I keep wanting to write but being put off doing so. The dismal repercussions of the EU Referendum and the ensuing spectre of Brexit have dominated my thoughts for weeks. I am hating how the Leave vote seems to have given so many people licence to remove their think/say filter and be so generally unpleasant to each other.

We seem to have assumed a siege mentality: retreating into our own bubble of niceness and hoping upon hope that those nasty people will eventually blow themselves out. My thoughts about this and other things going on my my life are so dismal that writing them down seems an act of imposing such an unbearable whinge on the world. I’d rather not. And though I am encouraging myself to think more laterally, more whimsically about my blog, I don’t have the heart to write most of the time. I have Bloggers’ Block.

However, it does feel good to articulate one’s thoughts in writing, and some people like to read this blog because it is news of home. In fact I’ve toyed with the idea of blogging in epistolary form next year: as letters to James or my wretched next door neighbour or someone entirely fictional. I haven’t yet managed to get my head around this but watch this space. I know that letters are despised by some but they can be a neat device for expressing oneself fully. What do you think?

I’m prompted to write tonight because I’m considering the nature of friendship. I am lucky to have quite a lot of friends, meaning people with whom I’m friendly and can pass the time of day or share a drink or a lunch but, like many, I have only a few very close friends. Indeed the nature of these friendships seems to be changing too: lately some people I thought were close friends have made me reconsider the nature of our friendship by some of their attitudes. One of my very good friends appears to have dropped me completely: the last time I saw her was over a year ago when she incidentally used our road as a cut through. We hadn’t had an disagreement, as far as I know, but just grown apart. After her divorce she’d started a new life which didn’t include me. Sad, but we all move on, don’t we?

I’m lucky though that i’ve cemented closer friendships with people I just knew and I value these people highly because they are friends with the person I am now. You know, some people manage to go through life without a supportive friendship network. They are strong enough or self-sufficient enough not to need people, or so they think. Yet, I speak to lonely people all the time who have become detached and isolated from the world through their seeming  lack of anything in common with it. And loneliness kills.

I’m pondering friendship partly because I am going to a funeral tomorrow. The lady in question certainly wasn’t a close friend but we went to the same dog training class for several years. We knew she had been treated for cancer: she had a wig and then her hair grew back and then she wore her wig after more treatment but, in my mind’s eye I see Jane as recently as late July, in our hall in Keston, smiling at her dog Lola, who was often a bit slow to go and retrieve the dummy she’d thrown.

Jane’s son was about to be married in the USA, but just before she flew over for his wedding she was taken lll and never really recovered. From my scant knowledge the progress of the cancer was mercifully quick at the end but it was a shock nonetheless.

How close to someone do you have to be to go to their funeral, I wonder? Jane and I were friendly with each other and often shared a quip and a smile. She seemed like a lovely, lively woman. But I didn’t know her very well. You go to dog class, you chat when you’re supposed to be paying attention, you laugh at the antics of your canine children and then you go home and don’t see each other until the next week. Initially I thought that I’d be intruding if I went to the church, dressed in black with all the other mourners and close family members. What if they wonder who I am and resent my usurping presence?

But when I’ve talked to other people about it, the most important thing seems to be that the church is full of people who knew her, from all of the jigsaw pieces of her life. We represent the passing smiles and jokes and also the people who knew her who cannot be there. And it’s always a comfort to her close friends and family to share their grief with a packed church. It is uncomfortable for me, but I’ll go for Jane and her family.