Cocktails and prosecco replaced cheap cider as I celebrated almost four decades of friendship with my university pals/ Sue Plunkett column
'You will make friendships that last a lifetime.'
I remember that comment so clearly, from a former teacher of mine, before I went off to university at the age of 18...38 years ago.
It didn't mean much at the time. But how it does now, for last weekend I had a mini reunion with two of my former housemates.... almost four decades after we first became friends living on the same floor in the halls of residence.
And although it must be seven years or so since the three of us were together it felt like no time had passed at all as we have such an easy and natural friendship. We greeted each other as though it was only last week when we were together.
The three of us are very different in our personalities, viewpoints and approach to life but I believe it's those differences that bind us together so strongly. We 'grew up' together in those carefree college days that we really did believe would last forever. We were never afraid to be honest with each other and that hasn't changed to this day.
Helen, Deb and myself were three of five girls who shared a house in the second and third years of studying for our degrees. And I can honestly say the house was an absolute tip!
The place had never seen a mop or duster but we didn't care. We were having too much fun hosting parties, socialising, pursuing romances, oh and studying, of course! We lived on a diet of baked potatoes, fried egg sandwiches and cheap wine and cider... it was heavenly.
We talked, drank and laughed until the early hours at our little reunion ( prosecco and cocktails replacing cider) remembering funny incidents from our student days, including the time when Helen thought she was going to prison when the TV licence van 'caught' us watching a tiny black and white portable telly without one!
When the man knocked on the door Helen tearfully admitted everything! I seem to remember we received a fine which was eventually paid by one of our parents.
On another occasion I froze when I saw a six foot tall police officer at the front door and my heart sank wondering what bad news he was bringing... until he stepped in and said that Deb's family had reported her 'missing' as she hadn't rung home for a week!
Her face was a picture and the rest of us couldn't stop laughing! That was something that would never happen to me as I was on the phone at least three times a week to my parents.. I was under strict instructions.
Helen used to go home on a regular basis and would always return with a cake, lovingly baked by her dear mum, Thelma. I can't tell you how much we looked forward to that cake and how good it tasted.
Helen hosted our weekend get together at her home and, in the true tradition started by her mum, she presented us with a cake. It was absolutely delicious and, reflecting the sign of our times, fat free to boot!
Over the years the three of us have shared life changing events together including the loss of our parents, marriage, divorce (for myself and Deb) children.. no grandchildren on the horizon yet though.
We have stayed in touch by phone, letter, email and Christmas cards. The miles have separated us and our lives may have gone in different directions but we have never let the friendship go and I couldn't be more grateful for these two wonderful ladies in my life.