I've been reacquainted with two old friends this week leading me to believe that the more you've seen each other through, the better friends you are. Both friends have seen me through some extremes.
Gareth, who's over in Australia with his family for a bat mitzvah, was about when my father died. We've known each other for nearly twenty years. I remember him coming down to Surrey to stay with me when I was looking after a friend's house and cats a few weeks after Dad had passed. He was just around the place, checking up on me, making sure that the zombie I'd turned into wasn't doing anything too silly. I don't remember anything more than the gesture was appreciated - a lot of my friends weren't too good at dealing with death at the time.
Fifteen years on, Gareth is still Gareth. He has a small pot where a washboard used to be, there's more grey in his hair that there was. The jokes are still awful. But he still has his mobile clipped to his belt, his clothing is still of your mid range department store lines - shirt tucked into his jeans, sensible shoes, nothing fashionable, but nothing objectionable either. All very comforting stuff. His quick fire mouth has been passed on to his nine-year-old daughter, who stangely has all of his mannerisms, the best of his looks and all of his guile.
Gareth's wife, Georgina, would be a close and constant friend if she lived here instead of in the UK. Her warm presence, down to earth nature and love of family have kept them together, happily married for twelve years now. I don't think I could cope with Gareth's dark side, reliance on convention and sheer bloody mindedness. Georgina and I met on the steps of the registry office at their civil wedding. We summed each other up and asked "who are you?" She was the bride. I was Gareth's - um, err - old friend (after a brief fling two years before Gareth and I worked out things were better being friends) She and I have get on like a house on fire. We're good at ganging up on Gareth - it's easy to do - we both know him very well.
Spending time with them on Wednesday night was like falling into an old armchair by the fire. It was a lovely quiet night, spend with a bottle of wine catching up on the last four years since I was last over in the UK.
I find a lot of comfort in the constant nature of this friendship. We don't talk often ,but they are always there.
The following morning, Reindert walks back in.
You are always going to bond with somebody you nearly get arrested with.
The halls of Tin Can, String and Whistle haven't been the same since he left, and I've enjoyed watching the ripple effect him being around has had on the guys around me.
Reindert's a bit of an enigma. A bit strange to look at, Popeye often calls him the "Great, bald, Dutch, white worm". Even I'll admit that Reindert is a bit odd - I mean he runs a marathon a month. How odd do you want? He also is bald, by choice, thankfully not favouring the comb over his father wears back in Holland. I don't think he produces melanin either - being a fetching shade of eggshell all year round. There is a legend around the traps that when he announced he was going to Uluru to see the rock, self tanning lotion was put into his moisturiser that he was forever rubbing into his head. The aforesaid moisturiser tube was taken away with a note left for him saying "Can't having you go to Ayre's Rock looking like Ayre's Rock...."
Having him around for the next ten days is great. I've stopped bouncing around like Tigger chanting "I've got me mate back." Things have settled back to where we were before he left.
Reindert was the one who got me into running. He was the one who said I could do a half marathon, and the one who saw me across the finish line of the Adelaide half marathon.We also took a trip to transport the Grounded Dutchman's Landcruiser back from Newcastle to Melbourne after his accident - via Parkes, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga and lastly Rutherglen - where the near arrest took place. (Don't ask - how we got the Landcruiser up to 117 in a hundred zone I do not know, and don't ask me how he blew just on the limit and I was well under...).
Many people will say Reindert is one of the most generous people they know - one of the few in senior management who is truly guiding, inspirational and encouraging. There aren't enough people like him about.
I'm still a bit amazed that he's singled me out a a friend.
Unfortunately he's been called to Sydney for business for this part of his trip - we were rather looking forward to a night at beer club followed by a meal at a favorite cheap Malaysian restaurant - then churros. All not on the diet, but it doesn't happen often. I think he's as disappointed as I am. Will just have to catch up on a visit to the wineries of the Yarra Valley on Sunday. And do the beer club, Sambal and Churros thing after work lets him out next week.
I'm just seeking comfort in the fact that some much loved people have returned. I'm glad I have people like this around. In this aspect of my life, I am blessed.
Card of the Blog: The King of Wands - an active, vital, creative man. Mastering creativity. Joy. Passion.
Kilometres walked since 29 January: 165 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 98 km
Currently reading: Celebrity by Andrew O'Hagan, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 1.7 kg