Best friends are scarce on the ground, in my life, these days, although through an unexpected turn of events, a few months back I was able to meet mine, after not seeing her for 10 years! As best friends do --- we immediately took up where we'd left off, and had a wonderful day together!
But Joe was referring to the best friends of our childhood and youth---quite a different "kettle of fish". Dredging back through the years there was Mavis, my red headed friend from my first day at school and for so many, many years. For so long we shared our school days at Paradise Infants, Edgewick Juniors, Wheatley Street CA Classes and finally Stoke Park. Grammar --- over 10+ of our formative years. I longed for the dancing classes she attended, the short pleated skirts and the ankle strap shoes that she wore, but she wasn't a show off and was a nice child. I don't know what she found to like about me?
I do remember a third person slipping into the equation when we were about 13, and I felt jealousy --- (not a nice attribute, Muriel) but she was but a passing phase.
There were other best friends later on, and pleasant companions they were, until at last, at Training College, I met Sheila --- another redhead, but blonder, who remained my friend for the rest of her life. Our friendship survived global separation, and I was so happy to visit with her in April 2000. Poor lass, as dear as ever, but battling severe pain and disability, having had ankle replacements. An irony of Fate to strike the free striding girl who'd loved the hills of Derbyshire and the mountains of Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
When I was young and at the inquisitive stage of wanting to know more about Life, (babies/sex etc), we were hampered by having little in the way of information. So in our free time we neighbourhood kids would group together to exchange titibits of so-called knowledge. There was nowhere to meet, so we went for walks around our industrial locality, which was liberally spattered with "jetties" and alleyways linking one road to another. This activity fizzled out when the 11+ examination divided us up educationally and we went our separate ways.
My teen leisure time was then taken up by the Girls' Life Brigade and the Church choir, and homework took care of the rest, and gradually encroached until there was no time for even those. My erstwhile friends were as free as air, by then, using make-up and tending the varnish on their nails --- with Youth Club and dancing and Socials to look forward to after their daytime stints in an office or shop. So we were irrevocably parted.
Some attempts were made to keep up, mainly the Autograph Book, and I still have mine with the signatures of favourite teachers and good friends. Some were just good wishes and a signature, and others witty or more cryptic. Unfortunately my book doesn't emulate the beautiful drawings, and paintings in Auntie Florrie's Autograph Book. Hers was a real treasure chest.
Do best friends exist today? Yes, yes, yes! In my own family a shining example is of young granddaughter, Amelia, and Gt granddaughter, Emma, who announced to us at one birthday party a couple of years ago, "We are best friends" And at 5 years of age, they still are! It is a lovely to see their delight in each other's company. On that note, I will end. Best friendships still live on ---- so do woven bracelets!
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