Thursday, 9 April 2009

In celebration of friends

In difficult times, it's only natural to turn to our friends for comfort; having a sustainable support network is in part what friendships are all about. Lately though my friends, unasked and unknowingly, have been brightening up my life simply by making me enormously proud. Not through any seismic acts of brilliance – none of them has collided a large Hadron, or saved the whales, at least not yet – but by achieving something of personal significance against all odds.

Take Stephen for example. After years of bouncing between jobs in various sectors, admittedly doing very well in them all, Stephen recently took a huge plunge and, embracing a long-held ambition to perform, retrained as a drag artiste – yes, such courses do exist! He's now topping the bill every Sunday at one of London's top cabaret venues, Clapham's 2Brewers, as his hilarious alter-ego Lady LaRue.

Then there's Paul, the youngest of three adult brothers who lost their wonderful mum to cancer last year. Despite being the 'baby' of the family, Paul has taken on the role of linchpin, helping not only his brothers but also their families – including his four teenaged nephews and nieces – through their grief, whilst managing his own with immense dignity.

And I'm bursting with pride for my life-long bestie Andrew. He realised about two years ago, aged 31, that he wanted to be a doctor. He'd always loved medicine – at school we nicknamed him Doctor Andrew – but hadn't considered himself good enough academically despite having gained a first in Anatomy from a top university. He needed more Science A-Levels so he went to night school, achieving an 'A' in Chemistry. Knowing what medical school would cost, he tightened his belt, took a weekend job and saved up. Then he spent hours getting work experience with GPs and on hospital wards. The final objective - getting into medical school – is in sight. What's making me so proud isn't whether he becomes a doctor or not, but the selflessness and tenacity with which he's pursued his dream.

I'm telling you about these amazing men for no more profound a reason than this: that while in the wider world the news may all be doom and financial gloom, if you just look at the people you love, admire them, do as R.E.M. once sang and 'Take comfort in your friends', like me you'll soon feel, at least spiritually, very rich indeed.

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