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Ah yes.

Have you ever made friends with someone just incidentally?  You might have got talking to them while marooned and nibbling ostentatiously at the baguette and cheese plate at a friend’s party or they might have been a parent of someone in your child’s class and you got talking to them while putting up trestle tables at a school fair. You might have been a little overwhelmed when they came up to you at a charity coffee morning and asked to swap addresses and friend you on Facebook. That sort of thing.

And it’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, even for someone as innately shy and reticent as me to feel wanted, to feel that someone would quite like to talk to you and hear your story. So lovely that you forget for a moment that your whole mind is screaming “Beware! Beware!” at you for some unfathomable reason and you ignore everything your instinct tells you and swap addresses and then it’s too late and you’ve been sucked in? And before long you realise that your story is the very last thing in the universe that they want to hear?

So every time you go out for a drink with them or have an exchange on Facebook or they join your convo on Twitter, you are reminded that you actually have nothing in common. You are not actually friends. Perhaps your differences are irreconcilable: they support a different football team or political party and you know you’ll never see eye to eye. Perhaps they are without any filters and say exactly what they’re thinking whilst you consider and weigh every syllable several times before you say it.

Everything they say or do irritates every metatarsal, every tiny bone in your inner ear and you long to invent a time machine that will take you back to the day before you met so that you can go and hide in the kitchen when you see them make their first approach.

But that’s just silly, isn’t it? Because no-one’s perfect and you bet that there are things you say that irritate them and because they blithely carry on as if nothing has happened then that must make them a better person than you so you have to rise to their level of serenity. And after all, if we were all the same the world would be dull and they provide a window into another world as @sneezy put it so nicely yesterday.

Now, all this is fine if the things these people say are just differences in opinion. But what happenes if they blithely, routinely come out with insensitive or rude comments that cut you to the bone? Do you forgive them each time, and put a plaster over the cut and let it heal until the next time their razor tongue does its work on your quivering flesh? So that you become an infected, testing mass of resentment.

Or do you call them out and risk losing a friendship that you don’t really want but, because you’re you and you want everyone to be happy and JUST GET ALONG?

I don’t know. All of these are rhetorical questions and I haven’t got anything particular in mind.I just know that I’ve faced this a lot and, because there’s nothing new under the sun, this means that you must have had this sort of thing happen too. So what do you do?

And the relevance of that picture of Raffles? Well, we’ve had him a year now and we take him to training every week and he’s got his Silver Good Citizen test. And, despite being a beagle with a brand notoriety for bolting, most of the time he happily trots along with me off the lead. Except when he doesn’t. And today was yet another of those times when he did a runner and I received a call from a passer-by who found my mobile number on his collar. Every nanodecibel of her controlled voice screamed judgement at me for letting an obvious wanderer off the lead. I was apologetic and effusively thankful and contrite and still she judged me.

So I put the boy back on the lead and walked over Farnbvorough Common like that. Raffles shrugs his shoulders and trundles oalong nonchalantly. He just doesn’t seem to care what people think of him. But next time I walk him he’ll be back off the lead and he’ll be fine until her runs off again and causes me huge amounts of grief while I search for him, faithful Oscar always by my side.

I don’t know. What he did today reminded me of those people that you always forgive for their crassness. Why? ! suppose it’s because of the human need to form and keep a bond of affection. Despite everything.

 

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