Saturday 1st July 2017
Danny is one of my oldest friends. 25 years ago we worked in the same voluntary organisation, and when I was I charge of national recruitment he was one of the regional coordinators.
However, back then Danny wasn’t the type of person who looked charitable. In fact, if you met him you’d think he was probably about to mug you. Dressed in a patchwork of fabrics, a large leather cap and a raggedy chin curtain beard, Danny had a style unto himself.
But, Danny was – and remains – the wisest man I know. He has a habit of taking really complex issues and boiling them down into an analogy that anyone could understand. Whether it was him explaining the problems of drugs by way of an example of one of his favourite bands being unable to get a visa for their singer, and so stopping them breaking out onto the world stage, or his choice to embrace his new nation by way of a football match, he has always had a gift for communicating ideas.
Back in those days, he was rewarded for his voluntary work with an exchange trip. He went to Australia, met the girl of his dreams, emigrated out there and the rest is history. We always joke we shipped out a convict
I’ve not seen him since the last time he was back in the UK, some 7 years ago.
He’s grown respectable over the years. He has a great family he’s really involved with, he works with the scouts (something all of us who knew him back then find very amusing). He’s even improved his style, foregoing the baggy patchwork trousers.
He’s brought his family over for an extended holiday and as part of that decided to meet up with the old gang. This meant a trip to Cambridge, something I used to do regularly when I lived in Surrey, but is an even longer journey, now I live in Wiltshire.
It was worth the trip though. We had a BBQ and caught up. Last time he saw me I’d just started geocaching. Now I’ve dropped the weight, chase storms and fight with swords. He’s also had his share of adventures. He’s canoeing the length of one of Australia’s biggest rivers in stages, and next year is planning a hike across Papua New Guinea.
So, as we were talking, Danny and I decided we should do something truly epic together. We should plan and train and then do something out of this world in ten years time. Of course, when one person hikes through jungles and the other dodges tornadoes, our other friends seemed a bit worried what accomplishing something truly epic would involve.
We’ve given ourselves a year to find the appropriate trip or challenge, and then another 9 years before we do it. We’ll all be in our mid-50s then, but hopefully with enough preparation we can come up with something we’ll all manage.
My friend Nick found some old recruitment videos we made and his kids got a blast hearing their Dad speak with a northern accent (He gained an Aussie accent in no time that’s more pronounced than even his wife who’s lived in Australia all her life). Danny’s daughter even questioned her mother’s dating choices.
“Mum, why on earth did you marry Dad?” she said seeing her father from 25 years ago.
It was a great night, and it’s a shame we are now so spread around the world, each with different commitments that mean these reunions are so rare. But then, as I said, we’ve all moved forwards with our lives in one way or another. There are some people we all know who seem to have stood still, trying to recapture the glory of our youth.
I can be as resistant to change as the next person but you have to realise that everything has its time and you have to move on. We’ve each gone on to have adventures large and small, which makes these reunions so much fun.
The evening flew by, and I was sad when it was time to head home, not least for the time the journey takes. I got home at 2am when I have to be up early to go swordfighting tomorrow. I’m going to be a mess and I suspect I’ll get stabbed a lot.
But it was worth it to catch up. What I liked was that instead of being purely focused on the past – although we did tell Danny’s kids a number of stories about the escapades of their father – it was very much focused on the future.
Ten years is a long time, and a lot can happen. It’ll be interesting to see whether 2027 proves to be an epic year of adventure and excitement or an opportunity that we all passed up. Somehow, knowing Danny and myself, I suspect something awesome will get planned. After all, we’ve know each other 25 years, what’s 10 more?
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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