I have a solitary nature. That doesn’t mean I don’t like good company. In fact, it’s the type of company I prefer. It takes me a long time to get to know people and I’m not one for sharing about myself. But I’m here to let you know that the most amazing gift my 3 decades of life in the UK has given me is the friendships I’ve made along the way. I’m not talking acquaintances. I mean those people you know will be there for you no matter what. A bit like family but with benefits which outweigh the frustrations.
I’m in the lucky position of having not 1, not 2, but 4 excellent friends who are the diamonds which make up the most excellent of friendship bracelets ever. I used to have a 5th diamond on my bracelet. Sadly she died and left a void still waiting to be filled. Barbara Hartridge you are missed every day.
There is no order to the diamonds on my friendship bracelet. But I’ll start with Barbara as she’s no longer with us. Barbara was a wonderful lady always willing to share knowledge and help me solve any problem I presented to her. She was one of the few people I would talk to about things which bothered me. She found joy in simple things and taught me to do the same. Thank you Barbara.
Diamond number 2 is Irish. We met on a painting holiday in Italy about 17 years ago. Quickly we realised, though she’s a redheaded giantess, that we were obviously twins separated at birth in some cosmic interdimensional accident. There were several clues to substantiate this: a shared love of shoe buying, having the same set of books to read on our holiday, owning the same brand of hair products, and an excessive fondness for garlic.
Diamond number 3 is Canadian but has lived in Sheffield for many years. We met on a writing holiday on the island of Skyros in 2005. Like Barbara, she’s the person I talk to when I need advice or just want to clarify my thoughts. She’s also the one person I share all my writing with even before it goes to my Editor. Diamond 3 is possibly the kindest most generous and open person I’ve ever met and I strive to be more like her every day. I’m still a long way off, but I’m trying.
Diamond 4 is French but has lived in the UK for as long as I have, if not longer. We met through Argentine Tango. Thank you Tango South London. She’s the friend next door and we regularly do the dropping by for tea and cake stuff. Along with picnics and walks in the park, helping me secure a good deal on my recently purchased new car, and bravely going to any milonga I suggest; diamond 4 is possibly equivalent to a musketeer.
Finally there’s diamond number 5. Up until a few years ago we hadn’t seen each other in the flesh for 24 years. We used to be besties when I lived in South Africa. Back then we were friends because our parents were. But when I went to visit her in Sydney in 2011, we realised our friendship connection was as strong as ever. We share certain values and a sense of humour which binds us despite the distance of continents.
These wonderful women make up my amazing friendship bracelet. I can’t’ quite believe how lucky I am they’ve come into my life and stay with me through whatever life throws my way. They are my strength, my succour and my duvets of comfort. I only hope I give them as much as they give me.
Ladies, I salute you!