Me (l), Wendy (c) Paul (r) and John (in coat)
Isle Of Dogs, UK in 1990
Folks in New Zealand look forward to the long weekends that the public holidays bring at this time of year. They offer a chance to pack in another day at the beach, have a longer break at the bach or just mooch around the house and section, doing as little as possible. Unless, that is, you are two old friends who worked together as lifeguards in the UK 25 years ago, last saw each other 16 years ago and discovered last week that you live just half an hour apart on the other side of the world. If that’s the case, then there’s a lot of catching up to do.
A month or so ago, for no reason I can fathom, I found myself thinking about John, one of a group of old friends with whom I’d spent the halcyon days of the early ’80s lifeguarding, going to parties and generally misbehaving. Vaguely recalling that he’d met an Aussie girl and headed down under, I searched the internet and soon found his picture and email address on a sports centre website in Sydney. After his initial surprise, John and I swapped a few emails and he sent me his family newsletter in time for Christmas.
During these exchanges it transpired that incredibly, while John and I were living across The Ditch from each other, another member of the group Paul was closer still, living right here in Auckland. I fired off a quick email and Paul flicked a reply saying he was busy elsewhere but would be in back Auckland in the New Year. We got back in contact last week and arranged to have a long lunch at our place and catch up on a decade and a half of news.
And so that’s how we – not to mention our understanding wives – ended up spending a long sunny Saturday afternoon talking through how they have travelled 12,000 miles from their roots over sixteen years to end up as near-neighbours on the other side of the world. While we feel lucky to have built a new life here and make new friendships and acquaintances, it is hard to describe just how great it is to find an old friend already settled here and another across The Ditch in Sydney.
Hopefully, over time and with understanding partners, the three of us can look forward to more lazy afternoons, telling tall stories, filling in the gaps and catching up on lost time.
Me, Paul, Yuko and Wendy
Huapai, NZ in 2008
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