Are all of your friends just like you? Are they of a similar age? Do they all work in the same occupation or come from the same social background? Can you ever be too old for them?
When I was studying for my degree I was informed many times that I was wasting my time and money and that there was no point in continuing to study as I would never be using the qualification.
When I got a job in a higher education establishment I was told to be careful that I didn’t begin to get ideas above my station whilst surrounded by all those academics as I was ‘sure to get my head turned’.
Once I had holidayed with a friend who just happened to be twenty years younger than me and I was informed that this was normal behaviour for somebody having a mid-life crisis!!
That was then. This is now.
We were chatting to a man in the bar which we had adopted as our local in the Algarve when he told us that he was going out for dinner that evening to a small bar/restaurant in the next village. Nothing fancy but the food is usually very good. And then he added that if we would like to go along with him he could pick us up in his car about seven ‘ish.
Neither myself nor my friend hesitated in accepting. We would love to accompany our new friend to dinner, despite only meeting him a couple of hours ago – but after all, we were already sat in his kitchen drinking wine and sharing an amazing sheep’s cheese with him – and that was one of the parameters of this trip – to have fun, just bounce and go with the flow.
We had seen Keith in our local bar in Bensafrim a couple of times. A smart gentleman, obviously well liked among the locals, he came and sat at a table on the terrace in the afternoon to read his kindle whilst he drank a coffee and one of those ubiquitous tumblers of red wine. We already knew that he was English and then, earlier that afternoon, we had got chatting to him.
It turned out that Keith was an ex-copper who had moved out to Portugal with his wife, but sadly she had since passed away. Despite suggestions from his children to return home to the UK, he had declined and chose to remain in the village where they had made friends. Keith has a good social life which includes Portuguese and British friends and he lives in the centre of the village.
Keith was one of those people that you just ‘click’ with, so when he asked if we would like to leave the bar and go and see his home and join him for some more wine, it didn’t seem strange at all. We settled our respective bar bills and wandered over to his house – which was beautiful – Portuguese with an English twist.
What was surprising was that it turned out that Keith knew the family of one of my friends who lives back in the UK. Who needs further proof of the Six Degrees of Separation theory? It is a very small world indeed.
Anyway, later that evening we wandered down to the junction to meet Keith – who rolled up in his cabriolet and with the top down we cruised to the next village. At the Caramba restaurant and bar I had a lovely grilled swordfish and BF had beef stew, but don’t go thinking it was anything like a beef stew at home – this one was Portuguese style stew and the meat melted in your mouth. After being plied with complimentary drinks by Marco who has to be one of the tallest men in the country, we decided that the night was still young so Keith drove us to the home of another couple of his friends where more wine was quaffed. Following that, Keith drove us home the long way, stopping off on the cliff road to show us the views of Lagos and the coastline by night and then kindly dropped us off close to our farm.
It had been a lovely, impromptu, fun night out but something Keith had said was bothering me. He had asked us a couple of times whether it was cool to be seen out with him. I had been very quick to reassure him that we loved his company; he was full of fun and very interesting. I worried on his behalf that he was worried about us wanting to spend time with him (are you keeping up with this?) My friend Chris, who is always very insightful, pointed out to me that I was the same and that I often worried about whether my younger friends really did like my company – due to the head-worms that had been planted in my brain over the years. Chris asked was Keith’s age ever something that I had considered before agreeing to go out with him that evening. I replied of course not, it had never even crossed my mind. So, BF continued, you should stop tormenting yourself with self-doubt when you go out with your friends who are quite a few years younger than you. They don’t see an older woman; they see somebody whose company they enjoy.
If you enjoy somebody’s company and get on well then it doesn’t matter how old or young they are. One lady who I really admire is in her seventies. She has led the kind of life that I would like to lead – but what is amazing is that she is still doing it. She has taught English as a foreign language in Kuwait after the first Gulf War, visited deepest, darkest Africa by herself and she still travels to some amazing places and refuses to slow down. She is a professional house-sitter moving to new places for weeks at a time, is interesting, funny and well-informed. If I achieve half of what she has achieved in her life I would be very happy.
Keith – you asked us if it was cool to be out with you. It was VERY cool to be out with somebody who is eighty one years young and hats off to you and to everybody who refuses to let life slow them down. I hope that I can be as friendly, outgoing, interesting and plain nice as you are for a very long time yet.
If you enjoy someone’s company and get on well, it doesn’t matter what age they are or how high up they may be in their profession. Life is far too short. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy every minute.