Ruth Walker: In lieu of all the cards I never sent

Ruth Walker. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ruth Walker. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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WE WERE the best of friends at high school, Suzanne Mardon and I. The details are a bit fuzzy now, all these years on, but I think there was a falling out. Something to do with Faith Main taking Trisha O’Hara away from me, perhaps. Or maybe Faith took Suzanne away? Who knows? There were definitely tears. Name-calling. Recriminations. Girl stuff.

I tell my own daughter now, when she’s caught up in her own mini dramas. It all seems so earth-shattering, I say, so devastating, but get to my age and you won’t even remember who did what to whom. It simply won’t matter. Somehow, this advice doesn’t help. Ingrate.

Anyway, Suzanne and I were thrown together by circumstance and a common love of new romantics. At least, that’s how I remember it.

She was posher than me. Her mum used to prepare the Sunday roast on a Saturday. And she introduced me to the privileged world of the tennis club. I failed to impress.

We were mugged together at the bus stop once. She had a Stanley knife pressed to her cheek; I defended myself with an umbrella. We were left shaken but unhurt – £5 poorer – and spent the rest of the evening being driven around Edinburgh’s less salubrious neighbourhoods in a Panda car looking for our assailants. We never found them.

We saw Duran Duran together. Live. Twice. We danced on the velveteen seats at the Playhouse and were told off by a liveried man carrying a torch. I loved Roger. Who did Suzanne love, I wonder? Simon? I wrote about that, years later, and a photograph duly appeared in the post – the two of us, all bouffed hair, epaulettes and eager expressions, captured for eternity in her mum and dad’s living room.

But, somewhere along the line we lost touch. At least I did. She left Edinburgh. She got married, had children, moved house a couple of times. Her address was misplaced.

“Who are Suzanne, Campbell, Ciaran, Angus and Leona?” Daughter asks over the phone, apropos of absolutely nothing, so it takes me a moment or two to register.

She repeats the names before I realise we have received a Christmas card from someone she doesn’t recognise so, obviously, since I have no life that precedes childbirth, there must be some mistake.

I tell her about Suzanne and our dramas, and it makes me smile. A lifetime has passed. Where is she now? What is she doing? One thing’s for sure – we can’t have spoken for at least 14 years, because she was wishing a family of five a very merry Christmas and there are now only four of us. I was divorced some time back, in 1999.

I’ve searched the web, Facebook, Twitter. I can’t find her (her married name is Harte). So, Suzanne, if you read this, or if someone who knows you does, this column is in lieu of the many cards I should have sent over the years. My family and I wish you and yours a wondrous 2014. Sorry we lost touch. Next time, send your address. It would be great to catch up.