This post has been difficult to put together, not because I have too few friends but because I am blessed to have so many. The only way I could think of to prevent this post turning into another never-ending essay was to try to decide which of my wonderful friends I would choose as bridesmaids if I was ever to get married. Although I am sure this list will put the fear of God into my parents financial five-year plan I couldn’t help but include so many and would have included more if I had not been trying to stop this post becoming a bore. Here in no particular order, other than the first who will always be my best friend, are the women in my life who have moved me to tears with their kindness, their generosity, their jokes and anecdotes and by always being there to clasp my hand tightly when everything around us has been falling apart.
Katharine Ryland – Whilst I was at university myself and Katherine lost touch for some time. It was inevitable in a way, although we had been the best of friends since we were 13 we both had such busy lives and it was hard to find the time to stay in touch. If I’m honest I always felt it was my fault that we’d drifted apart, she had started going out with a guy who I struggled to get on with and though I tried to hide it I’m sure she sensed it and ultimately I’m sure it effected our friendship. In spite of this we still saw each other from time to time and on my twenty-first-birthday she called me up to tell me she was pregnant. I was delighted for her but I still had another year of study up North and it wasn’t until I moved back home that we got properly back in touch.
We went out with her beautiful baby boy to Cafe Bruxelles and ended up having such a great day that I remember feeling really rather sad about all I had missed sharing with her and I made a decision to make more of an effort to get on with her partner; she was too good a friend to lose and after all she loved him and he made her happy so how could I not.
Not long after this lunch she got engaged and I was so pleased I got to share in her happiness when she told me her news. A few months later whilst out on a girls night in Leicester she turned to me and asked if I wanted to be her maid of honour. I can honestly say that even if I ever get engaged this will remain the happiest moment in my life; we had made a promise to one another when we were 16 in a bar in Lanzarote over a jug of sangria to be each other’s bridesmaids. I had assumed when she got engaged that she might ask someone else to take the job as we had been out of touch for so long so when she asked me I was ridiculously happy.
Although my dress ended up being made by her mother, when we first went shopping to find a dress I could wear she assured me I could pick anyone I wanted and whilst we were in the shop she tried on the dress she had chosen and I started to cry like a child at how beautiful she looked. The night before the wedding I stayed the night at her parents house and we shared her bed together as we had done years ago when we were kids. In the morning I helped her with her make up and getting dressed and did my best to soothe her little boy when he had a tantrum minutes before we were due to leave because he wanted to try on Mummy’s veil. There is a picture of the two of us arm in arm leaving the church and it looks as though we have just emerged from a civil ceremony and still cracks me up when I see it. She made a beautiful bride and I was inspired to give a speech after her husband and father had said their piece about what a wonderful woman she was and how truly lucky her husband was to have her by his side.
We have always shared everything with one another, although to begin with as an only child she did struggle with the concept of sharing clothing. We once had a massive fall out because she refused to let me wear her top as she was convinced I was going to stretch it. There was no secrecy or privacy between us when we were younger; after we got badly burnt on an overcast day in Devon after falling asleep together on the beach we got home and had to rub after-sun into each others ridiculous tan lines. As we soothed each others skin with aloe vera and very gentle application we were simultaneously cracking up with laughter at how silly we both looked.
We found the results of all our exams together and when we were on holiday in Lanzarote we crammed into a telephone booth on the sea-walk of Lanzarote giggling in disbelief at the amount of As Katherine had got. We also helped each other through the dark days; through heartbreak and troubles at home. It was Katherine who held my hand on the way back to my home after my parents had rung hers to ask if they could bring me home straight away because my sister had gone downhill fast and the doctors were concerned that she wasn’t going to make it through the night. She is hilarious, intelligent and caring and even with a baby boy to care for she did so well in her degree that when she graduated she had two jobs waiting for her. I will always be pleased we got back in touch, my life would be nowhere near as fun without her. I will save sharing some of my favourite memories of our friendship as she has asked if she can write a post about her three favourite memories of us but I imagine they might include the time I went skinny dipping with my sister on my sweet sixteenth in Eastbourne at midnight. Other than my sister it will be Katherine who I will tell if I ever find myself knocked up and it will be her who I will want by my side on the day of my wedding.
AC: When me and the boy first got together i always felt a little lonely when I was round at his house. he lived with six other guys, nearly all of who had long-standing girlfriends and I felt a bit of a spare wheel. The one girl who I immediately clicked with however was Anna. She had dreams of being a musical theatre star and although she enjoyed singing as much as me, people actually enjoyed it when she sang. This shared love of singing and a tendency to live our lives in a rather dramatic way means we have spent many a taxi ride home singing away even when the boys beg us to stop. When I met her I remember speaking about her with one of my friends and concluding that she was a natural beauty and that we were actually really rather jealous of her perfectly shaped eyebrows, white teeth and dancers figure. In the early days of our friendship I was rather worried that I might be a bit much for her, when I bumped into her in the library one day and started talking at her at a mile a minute about dissertations and exams and nights out I had been planning she appeared to be somewhat terrified. We became firm friends however after the boys moved to a smaller house and I think it may have helped that I opened my entire wardrobe to her and did my very best to put aside my reservations about vegetarians and would happily make her hippy friendly food whenever we had a dinner party.
The time I realised I had a friend for life was when she agreed to join me in getting dressed up as a witch to go and queue outside Waterstones for the release of the last Harry Potter book in the series. There are few friends who will partake in this kind of humiliation just to keep someone company but Anna came with me in spite of never having read any of the books. We spent the next fortnight driving the boys mad by shutting ourselves away in one of their rooms and banning them entry until we had read at least another four chapters. I think it was whilst we were lying on a bed repeating lines to one another which made us giggle that I realised I had got myself a friend for life who felt as much like a sister as my own blood.
