I had a group of friends at University with whom I shared the first steps away from home, discovered earnest conversation, bad cookery and odd low-level eccentricities, the latest novels and beer. This mutual curiosity bound us to each other and we shared the banter and camaraderie of all young men starting out in life. There was “Smudger” Connell, named after a famous incident with his shirt involving soup. “Wide Boy” Smith who sold an expired football ticket for half price to a man with partial blindness ( shameful I know ), and a few balanced and well-adjusted folk like yours truly.
I remember some of the odd habits. A guy who always bought the smallest tins of coffee because he thought it made each cup cheaper. Another guy with inflatable clothes hangers irritating everybody when he left them hanging in the kitchen. We went through university, sharing our adventures, gradually maturing as we moved into our final year. Differences of approach slowly emerged as some people seemed more driven by their studies than others, and the more strategic ones were already planning the next move in their careers. Until the finals rushed towards us we would convene for regular drinks, banter and putting the world to rights.
I moved on my way, half way between explorer and voyeur, loving all the sights and adventures but sadly lacking in a “strategic sense of career development” or the other stuff with which we prime the outlook of the young. I’m not complaining. On lots of levels I’ve had a blast, and enough adventures to start on my new masterpiece “A Coward’s View of Everest” . Anyway, never mind that. I can already hear the music starting for the next dance in my career, or is that a truck reversing
I am cheerful, full of life and no respecter of uniforms or social status, which is fine for most people except those who have spent a life time obtaining it or them , depending on your level of pedantry . I can be unfortunate. I never seek to discomfort or be rude but sometimes the most casually placed remark can unwittingly cause offense.
The reason I mention this is that life moved on, Pre facepack days and before a mobile phone lived in every pocket or bag it was hard to keep in touch. In the main, laziness , time and other priorities ate at the bonds of friendship. We spread throughout the globe and different professions just as matter gradually separates in space. Move on a few decades and I’m still careering round doing this and that, some times better than others but enjoying myself, or whimpering in an alley depending on the current circumstances. Don’t ask me why, but I joined LinkedIn in a laughable attempt to climb the corporate ladder.
After a short time I got someone trying to “friend” or “link” with me. It was a Sir Thomas Franklyn Connell of soup spillage fame and now someone very senior in the Treasury apparently. Still, whats past is past. No need to dwell on it. “Hey Smudger, me old china”, I wrote. “Hope you haven’t disgraced yourself on the pavement recently Ho Ho Ho”. Anyway. Lets face it I got it all wrong. You cannot bring yesterdays familiarities into todays’ conversations. Sometimes, when an embarrassing memory rises from the past, silence is the best reply. It was a tactic he used on this occasion.
Brief note. All names have been changes to protect my reputation.