Tag Archives: thanks

Angels and Drunks

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Dear Friends

This is a thank you letter from me to you. If you are not sure if I mean you personally, then ask yourself “have I laughed/cried/been hugged by or pissed with, this woman on several occasions?” If you can answer yes to at least two of those options, then chances are that yes, I do class you as a friend and therefore, yes, this applies to you, so pay attention.

At the risk of making you feel like inserting your fingers down your throat in disgust at my over sentimentality, I would like to tell you all how much I love you.

We may have known each other since childhood or for only a year or so. We may have shared a house at some point, been on holiday together or merely bonded in the 8 hours a day, 5 days a week proximity of the office. I may have spoken with you yesterday or (and sadly this is more commonly the case) not in the past 18 months. But I truly do love all of you, the old and the new, genuinely and sincerely.  You are, each in your own unique way, very dear to me and I feel lucky to have met you.  You have made my life richer and more enjoyable and whenever I despair of how cruel, heartless and unsympathetic so many people in the world can be, I remind myself that there are good, kind and decent folk still and that you, my friends, are testament to that.

Now that I have nauseated you/completely freaked you out (delete as applicable), I should hasten to add that I am not only sober, but also free from any other mind-altering substances and not in any imminent danger of dying, as far as I can tell.  The fact that this is written in (mostly) coherent sentences and then, glory be, actually posted on the dust bowl that is my blog, will add to the sincerity of my declaration, as you all know,

a) how long it takes me to write anything

b) how infrequently I post my musings and

c) how my usual declarations of affection for you are preceded by us sharing copious amounts of alcohol.

This sudden urge to publicly share my affection has been brought about by many months of musing on the nature of friendship and how blessed I am to know so many lovely people. Ok, I admit that some of you drive me nuts on occasion with your weird likes and dislikes, your stubbornness or irrationality etc. but I know that you must feel exactly the same about my own foibles. Perhaps the ability to cope with occasional mutual irritation without any lessening of fondness and respect is what makes an enduring friendship. And being able to take the piss out of each other, good-humouredly and without malice, is for me, one sign of a healthy relationship.

This is not only a thank you letter but an apology to those of you I rarely contact. I do not invest half as much time in our friendship as I would like and or as much as you deserve (which sounds uncannily like something Bilbo Baggins said to his guests at his birthday party!).  Nevertheless I am constantly amazed at how it is possible to go months or even years without seeing or speaking to some of you and then still be able to jabber away as if it were yesterday, when we finally do catch up. How lovely it is to feel so at ease and comfortable with each other,  to be reminded of that shared sense of humour and affection, and to know that if we needed to, we could share our deepest hopes and fears or our guiltiest secrets, without being judged.

This came to mind a year ago when I met up with my old university housemates for one of our bi-annual reunions. Here was a reasonably diverse group of people thrown together in a student flat in 1982. We all had different personalities and varied tastes and interests but somehow we bonded and became close friends who loved and supported each other.

After graduation we scattered across Britain and indeed, the globe. Nonetheless, in those early years we all kept in touch regularly and met up whenever we could. As mortgages, marriages and children came along, it became increasingly difficult to find the time to sustain the level of intimacy we had once all shared. But we never lost touch and still managed to get together every couple of years to catch up, reminisce and share news.

This particular reunion was especially poignant as we had lost one of our group to ovarian cancer earlier in the year.  Our dear, lovely, kind, intelligent and thoughtful Lizzie was probably the matriarch in our little gang. Indeed she was the first person I met on my very first day at university.  I arrived, scared and overwhelmed, and sat for ages in my breeze blocked, cell-like room crying. When I finally plucked up the courage to go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, this quietly confident young woman came in, introduced herself in her lovely Yorkshire accent and started chatting. That was the start of our 33 year friendship.

Lizzie had always been the voice of calm and reason and the one who would organise us and gently whip us into shape while the rest of us procrastinated. She was the one to go to in a crisis, the one who shone the light of perspective and good humour. She was an amazing woman and will be sorely missed.

Meeting up with the rest of the gang for the first time since losing Lizzie made me appreciate them all over again. The ease with which we talked and laughed (and cried) was actually profoundly reassuring and filled me with love and gratitude.  I was reminded that although we all have busy and very different lives, we have a bond that will last a lifetime.

lennon-quoteI have close friendships beyond that little clique though. One set of friends (again 30 odd years in the making) are still so very dear to me even though I see them once a year at best these days. I still count them as some of our closest friends and fantasise about retiring next door to them somewhere, or at least holidaying together again as we have done on and off over the years.

