’re hoping to pop back later in the summer. If you’re planning a visit to the glorious NW corner of Wales and are interested in doing a bit of trout fishing (and want to meet some great people who will make you feel very welcome) check out the details at www.seven-springs.co.uk or click on the link on the blogroll on the Pasta Paulie home page. Good fishing!
Within a couple of days I headed up to the NW to see old friends M&S who we also hadn’t seen for years. M was a major player in the mobile business and just about the smartest businessman and nicest guy I’ve ever met. S is just the loveliest wife and I cannot tell you how beautiful and polite their kids are. We knew them as babies but they’re all growing up and distinct personalities now. One of those girls is going to break a million hearts in 12 years time. Anyway M and I went out for some drinks with a bunch of guys, one or two of whom I knew and s couple of guysM thought might prove useful business-wise to me. It was generous of him (not untypical) and he was right but it was an entertaining night although I’d forgotten how brutal nights out with M can be. We struggled to get back into the house at something o’clock. But it was great to see M and the family again, very special. He is a deeply committed to his friends and a true mate. I cannot say how much I respect him.
Within another couple of days we were heading up to see old friends Mike & Jayne – who’ve featured several times in this blog-to celebrate their lovely daughter H’s 18th birthday. Bloody 18. She was younger than my grandkids when I first knew her. And what delightful girl she’s turned out to be. Clever, talented, beautiful, popular and she asked that we should attend her do. Old farts like us. I know this sounds like a Kerry Katona column in OK magazine (aren’t we well-connected and aren’t our friends wonderful and isn’t life just great – today) but it has been a great to see old friends again. M & J were in top form and son J, despite several hours in hospital that day, was engaging as ever. Can’t believe that he used to play footie with us as an 8 year old. And at the same do was old friend JW. We chatted all night about life and women and cars and women and work and well women. H made us dance with her to the Michael Jackson stuff in front of her many 18 year old female friends. I think they liked my moonwalk – they were certainly smiling a lot as I performed. Great party (though I ungallantly rebuffed J for a dance at one point as I was sole guy walking through the female-thronged dance tent. And I never asked for a return dance. Bet J thinks I’m a real heel). We stayed at a great little pub/restaurant hotel called the Angel as a rare treat to ourselves Next morning we had breakfast with JW who once again showed his generosity. Such a mate.
And to cap a frenetic week and a half, one of my oldest mates Shay flew into Heathrow from America en route to Prague and called up to join him for a couple of drinks at his airport hotel. It’s only a few miles from where we’re staying in Staines and how could I say no (even though we’d been out with our lovely daugher S and husband I in Richmond all afternoon)? Despite the jet lag etc he was on excellent form and we had a good old chat/laugh. It’s funny how two blokes tend to talk about two things only; it could be wine and politics, or family and tv, but Shay and I rarely wandered from our favourite twin-track topics of women and football with a lot of work frustration thrown in. Shallow and predictable ? Hell yes but we’re simple souls and it was enjoyable because it was a rare chance to bond and hug (manfully) at the end of the night and reaffirm things.
So there you go. We’re so lucky with our friends. We’ve lost some in the last couple of years I sense but retained some fantastic pals who go back a long way now. I never not want to see them. That’s good I hope.