• Author:Ben Jones
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Old friends

“Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends”

Thank you Simon and Garfunkel. For this and so many other beautiful songs; poems. Epic poems.

I’ve had this song going over in my head all day today. Not in an annoying Little Mix way but in a comforting hand on the shoulder way; guiding me around the golf course this afternoon as I caught up with a special person I’ve known for 25 years but haven’t seen for 16 years.

Reconnecting with an old friend is like nothing else you can do; it is an extraordinary experience. Something instinctive. Second nature. Easy. Reassuring. Deeply personal. It goes from the anxiety that you would not recognise each other to the instant reconnection; for us a hug. A proper hug. Those first few words. Anxiety lost. Smiles. Warmth behind the eyes. The love – that deep connection – that old, dear friends have that no passage of time can dim or alter.

I had – we had – the most fantastic few hours today. Having lunch. Chatting. Playing golf. Sharing a quick pint. Cliche alert, but it was justslike yesterday that we played golf together at Grange Park in St Helens, or shared a five a side football pitch, or were chatting about another hotly-contested Merseyside Derby from either side of the tradition.

I write this listening to the song, playing over and over. Contented smile on my face.

Some of the most important moments in life involve loss – the days that hit us the hardest and stay with us the longest. Waving goodbye when someone moves overseas. Realising that someone you know and love is dying. Standing outside 120 Finch Lane as the funeral car arrives and you finally realise that you will never see Mary again; that she is gone forever; that we will never have another one of our talks; no more hug as we stand at the front door; no caring rub of my arm or prolonged waiting at the gate as I drive away. These moments stay with us because they matter so much and try as we might we cannot erase them like an unwanted text message or a spam email. Today proves that we need to try harder to remember those days that don’t involve loss but involve gain; involve rediscovery; involve finding someone again.

I did that today and I’m determined to make it live long in my memory; that moment of recognition; the comfort of the day; the reconnection. What a day to be alive. What a moment to savour. What a gift to receive.

“Old friends. Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was . . .”


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