Friday, 8 January 2016


One of my friends made this cake, she knows who she is.

January: a fresh start, and I'd like to begin 2016 by paying tribute to someone. Warm, patient, understanding, mature, puts other people first… She knows who she is, at least she will in a minute. 

She knows who she is.

It was this friend who suggested I write a blog. "You love stories, Elizabeth," she said, one day over coffee in a local cafe, before she moved away from south London, "you should write a blog."

This is true: I love stories, especially short ones. Telling stories, chatting, joking, writing, reading, heart dangling precariously off the end of my sleeve, that's me, a 'what you see is what you get' kind of girl, when I get round to it, because I can be a bit crap at getting round to stuff, as my friends will attest, except for the stories. Stick with me for 2016 and I'll tell you some more right here, one a week.

Women are lucky to have close female friends: a lifeline to sanity in a world that can sometimes seem a complicated place. We help each other out, we pick each other's kids up from school, we drop each other's kids off at activities on Saturday, we grab an extra bag of shopping for each other when someone is ill or has just had a baby, and someone is always having a baby, at least they were. We offer our washing machine to wash each other's dirty laundry in privately when our knackered old one has gone on the blink, which unfortunately it always seems to.

And I'm fortunate to have wonderful friends near by, as well as the one who moved away, a whole coterie, one of the closest living in the house directly opposite. This is because I suggested she rent it shortly after she had her fourth baby and the house she was living in at the time was bursting at the seams with children, a lovely husband, and a large quantity of musical instruments. I recall they had a drum kit in their bedroom.

No one should have a drum kit and a baby in their bedroom, I thought. So I proposed they rent a slightly larger house that had recently become available across the street, and they did. Later they bought it. Now I have her on tap day and night. We see each other all the time as we nip in and out of our homes. We're always scrounging things off one another. I had some rosemary from her the other day because I had most unusually run out, she countered with cinnamon sticks last night. Sometimes we wave to each other from our bedroom windows. She’s one of the loveliest people I know, and I know a lot of lovely people.

With one of the loveliest people I know.

There are other friends I should mention, in particular one who said, “What’s happening about that novel you were writing?” when I had given it up and shoved it in a drawer. She put me in touch with a friend of hers who knows a literary agent, who took me on and has encouraged me to keep writing, which, you will be pleased to hear, I will. So that favour is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me. 

Then there are two friends who make me laugh out loud, both northerners like me who laugh at everything and anything but especially themselves because above all else life can be funny, and fun, and we should never forget that (I think I did forget it there briefly, in the bonkers run up to Christmas), I love hanging out with them. 

And then there's the friend who dragged us off camping and skiing for the first time, when I had given up hope of ever going camping or skiing because Husband wasn’t keen (no photo of you, sorry!). And the friend who is brilliant at arranging things for us to do together: theatre and cinema and stuff. And the friend who sends me out of the blue text messages that simply say, "Coffee?" so that I invariably reply, "Wilco," and drop what I'm doing and go, if I can.

Lovely coffee friend, who speaks fluent Russian.

And the one I went to Ghana with, where we conducted an illicit sex education lesson together for a group of teenage girls under a tree, unwrapping condoms we got from the local clinic and pulling them down over our fingers - and that sort of thing bonds you to a person. A friend who’s preternaturally energetic, gets up at the crack of dawn and runs at weekends, the sort of friend every woman should have, up for anything and everything day or night, top of everyone's party invitation list.

I'm lucky to have such amazing friends, too many to mention in one post, all of them much loved and appreciated.

I’ll be seeing some of them tomorrow as it happens, when a few of us gather at our house to celebrate a significant birthday. Not my own, but the birthday of the mate I mentioned at the top, the one who suggested I write this little blog, which I'm amazed anyone has ever taken notice of but apparently they have, if the stats are anything to go by. 

Sorting the venue was the easy part, I'm ever-ready to host a party, the date was more tricky. I haven’t seen her since before Christmas when we were both flat-out busy and I had to cancel our plan to meet. I can’t wait to catch up. It promises to be a happy and memorable occasion.

So, wherever you are tomorrow at eight o'clock, when it all kicks off round our gaff, raise a glass of bubbly with us to female friendship, and in particular to my friend in a million. Happy significant birthday V.

Love, as always, E x


P.S. Two new year's resolutions: swim more (so addicted to it), and make my own bread, off to have a go at that now.

Some friends in sunny Italy, which wasn't.

A wonderful friend who moved to Australia, and I still haven't got over it.

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