‘On pa­per, we shouldn’t be friends’

They are like chalk and cheese, but Kate Rowe and Cather­ine Blyth can still make one an­other laugh like no­body else

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Real Lives -

Kate says…

Cather­ine and I have been friends since we were 12. While I was shy, she was forth­right. But we had a shared sense of cu­rios­ity about the world, and spent many nights talk­ing into the early hours.

In some ways, our lives have run on par­al­lel tracks. By chance, we mar­ried on ex­actly the same day and we both have two chil­dren. But when it comes to our out­look, and the way we see the world, we have al­ways been poles apart.

As a young woman I was con­ser­va­tive, and felt wary of po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions. Afraid of be­ing caught out and ridiculed for my lim­ited po­lit­i­cal knowl­edge, I stayed quiet. Cather­ine, on the other hand, grew ever more po­lit­i­cally-minded. A firm Labour sup­porter, she went to Cam­bridge Univer­sity, where her opin­ions were chal­lenged and strength­ened. At the 1997 elec­tion, when we both had the chance to vote for the first time, she was hor­ri­fied that I’d voted Tory.

Af­ter univer­sity, I moved back to Northamp­ton and went on to work for my fam­ily’s hor­ti­cul­tural busi­ness, while Cather­ine moved to Lon­don, be­came a writer, and en­joyed a fast-paced life far dif­fer­ent from the one I craved. I don’t think she has ever un­der­stood why I chose to go back to the place where we grew up. But she ac­cepts that I have a very dif­fer­ent phi­los­o­phy on life; I am much more spir­i­tual, and af­ter dis­cov­er­ing Bud­dhism in re­cent years, I have found peace in med­i­ta­tion.

But when we get to­gether, we be­come those two chat­ter­ing lit­tle girls again, just like when we were at sleep­overs. Our years of friend­ship have formed a deep bond be­tween us, one that al­lows us to be com­pletely hon­est with one an­other.

When we do dis­agree, we both know it’s only a mat­ter of opin­ion. We are able to look be­yond it, find rea­sons to laugh and dif­fuse the ten­sion with mu­tual re­spect. Hav­ing a dif­fer­ent world view pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to think over your own core val­ues and be­come more broad-minded as a re­sult. Trust, sup­port and love are the most im­por­tant qual­i­ties in a friend­ship – and Cather­ine of­fers those in abun­dance.

Cather­ine says…

On pa­per, Kate and I shouldn’t be friends. And yet, as the years have gone on, I’ve re­alised that chal­leng­ing each other is fun­da­men­tal to our dy­namic, and our dif­fer­ences are what makes us tick.

Grow­ing up, I was a bit of a rebel, while Kate has al­ways been a dreamer. When she voted for John Ma­jor in 1997, I strug­gled to ac­cept her de­ci­sion. I saw him as a dull bank man­ager – a grey fig­ure in con­trast to Kate’s bright­ness. I felt cheated, as though she had lost her dreami­ness.

I think the se­cret to our sus­tained bond is that we lis­ten to each other, and what bridges the chasm be­tween us is our sense of hu­mour. One of my favourite mem­o­ries of Kate is the two of us climb­ing out of a pub win­dow. We’d paid for the drinks and there was no good rea­son to do so, but at the time, it seemed hi­lar­i­ous – the kind of laugh­ter that hurts your stom­ach.

I love that she’s a dreamer, and she en­joys my more cyn­i­cal take on the world. Dif­fer­ences, in what­ever form, should al­ways be some­thing to cel­e­brate.

‘When we dis­agree, we are able to look be­yond it’ kate

Colour clash: Kate, left, and Cather­ine have op­pos­ing views on many things

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