Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Best Present


It wasn’t the usual things that made me remember his birthday this year. Not the terrifying fact that he isn’t getting any younger or that I always get his birth-date wrong (too late or too soon). Nope. It was memories of things friends share and a taste of many gin & tonics and Gaelic Coffees consumed, English braais, sharing laughter and everyone getting up to dance like loonies as the sun set over poppy fields near the Hill amongst the farms and where foxes live.

It is a friendship that had grown and survived for nearly ten years now. One that stays alive by emailing stuff about our different but similarly dysfunctional families, their children growing up too fast and how embarrassed they are these days by their giddy older parents sledging in the snow like craze-wits…

It’s memories of my best friend’s wife who once called a dreadful woman ‘an old bag’ – deservedly so. Me going off once on a ‘hee-haaa’ ice-skidding trod with her horse down a narrow Kentish lane and thus turning my friend’s wife into a rebuking white-faced shit-scared woman for my complete ignorance, stupidity and South African free-spirit bouncing all over the place.

My friend forever tickling the laughing glands over splendid English dinners; forever having some drama unfolding near or right on their doorstep.

A light drizzle this morning, brought to mind a scene of wintry gusts in the Northern Hemisphere – the bitter cold of January must have settled in well by now. In England. My friend lives below a bare winter forest and far above the rail track going to France. This morning, on his birthday, he would have jogged (stumbled?) down the narrow stairs from the attic and aimed directly for the only warm room in the house: The cozy yellow Kitchen. The place where a collection of cream-cows (porcelain) lives above the kitchen window that overlooks a hedge and The Hill. Earl Gray tea leafs poured into a tea pot, placed on the edge of the hot aga. Turning on the stereo next to it, tapping to the beat of a tune and in one movement taking a call from the phone that lives against the wall where the mugs are kept on a shelve. Fill the now elderly Cairn terrier’s bowl with food and garlic tablets, pick up the Sun from the kitchen wooden table, turn to the middle page immediately before scanning the articles for the latest political mischief in town.

I want to wish my best friend the best of birthdays today; with youth and spring in his every step when he goes out wearing a jacket and his ever present walking stick. I want to chat and laugh and down a whole pint of Gaelic or a stiff G&T, with my friend. Want to hear him talk about his latest hobbies, tiffs with stray mules (farmers and snooty folk), the latest music that tickles his fancy and hear about gypsies he’d seen trespassing, shooting hares or infuriatingly so, relieving themselves by the fences in the field nearby…

If we had lived in a different time, not able to cross the borders with travels as we do these days, I would never have been so lucky as to meet my best friend. I doubt anyone else would fill his shoes in this capacity. So I guess the ‘best-friend-theory’ works slightly different from the ‘soul-mate’ theory where each of us must have one in every country! It works different too from my ‘dad-is-the-best-ever-dad’, ‘my-boyfriend-husband’ or ‘my-best-girl-friend…’ thing too.

My best friend is something completely different. He is nice. Like a sofa in the only warm sun-dappled spot in a cold room…comfortable and dreadfully missed when I’m far away. I hope he enjoys today. My sometimes rummaging through drawers friend, faffing about for ages in search for only what he knows, and often not finding it.

There are times when he is a bit of a grump pot, mostly silently so, but often not as grumpy as caught in the drift of his own thoughts... He is, says my best friend, in touch with his feminine side. A caring friend, loving husband and father, intelligent nerd, knowledgeable writer, dangerous driver, great walker sharing my baffling love for Scotland, ageing and stubborn red-haired butt, buddy and dreamer...

Happy-Happy Birthday my very best Friend.

1 comment:

Brother Tobias said...

Thank you, EV. For the nice things, and even for the affectionate but accurate ones! I guess I can't deny any of it - except for 'The Sun'. Never (I'd only ever look at the pictures). The SS has the Daily Mail at weekends for the TV mag and the codeword. I have Radio 4 and, just occasionally, 'The Telegraph' for a crossword and a treat!).