Thursday, 17 March 2011

On St Pats an ode to my school buddies. And I haven't even been drinking.

Instead of writing this here blog while Spoglette slumbers and Sproglet giggles with a playdate buddy over Horton hears a Who , I should be in Mulligans in Mayfair with a load of insane Oirish folk (or more likely folk who pretend to be Oirish for a day) drinking copious amounts of vodka, wearing a hideous novelty Guinness hat and fitting in a mercy puke at around 7pm so I can drink some more; joined by my equally bladdered school buddies. A years old ritual that I have had to forsake as no one has yet put Sproglette to bed bar me - and I couldn't get a sitter until 7ish. By the time I would have rolled up at said bar I'd have had to down a bottle of tequila to catch up with the others who began the celebrations at oh... 3pm. Maybe later I'll make a wee home martini and raise a toast to them all by myself - what a fucking saddo, I know. But at the weekend I read an article about a woman and her bestest buds from school - and it made me stop and think about my bunch.

My school buddies. I realise I haven't talked that much about them on here and yet, well they're my other family. In the last few years I haven't seen as much of them as I used to when we were all single-ish and debt ridden and struggling our way through life in London. Or wherever. There was always a party, or a wedding or an excuse to get together, sink some shots, talk rubbish and dance badly to a tuneless pub band. Now our meetings tend to be less group, more couples - lazy Sunday lunches and the odd Xmas gathering. Lives are busy, folk are spread out across the land, people have kids to bed and jobs that actually require thought - so turning up in yesterday's clothes stinking of booze with your pants inside out shovelling Nurofen down your gullet using a can of red bull doesn't quite cut it.

I miss them all. Some of the best times of my life have been with this bunch. My oldest buddy I met at nursery - at 3, when he crapped his pants and I laughed at him. As you do. He has since been potty trained and decamped to Oz, married a Sheila and produced 3 sons. He practically had his own filthy language (when he campaigned to get on the sixth form committee I wore a badge saying 'vote for B, suck my plums' for 2 weeks) and made me laugh more than anyone else. Last time I saw him was Feb 2008... Oz's gain was our gang's loss. At his leaving do in Sep 2001 I got hammered and cried all night, because I knew we were losing him - and we did.

The next oldest chum I met when I was all of 6. At my new school my tendency to talk a glass eye to sleep meant I was quickly removed from the girls' table and forced to sit next to a boy. Yuk. At 6 life couldn't get any worse when you were forced to sit next to a knock kneed member of the opposite sex who looked terrified every time you glanced in his direction. Hell, I thought, I'm gonna have to talk to somebody - the poor kid didn't stand a chance. The teacher's plan backfired - C and I became great mates and a mere 32 years later I'm off to his wedding in Italy in May. Cannot fecking wait. After a few bottles of red he is fond of saying 'we made each other who we are today' in that slurred, blurred emotional way that you can only get third bottle in. But he's right. Somehow we all shaped each other - in ways we aren't even aware of.

These are the boys who called me a dog, (I was a particularly ugly teen it has to be said - before the veneers and braces) and eroded my minuscule esteem and yet now enrich my life and support me like brothers. Then I met G and C - at 7 they joined our primary school. G - was particularly cruel in his teen years - but went on to marry a MAD woman, find happiness and did a massive 360 degree turn and is now a George Clooney-esque, yoga loving gentleman who is possibly one of the nicest people I know. Who'd have thunk it? C and I used to play on our bikes, build dens, smoke behind the swings at our local park during our GCSEs and he saved my bacon when I held a party at my Dad's house aged 15 (one that clearly my Dad had no idea I was having of course) and the place was an utter shambles - broken glass, fag butts galore, raided fridge, rubbish and bottles everywhere... I have a clear memory of him raiding a beer mug filled with 1p coins in order for us to replace milk that my mates had stolen from our neighbours. The neighbours who held a grudge and squealed on me to my Dad when he returned. I'm seeing him and his fab family for lunch on Sunday.

Another - D - used to be my bestest drinking buddy in London. He took me to the Ivy for lunch and then made me return the gesture by taking him to dinner and spending £25 on a burger from a cow that had only eaten water and chocolate or something... We'd bonded at school over a love of all things Prince and the fact we both had our hearts stamped on at the tender age of 17. Luckily he married a woman who is now a close friend; I've been blessed that the boys all chose well and have only added great women to the group - one that keeps growing with all our off spring.

