Thursday, 21 June 2007

Absent Friends

Doom and gloom here in rainy Cornwall. Husband’s appointment to have his tooth fixed so that he can play the trumpet properly has been cancelled as our dentist is ill. Tooth can’t be fixed till Tuesday. This is Bad News for someone who’s waited two months to have it fixed; he’s itching to start playing again so that he can sit in with other bands. TLC has been administered in large doses and he has departed, slightly (but only slightly) mollified.

During a long, hot flushed night, I started thinking about a friend I met over 20 years ago in hospital. (I know where to meet people.) She’d just tried to commit suicide following the breakup of her first marriage and was talking to no one, but I must have sensed some kinship there as I said, ‘do you like cats?’ We’re talking high social skills here.
‘Yes,’ she replied. And so a friendship was born.

Sandra had trained as a nurse, then decided that she wanted to become a pilot. In order to get cheap flying lessons she had to belong to London Transport, so she took her LGV licence and became a bus driver. It wasn’t a job that she enjoyed much, and on one occasion she left the bus in the middle of the Kings Road, to the outrage of her passengers.

Still, she achieved her purpose, which was to get her Private Pilots Licence, and she then went on to get her commercial licence, and gained flying experience in such places as Papua New Guinea. This meant that her darling cat Cyd moved in with me. Initially the arrangement was for six months but as Sandra didn’t reappear for 18 months, by that time Cyd had decided she was going to stay with me and Sandra could bugger off. We had a very soulful evening discussing adoption rights.

Eventually Sandra got a job with an international airline that shall remain nameless where she got the sack. She sued them for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination and a massive rumpus followed, court cases were flung across the globe and Sandra and her family were dogged by reporters camped out on doorsteps. Eventually they agreed to settle out of court and Sandra disappeared to America.

Being an extremely attractive woman, she was never short of admirers, but some were dodgy, to put it politely. At one point she was seeing a man in Scotland who had offered to set her up in business, had Bentleys etc., always took her to the smartest restaurants – but always declined to meet me. I saw her off at Kings Cross one lunch hour when she travelled up to Scotland to beard him in his den (she had a sniff that Something was Up) and found that he had a wife and children up there. The moral of this story, never trust a man who won’t meet your best mate.

Months – sometimes years - would go by without me seeing her, then she would ring and we’d meet up, pick up the pieces as if she’d never been away. At some point while her court case was going on, she met a lovely man in America, and they eventually married. She was determined that I go and stay with them in Florida (he worked at NASA) and rang me at work, insisting that I go for a specific date.
‘Why?’ I said.
‘Because it’s the shuttle launch,’ she said casually.
Well, I had to go for that, didn’t I?

That was the last time I saw her. We kept in touch for a while but she wanted me to move out there, and I wasn’t keen on the idea. When Cyd died I sent her a postcard, and she rang up one day, from London. She was studying for more exams, she said, but I must have sounded a bit lacklustre: I had bronchitis and was feeling terrible. She never rang again.

I tried on several occasions to get in touch, by phone and letter. I even rang her Mum and asked her to pass on the message. But I never heard from Sandra again.

The other day I was sorting out my desk when I found a beermat from one birthday of mine. On it she wrote, ‘Very many Happy Returns to my Best Mate always. Lots of love Sandra.’

So what went wrong?

5 comments:

Akelamalu said...

Thanks for sharing this, it struck a chord! It's so easy to lose touch with long-standing friends. I have friends who I spent the best years of my life with but now only keep in touch by Christmas card! Well at least we've not lost touch altogether, but I will make an effort to rekindle the friendship to a level above that. Thanks for the reminder!

Rebecca Taunton said...

It's so sad when this happens. I think sometimes, no matter how close we are to people, you just end up growing apart. Perhaps when there's too much to do, we forget about other things that once meant more.

I lost one of my closest friends too. Contact was made less and less frequently, until eventually it was gone forever.

Flowerpot said...

Isn't it strange? I'm sure there was a perfectly good reason for it - but can't for the life of me think what. Glad it's not just me. Still, you never know - maybe someone who knows someone will tell her about this and she'll get in touch. Maybe.

Jayne said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog. I always love reading a new blog, so I was chuffed to read yours.

Your friend still may 'reappear' at some point. Sometimes I guess that people just get swept up in their life and other people get sidetracked but with no reason in mind.

Good luck with your husbnad's tooth!

Take care

debio said...

Lovely blog, flowerpot. It just seems to be 'life' that we lose some people along the way.....