‘The years between us melt away’
There are 40 years between Pauline Tilt and Clementine Turner-powell, but they have so much in common
I’ve known Clementine since she was a child. Living in the same village, I’ve been friends with her parents for years, and when she was very little, my eldest daughter used to babysit for her. As she grew older, our relationship was warm and neighbourly, but fairly distant.
Then, one evening in 2000 after my husband John died of cancer, she called round. I had huge support from my family, but was touched by her kindness. She was home from university for the holidays and, knowing I was on my own, had taken the time to think about me. The hours flew by as one glass of wine turned into three, and my house was filled with laughter again.
Now our Prosecco evenings have become something of a tradition. Clementine lives in London, but whenever she’s visiting her parents, she’ll come over. The years between us seem to melt away as we chat. She’s a teacher and I was a magistrate in the youth court, so we both have a lot of opinions about education.
Though Clementine is closer in age to my daughters than to me, the friendship is definitely ours. Because she isn’t my daughter, it makes for a more equal and honest dynamic. I feel like we’re on the same level.
When you’re retired, it’s easy to slip into a familiar routine. I lead a busy life, but there can be the tendency to focus on the mundane. Having a friend in their 20s keeps my mind fresh and agile. She brings lively debate, brightness and fun.
I really value the time I spend with Pauline. When it comes to socialising with people my own age, it’s hard to get your voice heard; it’s as if everyone is competing to have the biggest problem or the most complex worries. But with Pauline there’s no sense of competition. She’s eloquent, understanding and incredibly wise. Our conversations begin with everyday chat, but we’ll soon move on to deeper topics and our shared philosophies on life.
I think it’s healthy to engage with different generations, to challenge yourself and look beyond your usual circle. We can offer each other new ideas and alternative views. In that sense, the age gap has strengthened our bond. The only sign that she is older is that I still refer to her as Mrs Tilt!
Anything I tell my other friends, I’d also share with her, and her advice on my career, relationships and ambitions is always helpful. I respect the way she listens attentively before responding. Her words are carefully chosen, so you can always be sure she means them. Our friendship has proved to me that age really is just a number. She’s become a true friend.
‘We give each other new ideas’ clementine
Friendship with fizz: ‘We’re on the same level,’ say Clementine, left, and Pauline