Monday 20 June 2016

My friend Pauline

Everyone has ‘golden periods’ in their lives, a passage of time - maybe a minute, maybe a year - that you know will stay with you forever, where you experience or discover something that changes or defines you.  Sometimes you don’t realise until long after the fact - a wistful smile as you recall that wonderful summer, for example - but sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’re aware of them as they’re happening.
Pauline, in 1986, having just dropped me off after work
note - I took a lot of photos, even back then, but at this time I was still using a disc camera, hence the grainy image...
Me, June 1986
(taken on the Sixth Form trip to Great Yarmouth)
1986 was one-such time for me.  I finished school (having thoroughly enjoyed Sixth Form), started work straight away at Hunters Foods and passed my driving test.  I also met Pauline Weston at work (on 27th June, according to my diary of the time) who quickly became a very close friend and - I’m pleased to say - remains so to this day.

If you asked me now to explain how our friendship happened, I don’t think I could - something just clicked and whatever it was, it latched in tight.  My parents went on holiday and as I then couldn't drive,  Pauline offered to give me a lift into work.  You have to remember, I was fresh out of school - as brash and dopey as only a seventeen-year-old can be - and yet she tolerated me.  For my part it was easy - she was pretty, smart and independent, warm, witty and fiesty and I loved her for it, I still do.

I was proud to have a female best friend, partly because a platonic friendship seemed to confuse some people (as happened on our joint holiday to Corfu in 1992) but mostly because she was fun to be with and often gave me a completely different point of view on life.  We had a great time together and continue to do so.
Our friendship has seen us both go through a lot over the years - marriages for each of us, children (her daughter wasn’t quite one when I met her, Dude came along in 2005), heartbreak and heartache, health issues - but we’ve always been there for each other.
Corfu, 1992
When Alison & I started seeing one another, just after that Corfu holiday, I explained my friendship with Pauline straight away, because I was worried my future wife might not like it.  Thankfully, the pair of them got on as soon as they met.
Enjoying a laugh and some wine, 2002
Pauline & I laugh at similar things, our moral compass is on roughly the same bearing and she likes Bond films (though, sadly, doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for the Roger Moore-era ones), so we go to see them at the cinema together.  We get to make jokes at one anothers expense, such as our regular DVD evenings where my choice of film is often poorly received and whilst we share a love for disco and soul, my musical taste is subject to mirth as I’m apparently stuck in my ways (not that I can see it).
At Kettering Odeon, with Daniel Craig, November 2015
Free-spirited, kind and loyal, she can also be charmingly blunt.  Along with my Mum and Alison (I’m blessed to have such strong women in my life), she spent a lot of time trying to make me aware of how dangerous my weight was becoming but, like an idiot, I didn’t listen.  When I decided to make a change she was very supportive, as she was after my heart attack.  We’re now linked up on MapMyWalk and try to get out for a brisk three-or-four miler every fortnight (chatting from the minute we leave the house to the moment we get back).
After a walk, August 2015
I feel lucky to know Pauline, I’m honoured to call her my friend and I'm proud of our rich, shared history.  I’m also thankful that, all that time ago, she didn’t dismiss me as being a silly teenager.
left - 2002, right - 2012
It was her birthday yesterday and so this post is really a double celebration.  Happy birthday, my finest friend and here’s to the next thirty years of friendship!
Just about to set off on another walk - late May 2016

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