I like to think of myself as a bit ‘choosy’ in who I like.
I don’t have many friends and keep myself to myself in most situations. It’s something that I’ve always done since childhood. I think it stems from having a teacher as a parent. When I say ‘teacher’ I mean that my dad taught at my school and was pretty much feared by everyone – hence being his son left me with a fairly small pool of people who would be approved by my dad.
Nobody came round for tea, nobody came round to play and nobody came round to just hang out.
This left me with a difficulty in socialising and a very independent attitude to living my life. I didn’t go into the halls of residence at university instead opting to go into a house with a self-contained flat. Again this meant that I didn’t socialise with the rest of my group on the course and made my own way through the three year degree.
I’ve always had loads of acquaintances, people that I’m on talking terms with, but never really been open to having loads of friends.
I do have a close group of people who I have stayed in touch with over the years and can at least consider myself lucky to have a handful of friends always there when you need a night out or an ear to listen to your views and problems.
I’m choosy with friendships within the work environment as I’ve always been the owner of my own business you have to be very careful who you are close to. It’s no good being mates with someone who you have to discipline or even fire, and it’s awkward giving a performance review to someone who you were out drinking beers with the night before.
So I’ve led a fairly insular life.
I’m not sure why, but since having my heart attack I’ve been far more open to friendships. I think it started in the critical care ward where it came home to me that there are loads of people in similar situations who are just as vulnerable and scared as I was – and chatting to them made me feel better about myself.
Nothing lost by being friendly, nothing lost by being open to chatting about being worried or scared. It kind of opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been too wrapped up in my own issues to see what other people are going through – and maybe I’ve been a bit closed to other people’s worries.
Since my near death experience I have been annoyingly friendly with the most random groups of people. Holidays and trips away have led to dinners and beers with complete strangers and a whole new social life.
Somebody even told my wife that they thought I was ‘nice’.