I seriously dislike the idea of the word “wisdom”. To me it suggests some old geezer trying to tell someone younger something that’s either so bleeding obvious that no-one would listen to it or so profound that no-one would believe it and would, consequently fail to act on it!
So you are very lucky that I try not to impart “life advice” to anyone – at least not directly.
What I DO, however, is ponder on things (often for a very long time) and then write something on here which you can act on or ignore as you see fit. At least, I reason, if it’s in print you can’t complain that I didn’t tell you!
And my current pondering has been on….
As readers of the 344 previous posts on this site may know I have moved around a bit in my career – Ipswich to Chelmsford to Norwich, back to Chelmsford, then Cambridge and finally, nearly 25 years ago, to Peterborough.
In that time, I have made many acquaintances, quite a few friends and a small number of good friends.
It has to be said that, for reasons not entirely clear to me, those “good friends” mostly come from the 2 ends of that geographical list, that is to say: the first 25 years of my life and the latest 25 – leaving the 15 in the middle as a bit of a desert!
And what do I mean by those “grades” of friendship?
Well, “acquaintances” are just that; I know your name, you know mine and that’s it really – no great interest on either side in getting any closer than that. This is probably most of the people that you or I know and it includes people that you or I actively dislike.
“Friends” are the ones who are one or more steps closer than the previous category and this group most emphatically does NOT include any dislikes. These are people with whom you enjoy spending time and for me that means those that I do archery with, go fishing with, compete in quizzes with – that sort of “social” thing.
There is no hard and fast dividing line between “Friends” and “Good Friends” and it is actually quite difficult to define the differences!
To me, a “Good Friend” is one who would rally round without hesitation if I needed help and for whom I would do the same. They are also people with whom I can meet up after a gap of up to a substantial number of years and pick up as if no time at all has passed.
I’m quite sure, actually, that there are many other levels of “mateyness” and affection in the latter category but those are the only ones that I seem able to articulate at present.
Having said all that I’m sure you are wondering just WHY I should have been pondering in this way.
Well, the story begins last April with the most recent of our School Year Group reunions in Ipswich. While there were a few attendees who had not been before to swell the numbers it was noticeable that the man who actually started the Facebook group that kicked it all off was absent.
It turned out that Peter (who I call that because it’s his real name and I’m rubbish at pseudonyms) was away having treatment for Prostate Cancer – now one of the big fears for guys in our age group!
I was saddened to hear this and a few days later one of his closer friends in our group went on Facebook to tell us that the Chemotherapy seemed to be working and suggesting that we as a group should do something in aid of the Prostate Cancer charity and to show support for Peter.
As these things take some time to sort out it was decided that that at some point in the summer the Copleston 69 group would do a fund raising walk along a large part of the very long seafront at Felixstowe.
Along with several others I signed up for this immediately.
And so it came about that early in the morning of Saturday 7th July 2018 Faith and I set out from Peterborough for the 110 mile trip to Felixstowe to meet up with a dozen or so others outside the Fludyers Hotel for the 3½ mile or so hike along the promenade to the Viewpoint cafe at Landguard Point overlooking the massive container ships in Felixstowe Docks and across the estuary to Harwich. After a pause for chat and refreshments we retraced our steps back to The Fludyers (and beer)! I am pleased to say that Peter who had inspired it all, was, though still a little wobbly, able to do it all with us! As at the date of posting we have raised a total of £600 (plus Gift Aid tax relief of another £120 or so).
And it was thinking of how my grades of friendship applied to my fellow walkers that got me writing about all this.
During our 5 year incarceration at Copleston Secondary Modern School for boys from 1964 to 1969 most of these people (depending on how much of that time we spent in the same classes) fell somewhere in the fuzzy area between Acquaintances and Friends. Now, however, thanks to our social interaction most of that Facebook group have moved solidly into the Friends category and those who made the effort to turn out in baking hot sunshine (and on a day when England had a World Cup Quarter Final match too!) to hike 7 or 8 miles have, I think, mostly drifted into the equally fuzzy area between Friends and Good Friends.
Those of you who have ventured forward through the posts on here from February 2009 when I started and got as far as July 2010 will know that I have lost 2 friends (Su – breast cancer and Roger – brain tumours) to these awful afflictions and my own mother has lived for about 7 years now with very slow growing stomach cancer so I have no hesitation in doing what I can for the charities looking for cures.
So, as I said at the start, I’m not dispensing wisdom but please, wherever and whenever you can make sure that you contact and enjoy all of your friends while you can.
By the way, if anyone would like to contribute to our walk to raise funds for research into Prostate Cancer after the event please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/copleston69 and follow the instructions for giving. There’s even a photo on that page featuring yours truly in his white England football shirt – how’s that for a bonus?