The Definition Of Friendship


A friend of mine, a few years back, told me he could only regard somebody as a friend after knowing them for ten-years (Can call him a friend, not because I know him for ten-years, but because this correspondent can tell him he is talking b*ll*x).

Your correspondent was reminded of his friend’s saying recently after reading about an incident involving an eighty-two year old, retired naval captain called John Caughey and his club (the Emsworth Sailing Club in Hampshire, England).

It was reported by people who knew John, that he had been having a stressful time preparing to move house. They claim the move had made him anxious, unhappy and was driving him up the wall. As a way of releasing this stress John got into his Volvo one morning and drove his car into the club’s wall. Witnesses claim he then got out of the wreckage, poured petrol over it and set it alight. It was estimated that John did £100,000 worth of damage to the club, destroying 30% of the building.

John has since been set in handcuffs at the local hospital.

The reaction by the club after the incident demonstrated their feelings about John. The commodore (President) of the sailing club, sixty-nine years old Chris Clode said the members had no hard feelings towards John for the damage he’d done, wished him a speedy recovery and stated he could be welcomed back as a member. He clarified this warm response by saying that John was a friendly, jovial, fun-loving man and consequently very popular among club members.

This tale reminds your correspondent of a further story told by another friendly, jovial, and fun-loving (when he avoided whiskey and drank Vodka) man, namely the deceased Spectator columnist, Jeffrey Bernard.

Jeffrey recounts the tale of how he first became friendly with an Irish man called Jeremy Madden-Simpson, after breaking a bone in his right hand on Jeremy, at the end of night’s drinking in a pub in London’s Soho. Both men cannot recall why it happened, (when discussed after) but Jeremy would say, ‘if you can’t hit a friend who can you hit?’.

This correspondent suspects that similar to John’s change (from his old home to a new house- which drove him up the wall and then into one), a change from Vodka to Whiskey (Jeffrey had a spell in St Barnard’s Psychiatric Hospital for excessive consumption of whiskey) may have been the driving force that inspired Jeffrey’s fist to travel towards Jeremy’s face.

Jeremy, Chris and the Elmsworth sailing club members seem to believe that Jeffrey and John are worth the trouble of a damaged face and wall respectively by their subsequent responses. They consider Jeffrey and John’s usual (friendly & fun-loving) manner to be worth a marked mug and a collapsed club wall.

In future your correspondent shall give the examples of Jeremy, Chris and his fellow sailing club members, if ever asked about the conditions that make for somebody being a friend.

But unlike Jeremy, Chris and the sailing club members, if this correspondent sees a friend switching from their usual (drink), and then hear them talk seriously about moving, he will make a swift bee-line for the exit door and then make sure after getting home that the gates are locked.

Image courtesy of Google Street View

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