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Sunday, October 18, 2009

People come, people go . . . Some thoughts on friendship.

I often muse on the people that I have known in my life. Why, I did it only a couple of days ago on this Blog when I wrote about friends from my days in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Friendship is a strange thing sometimes with all its variations. There are those friendships that, once forged in childhood, last the course for ever, joining forces throughout all the ups and downs and the storms of life, whilst there are others that are fleetingly transient, at least relatively speaking. For example, whilst I have often written about the wonderful memories that I have spent at my infants' school, I have no particular memory of any of my classmates whom I befriended at the time. They were there to populate my life only for that brief period, although, of course, it certainly never seemed brief at the time.

At my next school I fare a little better, remembering certainly two of my fellow pupils who were great friends at the time, although I doubt that they would particularly recall me any more. In fact it's true to say that my memories of them are little more than their names, although it's not necessary for me to recount those here. I suppose that the prime reason for this state of affairs is that the friendships that I most recall are those forged outside of the school gate. Deep friendships that were thought of at the time as being ones that would last for ever, yet which have passed away over time to become little more than pages in my life's diary. For much of my early childhood my best friends were Henry Smith and Richard Pitt. We were like the 'Three Musketeers' --- always together. Yet we have not met up or communicated now for more than fifty years. From the age of about ten my closest friend was Dick Ball, sadly a victim to the ravages of heart attack in his 40's. We remained in touch almost all of his life, albeit that we never managed to see each other for the last twenty years or so due to geographical problems.

Then there are the girls that I knew and were fond of as friends as well as those with whom I fell in love. I often think about them, wondering whatever happened in their lives, and what direction they went in; remembering them (well, at least most of them), with great fondness. I'm still in touch with my very first love after a little more than fifty years, and I usually communicate with her and her husband a couple of times each year.

All of the friendships that I have enjoyed have added something to my life in one way or another, whether by forging fond memories that I can reflect on now or by teaching me the lessons of life due to their tempestuous nature.

When I was at college in Aberystwyth in the mid-1990's I made many friends amongst my fellow students, and by and large those friendships are still with me, although generally speaking, because the restrictions of time and distance, most are reduced to meeting up on rare occasions when we each attend the same meetings, or sharing Christmas Cards with each other. Nevertheless, they are still valued.

In fact, I would say that every friendship that I have ever had is still valued by me, for it's those friendships, or rather the influence of the people concerned, that have helped to make me the person that I am today, for in friendship we give to each other so much of ourselves, hopefully in proportionate measure.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege of building many friendships over the Internet, due to my work on The Voice magazine. These are friendships that have been made despite never having met each other, probably today's version of the Pen-Pals of our youth, those friendships forged with others across the world and maintained only via the postal service.

One thing is for certain, I am so thankful for every friendship that I've been blessed with, for each of them has, in one way or another, been responsible for making my journey brighter and more meaningful, so should any of you, (and you will know who you are as well as I), chance to read this Blog then I say a heartfelt 'Thank You' for all that you have given to me and hope that I've been able to reciprocate in some small manner.

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