But I stress again that I love ALL of you, my friends, in your own way. I have known many of you for my whole adult life and with good reason – you are awesome.

There are newer friendships too, such as those that have developed with the parents of our son’s friends. Our boy is a pretty good judge of character so his close friends, who are the nicest, funniest bunch of young people you could wish to meet, tend to have equally lovely parents, who have become our friends in their own right. These people are no less dear to me.

And of course those of you I met through work have kept me sane over the years. When you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the same environment with someone you laugh with, discover similar interests and worlds views with, it is almost impossible not to become friends. It is not unusual to spend more waking hours with your colleagues than it is with your family in the average week so workplace friendships are most definitely important to me.  In the enforced intimacy of an office environment, I have met some brilliant, supportive, funny and kind people (and you all know who you are).  I have even managed to sustain friendships with a good number of you when we have both moved on work-wise, assuming you count intermittent emails, messaging and dinner once in a blue moon of course.

So there you have it – my love and gratitude to you all, dear friends. Although Mr Guy Garvey and his colleagues sum it up much more eloquently in one of my favourite Elbow songs (and incidentally one I want playing at my funeral as and when it happens!)

Dear friends
You are angels and drunks
You are magi

Old friends
You stuck a pin in a map I was in
And you are the stars I navigate home by.

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And the Award goes to…

Good lord the pressure! Having been nominated for two blog awards over the last couple of months, I am now stressing about how to respond. Firstly, just before Christmas, came the Versatile Blogger award from the lovely Tracy on FecThis. I was thrilled that she thought me worthy of an award and deeply flattered because she is such a brilliant, articulate and moving writer herself. My sincere thanks go out to her.

Then in January an ex-colleague from the corporate world, now full time writer and coach, and my friend and inspiration, Michael J Holley, nominated me for a Liebster.  I’m blown away to receive another endorsement in such a short space of time and again from someone whose work I greatly admire.

So why the pressure and the stress I hear you ask? Well let me tell you it’s NOT like winning a BAFTA or an Oscar – there are “Rules” to follow:

The Versatile Blogger:The Versatile Blogger

  1. Display the award certificate on your website. Tick!
  2. Announce your win with a post and include a link to whoever presented your award. Tick!
  3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. Fifteen? OKaaayy – I’ll certainly have a think and another read…
  4. Create a post linking to them and drop them a comment to tip them off. Will do…
  5. Post 7 interesting facts about yourself. Easy enough…

The Liebster Award:

  1. Post the award image on your blog. There are several varieties. Google them and find the one liebster-blog-awardyou like the most. Tick!
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself. Can I just add 4 to the 7 from earlier – is that cheating?
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the person/people who nominated you. Can do.
  4. Make up 11 questions for those to be nominated. No problem!
  5. Nominate 11 people to receive the award. They should have fewer than 200 followers on their blog. Errrr – less than 200? And do these have to be different from the 15 earlier? Really?

I cannot, hand on heart, drum up 26 or 15 (or even 11!) names out of the blogosphere, with less than 200 followers each, that I either regularly follow or know well enough to pass on the awards with sincerity and genuine affection. So what should I do? I could just cheat and pluck names at random to keep the chain mail going, but this would feel disingenuous and dishonest. I have about 10 blogs that I follow regularly and 2 of those are from the people who nominated me. Others have either more than 200 followers already or are of the magazine style, produced by a number of writers. So my list of recipients that fit the rules is pretty slim. I have been researching new blogs recently but it is very time-consuming and I still find that the ones I really like are already huge and unlikely to be interested in an award from a very small and minor newcomer like me.

It doesn’t feel right to pluck random names for the sake of it  but as an amateur blogger with a full time day job and a family I’m struggling to fit in the research to look for 2 dozen new bloggers…and now I sound like I’m whining and whinging. Oh dear. See? I’m stressing about this rather than enjoying the recognition and compliments which I know were genuinely intended.

If I just nominate those few writers that I know and love, I suppose I could give them the choice of award. But  then I won’t be strictly complying with the rules and I’m naturally a law-abiding citizen. Will I be black-listed for breaking the rules?!

Hamlet quotePerhaps I should honourably withdraw and decline to take part in the award season love-in altogether…Does this mean that I will never be “recognised” again? Am I taking it too seriously and being a spoilsport by refusing to take part? Should I just cheat and nominate others for the sake of “networking”? My moral dilemma may not be quite up there with Hamlet’s but I understand his procrastination. To participate or not to participate, that is the question…

Please let me know what you think. Who knows…if I like your response you may find yourself on my regular reading list and nominated for an award yourself!