Anna is one of those rare friends who will be by your side even when you have done everything in your power to try to hide away from the world. Three nights after I’d had a nervous breakdown and ended up in hospital I went to the launch of the boy’s first single. I was only able to do so because I had Anna with me the whole time, holding my hand reminding me that I wasn’t crazy and that everything was going to be OK even if it didn’t feel that way at the time. She is able to make me laugh at life events which are otherwise tragic and when me and the boy were having a heap of troubles last year it was Anna who held me whilst I cried my heart out over loss and love still to raw to share. We have both followed our dreams in life and I am sure I would not have had the guts to carry on going for mine if I hadn’t had her for inspiration. She never once gave up on her dream of playing a role in a musical and now she is touring the country playing the part of Neil Sedaka’s wife in the hit play, Laughter In The Rain. She is my Scrabble companion and the only one who is sweet enough not to tell me how dreadful a singer I really am.
In spite of my efforts not to make this an essay I have noticed that all to quickly the word count has crept us and so I will save the other five for another day, I promise you they are worth the space.
- Today’s dress has been donated by my Auntie Bridgeen. It was originally from Primark and thankfully has a slip to preserve my modesty. Katharine and my friend Monica took the photos and the reason I am cracking up in them is because Monica has just told me that I am in trouble with someone because of something I have said on the blog. The gingerbread man was made by Katherine’s son. Katherine gifted me another dress to wear whilst I was at her house, proof indeed that her issues with sharing have been resolved.
Last night when having dinner with friends we got on to the topic of the boy to discuss my boyfriend, who was also at the meal. I have never been a fan of the term partner, it just seems a little too grown up and ambiguous. Alternatively to refer to him as my boyfriend feels too personal for me and he has said from the start he does not want me using his name for similar reasons. And so I settled on the boy when I started the blog because to me at least it sounded cute and similar to “the one” which if I believed in all that rubbish, I might say he was but I don’t so it just sounds cute and nice.
I am surprised I admit by the amount of male backlash to the term, girls seem to understand it is used affectionately, but male friends and readers, whether seriously or just to play the devils advocate, TE you know who you are, suggest they view it as a derogatory label and one reader even suggested he gave up on the posts because one of them “went all feminist”. A lot of them have a problem with the term because they think it suggests I see him as below me as being under the thumb. They also support their argument with historical about to times gone by when slaves were called boy by the masters in the plantations of the American deep south, which upsets me as I have studied the history and literature of the time and it is a rather upsetting comparison. I had never considered any of these issues so I guess I wanted to know whether any of you my lovely readers have an opinion on whether the boy should be no more. I have come up with several other terms including: The Drummer, GP, Mi-guy, C-dawg (his not mine I assure you) but am open to suggestions and your thoughts. Until I get any particularly strong reaction however I will be sticking with the boy, as both myself and my guy are happy with that and as everyone knows there are only two people who ever know what really goes on in a relationship so if those two are happy it really has no bearing whatever anyone else thinks, unless you are in an open relationship or have a lot of threesome of course.
The dress I am wearing today is from John Rocha, my mother got it for me last year in the Debenham’s sale, and though I first put it to the back of my wardrobe with little thought I have really warmed to it. I wore it to death during my journalism course in Manchester as in a city where rain is the natural forecast it is lovely and bright and the burnt oranges mean you can get away with wearing it in winter and throughout the year. It is one of those dresses which makes one feel feminine and free simultaneously. The colours on it and the pattern is fabulous and the unusual length makes it rather lady-like whilst preventing it getting covered in the tar which coats the jeans and hemlines of every pedestrian in the city. Usually I love wearing it with flip-flops in the summer and patterned black tights and ankle boots in the winter, today though I had only slouchy boots, green shoes or pink tights so I spent most of the day looking like I had an unfortunate affair with the easter bunny and telly tubbies combined.
My greatest memory of wearing this dress was one wonderful day in March last year, which I think will always rate highly in my top hundred memories of all time. Myself and some of my closest friends from my NCTJ course had decided to take a trip to the countryside bringing with us every newspaper on the stand, a couple of blankets and wearing ridiculously unsuitable gear. We took my little red lupo Freddie which was a fabulous car which could usually zip past a Porsche in seconds but with the weight of five people and the press struggled to make the speed limit. Freddie, named so because he looked like a little frog with his cute eyes and ribbit mouth was my first car and though I was devestated when my brother sold it late last year I would not have been here writing this now had I crashed whilst driving the little red one. He may have been zippy but he was nowhere near as boxy as Foxy and could well have crumpled by the third spin.
We went to Lyme Park on the outskirts of Manchester and spent the day walking, frolicking and lazing in the grass reading the papers. One of my friends had a camera and the photos from the day are spectacular and really show how well we were feeling. it was at the beginning of the course and we all felt so full of possibility and delight at finally following our dreams and having met such good friends along the way. We were also joined by one of the girl’s boyfriends; they were in the first flushes of love and I think myself, the other girl and the other guy took pleasure in watching them together as they were so cute and couldn’t keep their hands off each other – play-fighting and cuddling all the day.
The best part of our day was when whilst walking we came across a lake, or possibly it was a reservoir hidden from view by a strong stone wall and some tricky looking barbed wire. Me and my friends climbed over, stripped down to our underwear and went for what was the shortest swim of my life. The water was gorgeous, so clear and ice-cold. It was the kind of experience which shocks all of your senses into acknowledging the beauty and splendour of the world in which we live; even if we had to leave the city to remind ourselves of the beauty of our county. Heading back to the car after I wrapped the dress round me and pulled on a warm cashmere polo-neck thankful to be alive and to have such fantastic friends but shivering nevertheless.