Thursday 24 July 2008

Happy Birthday, Chimney Sweep!

We're three close friends.
We've known eachother over a decade.

It's hard to really pinpoint the dynamics between the three of us. The Chimney Sweep likens me to the Friends character Joey, which I say makes him Ross and The Baker Chandler.
And D Monica...

Of course it's not an identical comparison. I'm not QUITE as dumb as Joey. In fact if awards were given out for making remarks ONLY Joey could make, the Chimney Sweep would win the lot. And The Baker, unlike Chandler, has always been a ladies man.
But in some ways, in terms of the dynamics between those three sitcom characters, it's close.

It's probably true that, especially now he's a married man, we go out together the three of us far less often. Possibly once every couple of months or so. The Baker and I still see eachother on average at least once a week, I'd say. And speak on the phone most days. We both see slightly less of The Chimney Sweep, but that doesn't mean he's out of the loop. I still make sure I see him once a month at least- we have a tradition of going to watch lower league football matches across the Midlands. They're good days out.

Of course it's always the jewel in the crown if the three of us can arrange it so we can all be in the same place at the same time, but that seems harder. It's ironic that whilst I see The Baker most weeks, when The Chimney Sweep has a window of opportunity, one or other of us just can't make it.

Which is a shame.

Tomorrow I will be going to the annual Chimney sweep anniversary party. Not only is he thirty-two, it is two years since he met Mrs Chimney Sweep.
His thirtieth.

Long term readers will remember some of the misgivings I had about the wedding in the first place.
Well, to date it seems my doubts were misplaced, but that doesn't mean I don't keep a watchful eye open.

I've had people say it's none of my business. I disagree. It's always my business. As I said when they got engaged, I'm not handing over responsibility for him to anyone, unless I'm sure they have his best interests at heart. The ties of ten years friendship mean I regard that guy as my brother.

And myself and Mrs Chimney Sweep have had several brutally frank discussions about it, when he was out of earshot.
Because he needs a woman to look after him, he really does, and as long as she does, all well and good.

But there's a gullible gene in the family. His sister got walked all over by a Mexican guy who married her and then left after the two years to claim permanent residency was up. And I will retain this prickly feeling that this runs in the family until we get to September 2009.

The Chimney Sweep.
He can make the mundane mystical.

Only the Chimney Sweep can walk out of a station, look directly at a taxi rank loaded with taxi drivers and say, as if it is the scientific discovery of the century 'I think we shouldn't have TOO much trouble getting a taxi...'

Or ring me three times to tell me he can't find an all night garage in Manchester, of all places.

But he's just a nice bloke.
Really is.

When he was younger, we used to take bets on how soon it would take him to pull in a club. His strategy was o so simple.

He just walked round and asked pretty much every female if they fancied it.
And he got a few slaps.
But it never took him much more than ten minutes.
Because he is a nice guy.
And it comes across.
Incapable of malice, but the downside is, he just can't see it in others.

Just not streetwise.

I look at the astounding progress in terms of DIY that goes on at his home and admit I just wouldn't get round to it. I just haven't got the determination to care.

The Chimney Sweep. Can witter for England on nothing at all.

The Baker and I have come up with a new joke at his expense from watching The Madness of King George.
There is a line in it where Ian Holm says 'If he witters on unceasingly at length about nothing in particular, HE WILL BE RESTRAINED!!!'

So now when The Chimney Sweep starts on one of his monologues, it is not long before one of us shouts out 'I have you in my eye, sir!'

I always say that one of the best ways to judge yourself is by the quality of your friends.
And the Chimney Sweep is one of those. That such a genuine, nice guy treats me as one of his closest friends, has even implied he wouldn't have overmuch of a problem if something was to happen between me and his sister, which it wouldn't because the idea seems a bit incestuous, is proof for me, I'm, doing something right.

Time and time again, when he introduces me to people, we go through the same ritual formula;
'One of the best is Crushed, top bloke'

And I'll nod and say 'You too mate. Even if you do talk a lot of sh*t.'

On his stag do, I made sure he knew that.

