Jul 14, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Last night I had a strange image of putting my head down onto Christy’s kitchen table and all of my body parts became segmented and fell off. Shattering, but orderly, like all of a puppet’s strings untied, let loose, no longer a cohesive whole, a crash test dummy with no seat belt, no car, no blood. My parts were wooden and worn smooth, light like maple, a faint fiddleback grain, kiln dried, now just bits and bobs on the floor, at rest, no energy to roll away, kinetic defeat.

Christy’s mom told her that as a baby she would stare at her hands, perhaps wondering when they would start to create all that was held within her tiny soul. She is a potter, making good things from mud spinning in circles. A chunk of clay reimagined.

A friend offering her table as a good place to fall apart and return, reimagined.

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Jul 4, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

The first time we met we had Eton Mess for dessert. She dolloped it onto my plate with repeated apologies for the state of it, and I remember thinking that it was an appropriately chaotic dish for someone so very flustered. We were both foreigners back then, both moved to a Swiss village to be at home with small children while our husbands worked in global head offices in the city. The first time we met was in the first week of her arrival. I left dinner with a silent commitment to a six week attempt at friendship. After six weeks, I told myself, I would know if the fluster was the product of her recent move or if she generally operated within a sphere of neuroses that would simply be too much. I knew that no one who moves countries with children is a good version of themselves in the first six weeks. I also knew that it's best to avoid a woman who is too much. Too open. Too loud. Too worried. Too raw. How glad I am that I was so very wrong. Over the first month of knowing her, our days became increasingly shared. Within the chaos and mundanity of child wrangling and meal making and forest walking, I learned that she was much more open, loud, worried and raw than I could have ever imagined. She made me uncomfortable. She made me laugh. She made my days brighter, fuller, and more honest. I learned the mess and magic of her, and shared the mess and magic of myself in return. Years later, now oceans apart, we still have the most wonderful friendship. One that has taught me, among many other things, the absurdity of the notion that a person can ever be too much.

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I’m writing about a friendship that went wrong. We met on line when my friend supported me with a comment when someone else criticised me. There followed regular whatsapp messages and a weekly hour for coffee and talk about life, love, work, play, relationships, politics, communication, local gossip and whatever issue of the week, whether national, international or local that we wanted to analyse. I have never yet found a friendship quite so wide ranging as that one. This continued as a warming and special part of my life until I did something I thought was quite innocuous, in all innocence, which unexpectedly upset my friend and damaged their trust in me. I still find it hard to fathom their reaction, but had no option but to accept it; my apologies did not help. We did eventually get back in touch tentatively and always say hi, how’s things when we encounter each other. They visited me in my garden during lockdown and we’ve exchanged caring messages about our respective health issues, but it will never be as it was again. Their life is seemingly too full and busy to find even a chink for time with me, but I’m always pleased to see they’re happy and doing well. I’ve got other friends, longer lasting, more durable and more precious to me but I still mourn the particular nature of that one.

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Jul 2, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Thank you so much Tanya for adding my piece. I really love the visual shape of it on the website too. Pretty blown away really! I originally hesitated whether or not to post this piece, I'm so glad I did. I don't know, perhaps it's all about timing, what resonates. Me, noticing your book, immediately ordering it and now to here. This, your project really resonates. Your response has lifted me. More writing to come from me. Julie xx

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Jul 2, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I grieved when our 'friendship' came to an end. I mourned for the previous 14 years of 'her' dominant force in my life.

She 'saw' me and quite literally 'stopped me in my tracks' as I shuffled along the street ,eyes down , heavy with sadness and heading towards someone's sofa , that I called "home for now".

She was twice my age and said she had "lost a great love" , that she too had been thrown into the 'deep sadness' . I was too broken to mutter the words that were in my head "I'm lost , I don't have a home and they don't love me " .

I was 18 years old and homeless for the second time in just over a year .This time felt different though . I no longer felt 'cute' , the drugs and alcohol weren't working , I was hungry and 'friends' looked at me with 'that ' look . I didn't fit anymore , I never really had . I just pretended .

Over the years she would offer me a place to sleep on her floor, create a 21st birthday party for me with a Barbie cake , she would help move me to yet another dirty shared house , she would encourage me to split with a guy I liked because I was "too mentally ill to have a relationship" , she would insist that I have an abortion and I did .I did everything she told me to .

