But everyone remembers F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
So. Friends and How to Make Them. I decided to write this as I am often asked how I manage it (often by people I’d consider far more confident and interesting than myself).
Being a Foreign Office kid helps. All that moving around, starting at different schools...always being the 'new kid'. It was frightening at times. And I don’t think you ever learn to fit in a particular clique, but that’s not what I wanted. I just wanted to be mates with everyone. Except for the bullies of course, whom I wanted impale on javelins and set alight with bunsen burners. I wasn’t out to impress anyone in particular, I just wanted to show everyone I was harmless and amiable. I would hang back for a few weeks, waiting to be approached rather than pushing myself forward, so I could see how the different groups ticked.
Of course, when education's done with, people sometimes find themselves at a loss when it comes to finding friends, especially when they’ve moved to a different city to look for work. No longer are you lumped together with so many people you’re at least bound to find one other cunt that enjoys bollocking on about The Wire or Game of Thrones as much as you do, you have to go out and look for these heathens. O, the humanity.
So here are some pointers for the needy:
- Always carry tissues and a lighter. Others in dire need of these objects will be delighted to make your acquaintance.
- Don’t be afraid to just come out with it and explain to people you’re new and would like to hang out a bit.
- Instead of exaggeratedly proclaiming, “I can’t go, I won’t know anyone there”, take advantage of the opportunity to get to know better those you only know a little. And I won’t go as far as saying “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet” because I don’t want you to be reminded of those motivational-text-over-sunset pictures and have your vomit obscure the rest of these words of wisdom I bequeath unto you.
- Go to your local library. It’s not just full of books, y’know. Mothers also use them as a crèche while they go food shopping and tourists sign up as members just to spend five minutes checking their emails. Oh, and they’re full of information about events, clubs, societies, and talks which may interest you.
- Browse shops and cafes for flyers and listings magazines about further events you can attend.
- Instead of thinking about all the stuff that could go wrong if you decide to go out to any of these things, think instead about what you might be missing out on if you don’t go. Nobody fancies laying about on their deathbed thinking of all the things that could’ve been.
- T’INTERNET. I joined a reviews site – you got free booze and food if you promised to write a paragraph about the place afterwards. Not even necessarily a positive paragraph (although free booze always wins in my book. All bribes gratefully accepted). Look out for stuff like that on Gumtree and Friday Ad. I also used dating sites – on OK Cupid for example there are people there not even looking for relationships, just friendships. So they say. Be careful there. Use your initiative.
- Get friends from the place you’ve left to visit you to help you go out and meet new people.
- Don’t be afraid to give a stranger a compliment if they deserve it. (I'd keep quiet if they look like a bag of spanners though - even if you are one of those rude people who tries to excuse it by 'speaking your mind').
- Got that job you moved for? Congrats. Take advantage of the work socials. Or instigate them. Leave before you get so pissed you might cop off with someone though. Don’t shit where you eat.
- Here’s a controversial one – take up social smoking! I’ve made so many acquaintances by excusing myself from the flock for a moment to shiver outside with some poor sucker doing the same and having a good-humoured pop at all the sanctimonious non-smokers taking care of their health. (Weirdos!)
There will always be some folk who will sniffily murmur behind your back, “Who is this? Why is (s)he latching on to us?” but they will soon be won over by the power of your sheer awesomeness. Keep that in mind.
It’s a little different for women when it comes to using pubs to socialise. Living a rather sheltered teenage life in a foreign country, I believed women had more or less achieved equality in the UK, so it was alright for me to go and sit in a pub garden on a sunny day with a fag and a pint. HAHAHAHAHAH. No, no it is not. I let the reports of the ladette culture featuring Sara Cox, Zoe Ball et al fool me. (Now I’m showing my age).
Of course, I don’t let it stop me. I just keep one eye on the Source listings, one eye on my handbag, and one eye on the pub nause who may any moment turn his attention from trying to get his son to enlist with the Hells Angels, to coming over to ask about my sexuality and touch my hair, and ask why I have three eyes. (Also known as Bank Holiday Sunday, in this instance).
Also Facebook and Twitter obviously.
So maybe by now you’ve met a few people you think are pretty cool and a good laugh and you wish you could get to hang out with them more. Just ask. Don’t ask; don’t get. Perhaps they’re feeling just as lonely as you anyway and would appreciate the company.