We all need people, don’t we? As we go through life, we meet all sorts of people and some of them go on to be firm friends. Sadly, the life of an expat means that we all move on, sometimes quite rapidly. As a result, we lose touch and can lose a good friend. Every now and then, an opportunity presents itself to get back in touch. I’m not a great fan of social media, but they are very handy in this regard.
Just a few weeks ago, I had one of those little beeps on my mobile. It was a slightly different tone to the one that I’m used to when I keep in touch with ‘she who must be obeyed’ so I was a little confused. I eventually found the message and it was from an old chum from my Bahrain days. We had been in Round Table together a while ago.
It turned out that he was visiting Dubai and wanted to know if I was going to be around. I checked and confirmed that I would be. To cut a long story short, we met up and had a meal and I met his wonderful wife. The lovely thing was that I also got a chance to see his daughter, who I had taught during my time in Bahrain. All in all, it was a brilliant evening, where we caught up and it was as if there had not been a twelve-year interregnum.
Then just a couple of days later, I got another message, from a different friend from way back. We had been holiday-home neighbours in Cyprus and had always enjoyed each other’s company. Once again, arrangements were made, and we got together for a barbecue in her apartment near to La Mer beach.
It was great! Time had passed but we just picked up where we had left off and carried on. Family news was exchanged, and updates took place. But it started me thinking.
There are two types of people in this regard, in my opinion. Firstly, those who are really good at keeping in touch and assiduously write letters or are slaves to social media sites. Then there is the second group, of which I am a member, who just lose touch and grab the opportunity to rekindle the flames of an old friendship as and when it happens. There is a third group, I guess – those who do not keep in touch and avoid doing so in a deliberate manner. These are the determined anti-social types, though, and don’t feature in my analysis.
I am not great at keeping in touch. I acknowledge that readily; it is part of the way I am. Nevertheless, when I meet up with old chums, it is as if there has been no real interval. Time has passed, surely, but the reasons which were behind the affection, the friendship, remain as strong as ever they were. Aristotle suggested that there are three categories of friendship. Those based on utility, pleasure and respect. The latter category is the one which endures.
I am very lucky, I think.
Mike Gaunt is a former assistant headmaster at St Christopher’s School, Bahrain – email@example.com