Freddy's blog: Making new friends

Our big drive at the moment is to make new friends. It’s a strange mission to have in your mid-30s (37 is still ‘mid’ isn’t it?) but we moved back to my wife’s home town between babies and my wife has been on maternity leave without the original NCT group and feeling a little isolated. To her annoyance I have nearly enough opportunities to play sport and have after work beers with my friends in London (blogs passim).

So most of our local friends are either my wife’s parents or their friends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because the women are great cooks and curtain-makers and the men have tools I can borrow (I’m not stereotyping), but it is good to hang out with people your own age, especially at our own age because of the thrilling chat about property and schools.

And those are the things that bring us together. For step one, my wife joined the school parents’ association. This carries in equal weight the opportunities to bond with some great people on the one hand, and to wrap hundreds of small presents for the school Spring Fair and gain exposure to a new domain of politics on the other.

Step two: have a party. It was my elder daughter’s 4th birthday recently so we had 45 people over for a BBQ. There were only four school friends, which surprised me a bit because she had been going to school talking about the theme of her party for six months. But four is a great number because we got to mix with the parents. Or my wife did. I had a huge pile of meat to grill, but with great results: a dad with a sports car said he really liked the spicy chicken.

My chance came later at Step three: attend a school quiz night. My wife organised the booze (but had to stay home with the baby), someone else from the parents’ association organised the teams and I organised victory for mine after a dead heat going into the final round. We were surprisingly knowledgably of Eurovision, though we all claimed not to watch it. In the literature round the only book mentioned that I’d read was Stickman. I have a Masters in English Literature from UCL. Amazing how you can blag it.

Quiz night turned into party night when a group of us went back to one of the couple’s houses. We’d looked round the place when we were buying. Another couple there had made an offer, after looking at the house we eventually bought. So we all bonded over which houses we’d looked at. And seriously, it was a fun night. The kind of drink-what-you-can-find kitchen party that I think becomes rare between the ages of Kids and Retirement.

So now we’re on step four: follow-ups. We’ve got invites to people’s houses, lots of ‘oh we go to the same sport club/child-friendly pub/park so let’s catch up’ opportunities and a sudden sense of feeling as though we might soon become integrated in a new community, after a year of borrowing tools. In a period of life that often feels like a battle to make things work, it’s great to have a sense of victory.

Freddy works in communications at trade association in the City, except on Friday afternoons when he takes his daughter swimming.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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