“What would you do if I sang out of tune would you get up and walk out on me….?”
A good friend would. A bad friend would tell you it was in tune.
There are many laments, ballads, songs, poems etc about lovers but what about the people that outnumber that lover, in my case that need only be one but let’s sidestep that and focus on those that outnumber the lover… or lovers, if you’re a play-ah. Friends. Not only is this the name of my absolute favourite tv show, that I happen to have on in the background as I type, I probably don't need to describe it, surely everyone is familiar with this show I mean it is repeated on E4 daily every hour (it would seem) I however have the DVDs so have it on tap. Anyway… as usual I am getting off topic; you can see why I was constantly editing essays at school.
Friends, true friends… there are many emails and such, I am sure that talk about true friends and how you can know them. I feel I am old enough to recognise and appreciate those friends that are there through thick or thin, fair-weather or not so fair-weather, hell or high water, river deep mountain high and all other oft-quoted comparisons.
By now I am assuming you have passed the ‘fickle, you’re my friend, you're not my friend, you can’t come to my party anymore, such and such and such a blah is my best friend, not you’ phase, I, for one, know it is an area I am working on but still feel I’m in a position to talk about candidly. I have had friends and lost them (what? They just fell down the manhole). I know what it is to have only 2 people come to your birthday party (your parents do count!), I was 23 at the time and, luckily, years later I know far more people would come now, if I was ever in the same country as my friends for my birthday and if I, say, put out some sandwiches, chocolate and lemonade, or something.
I have friends that have been there through loads of things, dished out sound advice, been a shoulder to cry on and totally been there when I needed them. Heck one of my best friends stayed on the phone while a psycho ex-friend smashed the front window of my house (apparently this wasn't impolite in Essex) and stayed on the phone whilst I used the house phone to call the police! I believe that many of the friends I have made over the years have blessed me and have been to make up for those awful frenemies (those enemies masquerading as friends) I had. This ‘psycho’ smashing friend I had was also the reason I lost my other frenemies. A hard lesson to learn at the time- but there is nothing like sorting the wheat from the chaff.
So how do we know our true friends? True friends do not use you as a taxi service (stop sitting in the fricking back of the car and ordering me around alright!) They do not use your house as some kind of holiday home (I did not say it was near the beach!) They wouldn't answer the phone at 3 and tell you what time it is (of course I know what time it is!) They don’t tell you that you look better without make-up when you have ready access to both daylight and a mirror, they don’t tell you muffin-tops are in this season, they don’t buy the exact same clothes as you and not at least have written permission from you, a rabbi and a priest, they do not concede that ‘you’re photogenic’ with their teeth firmly clenched, they do not send you harassing texts telling you they’re going to ‘f*** you up’ (I won't speak to you about this one again Aunty Mabel) No, a true friend has the mark of a true friend, unfortunately it isn’t as distinctive as I’d like (Is an ear piercing siren and a neon sign too much to ask for??) but as you get older and wise wisedy wiser you start to recognise true friend qualities. Basically those kinda friends that put up with you almost as willingly as your family have to.
My good/gooder/goodest friends encourage me, are honest with me, compliment me without clenched teeth, sometimes compliment my friends in the bargain (and unwittingly themselves) I won’t name names but a friend of mine once asked, genuinely (oh bless you Isabel Crofton-Martin) while looking at photos of my friends “are ALL your friends good looking?” “Yes” I replied. That is always how I comforted a friend who was feeling like they were ugly “Oh sweetie, you’re not!.... I don’t hang out with ugly people” well not for long anyway. Jokes! Now I am not saying if they didn’t do the above that we wouldn’t be friends, it just sweetens the bargain. Friends are the ones that are genuinely happy for you when something good happens etc, anyways, you're not stoopid, you get the idea.
John Lennon continued in his song, that I started with:
“Oooo I get by with a little help from my friends--” now I love Johnn-o but one thing that struck me was I don’t feel I just ‘get by’ I feel people say ‘get by’ like it is a sub-standard condition to the feeling of satisfaction. For example, my ex-housemate used to say it, I’ll set the scene: Me coming home from (a hard day at) work
I am far away from all my friends, but I get so much from their friendship no matter the distance. My mum has a theory that I keep friends who live in other countries so I have places to visit, it just happens that not long after meeting me people book flights, emigrate, take menial jobs on farms if they have to, cut forces tours short, pretty much anything to put a few thousand miles and a couple of eastern block countries with stringent visa programs, between us. Bless me though, I am a dedicated penpal and constantly write to my friend in Kyrgyzstan at 10 Kyrgyzstan road, Kyrgyzstan. Haven’t heard anything back as yet but he did warn me that their postal system was predominantly camel and pacca based… still fingers crossed.. (Sings to herself, Oh yes, wait a minute Mister Postman Hey, hey, hey, hey Mr. Postman...)
My friends support nigh on every whim of mine (it is practically compulsory if you commit to a friendship with me, by commitment I am talking about that checklist y’all filled in) they laugh at my jokes, proof read stories I write like ‘Tarquin the hairy backed spider takes a trip to the park’ (can I have that back now please Isabel?), they put up with my constant ‘friends’ quoting and accept the fact that I am barely in one place for very long and that I will not be able to see them very often (this could be seen as a blessing rather than a curse, though) I know people often curse facebook for not giving them enough news about their ex boyfriend’s new lover or whatever in their news feed or complain about msn messenger but these two mediums are what keeps me in touch with my friends that are as far away as Canada, Australia, Austria, Japan, America and that guy I asked out recently, Kyrgyzstan.
But you know friendship is friendship wherever we are. What I lurve about my friends is we pick up where we left off, no matter how many months or years. I also relish how I gravitate towards people who love the things I love, friends that are willing to sing any songs in the style of Nancy from ‘Oliver’, friends who, not only know, but love films like ‘Teenwitch’ and are willing to quote ‘Anchorman’ till we have exhausted just about every line from it. What I love is the pure (dog faced lying and pretence of) acceptance they have for me, particularly in regards to my faith, my music taste, my movie taste, the stories I write, the 'friends' quotes, the 'jokes'.
Most of all I feel that my friendships reflect my life, where I have been, the friends I have made along the way, places as far flung as Prague, Austria, Hemel Hempstead, RAF Brüggen and, you know, Volvo.
So this was my little homage to my friends that and, well I realised I hadn’t blogged in a long while!