It is not terribly unusual for me to find myself with time on my hands on a weekday evening, or a weekend afternoon.
It is Sunday, five o’clock teatime, and I am sitting in the bar of the Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells, (and there are very many worse places to be sitting), because the husband is in our suite conducting an interview with some people in Canada, who I’m sure are wonderful. The husband is, of course, having a good time. He likes giving interviews; it is one of the perks of the job, as far as he is concerned, since he gets to enthuse about what he is working on, talk about his ideas, and share his passion.
I get a gin and tonic, but that’s OK, because it’s Hendricks gin, which is my favourite, and the barman is a rather dashing Frenchman, and there’s no one to disturb me, and I get to talk to you lot. You see, even being abandoned on a sunny, late summer, Sunday afternoon can have its compensations.
All of this is by way of introducing my subject for today, which is friendship.
Most of us, and, when I was a student, and a young working woman, me too, make friends with the people we spend our days with. For a very long time, I have been working from home, in my own space, without other people. I like it like that, but it does rather cramp my social style.
I cannot socialise with my workmates, because I have no workmates. I cannot socialise with the other mums because they go out to work and therefore socialise with their workmates, and, besides, my children are too old for me to count as a mum anymore.
I love women. I admire then, and I like having them around me, but a little while ago, I began to find that I had very few very good women friends, and I realised that I was missing out horribly. I am trying to put that right.
It is very well worth cultivating friends, and, as a woman, it is very well worth cultivating good women friends; they bring to my life a breadth and depth of social intercourse, of empathy, of understanding, of discourse and of laughter that I would simply be bereft without.
I spent some time on Friday with a woman that I have known for twelve years. She cultivated me, and I’m extremely happy that she did. She’s a fabulously talented artist, an amazing mother, and, I am almost positive, the most empathic woman on the planet. The time we spend together is almost always filled with stories, ideas and connections, and regularly with tears and laughter too. I want to take a moment to thank her, right here for being such a good companion and a wonderful woman, and I want to apologise to her for being such a lackadaisical friend. She is unerring in her communications with me, she is endlessly patient when I postpone or cancel our meetings, and her affection towards me never wavers.
So, thank you Donna. I hope I will be a better, more consistent friend in the future than I have been in the past, and I just want to let you know how much your constancy means to me.