For over 25 years I have been securely established as a member of a very close and supportive circle of friends. We number a core group of eight of us who although scattered around the country meet regularly. All the children we have had between us have always been included in our get togethers and over the years we all got closer to siblings of our immediate circle too.
At the very centre of this group has always been A and P. They have been together since they were 16. They are both out going, generous and fun loving people. P went away to uni in Staffordshire where he obtained a decidedly average 3rd class degree in geology. A studied closer to home, but afterwards they moved in together and subsequently married. A has been the driving force who ensured we all saw each other regularly. Somewhere along the line P of the very average degree who beyond a very good humour had little exceptional to separate him from other men of his age, apart from his 6 foot 5 height, became phenomenally successful. Working for investment banks he earnt salaries I can’t even start to guess at. They enjoyed the money they had at their disposal but they were generous with it, for example during a period when they lived in the States sending me a ticket so I could visit them for a week, or taking all of our group including children to West End shows, concerts or international football and rugby matches. We spent every New Year with them, this year as last linking hands and singing Auld Lang Syne together with the certainty that these friendships were cast in stone and indestructible.
Yesterday I visited A. P has left her because he has fallen madly in love with another woman. P it seems has declared he and A have nothing in common. Further, she irritated him by making him ring his parents and by continually writing lists (A is nothing if not organised). A is left wondering if she ever knew the man she has been with for thirty years. For the rest of us it is like suddenly learning that night is in fact day. Of all the couples I know they seemed the ones with the charmed existence. I went to see her yesterday without any idea what I could possibly say but knowing being there with her was more important than any platitudes I might come out with.
One might suppose that dealing with this would be enough for any one day but in addition to P having upped and left I firstly learnt that another amongst the eight of us has been diagnosed with a very serious eye condition which is currently threatening her sight, and because clearly that is not enough bad luck to be going on with, the same woman has just learnt her brother (and friend of us all) has the same cancer which killed their mother.
So this other friend also came round. She regaled us with hilarious impersonations of the staff involved in her treatment at Moorfield Eye Hospital until the two of us were weeping with laughter. Then A told us that what was keeping her going was the knowledge that P who got irritated by being reminded he needed to speak to his parents on the phone had been forced to move in with them and was being irritated by them 24/7 and we laughed some more. And then we got a phone call telling us that another of our core group had just given birth aged 46 to a much longed for baby girl and so we celebrated.
Life’s rich tapestry.
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