...save laughter and the love of friends."
Hilaire Belloc was right I think - and the older I become the more I think.
As a friend and I drove through the murky weather to Windermere we got to talking about the qualities of friendship. What makes a good friend? How much do we need friends? How important are they in our lives?
We came to the conclusion that maybe women need friends more than men do. Do you agree with this? We went through men of our acquaintance and could think of very few who seemed to have a circle of friends.
What is a friend? Well that in itself is open to discussion isn't it? I have one friend I have had since the first day I started school at four years old. We have never lost contact. We now live far apart and rarely see each other, but we talk regularly on the telephone, share our problems as well as our gardens and other interests in common.
As to what makes a good friend - well, I suppose we meet many people in our everyday lives but occasionally we meet a kindred spirit and the spark of friendship is ignited. My circle of friends up here in the Dales is very important to me. We meet regularly, chat, go out together, help each other along. Our Saturday mornings spent in the bay window of The Golden Lion pub drinking coffee and looking out upon the town which we all call home (or thereabouts) always seems to me to be such a civilised enjoyable activity. I think we all need the support of each other and the Saturday mornings just seem to me to be the cement which keeps the wall intact.
At no time is a friend more important than when one is bereaved. Losing one's partner in life is a bit like tearing a limb from a tree; the wound takes a very long time to heal. Friends help enormously. So-called friends whom you thought were friends but who now cross the road rather than confront you as you grieve, are best consigned to the 'have-been' heap. Often this lack of contact is because people really don't know what to say. If you are a true friend you will think of something.
So long may friendships continue as far as I am concerned - as Emerson said - a good friend is THE masterpiece of Nature. So raise your glass to my toast for today