Fifteen years have passed since the day that changed my life. It seems like yesterday and it seems like a century ago. So much has happened since that day – good things, although there’s plenty more I hope for. And yet, I remember that day so well, and the months that followed.

To celebrate, I’m repeating my post from five years ago.

—o—

On 3rd March, 2002, I received an email. It began: “Hi, it’s Gill Balbes (as was) here. Was talking to Jane the other night and she was telling me about how she’d been in contact with you and that you remember me (as I do you) so I thought I’d say hello. Schooldays seem a long way off but it would be nice to hear how you’re doing.”

Schooldays certainly were a long way off. It was over thirty years since I’d walked out of the school gates, vowing never to have any connection with any of the girls I’d known over the previous seven years – a few even longer. It was only recently that I’d added my name to the Friends Reunited site, opening up the possibility of contact, although I didn’t expect anyone to write to me.

But Jane did write and I made a decision: that if I was going to correspond with anyone from school, I would make the relationship meaningful by being open about what happened to me there. If they didn’t want to discuss it, there wasn’t much point in reuniting.

Fortunately, Jane did agree to discuss it. She also apologised for what she did to me, although I didn’t hold her or any of the former pupils to blame as adults for their actions as children. I always knew the bullying (which I called teasing then) had had a bad effect on the rest of my life, but never thought the children were mature enough to understand what they were causing.

Jane soon put me in contact with Gill, who had more time to write. Gill and I corresponded almost daily for a long time, and she became a very special friend to me. It was Gill who told me about social anxiety. I didn’t realise the significance of it at first, but gradually two things became clear. I was not alone in being this way and it’s possible to improve. (I don’t think it makes sense to say there’s a cure, and I don’t think there needs to be one.)

Gill has been the catalyst for many changes in my life – for starting to write, for starting a blog, and much more. We have now met several times. After ten years, I still count Gill as a very special friend.

—o—

Actually, Gill and Jane are both very special friends. Do you have a friend story you want to share?

2016AtoZChallenge

Quaver felt peeved, as he always seemed to get the short end of the stick amongst his friends. Quite determined was he to rectify this situation when he went out to eat with Crotchet, Minim and Breve. Quaver, adhering to his plan for retribution, suggested the fast food place, and they all trooped in. Quickness wasn’t one of breve’s attributes, and this unfortunate fact caused him to lose his place in the queue. Queue-place-losing also applied to Minim and Crotchet, although their hesitation length was progressively shorter. Quaver, naturally, dallied for the shortest of time and was able to order.

Quivering, however, took place in Quaver’s shoes under the stern gaze of the other three, until he doled out his food in unequal proportions, giving the longest chips to Breve.

Quiet followed, during which Quaver made a secret vow to drop Crotchet, Minim and Breve and instead befriend Semi-quaver, Demi-semi-quaver and Hemi-demi-semi-quaver.

Quavers

Links to previous A-Z stories:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

2016AtoZChallenge

Four funky fairies flitted around the frightened foal.

From their leader, who wore above-the-knee socks with yellow, green and red horizontal stripes, came soft, delicate tones. “Fear not, Filly. Fortune will favour you and save you from the big, bad wolf. Funky fairies are here to protect you.”

Filly remained fearful. “Ferocious is the wolf, while you are airy-fairy. Fill me in on your plan to thwart the evil wolf.”

“Flouting our rules of secrecy would be unwise. For now, you need to have faith in our abilities. Failure to put your faith in us will be bad for you.”

“For sure I have no other option than to trust you.”

“Fortunately, that is a good option.”

Filly lay down and fell asleep. Forthwith, big, bad wolf appeared high on the horizon, then padded down, each step bringing him closer to the sleeping foal. Five feet from the foal, big, bad wolf stopped in his tracks. Four funky fairies, all sporting colourful, striped above-the-knee socks, flitted around him.

“For heaven’s sake, who are you?” the wolf cried.

“Four funky fairies are we,” said the lead fairy.

“Funny, I thought you were forty flipping fishes, said the wolf, letting out a deafening roar.

Fast as fury, all four fairies turned into forty large fishes, flipping and diving as if they were in water.

Falling back on the ground, the wolf watched, mesmerised by the spectacle. Fully absorbed in watching the forty flipping fishes, he didn’t even notice what was happening around him… until he did. From all sides, water surrounded him, engulfed him, and it was rising.

“Folly this is not,” the wolf spluttered, suddenly very scared. “Fishes, fairies, whatever you are, free me from this water before I drown, I beg of you.”

“For us to do that,” said the lead fish, “you must vow never to hurt Filly the foal.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I vow,” said the wolf. “Filly the foal shall remain safe from my clutches. Friends we will be.”

Falling away rapidly, the water soon vanished completely leaving no trace it had ever been there. Forty flipping fishes turned back into four funky fairies.

For the rest of his life, the wolf remained a staunch friend of the foal, who grew up into a sturdy horse, carrying the wolf on his back when the wolf was too old to move himself.

