Saturday, 10 September 2016

Friends (no, not the TV show)

For some reason, I was thinking other day about my friends - probably one of those round the houses thought processes that starts off with one thing, goes to another and ends up linking in the most tenuous way possible to the original idea. In any case, it's my birthday in a couple of months. Thirty-nine this year so no prizes for guessing when I hit the big four oh. Almost forty and when it comes to friends (as in the ones I have in day to day life rather than the good people I've met online), I've made no more than a few new ones in the last decade or so. I'm seeing a couple tonight and case in point, I've been friends with them since we were sixteen or seventeen. This is obviously a fine thing. And it's got me thinking: the friendships we make at pivotal points-whether or not we know these are pivotal points-are the ones that last. And by pivotal, I don't mean huge, life-altering events although that can be the case, of course. I'm talking about the times that mould us into the people we end up being. That can be when you're five and in your first year of primary school and you play at lunchtime with the kid who'll one day be joint best man at your wedding.

It can be forming a bond with a guy based on not much more than drinking too much cheap lager and laughing at Beavis & Butthead, and then realising you've made a friend for life.

It can be a cold October day, sitting in your History class and bored out of your head by the repeal of the Corn Laws so you share that boredom with the guy next to you and the girl on the desk behind.

It can be sitting in a pub beer garden when only a few of the group are old enough to legally drink and someone makes a shit joke that you laugh at and still laugh at twenty years later when you think of it.

It can be working in your job and expecting nothing to change when a pretty girl comes in for an interview and you get talking and not too long later, you're living together and you ask her to marry you and she says yes.

The little moments. The pivotal moments. That's where friendship comes from, grows from. It's when the darkness is lit with little lights.


All the colour fell out of Mick’s face and out of Will and Karen’s coats, then out of the walls, then out of the floor. Everything around him became a dead grey. The steady beat of the music dropped into a tuneless drone; the men and women around him and crowding the long bar became transparent. Andy stared through them, tasting the cry in his mouth and wondering from far off if it would be as faded and ghostly as everything around when it finally arrived. The drinkers became shadows and the sounds of their voices and laughter were the distant rumble of thunder.
The grey of the floor vanished. The floor was gone. Andy stared at an endless black that dropped into nothing. He stood over it, a meaningless mote in the void.
His cry finally broke free and he fell into the nothing, Mick beside him, Stu, Karen and Will above, then below. Black swallowed him.
The world was darkness.
Darkness lit with little lights.

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