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Friday, April 19, 2024
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HomeNewsI let a friendship lapse, and now it’s too late

I let a friendship lapse, and now it’s too late

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I RECEIVED some sad news last week – the death of an old friend. I don’t know if I can call him a good friend, because I hadn’t seen him for perhaps a quarter of a century. certainly wasn’t a good friend. He had hanged himself at work. I will probably never know why.

We spent so much time together during our teenage years. Riding our motorbikes like hooligans, chatting endlessly about bikes and girls and the future. That was 35 years ago. Those years were such a carefree time, creating vivid memories which have lasted a lifetime: every crash into a ditch; every breakdown on a wet dual carriageway; every unpleasant interaction with the police for inhaling illegal substances . . . no, not narcotics but air at 100mph in a 60mph limit, as it rushed in through the gaps around the visors of our crash helmets, as the local constable tried to pursue us in his Ford Escort 1.3-litre ‘panda car’. Occasionally they radioed ahead for the ‘jam sandwich’, a 2.8-litre Ford Granada, but that wide, overweight, sloppy-handling beast didn’t stand a chance against us, with our liquid-cooled two-strokes, as we whizzed through the country lanes.

I met up with one of the aforementioned ‘jam sandwich’ drivers a few years later on an advanced training day for bikers. He confessed to enjoying it as much as us, and said he often ‘let the fish off the hook’ so he could catch it again another day. Golden days!

At the end of the 1980s my friend and I went our separate ways – me to university and him to work. We briefly crossed paths again about 25 years ago. Spent an afternoon together and parted with the intention of keeping in contact. We didn’t. 

About five years ago, or perhaps it was ten (I have lost three years somewhere because of Covid, lockdowns and social interruption) I received a message from his sister, via a third party. She had found some photographs from when we were teenagers and suggested I should contact him as he was ‘depressed’ and he worked about an hour’s drive from where I lived.

Over the intervening years I visited his workplace several times. I would scour the site for someone who looked like I imagined he would after 35 years. Occasionally I asked one of the hi-viz-wearing staff members if he was around. But he was never on shift when I called by. I made no further effort to contact him. Left no message. Now he is dead. I don’t know why other than ‘he was depressed’. Perhaps I could have done more? Perhaps everyone could have done more? But we are all consumed with our own lives.

Pause for a moment. Is there someone you should be in contact with? The time is now. Perhaps send a message? Make that call? Pop by? Perhaps they are depressed – or maybe you are.

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Matt Terry
Matt Terry
Matt Terry is a lecturer specialising in safety / environmental law, environmental science and wider environmental issues.

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