Friend: one with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; one who supports, sympathises with, or patronises a group, cause or movement; any associate or acquaintance.
I made a new friend in the week, in our local Lidl as a matter of fact, a shop of many cultures, languages and ethnic groups. We, my wife and I were just going through the checkout when a young boy, aged around nine or ten came through the exit doors, complete with bicycle; the bike was rough, the boy similar. He deposited the bike near the tills, looked in my direction and approached. I assumed I was to be 'chatted up' for a 'donation' towards his finances but I was wrong. 'You look after my bike' he pronounced with authority. Who was I to refuse such a request, nay, order. He vanished through the tills (the wrong way of course and was gone to do his shopping.) I hoped soap was on his list of requisites, for it was sorely needed. Every few seconds he reappeared in the isles and looked in my direction to be sure I was fulfilling my duties as 'guardian of the bike'. He was certainly not going to have his ramshackle bike 'pinched'. I did wonder if that is how he got the bike in the first place! Would that have made me an accessory?
Eventually he returned (It's a good job pensioners do not 'do' pressing engagements.) He had half a dozen items including a large bottle of Coca Cola (but no soap). The checkout lady rang in the items, he rummaged through his pockets. The money he produced was insufficient and he discarded one item. Money added up again and he was still thirty two pence short. I did consider giving him the difference (a lot of money, thirty two pence to a pensioner in these hard times) but was beaten to it by the next lady in the queue who 'donated' the difference by putting it on her bill. The boy then requested a bag (there is a charge for them but one was found free of charge) and he returned by my side to reclaim his prized bike. He was evidently Polish and I'm sure he was appreciative of my services; at least I hope so.
I returned to my vehicle; my wife had long since loaded our shopping and we made our way home. Around three hundred yards away we passed a young boy carefully parking his bike outside another smaller shop. The last I saw of him he was vanishing inside; I could have sworn he was down to his last penny not ten minutes earlier.
I have a good friend who is a fanatical 'twitcher'. He has seen over four hundred different species of birds in Britain which I suspect would put him in the top hundred or two in the country. (Where most middle aged men ogle pictures of semi clad young ladies my friend peruses pictures of Peregrine Falcons and Green Woodpeckers). Last week a bird turned up in Lands End. Even the twitching world seem unclear as to whether it was an Alder Flycatcher or a Willow flycatcher. No matter it was a first for Europe as they say, not to be missed. My friend and a friend (twitchers seemingly always travel in pairs and mate for life) made their way to Lands End after work on Tuesday. Now Lands End is three hundred and sixty five miles from Derby. A fact always remembered as its the same as the days in a year. The bird was duly sighted, presumably ticked and the intrepid pair returned the same day, mission accomplished. Dedication, devotion, mind boggling surely certifiable behaviour, take your pick. But a shared addiction nevertheless.
On a much more serious note my youngest daughter is expecting for the third time. A happy if anxious time, for my daughter never has easy pregnancies and we have already had one heart stopping week. My daughters friend is also pregnant but is not so lucky. Rushed into hospital this week, the signs are not good. My daughter is every ones friend. How someone with the adopted title 'Grumpy Old Ken' could have such a delightfully natured daughter is beyond comprehension. At the same time I am infinitely proud. (We are blessed in that both our children, though different have attributes of which we are immensely delighted.)
There was naturally concern from some that accompanying her friend to hospital would seriously affect Alison in her somewhat fragile state of mind. Alison insisted on going, her simple answer, 'She's my friend, I've got to go' says it all. Well done Alison.
Friend: a favoured companion; a person whom one knows, likes and trusts.