“Friendless I would have been,” said the wolf from the comfort of the horse’s back, “if I had eaten you that night.”

Fable’s moral: Friendship is better than a full stomach.

 
Canis lupus looking up (illustration)

Links to previous A-Z stories:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

On 3rd March, 2002, I received an email. It began: “Hi, it’s Gill Balbes (as was) here. Was talking to Jane the other night and she was telling me about how she’d been in contact with you and that you remember me (as I do you) so I thought I’d say hello. Schooldays seem a long way off but it would be nice to hear how you’re doing.”

Schooldays certainly were a long way off. It was over thirty years since I’d walked out of the school gates, vowing never to have any connection with any of the girls I’d known over the previous seven years – a few even longer. It was only recently that I’d added my name to the Friends Reunited site, opening up the possibility of contact, although I didn’t expect anyone to write to me.

But Jane did write and I made a decision: that if I was going to correspond with anyone from school, I would make the relationship meaningful by being open about what happened to me there. If they didn’t want to discuss it, there wasn’t much point in reuniting.

Fortunately, Jane did agree to discuss it. She also apologised for what she did to me, although I didn’t hold her or any of the former pupils to blame as adults for their actions as children. I always knew the bullying (which I called teasing then) had had a bad effect on the rest of my life, but never thought the children were mature enough to understand what they were causing.

Jane soon put me in contact with Gill, who had more time to write. Gill and I corresponded almost daily for a long time, and she became a very special friend to me. It was Gill who told me about social anxiety. I didn’t realise the significance of it at first, but gradually two things became clear. I was not alone in being this way and it’s possible to improve. (I don’t think it makes sense to say there’s a cure, and I don’t think there needs to be one.)

Gill has been the catalyst for many changes in my life – for starting to write, for starting a blog, and much more. We have now met several times. After ten years, I still count Gill as a very special friend.

—o—

Do you have a friend story you want to share?

Please note: I have scheduled this post to appear on the right day, but probably won’t be available to comment for a day or two.

I’ve always found it difficult to make friends – not because I don’t want them, although it probably seems that way. I tend not to contact potential friends because I’m sure those people don’t need or want me.

Online friends are easier to make, although the same doubts can appear here, too. When online friends become offline friends too, that’s wonderful. Such friends have the advantage of being able to see inside my head, as it were. Gill is one of those, and I’ll always be thankful that I rediscovered her online.

So I was delighted when I received the Liebster Award from Rosalind Adam.

Everyone says Liebster means “friend” in German, but I studied German and remember that friend is Freund. Liebster has to be connected to love. When I looked it up, I found: sweetheart, beloved person, darling. I’m not sure that’s exactly what’s meant here, so I’m taking it to mean a special friend.

The rules for this award vary from blog to blog. I chose these:

The Liebster Award is meant to connect us even more and spotlight new bloggers who have less than 200 followers – but hopefully not for long. The rules are:

1.Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3.Post the award on your blog.
4.Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers.
5.And best of all – have fun and spread the karma!

Actually the 200-followers thing only makes sense for blogs that display the followers and aren’t on WordPress so my list is only a guess:

Do visit them all. And many thanks to all  my friends. I love you all.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥


…to say that I’m having a wonderful time in the old country and will try to tell you about it without boring you – starting in about two weeks.

Hang in there!

I’ve been very silly. I’ve left the last decade out to rot instead of putting it neatly away in the deep freeze. I’ve read what other people accomplished in the last decade and decided that I didn’t accomplish anything. But now that I think about it, I was at a very different place ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I was struggling to do things without really understanding why they were hard. Now, I still struggle but at least I understand what I’m struggling against.

Ten years ago, I was still attempting to keep my childhood out of my life, as if I could pretend that it didn’t happen. Now, I’ve come to terms with it and accept that it’ll always be there. Sometimes, it’s even useful.

Ten years ago, the people I went to school with were nasty, hurtful children. Now, they’re some of the nicest women I have met.

Ten years ago, I didn’t know Gill. Now I know her as a wonderful friend, one I will always be indebted to.

Ten years ago, I hadn’t even thought of doing any writing (apart from technical writing). Now, writing is something I enjoy immensely.

Ten years ago, my only social hobby was folk dancing. Now, I also look forward to the fortnightly meetings of my writing group.

Ten years ago, I lived in a small house in a beautiful neighbourhood. Now, I live in a large house with a beautiful garden in a less beautiful neighbourhood. You can’t have everything!

Ten years ago, I hadn’t visited India, Mexico and Guatemala. Now, I have.

Ten years ago, I didn’t have any online friends. Now, I have friends on Facebook, Twitter and more, friends with whom I can connect on a level rather than feeling like the unwanted poor relation.

Ten years ago, I didn’t have this blog. Now, I have the perfect tool for explaining all the things I couldn’t say.

As I hurry to pack up the last decade, I wonder what the new, fresh one will bring, where I will be in ten years’ time. I hope it’s a good place. And I hope all my readers will be in good places, too.