Recently a work colleague had to go back to the UK without much notice.
She is someone who loves to travel and also is very mindful of how precious a good friendship is. As a result, she makes the effort to stay in contact and keep up with people in situations where a tiny more effort may be required.
I have always been wary of travel and careless of friends, which is poor of me. I could blame the fact that I moved around a lot when younger and within the space of 18 months experienced how dramatically things could change between friends. I could make the argument that when others make the effort, I always respond; but if I am truthful, I am lazy.
I do not enjoy going out in groups of more than about five or six, and quite often groups meeting after work are larger than this. I prefer to have one or two people and have a really good chat about stuff in depth than a lot of small talk conversation, although truth be told, I don’t get a lot of in depth stuff these days either. The nearest I get to it is when I am doing a play, and rehearsals involve looking at the characters and the hundreds of decisions you could make on how to play a particular scene. Or maybe to eavesdrop on someone else’s intense conversation by way of a podcast – which is probably why I enjoy them so much.
When we ran a pub, we were never without conversation – there were always people in there to talk to and quite often going in to town, a twenty minute walk, would take at least an hour as you ran into the regulars on the way. Hospitality is a great industry if you like a social life, but you do not really have to make an effort, it is sort of there.
So I when I was offered two tickets to see a musical by the colleague, who now could not use them, I resisted my initial impulse to say ‘no thanks’ straight away and accepted them, determined to make it work.
If this was the new me, though, I had some way to finding someone to join me.
I sent a text message to my husband, but he was working early the following morning, so even though the show finished early, said he could not go, and to try my mother.
I thought about it, long and hard, but then worried about it. My parents would not want the tickets because they do not like going out late, and to take one of them would mean leaving the other behind, or me taxi-ing them both there and back, which was going to be hard because there was no easy area to pick them up from. I thought of my mother, who likes to be in bed now by eight thirty feeling obliged to see the show because of the free tickets and not really enjoying it, and my dad not being able to work out why people were dressed as cats and not being able to remember how he got there or why. Then I thought of the fact that although they have never really done, ‘dinner and show’, that they were never going to do that now.
The tickets had been in my bag for under two hours when I gave them back. Maybe if I had had more notice, maybe if I was less of a drip, I could have made it work, but I ended up having to refuse. My colleague found another taker almost straight away so the tickets went to a good home.
On night, many years ago, I was working in a kitchen and the chef said to me, ‘I hear there are still tickets to see The Pretenders tonight – let’s see if we can get there.’
We got the kitchen finished and cleaned, grabbed a cab into town, got tickets on the door and had a great time. I have no idea where that girl went, but those were the days when there were more reasons to do something than reasons not to.
I sometimes feel I need to find her again.