How do you make friends when you’re in your forties? Instinctively, I feel as if the pub must be the answer.
Recently, I found myself alone for the weekend and after a while, solitude got the better of me and I decided to go to the pub.
As I wrote years ago, I’m generally fairly introverted and happy with my own company.
Two years of working from home has probably intensified that tendency, as has getting older and more set in my ways.
Sometimes, though, I need to be around people, even if I’m not joining in – and sitting in the pub with a book, part of it but separate, usually does the job. (Ross agrees.)
This time, though, pleasant as it was, I felt a sort of hollowness.
Separation tipping over into alienation, perhaps, as Saturday afternoon whirled around me.
I realised after a while that what I wanted, truthfully, was a pint with a mate.
When you’re young, arranging pints with mates is easy:
- shout ‘Pint?’ across the hall to your flatmate
- text ‘Pint?’ to whoever happens to work nearby before they get chance to begin the commute home
- catch the eye of a workmate and make a wavy pint-drinking gesture while wiggling your eyebrows
But people have kids, move away, get busy with work and family, get weary…
Before you know it, a pint with your best pals is something you do once a year, if you’ve booked it well in advance.
What I miss is low-commitment, low-intensity, spontaneity.
Problem one is a shortage of friends in the city I moved to in 2017.
I’ve been working on it, and I’m getting there, but it’s not easy. Certainly not as easy as when I was six and I could just wander up to other kids on the estate and say “Can I play?”
People keep telling me to join clubs and societies and, yes, that’s one way.
My weekly writers’ group has become important to me, especially as it met via video all the way through the pandemic.
Otherwise, though, that’s not my thing.
Pints are my thing.
The pub isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t require a subscription, demand regular attendance, or have prescriptive rules.
And the conversation isn’t limited to a single topic. Quite the opposite. If a session in the pub doesn’t range from telly to telephone boxes to the problem with the world today, the pints aren’t doing their job.
I sometimes find getting into a sulk is a necessary step in making things better.
Since my low-key freakout the other week I’ve convinced a couple of my fellow writers to detour to the pub after a group meeting, seen an old friend for the first time in almost a year and arranged to meet someone from Twitter for a pint.
Let’s see if I can keep this up.