A friend indeed

May 14 | 2019

The late great (in my opinion) Frank Sinatra once used the inimitable phrase ‘A friend in need is a pest!’ which although very amusing, does not necessarily express a sentiment with which I agree.

Tony Allen: And finally... I much prefer the alternative as sung by Barbara Streisand which intones that ‘People who need people are the luckiest people in the world’ – and what a star-studded paragraph this is!

My very oldest friends (in both senses of the word) are five gentleman I have known since school days, and apart from the fact that one of them introduced me to the lady wife, and providing that you interpret this in a liberal sense, are all still hale and hearty.

Friendship groups are quite fascinating because they always seems to have the same balance of individuals. There’s normally the putative leader; there’s always the entertainer/comedian; there’s always the sensible one; there’s always the practical one and there’s always the emotional one. Fascinatingly enough, one’s role can be interchangeable according to which group of friends you are with.

Within, what I shall call my, original group of friends, there is really no hiding place. We have each travelled along our own individual paths and have achieved varying degrees of success and happiness. But when we are together we all revert to our original types, and if you start to get too big for your boots ….

An old boss of mine once opined that: anyone who can count their true friends on the digits of one hand can consider themselves very lucky – and that includes cutting your thumb off! All I can say is that thank goodness I’ve got more than four friends because there’s no way I’m going to amputate a thumb for anybody; and that includes my friends!

There is of course a vast difference between friendship and acquaintanceship and some people collect ‘friends’ almost as a badge of popularity:

“We’ve got twenty people coming for Christmas dinner.”

“Blast, we’ve only got sixteen. That’s ruined my Christmas.”

See what I mean?

In addition all we need to do is join Facebook and then we can have hundreds of friends so that you can spend a whole day checking to see how many people have wished you Happy Birthday in the hope that it will exceed your next door neighbour’s tally from the day before.

Of course, some feel that the key to happiness is to choose friends who are less good looking than you, less affluent than you, less intelligent than you, and so on. Which is a bit worrying because I’ve got quite a lot of friends. Anyway, I believe that this viewpoint is best summed up by American intellectual Gore Vidal who stated that: “When a friend succeeds, something in me always dies.”

With any group of friends there is always a ‘glue’ that binds them together, whether it be an interest in making balsa wood models or as in the case of my oldest group of friends, humour. We have a great time retelling old humorous situations which are always accompanied by howls of laughter even though we already know the conclusion.

I crave your indulgence, as this reminds me of the joke about a new prisoner in a cell who was taken down to dinner by his cell-mate on his first night and noticed that, during the course of the meal, prisoners would stand up, shout out a number and the whole ensemble would collapse in fits of laughter.

When the new prisoner got back to the cell he asked what was going on and was told that most of the inmates were lifers and already knew all of the jokes and therefore each joke was given a number to avoid the need to tell them all over again.

That evening our prisoner decided to have a try, so he stood up and shouted out ’36!’ and the room fell absolutely silent. Disconcerted, he turned to his cell mate and enquired why the response was so bad. ‘Well’ said his cell mate ‘it’s simple really - you just didn’t tell it properly!’

Sorry about that little interlude but it seemed appropriate, and apologies if you have already heard it but what’s a little joke between friends.

What I would finally say is that we should all treasure our friendships because they are one of the greatest gifts that we have, and that applies to both giving and receiving. Most of all treasure the moving industry because I’m not directly a mover myself, but you exist in what I consider to be one of the friendliest industries in the world.