It’s time to tell my friends I love them
They deserve more
Than hasty delivered words of kindness
(We Could Be Kings, Gene)
All things pass.
Life is short.
Life is unpredictable.
For the believers there is the hope of a life to come and reunion with those they have known and loved.
For many non-believers there is the hope that the believers could be right…maybe.
I’m hopelessly hopeful.
I have a very clear memory of hearing “We Could be Kings” by Gene and of having a very powerful reaction to that line…”it’s time to tell my friends I love them”.
I was staying in my then girlfriend’s parent’s home.
They were tolerating my existence because I was paying rent while I studied in a nearby town. My bedroom had once belonged to her big brother. It was downstairs. I had a bed, a wardrobe, a record player, a pile of N.M.E and Melody Maker magazines, inappropriate pictures from the pages of Loaded on the walls and some books that Morrissey would have approved of if he ever dropped by for tea. There were two windows but I rarely opened the curtains so I couldn’t say, with any degree of accuracy, what the view was like from either.
Outside of the bedroom was a telephone table and a little wooden chair.
I still know the telephone number.
The song finishes and I just lay on the bed listening to the hiss and crackle of the needle as it slides across the run out grooves.
I get up and head out into the hall.
I sit in the little wooden chair.
I lift the receiver of the ‘phone and dial his number.
I had become friends with Chris at the start of sixth year…bound together by our mutual, misguided, belief that we were Mods and that we were ace faces. This amounted to wearing our school ties backwards (skinny side out) and owning a Fred Perry. We shouldn’t have been friends really, we didn’t have anything in common. Chris was an excellent athlete, even playing ice-hockey for a real team and generally being better than average at every other sport. I came out in a rash whenever someone even suggested I wear a pair of shorts. Chris had a girlfriend. I had acne. Chris was popular. I was…not. Somehow it worked…together we both grew to love one another; I don’t think that is an exaggeration. It’s not an exaggeration on my part…I still love him, even though I haven’t seen him for…
The ‘phone rings and Chris answers.
“Chris, it’s me. Listen…I just wanted to say that I, er, you know, I, ah, I love you mate.”
I don’t remember what Chris said.
Let’s pretend he told me he loved me too.
Then I called Keith.
Keith and I were in a band…sort of.
What was actually happening was that I was singing songs Keith had written.
He was…is…a talented boy.
For a very short while I loved him too.
It didn’t last.
He betrayed me.
How dare you.
This relationship is over.
I was highly strung.
I am highly strung.
I feel things.
Sometimes I feel things that aren’t there…not like that kid in “The Sixth Sense”…I mean I feel slights and insults where there are none.
I think there is a clinical term for it…
I’ve remembered…being an arse.
It doesn’t matter now how he betrayed me…it probably didn’t matter then.
“Keith, it’s me. I love you.”
I don’t remember what Keith said.
Let’s pretend he told me he loved me too.
I should have called my dad.
I love him.
The thing is though…he’s not my friend.
He’s more than that.
What we have transcends friendship.
That’s obvious isn’t it?
I’m not sure it is for everybody.
I should tell him now.
“Dad, have you got a couple of minutes so that I could read you something I’m writing on the site?”
“There is a song by Gene called “We Could be Kings” and it has this line in it…”
I read him the whole thing right up to “Hold on.” and then I said;
“Dad, I love you.”
“And you know that you’re old dad loves you.”
It’s that simple really.
You pick up the ‘phone, you dial the number of someone you love and then you tell them.
It doesn’t really matter what they say in return, the important thing is that they know you love them.
There are tears rolling down my cheeks now.
I’m not sobbing.
I’m not inconsolable.
I feel good about letting people know.
I’m going to call Ben.
You see Ben has been there when nobody else was there.
He has made me smile when I didn’t know if that was something I would ever do again.
In dark moments he has shone a light.
He is loyal and he is full of love.
“Ben, do you mind if I read you something…”
I read him everything up to “I’m going to call Ben” and then I tell him.
“I love you my friend.”
“We all love you too.”
This won’t take long.
I don’t have too many friends.
Are you surprised that a charmer like me has so few people he would call his friend?
What do you mean “Not really”.
I tell K every day.
But those relationships transcend friendship too.
What about you?
Who will you call?
I wouldn’t leave it until tomorrow.
Do it now.
I can wait.
I’ll call Trotsky while you are doing yours.
Trotsky has faced trials and tribulations that would have broken me.
I’m not joking.
Loss in ways I can’t comprehend.
But despite all of that he has always found a little time for me.
A ‘phone call to check in.
A letter or two…no, not an email but actual bloody letters.
Little gifts appearing randomly through the letterbox.
He is funny.
A good soul.
“Trotsky, it’s me…listen could I read you something?”
I read him up to the part where I was urging you to call someone…
“I want you to know that I love you. You are an inspiration and an example to me. I’m grateful to have you as a friend.”
“I love you too mate, really I do.”
Life can be hard and cold and cruel and difficult and challenging and exhausting and, well, just awful at times. The thing that makes it tolerable, the thing that makes it worth moving on for is the love that we receive and the love that we give. I don’t care how trite or Hallmark-y that sounds. I really don’t. Because tonight, who knows why, I feel like I need to tell the people who matter that I love them.
Nothing but love.