My train buddy K has died - a great friend, stylish individual and all round terrific person. Given K's reluctance to fully embrace the wonders of technology, I'm sure she'd appreciate the deep irony of being remembered online!
Along with our dear friend G, K and I shared a unique relationship as 'train buddies', commuting together on and off for nearly 10 years. We liked to think our witty repartee, instructive conversation, and robust discussions made the journey more interesting and entertaining for our fellow travellers. However, one evening a young woman chose to stand rather than sit in the fourth chair – forcing us to re-think the effect we were having. SO … we took over the 'cubby' at the end of the carriage – just room enough for 3 – where oddly enough, not many others tried to muscle in for the elusive seat! But hey! Being a little bit scary can be a good thing!
While the railway staff have yet to implement our repeated suggestion of serving champagne and nibbles to cubby occupants so as to make the homeward commute almost civilised, we took their keenness to stop and chat as proof of our wit and charm – what else could it be? And when the cubby wasn't available, other travellers openly listened to our chit-chat, even hiding their laughter as we covered such topics as the day I flushed my watch down the toilet, how to castrate lambs, the peculiarities of our respective partners or the administrative idiocies of bureaucracy.
The last time I saw K, she denounced the fashion magazines to which she had been a long term devotee, as 'crap'! But for most of the time I knew her, they generated lively discussion between the three of us (with very different tastes) and influenced her always immaculate and stylish appearance. They influenced others as well - K claimed a personal victory the day I wore lime green footwear to work instead of my usual black.
Again ironically, given her legendary addiction to quality film, we were only ever destined to see mediocre Nicole Kidman movies together ('The Others' and 'Bewitched' if you care). Our excursions with and without our partners included trips to antique shops, dining out (where I was privileged to share K's experience of the 'worst pumpkin mash ever'), birthday celebrations and breakfasts (especially those at our favourite spot, Rigonis). I'll always regret passing on the shopping trip to Melbourne (Damn! If only I hadn't taken that new job!!) but when a recent foray into the CBD took me past many of her favourite shoe, book, DVD, jewellery, fabric and coffee shops I realised that in this, as in many other areas, I was outclassed.
Typically supportive and encouraging to the end, K rang to tell me she was in hospital. 'But, enough about me,' she interjected after some discussion about her condition and the prognosis, 'what's happening with you?' She always claimed to enjoy reading what I wrote, and made me feel that publishing writings about our travels was not only possible, but inevitable. She's one of the reasons I started this blog, so it's fitting that I celebrate her memory here. After speaking of this and that, we planned to lunch once she'd recovered from the radiotherapy and rang off.
Would I have said anything different if I had known that was to be our last conversation? Probably not, except to tell her that everyone should be as lucky as I to have had as good a friend as she.
Rest in peace, my friend.