One of them (I also met when I was 6)swore he'd go to Cambridge and become a cardiologist - and he only bloody did. He's also the one I kissed when my best friend was seeing him when we were 13. Now that was drama! She forgave me - but only because I spilled the beans. He got dumped. Mates before dates - an important rule ladies. He's probably one of the most determined people I know - and whilst he isn't the most expressive of souls - I know that if the chips are down, he and his wife would be completely there for me. Like the time my Grandmother died two days before Xmas. Her funeral was at 9am on Boxing Day - a wintry, grey rainy day. They came through their evil hangovers - just to be there for me. That night they had everyone over to drink and play the cereal box game (where you pick it up with your teeth using nothing else and then it gets smaller and smaller until one friend E wore A's scrubs to limber on down to win it)and put a smile back on my face. Times like that, friendship is priceless.

Then there are the girls. Or as H's Mum calls us all 'the Ya Yas.' (She loved the book). My tribe. They know me best - and thank god they still love me in spite of this fact! They've seen every side of me and know all there is to know. They're still here. E (met her at 11) lives in Glasgow and is the most fiercely protective buddy I have known. This woman played rugby at Uni - I wouldn't cross her! I can still call her at all times of night with child related questions and as ever, she is there for. There is C (met her at 11 - she had a skirt with a huge split in it and was devastatingly pretty so we spitefully called her the slut) - who lived with me in London and has the driest wit in the world. She takes the piss out of me at every available opportunity and clearly I give her much material to work with. She has the best hair and the best heart. She weeps at adverts and on the stairs at parties and also at this blog.

Poor H (met her at 15 - she had train track braces and a cool NOO Yawk accent on account of her living there - she was obviously deeply cool and I wasn't) gets my hormonally imbalanced calls during the X factor when she is trying to relax on a Saturday night. When we were teens we chicks used to compare breast sizes (clothed that is) in the mirror and I always won. (I woke one day with curves. I was called 'skateboard' on a Wednesday and became Jessica Rabbit on the Thurs - honestly). Now she mocks my shopping trolley sized maternity bras and I send her bags of my maternity clothes as next month she will sprog twins. The joy of being able to be 100% honest with her about myself is such a support through all the rocky roads I have. I hope I never take her for granted - the way that with all great buddies we inevitably do.

There is V (met at 16) who still comes out of her hermiting to trade chat and banter with me - and who has the best laugh I know. She helped me when my first love and boy who I gave my virginity treated me like dirt (BTW he didn't accept my request to be my friend on facebook - what is that about? Maybe because he hooked up years after we left school with the scrawny elf like creature who fancied him the whole time I was with him at school... Like Murphy's I am not bitter). We propped each other up in our lonely skint Uni London days and even though I can go months and months without talking to her - the minute I see her it is like we only just spoke.

There is E - Godmother to my son, bridesmaid at my wedding, my travelling round the world buddy, the one who sank a bottle of red with me last night and who has been my most constant friend since we met at 9. I remember when she joined the police they asked her to write a short biography - but she got me to do it instead - she reckoned I knew her better than she knew herself. She still can be mysterious and there is always more going on than she ever lets you know - but she has been my most loyal and supportive friend in life.

It's hard to find the words about them all - everything feels too schmaltzy or cliched or trite. There are others unmentioned too - B, W, G, E... who I love just as much. We aren't in each other's day to day lives like we used to be - fighting in the playground, snogging in bars, breaking up at parties and borrowing each other's make up in the days when getting ready was often more fun than the actual night out... Some of the gang have lost touch with other folk in it. Lives move on, we grow up, we have more responsibilities, less time - geography stops us from getting together as often as we maybe even could. But every time we do hang out, we always think - we should do this more often. Every time we do, I find myself sitting there, missing them though they are still with me.

One of my favourite lines in a movie is where Lester Bangs tells the kid in Almost Famous that 'the only currency you have in this world is what you share with someone when you are uncool.'

All I can say is that with all these people I am deeply uncool.

Happy St Pats muckers x

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