I had a debate with myself about whether to do this post. But I want to pay a tribute to a very good friend who died on Monday evening, and I’ve spoken to his partner and she’s OK with it, so here goes.

It’s often said that friendship is undervalued (undervalued by whom, I always wonder?) but I certainly don’t undervalue it, and I want to celebrate our friendship, and the things he gave me.

He – and many equally delightful members of his family – worked on the house with me just after I bought it ten years ago, a process which was much enlivened by historical argument (so what are the origins of the Celts? And define ‘Celt’ anyway), catching up with the Archers (would Brian leave Jennifer for Siobahn?) and consuming industrial quantities of coffee and portions of mini fish and chips from Barmouth. He had a considerable impact on the garden too, giving me, among other things, my first leek seedings and – hooray! – my raspberries, still going strong, suckering everywhere, utterly delicious and fantastically prolific.

He also built my bird table,

strategically designed to wobble unnervingly whenever a cat tries to sit on it with its mouth open.

But more important than the bird table, more important than the leeks and even more important than the raspberries, he gave me my ability to turn this:

into this:

I’d been reading the ingredients on a pack of shop-bought bread, and complained about them.

‘Bake your own,’ he said, in an irritatingly reasonable tone. (Teasing was a major occupation. He once said of another male friend, in awe and wonderment, ‘Chris teases Kate more than I do!’)
‘I can’t,’ I answered, ‘I’ve tried and it’s shite.’
He looked at me as though I was insane. ‘Well, I bake bread,’ he said, equably.

He knows – oops, knew – me too well. The perfect way to get me to do anything is to tell me that a man can do it.

Every time I bake a batch (and that reminds me, today I must bake), I thank him for provoking me into one of the most life-enhancing activities there is. That’s what friends are for, and they don’t stop being your friends just because they’ve gone and inconveniently died, that’s what I say. So there.

(And of course there were frequent moments of sheer insanity, as there are in all good friendships. That’s a wolf mask, by the way, worn backwards. But of course.)

Toodle pip, and thanks for all the fish…

I’m disabling comments on this post, by the way, or I hope I am, who can tell? Normal service will be resumed very shortly…