Simple Pleasures Number 12: Friendship
Something rather odd happened last week. Tell me what you think.
I’m in Uniqlo, Kensington High Street branch trying on a couple of their soft, duvet jackets – you know the ones, they’re super light, warm and cosy and come in a range of really great colours. We’re going to Japan in a couple of weeks and I thought I’d take some coals to Newcastle. Apparently it’s going to be a bit chilly plus although I already have one of their jackets in pale grey, I feel like I need something new to complement their springtime cherry blossoms.
I’m vascillating between a hot pink and a sharp green when this lady comes up to me. Now I say ‘lady’ because this is definitely what she was – of a certain age, and dressed most sensibly in a navy jacket and trousers. Accessorised with a discreet, silk navy and white scarf. Very Kensington. Although it later emerges that she’s down from the country doing a spot of shopping for an upcoming trip to the South Of France. Which on reflection was still very Kensington.
She comments that she noticed me trying on various jackets and she thinks they’d be just the thing for this time of year in the S of F. Now I rather like this whole interaction and am being very friendly and helpful (the keen eyed – and eared – amongst you will know that one of my previous careers involved image consultancy), when an old friend of mine who happens to be also doing some shopping there joins our little gathering.
Well she soon gets stuck in to the whole debate about jackets versus coats and hoods versus no hoods and before long it feels like we are all old friends. I can tell my Old Friend isn’t quite sure whether my New Friend is also an old friend but that doesn’t seem to matter as it’s all so very convivial.
I’m not sure at what point I sense the chemistry between the three of us has subtly altered. Suffice to say I begin to feel… shall we say … a little surplus to requirements. A touch three’s a crowd. The merest hint of ‘tenir la chandelle’.
For I notice that when I say something about coat length my New Friend seems to slightly glaze over whereas when my Old Friend makes a remark about Marseilles temperatures, my New Friend gives her the full on eye- contact beam.
Plus when my New Friend can’t find her preferred size in navy blue and I suggest that the black is chicer anyway, they both ignore me and agree that blue is the new black and in fact a much better and more flattering choice. I don’t know what was more hurtful – being ignored or having my opinion rejected.
Well as I’m sure you’ll agree, there was no point hanging around where I wasn’t wanted so feeling rather miffed I announce to no one in particular that I’m going to pay and head for the Pay Desk clutching my pink jacket.
My Old Friend soon catches up with me leaving my New Friend standing by the rail holding two jackets, one in blue and one in black, staring at our retreating backs and saying rather forlornly, ‘Well, I mustn’t keep you…’
At the cash desk, my Old Friend says she thought my New Friend was an old friend too. I tell her no, and explain she just came up to me because I was trying on jackets. I also mumble something like surely it didn’t seem likely that she and I could be friends. To which my Old Friend smiles faintly and shrugs.
And then we talk about something else and forget all about it.
Except as you can see, I don’t…
But I hear you cry, what on earth’s that all got to do with ‘Simple Pleasures’?
Well on reflection I might reply probably something to do with the simple, sometimes complicated, often painful yet always intriguing pleasure of friendship which however old and ‘mature’ you become, can occasionally feel like you’ve been picked up, spun around, shrunk to a sufficiently small and insignificant size and dropped rather abruptly back in to a particularly noisy, very confusing and altogether bewildering school playground.
Also I just wanted to come home, have my tea and tell my friends all about what happened. I reckoned you’d understand.
Which I often find is in itself a simple pleasure.