>From the cradle we take general companionship for granted, as part of life, nothing special, in fact we don’t even think about it at all. There are circumstances in which association, and indeed friendship, has a very special significance. These are generally if one is taken out of one’s own environment and transferred to something totally different. For children sent to boarding school, men joining the forces, and especially those conscripted, they need more than just association, they unconsciously build a surrogate family. The degree to which a person responds in this way probably has a lot to do with their early childhood, their family relationships, or whether they have the disposition which is naturally self-supportive.
There are different types of friendships, many which commence in childhood and are carried forward into later in life, with the relationship very close to that of family. Different countries will have different progressions depending on how the populace works. For example in Britain, before the 50s, the majority of towns and cities were comprised of small villages, as I’ve said before, in which the families making up the villages, over decades, are born, schooled, married and possibly died within the same streets. But the 50s was a great turning point in so many aspects of our lives, in our relationships and in the structure of our cities. The outlook had widened to such an extent both from peoples aspirations, and the advent of television; where going abroad was now taken more casually than here-to-fore. Inevitably, the more venturesome sought work abroad, thus leaving gaps in the villages which were later filled by strangers, until we arrived at the way we are today where families are scattered across the globe, and while there can be friendship, there is not the same closeness there had been in the past.
In no way is what I have written here breaking new ground, my reason is that my daughter made a statement recently that I felt was relatively original, and had a lot of sense. We were discussing my situation where I have outlived all my friends, and even they were not as close to me as they might have been had I not left England to live in Ireland upon demobilization. In joining up, I had left all my friends behind, and those that I made subsequently were mainly my wife’s friends. As an individual I was never gregarious, never a joiner of clubs and associations, and was happy enough with those friends I had, and my family. Now, late in life, having outlived most of the few friends I had, and as is the trend, a large part of the family is living abroad, with my wife in a care-home and me being handicapped, I have to seek variety of interest in the computer, and books.
My daughter said, for a long time she had recognized the value of having friends, keeping contact, and in effect taking trouble to maintain these contacts on every level, making new friendships as and when they occurred. The experience of seeing her way of life, her friends reactions, and the general closeness of these friendships, I realized from my own experience that what she and her friends were doing was a form of quid pro quo, which after all, is the basis of good relationships