Our 'strange' friendship ended over 11 years ago now , which is nearly as long as the time it lasted.

Today I am a teacher , an Aunt and on a 'Programme' where I am now learning how to communicate my feelings and how to have relationships.

The words she spoke then, echo into my everyday life and seem to make more sense now than they ever did then .

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Jun 30, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

A decade of sibling silence, always hopeful me unknowing, how if ever we might restore our torn apart relationship. Our mother's accident during lockdown and the reality that she may not survive. It was a message sent to my sister by me that would be the start of our new connection, initially all about possible arrangements for our mother, difficult, fragile circumstances and all through messages. choosing our language our words carefully was mentally exhausting, emotional, draining. Yet, through all of this challenging period we remained constant, expressing care and support for each other. With this strength we stepped forward and arranged to visit me to her home first then her to mine. These first steps for us mending our relationship. Our mother's situation our unknown gift. Just us now me my sister friends making new memories together. We made it.

@julieb1960. julesb4@hotmail.co.uk

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I remember when making friends was easy.

I remember connecting to other little girls (and boys) when I was a little one myself.

I remember the effortless way we would spend time together, doing something or nothing.

I remember spending significant birthdays and events with friends.

I remember planning those events and taking part in them, when it was a pleasure.

I remember when it suddenly wasn't so easy, connection became more tricky, doing anything with friends was then an effort on both or one side.

I remember the agony of friends having children, that I would never have. Of being shut out of parties and events because of the children I didn't have.

I remember pre pandemic times, when friends were not all on a screen or words on a phone.

I remember that things change, that I still have friends that care and that I see, whilst remembering the ones that got away or never returned.

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Jan 31Liked by Tanya Shadrick

The first thing I noticed was tension between her and the chain-smoker, a woman she seemed to know. But J was in professional mode as she led us through the landscape, offering us all the subtleties of greys and glimmers on a misty fenland afternoon. The expedition ended with a fireside gathering, our spot marked out with fairy lights.

J and I made friends on the river and in the forest. I think it was the third time we met up that she invited me to her home. She lived on a tiny houseboat named after my favourite bird. After a walk on the Washes under a sky full of birds we climbed aboard. She was wild-moored in the middle of nowhere.

I sat cross-legged on a tiny chair by the woodburner. While she cooked something special I looked through J’s paintings. Sated by wildfowl sounds and waterlogged footsteps, hot food and the glow of fire and talk, it felt like I was being seduced. I bought a painting (tiny). But in my bliss my body urged caution, urged me to flee, urged me to fear.

In the dark, remote night J steered us to the only signs of civilisation: a pub decked out with cheery Christmas lights. We said goodbye as I disembarked. Four years and three more paintings later (two of them gifts from her) I suspect that the scariest things about this friend are the very things that scare me about myself.

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Sep 4, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I have always been a lonely person. I think it comes from a childhood of being parented by 2 people who were there in a practical day to day sense but not in any emotional sense at all. I don’t ever remember being asked how or who I was. That has left a space in my life and heart that has always been there and that has become more noticeable the older I have got. I have always had lots of friends- school friends, Uni friends, work friends, mum friends, lifelong friends and even best friends. I even count an ex boyfriend as a lifelong soul mate friend. And my lovely children also feel like friends too. But even with a lifetime filled with lovely friendship, nothing has ever filled the loneliness in my heart that my childhood left. I still feel like I am searching for one person to fill that gap. Not in the sense of a partner either as I share my life with a solid, dependable man. But as I reach mid life and all of these things seem to come up to be healed and faced, I realise that the friend that I have been searching for really is my whole life is really, in a cliched sense, actually myself and that is where my search for belonging needs to be. I need to be my own best friend.

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Aug 15, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

Friend in Perpetuity

I can feel you, sense you in the air flow. Your drift and sway embraces me like a web of fine feelings sticking to my skin. I track your flow of friendship through the strong scent you leave in your wake. It guides me towards you, pulls me towards your energy. Your spark has ignited my life; illuminated my way forward, but your light burns with a clinging intensity fastening me to you; but I still distil you like an ambrosial liqueur and drink in the essence of you.

