The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - BODY & SOUL -

Re­move spent flow­ers through­out the flow­er­ing sea­son and cut the plant right back in late au­tumn. Keep an eye out for slugs and snails. Core­op­sis are peren­ni­als and will with­stand frost but may die back af­ter a few years. They’re easy to di­vide in spring so you can in­crease your stock of plants.

As a diplo­mat’s daugh­ter, my mother trav­elled all over the world. She had never set­tled in one place be­fore mar­ry­ing my fa­ther and had no longterm or child­hood friends. She even went so far as to say ‘best friends don’t ex­ist’ — and that ‘we should just have friends’.

I had a best friend, a friend I loved spend­ing time with more than any­one else. We met aged 11 when we went to sec­ondary school in Lon­don and re­alised straight away that we had parts of our iden­ti­ties in com­mon. Emily was half-Span­ish and longed for the hol­i­days when she’d go back to the sun­shine and free way of life in Spain, where her fa­ther still lived. I’m half-French and also went away to see fam­ily in France in the hol­i­days. Her fa­ther, like mine, was an un­usual char­ac­ter with both a trou­bled and a bril­liant side and — also like mine — rather ab­sent. De­spite th­ese con­nec­tions, Emily and I were very dif­fer­ent. She was loud, con­fi­dent, fun-loving, su­per­fi­cial in a way, a bit lazy and reck­less. I was the quiet one, the ‘deep’ one, the clever one. But we were both very naughty, es­pe­cially when we got to­gether.

We were in­sep­a­ra­ble as we grew into our teens, from play­ing card games on the floor bet­ting with Tooty Frooties, to smok­ing at the back of the bus, to meet­ing un­suit­able boys at seedy clubs. But it was hard grow­ing older and real­is­ing that our dif­fer­ences were present and real. She wasn’t in­ter­ested in books, whereas I was ob­sessed with them and didn’t mind talk­ing to the geeks at school as well as the cool gang. I thought some of her new friends were stupid, and she thought some of my ideas and my oc­ca­sional se­ri­ous­ness bor­ing.

She was the nat­u­ral op­ti­mist and she filled my life, and my way of look­ing at the world, with a kind of ex­u­ber­ance and laugh­ter I’d never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. We ar­gued some­times pas­sion­ately about which gang we were in. But we al­ways stuck to­gether de­spite the pol­i­tics of teenage friend­ships. We used to talk about our fu­ture lives way into the night and the mem­o­ries of those half-lit chats still give me a burn­ing sense of how pow­er­ful and giv­ing true friend­ship is. Its sense of prom­ise is so great, as is that spe­cial feel­ing of hope found in mu­tual trust. This is par­tic­u­larly the case in those teenage years, when life seems to roll out end­lessly in front of you and you

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