There are certain things that are valuable beyond compare. These are things which stand the test of time, that are always there, that never falter. Honest, upright and true, the mark of a good friend, the mark of a friend who does not fail, even when times are difficult, even when you are not at your best, even when your needs mean going the extra mile, or being more patient than your own life can really stand at that moment. It is, i think, truly difficult to be a good friend.
I think though, that these two friends and the people who surround us in our respective families, who are essentially all family to all of us now, deserve every ounce of faith and time i have ever put into them, because neither of them have ever failed me in any way. I don’t think i can honestly say that i have been able to appreciate them or repay them fully, because it seems to have been my life that has bounced most often, at least when they are within reach.
And when a grey, rainy day starts, car and 4 children packed, far from home in a village no longer your own and no one you know within 30 miles, with the car battery dying, it is a bad day. If it is your one day in 2 years to see a friend who now lives in Australia and a teacher-friend from Leeds you see not much more frequently than the other, it is a disaster, relatively speaking.
So what price friends who, 15 minutes after the incident, have despatched a dad who tries to jumpstart the car (but it’s too dead) then helps me get a taxi sorted and hurries off to buy me a new battery (£70 out of his own pocket cos i didn’t of course, have that on me.) What price friends who, when i appear at the meeting house in a taxi i have now discovered i don’t have a bank card to get money out with to pay, whip out £20, see him off, sort out kids and stuff and give me wine, laughing at my (usual) ability to make a disaster-ridden entrance. What price the dad (half of a couple who once took me into the home for months) who goes back, fits my battery and gets my car going again. Or the friends who wave away the £20 note change so i can get home safely in another taxi?
We did, disaster-total-loss-of-sense-of-humour-car-moment aside, have a really lovely day. Maddy collected the 2 big boys (4 and 3) as her henchmen and that was the last we saw of them, Fran adored her godbrother, we caught up like we’ve never been apart. It was great to see F totally back on her feet after her difficult couple of years, great to see A loving motherhood so much. Hilarious to find myself out-talked (i’d forgotten they can do that, not so very many people can out-talk me!)
These are the things of which happy memories are made. F, A and i have never once had a row in 20 years; the odd misunderstanding and the odd time we’ve drifted further than we might, but never a row. Perhaps it is because we’ve never claimed each other as totally our own, we’ve always been part of a fluid crowd with many friendships. We were 13 by 6th form, all put together into one class for those last 2 years. Two of those are now dead, 2 home educate, at least 3 live abroad, about 50% married with children, all but me went to university but i think i’m the only one with my own business. So far as i know, every single one of us, misfits as we were, achieved the ideal we had as we left school although i only achieved my real ideal, not the one i thought i wanted.
I’ve not seen a good number of them in many years, in fact i’m only still in contact with F and A, though i occasionally have email contact with a few others and hear about them too. I know though, without doubt, that if we were all put together tomorrow (A and P aside i suppose, given they chose not to continue this life) that we’d talk like we’d just walked out of a General Studies class. I know it would be just the same. Friends of high standing and high mettle. The Ever-Ready Rescue Machine.