You have swished and swashed yourself around my timeline; gathered in loose strands of me, collected my pain and anguish; wrapped them in your friendly face and smiled away my fantasies and fears and hidden away my secrets. A piece of my heart I carved for you. One of my heartbeats hangs from your neck; a betrothal of closeness snagged in your weave. We are an unlikely pairing set in a stretch of time. You are my lived landscape.

I sometimes fear the fierceness of our friendship, your edges have become sharp, jagged and unforgiving; a snap away from a break or a crack away from a wreck. We have become castaways on each others islands, afraid to swim away or build a bothy to share. I have snuffed out and re-ignited our desire to friend over the decades, but the fault lines have re-opened exposing a drift of desire. I never held you in a lover's embrace, but we wrapped each other up in a coat of many colours and dared to dream.

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Jul 16, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick


Such an imposing kind of phrase now I think about it.

She’s my best friend.

But am I her’s ? Is anyone more important in her life than me? Why? Does she want to be somewhere else? Without me? Why am I not asked?

These are only questions that occurred to me much later in my life, so I guess that makes me lucky.

At Primary School, Y-Bont-Faen I always had one and into Secondary too, Howells . Emma, then Sarah and Rachel then Lisa and Jane. I was passionate about them and usually about their mum and dad and brothers and sisters too. Always intrigued by how others lived and what their bedroom was like. How kind their mum, how present their Dad, learning to love their pets and their routines.

With Emma it was all about teatime and weekday plays with staying over featuring too. It was about dolls and bedrooms and cats and living in each other’s lives every day. All encompassing and it felt safe and fun and as if it would never end.

Then she moved house.

It turned into letter writing as we grew from age 7 to 12 when we had our first conversation for years. She’d moved back from America now and I was calling from our new house in the hall. Cool and with a glass partition away from the family while I chatted for hours with my legs hanging over the side of the chair.

But things had changed, there’d been another best friend for me, Sarah Price and so now our shared interests were too hard to put into words. It wasn’t the same when you hadn’t both had that sausage sandwich her dad had made; when your skin didn’t match hers after a day in the sunshine and the stream.

Nowadays I can dwell for too long on reasons why I’m not her best friend. Why I'm not invited on that holiday or why she doesn’t send me a birthday card. I blame a new house and a new town, mid-life hormones and distance. Not wanting to think it could be about me but believing that in dark lonely moments.

And then I think about my closest friends now and the chats, the messages and the support, the coffees and the walks and the dogs and the weekends and I know I'm lucky. We share history and I wallow in the little comments made; you always….remember when….Lou’s doing her ….Thanks…miss you….

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Jul 2, 2022·edited Jul 2, 2022Liked by Tanya Shadrick

I wear you down with gifts of chocolate we eat side by side at the counter watching the shoppers quietly rotating their heads from side to side to read the book titles that stand to waiting attention on the shelfs of this, my favorite book shop .

I am so happy in your company , a friendly warmth of being radiates from you and finds a home within me as I stand besides you , decades apart in age you from Hong Kong ,me from this town now city in Essex ,one of my schooling and now home for me and my family , you tell me of your Mauritian friend that has passed and this seals the deal for me in an instant and I know that I want to keep you in my orbit somehow.

I sense you would of been liked so much by my dad ,I sense you would of been friends who shared time and laughter together

The jokes you make with the customers that sometimes backfire let me know this could only be true and it feels like I get to be in dad's company again once more just in this self made connection in my head and that is more than enough for me .

The comfort I feel .

I'm so happy I found you , we first met in this same shop I as a customer always browsing here, the shop that always provided me with the book I needed to read .

I call it the magic bookshop and it is now even more so with this connection i have made .

You manning the desk and talking of a joy for singing you have long since enjoyed as I pay for my book and so I seize the opportunity to ask for you to take me along to your club of singers.

Months later I show up besides you to give a helping hand on the shopfloor .

I carry gifts of chocolate that I have squirred away in my pocket for the shift ahead as you say you love it so and we eat sneakily between customers and this somehow manages to propels me to make the grade to be invite along with you !

A week later presenting me to the group as your friend ,so we are here together on a Thursday nights from now on in , entering the hall to sing with others just like us .

Who simply are finding friendship in song .

Monique Kennedy

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Wow thank you 😊 a lot to be said for a power of chocolate 🙏❤🤗😘

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