Remember that burst of 'toxic friend' articles all the magazines were publishing a couple of years ago? With practical box-offs on how to exorcise them from your life? I think I found a short cut.
Header aside, the post was born out of this: I was having a cup of tea with my friend Leyla, who was apologising for being 'crap' because she hadn't seen me for a couple of weeks. She is not crap. She has a baby, a freelance career, a wedding to plan and a life that goes on, even though mine has stalled a little bit. I know she isn't crap because she calls and texts me a lot, worrying that she's being crap. Also she went to Tesco's for me a couple of times and even took my mum once, which is a big thing, since I am practically allergic to accepting offers of help.
But it did get me thinking, this thing I'm going through does highlight the best and worst in people around me. Its not something I'm actively taking note of, or remotely looking out for, but it is quite apparent. And if I were on Facebook would result in a little bit of friend culling, and happily a few adds too. I did do that classic over-analytical girl thing and try to imagine WHY?? some people were being how they were. But now that I've mastered the boy approach of not really being bothered, I want to reassure anyone else that for every crap person who lets you down - and there will be some casualties - there will be about 3 who will surprise you in the opposite, much better way.
I have to tell you, its not great to sit me down and tell me, at length, you're terrified you might have cancer. I'm going to use Katie Piper as an analogy here, since I seem to be in awe of her guts at the moment, (although I hope she doesn't read this, since using her in this analogy doesn't seem the most sensitive thing I've ever done). This is like Katie going for a drink with her friend, and the friend telling her, at length, they're frightened if they walk across the street, someone will throw acid in their face and then they'll look like her. Come on people. surely there are better ears to voice your concerns to?
Actually, I'm not going to go into worsts - and there have been worse worsts - since the bests, are MUCH better.
If you're not here don't be disheartened. But you should think about upping your game nevertheless...
Everyone should have one of these. Mine is Katie Selby. I already have my other half - he doesn't need to be named on this role of honour - but my other other half needs her own tribute. She lives bloody miles away from me, has a suburban-born aversion to not sleeping in her own bed, and a fiance and a chicken to look after. Yet she looks after me like my wife would, were I a man in the 1940's. This commitment is so deep she has her own pyjamas permanently under my spare room pillow, and has cooked me more meals than my own mother. Sadly she's already engaged to another...
The Surprising Friend
I feel wrong saying 'suprising', I just mean he really stands out where I wasn't expecting anything - but Jonny Storey, the first photographer I ever shot with for LOOK, has taken the role of surrogate dad when mine is on the golf course. He pops round for tea whenever he's passing, he fixes taps in my flat, he brings his daughter round to tire out my kittens, and he even terrifies my mum with his driving. Typical dad-like behaviour.
The New Friend I Barely Know
Whereas some 'worsts' have failed me spectacularly, Alice Du Parcq is someone I have only properly met once (she's the Beauty Editor at Brides magazine), but regardless emails me regularly with gossip updates from the beauty launches I'm missing, funny pictures of Will & Kate false nails to make me laugh, offers help from her cancer researching husband, and advice from her cancer surviving mum, and even put said mum in touch with me, who now emails me also. So I'm covered on all Du Parcq fronts, and very happy about that too.
The Work Saviours
Lucy, Gemma and Sam make up the rest of my desk at work. They saved me from my first day back in the office after D-Day when everyone else was too uncomfortable to look at me, let alone talk to me (I understand - the customary 'how are you?' doesn't quite cut it in that scenario). They cheer me up with boy talk and clothes talk and general normalcy (very tenuous description in regards to these three). They visit me in hospital and I miss them when I'm stuck at home.
The Tenacious Friend
Miriam who lives in Mallorca. That is very far away. And even though I often don't answer her many calls, she just keeps making them. (Statistically it seems offensive, but she just rings me more than anyone else, so the ratio works out!) I should really answer them more because they invariable cheer me up too, although I think they cost her quite a lot...
My Flexible Friend,
Yes I love my credit card, but in this instance I'm talking about Debbie McQuoid. Country-dwelling, but has car, will travel. At the drop of a hat, last minute, doesn't bat a lash if I cancel repeatadly and with no warning, and always proffering new and exciting tea's. She's like the volunteer at the hospital but if Carlsberg did volunteer tea ladies.
The moral of this story is, everyone should have some of these, whether they're going through a tough time or not. If you don't you should get cracking on a B(r)e(a)st Friends Acquisition List, and spend some time acquiring. And don't waste time worrying about the Worsts, who needs them anyway?
This may be hard to believe, but I actually feel lucky to be in a position to smoke either variety of mine out, and if that isn't a happy spin on this harder part of life, I don't know what is...
p.s. Apparently chemotherapy patients often get overly emotional around their fourth treatment. So cut me some slack - I'm long overdue...