An Alphabet Of My Life: F


Being an only child with no siblings to play with, friends became important to me at an early age. Once I went to Primary School at the age of 6, I soon discovered that being good at sport, especially football, was a good way to make friends.

But I was below average at sport.

So I made friends with the other kids who lived near me, but didn’t necessarily go to the same school. Playing out, as we called it, was done on the streets in the London borough I lived in. If there was an older boy in the group, he was considered to be in charge of the rest of us. Girls rarely featured, unless as the younger sister of one of the boys who was having to look after her.

Looking back, I realise that few if any of those street playmates ever became friends for more than a few months, perhaps a year. It was when I went to the secondary school at the age of 11 that I soon made real friends. These were the friends who came to my house, and I went to theirs. I got to know their families as well as I knew my own. We ate at each other’s houses, and spent most of the school holidays together.

Once we were in our teens, we dated girls together, drove around in each other’s cars, and even went on holidays together, or in small groups. Only leaving school and going to work started to break those bonds, followed by marriages, and moving to different areas a long way from each other.

However, two of those friends are still among my closest friends. We have been that way for over 59 years.

Another ‘category’ of friends would include work colleagues. Some of those are still in touch, and I see one of them around once a year. Another one speaks to me on the phone every month. He is in his 80s now, but we chat as if we are both still at work together in 1981.

Other friends include the group I once shared a house with, when I was 19. I wrote about meeting up with some of them again recently, one of whom I had not seen for 50 years. But it was as if we had just ‘left the room’ for a moment.

Getting older also means losing friends to illness, and that sad list gets longer every year. That is only to be expected, but that realisation doesn’t make it any easier.

Unlike family, great friends rarely judge you, and almost never have expectations of you. You can forget to call them, cancel appointments to see them, and it is always okay. You catch up when you can, no hard feelings. Modern times have given us email and text to help communicate. Before those, we had real letters, and landline phone calls. You had to make the effort, but it was worth that effort.

Since 2012, I have also made Blogging Friends. Genuine close communication with people I have never met, and most likely never will meet. But those friendships are as real as if I had gone to school with them, shared a house with them, or worked alongside them.

True friends are worth their weight in gold.

Blogging contacts

I have had a ‘musical interlude’ this week, and have been posting about quite a few songs once again.

But I have also been thinking about blogging of course, and in particular the way it has enabled me to contact complete strangers, people I would never have met otherwise.

I receive quite a few emails asking me questions about living in Norfolk. People who are thinking of relocating here often discover my blog when researching places to consider living in. Just yesterday, I was contacted by a lady from the London area, who is hoping to move to this region in the near future. I was able to offer her some thoughts about life in a rural location, and its positives and negatives, as well as suggesting some suitable places for a non-driver to live in Norfolk. We exchanged a few emails, and she thanked me for my time and consideration. Just a small thing of course, but something that would never have happened without blogging.

On a similar theme, I received an enquiry from a couple in the north-west of England last year, also about living in Norfolk. After various emails between us, they moved here, and settled in the north of Norfolk, quite close to the coast. They then kindly invited me to come up and see them in their new home, something I plan to do in the future. Another chance contact that would never have been possible, if they had not read my blog.

Through blogging, I have not only met people from all over the world, I have also become involved in some of their lives, to varying degrees. I have reviewed their books, promoted their blogs or endeavours, and received the same favours in return. I am lucky to have been invited to visit them, and stay with them in far-flung lands or places more familiar, if I ever get the chance to do so. Many have become close friends via email, though we will probably never meet. In some cases, I know as much if not more about their lives than most people I meet physically every day in Beetley.

I often use the terms ‘blogging community’ and ‘blogging friends’. Both are very true, and real to me. This small community has endured for over five years, those friendships have developed during that time, and continue to flourish. If you are undecided about becoming a blogger, or unhappy with the way your blogging experience is turning out, then just carry on. Eventually, you might well enjoy the richness of knowing so many good people, and feeling as if you have genuine contacts, all over the world.