Without Sue I would never have come to London at all and for that alone I owe her absolutely everything that was great about the last two years. Jen facilitated the idea too, but it was Sue’s six weeks in Australia during which she offered me the chance to look after her house in London that got me out of Perth in nine weeks flat. Sue is one of the handful of friends I have over here that makes a truly profound impression on all who meet her, each person who talks to her comes to me with a hushed ‘oh my god, Sue is so cool …’ I hesitate to try and sum up her character in one sentence, but I think it is because Sue is entirely awake to herself that she is so admired. Sue will always epitomise for me awe inspiring cooking, asides that make your eyes bug out and (and I use the word advisedly) an earthiness that makes you feel like you have found someone who really knows where her towel is.
I actually cemented my friendship with Jacinta under entirely false pretences. Our first meeting in London was a boozy day on Clapham Common drinking wine for five hours, watching an Australian Rules Football Final and knocking around with Aussie footballers in the pub. I don’t wonder that she was then bewildered by that girl’s disappearance, since I promptly went back to my museum attending, almost tee-totalling self. But to her credit she has stuck with me through dry spells in drinks, men and good humour, and she is, for me, the ultimate easy-going creature. She is endlessly good humoured, entirely accommodating and she is so infrequently catty that when she does judge someone in a less than flattering light I tend to trip over in surprise. I can also attest that most of my nights of alcohol consumption have been under her tutelage, and I think she will be pleased that she has such an influence in that area. There are certain places in London that I never venture without my Jacinta, and I think we will have saucy memories to laugh over for many years hence.
Monica has been a friend for seven years, the kind of friend that can see you only once a year and is able to look at you and simply KNOW what has happened to you in the intervening time. We share both spooky similarities and yawning differences, and we have both been through forging experiences over here that mean we have shared things that go far deeper than we can imagine. No matter where we have been, once sitting across from each other, no amount of time and distance could change our understanding. Living with Matt and Monica was an experience not to be repeated for many reasons, mainly because we never got any sleep because we couldn’t stop talking and not the least because there really aren’t too many couples like them floating around.
From ‘I have a question …’ to Pun Pong and beyond, Matt has been an extraordinary (and that is not just his height) presence in my London stay. Turning the challenging of your assumptions, ideologies and expectations into a kind of parlour game, his particular brand of friendship is always invigorating. As a man who likes to tell tales from the other camp and the man who really wants to know what our camp is thinking, it has been big, it has been great, and I just can’t think of the ultimate pun to finish on …
Jac and Warren
As my fourth set of housemates, I think that Jac and Waz are best summed up in a little comment that Jac included in one of our bill paying notes.
Internet: £8 (excellent value)
Council Tax: £39 (not so excellent value)
Getting to live with two awesome housemates, one an amazing dancer and one the source of endless corkers: PRICELESS.
Jac really is a great dancer, bless her cotton socks, and she sells herself short on the corkers front because she is a Twohig, and if there is anything the Twohigs are exceptional at, it is pithy one-liners. But I must say that it is Warren’s unforgettable comments that usually have me repeating them in super-sonic tones of disbelief before I fall about laughing while trying to write it down somewhere. For your amusement:
When breaking open a soft-boiled egg : Yum! Rooster juice.
When contemplating our gas faux-log fire: Great! Bush television.
When discussing visiting policy for my room: So when the hat is on the doorknob, you are partaking in horizontal refreshment?
When I laughed too hard at the ‘horizontal refreshment’ comment: You’ve gone and blown a pubble valve.
When admitting he was too tired to do anything but go to bed: I’m just going to black snake it.
‘Got a head on it like a bucket full of smashed crabs’
(Thanks mate ...)
It is a difficult thing to review a long-running and much loved show, and The Jen and Claire Show has been running almost as long as The Mousetrap in London’s West End, give or take about 40 years or so …
Jen coming over to start her visa as I ended mine has been the source of much pleasure because we share a very specific passion for a very specific English Experience. Indulging our penchant for Regency texts while tramping around pretty pieces of wintry wildernesses may mean that some long-suffering friends may have wished we had new material, but we know what we like, don’t we my dear Miss Leen?
Beyond the fluttering fancies and heaving bosoms of those days of Austen, seeing the face of someone so important to me in one life on the train platform of another life is a moment of supreme happiness. Sharing the experience is always so much better for me, and sharing it with someone who understands what it means to me is even more important.