On the way up, he asked if I had anything planned.
I thought about it.
'Yes, we're going to play a game. You have to answer twenty direct questions with a simple yes or no answer.'

And at three AM, I reminded him of this.

So we sat on opposite sides of the table, the spectators wondering what would come next...

Question One: 'You never buy a Big Issue. But both he and you know you heard the bugger. Feel guilty about avoiding eye contact?'


Question Two: 'You and I both vote Tory. It suits us. Are we basing our decision ethically?'


The first section was like this. Then at question twelve we hit the ones I REALLY wanted to ask.

Question Twelve: 'You know I have misgivings about this marriage and the motives behind it?'


Question Thirteen: 'You understand it affects nothing between you and me?'

Of course.

Question Fourteen: 'And we'll carry on doing our things as before, and none of this affects me getting on with Mrs CS, which I do?'


Question Fifteen; 'And you know I'm always on the end of the phone, you can ALWAYS call me about ANYTHING?'


Question Sixteen: And you know that if it all goes tits up, if the worst, worst should happen, you have a bed to sleep in?


Question Seventeen: And you know you'll always be one of the most important people in the world to me?'


Thee was no need to carry the game on for twenty questions. Men don't hug eachother that often, but when we do, we mean it. And yes, there was a tear in my eye.

I'm looking forward to this weekend.

Friends, they're what life is all about. And this weekend, is all about the Chimney Sweep.


Anonymous said...

Heres to friendship and cheers to the Chimney sweep "Happy Birthday"

Raising my glass now ;-)

Anonymous said...

Now... there is a coincidence. The Chimney Sweep & I share a common date...

Anonymous said...

Men don't seem to value their friends as much as women do. In fact often they do have true friends so much as drinking buddies or golfing buddies or whatever.
So it is very nice to see a male whose friends are so important to him.
Have a great weekend and happy birthday wishes to CS.

Anonymous said...

(1) First of all, wish the chimney sweep a happy birthday for me.

(2) I agree there is some validity in assessing a person's character by how his friends love him or her.

(3) I'm really glad you have such friends.

(4) I'm assuming two years ago was his thirtieth birthday, not his thirtieth wife. If it were the latter, you'd have REAL cause for concern.

Anonymous said...

I have very few close friends and hold dear to me the ones I do have. Trust is an important issue in my eyes that is why only a handful get close enough.
Happy Birthday to the Chimney Sweep and have a great weekend Crushed :-)

Anonymous said...

I think sometimes actions speak louder than words - men have a way of being more practical when it comes to show how they feel rather than talk abt it.

Friendship like that doenst come that often, and I'm really happy that you have seized it. Knowing exactly where you have a person and not letting time nor distance get in the way defines true friendship.

Hope you have a blast at the party, and i agree with cherrypie on this:

Heres to friendship and cheers to the Chimney sweep "Happy Birthday"

Anonymous said...

CherryPie- He had a good one!

David- It wasn't actually the Friday, it's the Wednesday coming. And in fact, all these years I've thought he was a year and eight months older than me. Try TWO years eight months.

X-dell- I think so. Our friends know us best. They see the little quirks we hide that make us human.

It was actually his 31st. I didn't realise this. I knew we met when I was a second year and he was doing his MA. I didn't realise quite how big the agw gap was. and oddly, it didn't matter back then, and obviously never has for me to take ten years to find it out.

jmb- I don't know, I think UK culture is different to North American in that respect. The distances involved here make it easier for people to stay in touch for life, plus I think we do have a culture in which going out with friends is very important.

I think I probably am a lot closer to my closest friends than most people, my boss observed it at my birthday, in just the general interaction, in fact people do often comment on how close we are. But then again, we've known eachother over a third of our lives, and we've probably spoken more words to eachother in our lives than we have to anyone else.

Nunyaa- I agree. Trust is the issue. I feel safe nough to issue keys to these people and feel safe enough to be sure that they always have my best interests at heart- as a result I don't need to keep anything from them.

That's rare.

Crashie- I think I've chosen my friends wisely. Or actually, I'm not sure, over the years I've sifted the wheat from the chaff.

You learn the difference between a friend and an acquiantance.