So today is National Friendship Day. Who knew such a thing existed? I didn’t until Facebook alerted me this morning, but it got me thinking.
Some people have so many friends that they have different best mates for different occasions; I don’t. I’ve always favoured quality over quantity where people are concerned. I have one bestie who has been there through thick and thin for almost my entire life.
The Pipster and I met each other on the first day of primary school. One of her few childhood memories (for some reason she’s chosen to forget most of her formative years and I act as our collective memory), is me letting Gareth Sumpter know who was boss after he pinged an elastic band in her face when we were aged 7.
I remember being green with envy when she proudly presented her Paddington Bear to class. How I coveted the perfect toggles on his duffle coat and his shiny red wellies. But she let me carry him round the playground at morning break; a mark of true friendship.
Fast forward over four decades and we’ve still got each other’s backs.
Throughout the many trials and tribulations of this obstacle race we call life, The Pipster is my “go to girl”and can always be relied upon to keep my feet on the ground. A few highlights spring to mind:
The time we hired mopeds in Koh Samui. Within fifty yards of leaving the hire shop I realised, a moment too late, that my balance was non existent and I had zero control of this beast between my legs. A glass shop front was accelerating fast in front of my eyes and the shop keeper was running out of his emporium, waving frantically. I had a split second decision to make between disappearing in to said shop window or take a literal leap of faith, abandon the moped and throw myself face first on to the tarmac. I chose the latter, it seemed like the sensible option.
To use the old cliché, my life flashed before my eyes and everything really did happen in slow motion. I slid a few metres along the road on my arse which luckily had enough blubber on it to protect my bones and internal organs. Remarkably, I survived this calamity with nothing more serious than some cuts and bruises. And, having witnessed the whole event unfurl in front of her eyes, all The Pipster could say as I peeled myself off the ground was “T, straighten your glasses”.
In Borneo, I lost my footing when alighting from the boat which had just taken us out on a night safari in the rainforest. I caught my toe on the quayside, sending me sprawling along the boardwalk and in the hysterical laughter that ensued, I couldn’t summon the strength in my legs to get myself upright. And so I was crawling along on my hands and knees, amassing splinters aplenty as I shuffled along on all fours, much to the consternation of our fellow guests.
The Pipster stood by, laughing herself stupid at my ungainly display, and then leant down to say “I bet you’re glad of that ridiculously short walking stick now”, referring to my telescopic stick which had confused the airport security guard earlier that day when my bag went through the x-ray machine. I’d been forced to extend said stick and give him a full demo in order to reassure him it wasn’t a cunningly disguised missile launcher.
But, aside from her callous disregard of my various misadventures (she maintains that she’s just “keeping it real”), I really do know when it feels like the world is conspiring against me, The Pipster is the one who is always there for me.
When the dreaded time came to take the final journeys with my beloved feline friends, she was there with a bunch of flowers and a shoulder to cry on. When I received my MS diagnosis, she was the uber generous pal who whisked me away to Marrakesh for a long weekend of sunshine and luxury. When she made a happy discovery that Tesco had taken delivery of a consignment of my all time favourite Lindt Lindor coconut limited edition chocolates, she quietly bought a stash and presented them when I next popped by for an impromptu cuppa.
And there are the special moments when we are out and about, someone says something that strikes a chord and we don’t have to say a word, we just look at each other and grin. That is, of course, before we wander off and mutter something very ladylike such as “knob” under our breath.
A friend like this is a special gift indeed, and something I’m grateful for every day.
On National Friendship Day I raise a glass to my best buddy, The Pipster.
In the words of The Golden Girls, thank you for being my friend.
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