Earlier in the month, I met up with a bunch of old friends. Because we live largely all over the place these days, there hadn't been a proper chance for everyone to get together for, as the Irish would say, the guts of six years.
The gang, it's probably worth pointing out, is all blokes (with a couple of exceptions) and I've never been treated in any other way than as one of the boys.Within three minutes of arriving in the bar, I'd been asked if I threw bigger tantrums than the kids; when I was going to 'do more pointless books', and teased about living in a place called The Old Shoe Shop: 'trust you, with your romanticised view of the countryside...'
Maybe there's something warped about being away for a long time and then meeting up again, but far from making me want to throw one of the tantrums they remembered so well, the whole evening had me grinning for a week.
These particular mates can say whatever they like; they've earned it. As unmarried, childless males they've bought books on parenting issues (and read them) because my name's in there. Several of them have talked me off a number of hysterical ledges. Others have travelled thousands of miles so that we can sit and chat. They remember my birthday; and when I got married, they threw me a stag party. There were shots, there was cross-dressing, and there was a lot of banter. It was ace. My point is, it's the sort of collective friendship that ends up being like a family. Slandered and libelled; it's part of what makes it great to be back home.
(This one is sort of in response to two memes. Alice asked me a while ago what my five favourite songs were, and even further ago than that, Laura tagged me for my favourite-ever song.)