It’s not a small world, but even so…
Perhaps topically, given the subject of the more recent posts on here (although I’ve only just realised that my last post was a whole month ago today!), we recently had two visits from the UK. The first was from my now rather aged mother (she’s 82 y’ know!) who came out to see us all on her own and only a few months after losing my dear old dad. As a member of the extended family has remarked; a plucky lady!
That visit went extremely smoothly and lasted two weeks, although we could all have enjoyed more time together.
The second visit – well, more of a meeting really, was with a former colleague and friend whom, for the purposes of this blog we shall call…Paul. Because that’s his name. No, really; he’s called Paul.
Paul and his lovely wife (whom for the purposes of this blog we shall call…Brenda – because; etc., etc., you get the picture) were over in BC on another Canadian vacation, covering as much of the province as they reasonably could in two weeks without getting nose bleeds. I first met Paul in 1999 when we were both forced into a classroom together as part of a police trainer’s training program. It sounds rather mild doesn’t it? Aha! Be not deceived good people! The police trainer’s course is (well, at least it certainly was at the time) perhaps the most feared course available to serving police officers. Back then, in order to take operational officers and turn them into (and I realise this sounds conceited but it applies to so many other hundreds of my former colleagues that I can’t dress it down) perhaps the finest group of adult educators in the country, the police service took people to places such as snowy Yorkshire where we were sealed off from the outside world and brainwashed.
Of course I exaggerate slightly – brainwashing it certainly wasn’t in the traditional sense, but washing of the brain perhaps. It was a hugely intense six weeks followed by four weeks of even more intense practicum. Intense, difficult, enlightening, frightening but ultimately life changing, this course brought together a group of fourteen very different people and changed them all. One of the best outcomes of the course was my friendship with Paul. Forged despite (sleeping on opposite sides of and against a wafer-thin plywood wall) my truly thunderous rectal expellations on the theme of methane each morning – Paul didn’t need an alarm clock as a result – our friendship was formed largely upon our shared sense of humour.
Paul and I worked together throughout the course and then, happily, throughout our practicum phase, which we have subsequently agreed was probably the most intense few weeks of our respective police careers. And so while our association was forged within a climate of hard work and to some degree, adversity, it was built upon a genuine regard for one another’s qualities. It is a friendship that is strong – I know this because after the lines of communication becoming stretched ever longer, our meeting last week was an unqualified joy.
For whatever reason (and there are only ever silly reasons for this), we lost touch with one another. Especially after emigtrating. I know how it can work; one person replies to an email too late or forgets entirely due to the day to day pressures of life and the link appears broken. One or both parties simply have too much else to think about and the communication imperative slips down the order of importance. It’s called life, and I understand it.
So, we had not had any communication for approximately five years until Tuesday last week, when an email from the man himself landed in my inbox! Shazzam!
“Oh nice!” I thought as I opened the message; “Paul’s back in touch again!” What did I read? The bugger is on holiday and staying 45 minutes away from me – but only for one more full day! Needless to say, a meeting was hastily arranged for the next day, although prior commitments dictated that we couldn’t indulge in a full day and evening (with appropriate levels of alcohol consumption) kind of visit. Dammit.
The next day we got the story from them; following a technology fart, Paul had changed his computer and lost a shed-load of addresses and other details, including my own. Sigh. My recent Christmas card with our new address on let him know I was still out here somewhere, but old phone numbers and such like no longer applied. By sheer chance, having only the previous day arrived in the nearby resort village, they had decided on a whim to visit the information centre, and in doing so began to chat to the lady behind the counter. As the conversation progressed the delightful coincidence emerged that the infomation operative (to give her the full title) is an acquaintance of ours as well! And so – shazzam! Surprise! Contact!
What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable but all-too-brief visit with two lovely people. I introduced my new wife (not quite at our second anniversary yet) to them both and we all got on very well, and as if we’d only seen one another the week before. From that meeting I know that I will always be able to call Paul a friend. I don’t use that term lightly – I reserve it for a very small group of people. My friends are people with whom the laughter flows naturally, with whom I never have to try, they are people with whom I can resume a years – old conversation at a second’s notice.
They are few and far between, my friends. They are immensely valued and immensely valuable to me. These people are very special. I’m very lucky.