I tried to dump one of my best friends recently, let’s call her Anna; deliberately turned down invites. Didn’t instigate meet-ups for coffee. Was slow on the Whatsapp replies. She was offended, rightly so. She’s 36. I’m 67, says Elaine Kingett.
‘Are you OK? What’s wrong?’
“I should have friends my own age. Not hang around with people my kids’ age.’
‘What? Are you crazy? Don’t you think I need YOUR friendship?’
When I had breast cancer it was a younger friend who got my blood pressure down at the pre-assessment, by taking me across to Carluccio’s for a large glass of red. It was my son who accompanied me to the actual op and my daughter’s friend who picked us both up afterwards. It was Anna who turned up at my door with treats, goodies and hugs when I was convalescing.
I’ve always had friends of all ages, and worked with younger people, but as I get older my younger friends (of both sexes) have become increasingly important. Their energy, spontaneity and willingness to buck the trend seems more attuned to my own lifestyle. They cheer me up, take me out and remember to phone. We share the same musical and sartorial tastes and my single-woman need for a loving touch is generously fulfilled by their warm, readily-offered hugs.
Friends my own age have partners and grandchildren to occupy their time and many are retired, with the funds to enjoy it. Yes, in the past I envied them but I’ve finally woken up to the fact that friendship is not about age but about sharing – hopes, fears, experiences, passions and most of all – love and laughter. Thanks, Anna – you know who you are!
Elaine Kingett runs creative writing holidays in Spain and Wales and workshops in London; for more information check out Write It Down.