A really strange thing happened this week. An old friend rocked into Katowice for the weekend. OK, that’s not strange ya turnip you’re thinking, well, it was strange because we’ve barely spoken in ten years and had pretty much lost touch. So, it was fecking deadly that he came to see me, the wife and wee Murf.
Bit of back story I suppose. We were proper besties back in the day. We worked together in Temple Bar for years. More than just drinking buddies; we went to concerts together, the cinema, in search of chemicals and companionship and we even both gave the other one a sofa when they were homeless. But you know yourself you go insane after working in a Temple Bar pub for too long so you change job, I can’t call pulling overpriced pints for tourists a career, and you just kind of lose touch.
I’d invited said mate to my wedding here in Poland a few years ago and here’s where it got a bit weird. Chap was a no show. Life got in the way. I was annoyed that he didn’t tell me beforehand since I’d paid for his hotel and stuff. Polish wedding you pay for nothing by the way, so if you’re ever invited: go. To be honest there were 120-odd other guests and the wife, and the horses pulling the carriage and the photographer and whether or not we’d run out of beer (we did) to be thinking about so I didn’t hold a grudge. But again, we fell out of touch.
I’m not the type though to hold a grudge. The only people I hold grudges against are people who deserve it. Michael Noonan for example. Robert Lewandowski for leaving Borussia Dortmund for those scumbags Bayern Munich and, of course, the auntie who convinced us to buy a certain type of wood flooring that’s an absolute piece of shit and needs to be redone only 3 years later.
[pullquote]It was some shock. But a good type. I was fucking delighted.[/pullquote] But yea, anyway… he needs a name doesn’t he, let’s call him Romeo because he was a big fan of The Magic Numbers (a shit band you won’t remember). So, I’m on the way to a local football match on Saturday (#ForzaRozwoj) collecting a friend on the way and I get a call from Romeo asking am I in Katowice, I sure am says I, cool says he, I’ll be there in four hours. I damn near hit the car in front of me as the lights changed to red. It was some shock. But a good type. I was fucking delighted.
I mean, show me a person who wouldn’t like to reconnect with a friend they’ve not seen in ten years. And it was pure grand, we hung out at a free concert celebrating the end of college exams, we were a bit auld for it, but in fairness we just sat and drank. You don’t go to a free concert for the music that’s for sure. If the only gigs you can get during the year are for free Leaving Cert concerts then maybe a career in music isn’t really for you that’s all I’m saying.
But y’know with Romeo showing up, it really makes you question the nature of friendship when you’re an immigrant. I’m not an ex-pat and I never want to be called one. It’s not easy to make friends when you move abroad. It’s understandable too, you struggle with the new language and you need to find your feet before you can go looking for mates. And when you do make your first friends in your new home they’re probably the wrong ones. I had friendships, well, I thought they were friendships, that were merely me being used as a few free English lessons once every now and then. I’ve one Polish friend. After eight years. One.
I had a good few more but what stopped me being friends with the ones I had was when the immigration fiasco in Europe really kicked off it turned out that they were all fuckin’ racists. In my eyes if you’ve a problem with a Syrian fleeing a war zone to find a new home in Poland… well, it’s like this, that Syrian deserves to be living in Poland more than me, so if you’ve a problem with them, you’ve a problem with me. I’m not sorry for it, I don’t want to be friends with racists. I’d rather be alone.
[pullquote]I just don’t trust people. I barely trust myself. As sure as the day is long everyone you know will let you down.[/pullquote] Of course, you need to push yourself to meet people and it’s especially hard when you’ve no interest in other people. I don’t really like people. I’ve a couple of catchphrases that my friends and family know, individuals are grand, it’s people that are cunts. I just don’t trust people. I barely trust myself. As sure as the day is long everyone you know will let you down. It’s fatalist but it’s also true. Your wife will let you down, your parents will, your siblings, your friends, and colleagues. It’s just the way humans are, we’re shit at being good to each other consistently.
When it comes to friends and partners at least you have a choice there where you can stay friends with the ones who are worth the odd discretion. Forgiveness is one of the best things you can give another person, so don’t be shy with it. But surely Spud you should forgive your racist ex-friends their racism? No, fuck that, they think there’s nothing wrong with hating brown people and I think that’s something very wrong.
Do you ever really make proper friends though when you’re an immigrant? I’ve a group of good mates here but… it’s hard to explain and I certainly don’t want to alienate myself here… friendships are based on common experiences and y’know, is going to the pub a couple of times a month a shared experience? I dunno, maybe I’m wrong but I think the best time to forge lasting friendships is in your teens and twenties, when you’ve got less responsibilities and way more free time to do shit together.
Sometimes I feel like my friends are only my friends coz we’re all in the same boat. We’re foreigners. Would we be friends if we all lived in the same town in Ireland or Britain? I think so, I’d certainly hope so. But I don’t know. How can I know the answer to that, it’s impossible to answer. Would we move in the same circles? Yea, I think so, I think we’d bump into each other eventually and get yapping about why Black Sabbath weren’t as good as Led Zeppelin but were far more influential.
I guess the nature of friendship is that you get out of it what you put in. And y’know life is just too fucking short, so if there’s someone in your life that you miss and haven’t spoken to in years send them an email or Facebook message and just say hello. The worst that can happen is they don’t reply and sure at least you’ll have tried.
This week on The Comedy Cast I speak to Irish stand-up comedian Niamh Marron on Monday 29th and on Thursday 1st June I speak to Irish stand-up comedian and founder of Jesters Comedy Club Jeremy Pace. On my YouTube channel, I’ve got video versions of the podcasts every Monday and Thursday and Trailer Trash and The Weekly Viral are out every Wednesday and Friday too.
Main image via collider.com