They say old friends are the best and my sixty years of life have given me no reason to quibble with this assertion. It’s nine years to the day since my wife and I arrived in Knysna. We’d had a wee adventure driving down from Malawi in our overloaded Landy, via Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. While we settled into our bare Belvidere home (it took the furniture removal firm a further four months to deliver our gear from Lilongwe) an early essential acquisition to bolster our information flow only via short wave radio (the BBC World Service remains marvelous) was a new computer. Almost as soon as we’d cranked it up I got a message from someone I hadn’t seen or heard of for a quarter of a century.
It came from a geezer I’d grown up with in the tiny Scottish fishing village of Crail. We’d lost contact in our early thirties. Courtesy of Friends Reunited he told me that he worked in Singapore, but coincidence of all coincidences, he and his other half enjoyed the benefit of a holiday home in Plettenberg Bay (a mere thirty kilometres from Knysna). We were soon enjoying frequent get- togethers again and it was almost as if there had never been that long interegnum in our busy lives. A few years later they moved to Plett permanently, or so they thought. Our friendship was truly re-cemented and their presence in this part of the world further enriched our lives.
Alas a murder too close to home, persuaded our friends that South Africa was not, after all, for them. They upped sticks and returned to the north of England. The point is, our friendship has endured, and that’s great.
A couple of days ago, two well equipped Land Cruisers growled up our drive like tanks. Out jumped old friends from Kenya whom we hadn’t seen since 1988. Contact in the intervening years had only been sporadic. But seeing them again (now with a small army of kids) was wonderful. We spent time catching up and trying to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about one another’s lives since way back when. As one does. Again, it felt as if we had never been apart. Now, all too soon, they’ve gone again, and we miss them already.
Life is full of people who ‘pass through.’ But there are also those who will remain special, who we can just pick up with at any time, and feel that no effort is involved, even with the advent of time. People who excite and re-inspire us to live life to the full.
As someone once said to me (now that OAP status is looming) ‘if you can’t get back in touch with folk now who were once important to you, when will you?’ Hell, it’s been worth it for me. So what are you waiting for. Life’s short.
Mike Wood presents World Music on Knysna 97FM (live streaming, Sunday evening from 6-9PM). He is an occasional blogger and writes African adventure novels. For further information, visit www.michaelconradwood.com.