I'm not talking about Facebook friends or twitter followers. I'm talking about people who I've shared mostly everything with.
Whom I've seen naked. Whom I've gone on holiday with. Whom I've been vomited on by. Whom I've woke up with and had my left hand on their breast. Whom I've been through deaths, marriages and divorces with and whom I've gone on drug, alcohol and karaoke binges with.
These are the kind of things that make someone a true friend.
I have about 150 friends whom I've seen naked and I've been on drug, alcohol and karaoke binges with.
These are the people I've slept with.
I have one friend with whom I went on a karaoke binge and then vomited on.
This makes her someone who never wants to see me again.
Recently I've been cutting ties, pushing the driftwood out to sea and trimming my friendship bush. A healthy garden is one that's nurtured and cared for. You can always have one corner that you leave to grow wild and free but then you've also got to make space for the compost.
This is the space where you recycle and get rid of the weeds. Where you gather all the junk and set fire to it.
( I live in a one bedroom flat so god knows how I know all this about gardening).
I like to think of each of my friends as a flower in a garden. Each one needs watering at different times, some need more attention than others, others grow strong and wild and some are just, well, big old winter pansies, and they need the most attention of all.
I also have flowers in my garden that grow freely on their own, they don't need that much attention. Sometimes I'll give them a little water and have a chat and they quite happily carry on growing until the next time I see them. Then there are others that no matter how much weed killer I pour on them, how many times I try to dig them up or get next doors dog to piss on them, they still hang around. Slowly they take over the garden and rid it of all its loveliness . . and these are the times when I pray for a hose pipe ban.
I've lost a couple of friends, not through disease or bad taste in music but because of disappointment. I think that's the biggest killer in any relationship, be it friendship / marriage / client / dealer / pimp / whatever. To be continually disappointed in someone will destroy any love / hope or dependency you have for them or in them.
Sometimes it can be because you find them flirting with your partner, rummaging through your wallet, jumping up and down on your Mulberry bag (this actually happened to me) or just never being on time.
Other times it's because you can sit at a dinner table with them for over an hour and not once will they ask how you are or what you've been doing. These are what I call the "I'll talk and you listen" brigade and these type of friends are either self obsessed or taking cocaine.
The way to tell the difference is this - if they pause to actually put some food in their mouth then they are self obsessed, if they don't, then they are on cocaine.
Drugs are the very last thing you want to build a friendship on, unless you happen to be a drug dealer.
The friendships you make at 4am with your eyes like saucers are probably going to be with people you'd normally run a mile from. If you have to take drugs then choose them very carefully, if you have to make friends, then don't take drugs. The friendship will only last until the comedown and it's at that point you'll find that high friends in low places are the last thing you need.
Work friends can sometimes be your fair-weather friends too, even though you'll spend most of your waking hours with them.
I have met some of my best friends through work but it's true that familiarity can breed contempt, especially when you're both going for the same promotion.
The person who's volunteered to get your lunch may also be spitting in your sandwich.
There are people you meet at work that will be your friends for life even after you've left the work place. Then there are others that you really feel you had a bond with and that you'd love to see again but who don't answer your calls or respond to your emails.
In this case, don't stalk, walk. They were probably only after your desk in the first place.
I've always treated my best work friends like my school friends. These are the people whom you want to get into lots of trouble with, have fun with and get drunk with. The best thing about having friends at work is the shared hangovers - if you're going to go out and get drunk on a work night, make sure it's with someone you work with, it makes the day after go so much quicker.
It's said that in every lifetime there is the one that got away. It normally applies to someone you love but it can also apply to friendships (and would be victims of serial killers) so always remember your best friends are like flowers.
Sometimes they need watering, sometimes they need a little bit of sunshine and sometimes they need to buried knee deep in shit before you realise just how precious they really are.
N.B Contrary to popular belief, I have only ever been to a karaoke bar once. I don't take drugs. I don't have green fingers and I am not in any way a pansy.