Four times a year I meet up with old friends. We all worked together in the Council's typing pool as teenagers, apart from one, older, woman who is an infiltrator to our little group. She never worked in the typing pool with us, although she did work in the same building, but somehow wheedled her way in about twenty years ago and sort of took over. We are all aged between 50 and 55 now and B is approaching 70. As teenagers we all found her slightly scary and to be honest she was a bit of a dragon to us scatty young girls who were too scared to answer back.
Believe me, my oldest friends are all lovely women. We've been through marriage, divorce, children, bereavement and just about anything that life can throw at us together. We're not bosom buddies but we're always there for each other. Sometimes we don't see each other between our quarterly nights out.
Last night we went to the Thornhill Arms in Rushton, a delightful little village pub nestled in the heart of England. There were only six of us - a bit depleted because three others couldn't make it.
I wanted so much to share my experiences in London on Wednesday with my oldest friends. I'd made my mind up that I was going to tell them about Twisted Garlands, Jane's inspirational book and how I'd always loved writing.
B started off the evening, when H and I picked her up, by starting to talk about one of the others, who has been having a bit of a hard time lately. This I could have coped with - if it had been just two friends showing concern for another - but it wasn't. It could easily have turned into a bitching/slagging session and it made me feel uncomfortable all the way to L's house and H, who was driving, never uttered a single word all the way there. I was relieved when L got in the car.
It was a long, long night. Small talk about the weather; Florida and the Everglades; what was the difference between alligators and crocodiles; MBE's; which was the cheapest - Tescos or Morrisons; hairstyles; dogs and cats; the pros and cons of fake tans; air travel and check-in desks and America. All these conversations were cut short by B, changing the subject. C and J then started up a conversation between themselves, which I had half an ear on (it sounded fascinating and I'd have loved to have listened and joined in). L and H then started to talk to each other and I ended up talking to B, or rather B talked to me and I nodded, tutted, shook my head and made sympathetic noises now and then.
B went out to the loo. We all fell silent. J said "I've got something to tell you all, but well ......" her voice tailed off as she shrugged and raised her eyebrows.
I said "So have I but ..."
We all just looked at each other and H said, "Perhaps we ought to meet in town one lunchtime so we can have a chat."
Isn't life complicated sometimes?