You know the most important thing about life?
Being happy in your own skin.
Being with people who accept and appreciate you as you are, who don’t have any agendas and don’t want t change you into what they want you to be.
I have just experienced the most wonderful weekend with two of my best friends from my childhood that I haven’t seen since I was around 20 when we all moved on in life, getting married, moving house.
God knows why we lost touch and it doesn’t matter, what does matter is that it was great to be back in touch and it was as if there was no gaps.
Would you like to know what made the weekend really special?
We were wild camping on a grassy field beside the beach near Ardlamont in the Kyles of Bute.
The place is spectacularly beautiful, white sands and green seas stretching towards the isle of Arran in front of us with the Kyles of Bute going towards Tighnabruich on our left and the Mull Of Kintyre heading towards Campbelltown on our right.
I’ve attached a link below, from the roadside, above our campsite, you can just see the white sands of the beach on the left and the isle of Arran in front of us. The houses behind this point are stunning and have fantastic views.
The scenery is absolutely beautiful, but what made the weekend really special is that camping is a great leveller.
There is no materialistic snobbery, you are who you are and you are judged on what you contribute of yourself.
Everyone was in their outdoor gear, t-shirts, jeans, and fleeces, all helping to build each others tents, chucking in with the cooking or making teas.
It was a good sized group, 8 men, 6 kids and 2 young ladies, the daughters of one of the guys.
No-one had any airs or graces and everyone did their bit.
I haven’t saw Tommy or Jim in 25 years, we’ve exchanged messages online and had a couple of calls, I know where they live, that both of them are divorced and remarried again.
I had no idea of what car they drive, what kind of house they live in, how much money they make?
All that stuff really is so unimportant when you are with real friends.
Tommy picked me up from mine and we caught up on 25 years on the 2.5 hour drive from Glasgow.
25 years condensed into 2.5 hours.
Of course we didn’t tell every story, Tommy’s new wife’s young son from a previous relationship was there and it would have been inappropriate.
But there was enough for us to know that the years hadn’t really changed us as people, if anything it had made more humble, less idealistic, more accepting of people’s faults and personal vagaries.
Sitting in the car, involving the wee man in conversation, at first I didn’t know whether he was Tommy’s own son or not illuminating.
The wee boy called him Tommy, Tommy called him son, we talked about the details later over a beer, but Tommy treats the wee one as his son and his dad has disappeared into the horizon, that says enough for me.
Jim, divorced and remarried, has 2 daughters one from each relationship, coincidentally a Laura like myself and a Millie. He says that that Millie and Laura get on really well, like proper sisters and even his ex-wife treats Millie as her own when they she comes to see Laura.
Isn’t that fantastic?
Grown up, behaving like adults.
Sitting round the campfire on Saturday night, Tommy had his guitar out playing all his our old favourites from youth, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel etc.
As a kid and Tommy being older, these were largely his choices and as Jim and I grew up, we used to wind him up about his choices while we enjoyed the Stranglers etc.
Bu on Saturday night, we were singing along and somehow or other we seemed to know every word.
A couple of hours of the classics and belting it out and laughing at each others mistakes and bad singing, absolutely magic.
On the journey home singing Homeward Bound in the car, proper road movie stuff, getting the wee man signing too, these are days that he will remember.
I asked Tommy if he was going to see Art Garfunkel when he plays Glasgow next Monday.
An extremely rare occasion and for me the opportunity to hear one of the finest voices of my childhood.
Tommy, said he wasn’t going but would love too if he knew that the tickets had been on sale.
As it happens I have 4 tickets for the show and had been holding off saying to my other friends as I didn’t think any of them would want to go.
So next week, I’m meeting Tommy and his new wife for a bite to eat before the show.
That music has stood the test of time, and our friendship has too.
On a side note – The Oscar Wilde play the Importance Of Being Earnest is a farce based on Victorian people not being themselves and putting on a front.
Life has changed for Jim, Tommy and I, we’ve done a whole load of living in the time that we haven’t been in touch.
I’d thought about titling this blog Homeward Bound, because being back in touch, it feels like I’ve gone home. But when we got home Tommy came in for a tea and I played him a few Elton songs on the piano.
Elton, I have mixed emotions on him as a genius or a prima donna, but like or lump it, he played a big part in my childhood and the songs we sang as kids and have become ingrained in our psyche.
Meeting new friends etc, he was uncool and maybe I was in denial.
But over the weekend back in touch with old friends, it was good to be myself.
Tommy and I are meeting on Thursday for a wee bit of a jam, me on piano and him on guitar.