Friday, 14 March 2014

An extraordinary friendship that spans continents

When I was 16 I had the misfortune of having my appendix removed in Vietnam. The unexpected side effect of the surgery was an unusual friendship that has now lasted longer than a decade and spans continents.

The trip I was on at the time that my appendix decided to stop behaving and earn the attention it had always craved was organised through school. As well as a group of my peers, two teachers accompanied us on the jaunt and one of those was my English teacher, who stayed with me in hospital throughout the surgery and my recovery.

It is amazing how such an experience cements a relationship and at the time we agreed we would have to be friends forever. The days were spent answering quiz questions from the Weakest Link quiz book and drinking juice made from the most exotic fruits imaginable.

So far we have remained true to our promise and despite no longer living in the UK, I consider my former English teacher among my dearest friends. This is why my forthcoming trip to Malaysia is such a special one, as it is an opportunity to spend some quality time with Ms O'Farrell talking at 100-miles-per-hour and keeping that promise alive.

You see Ginnie (we dispensed with the formalities a long time ago) now lives in Penang and I will spend the first week of my holiday staying with her and her family. As well as an opportunity to explore what is said to be a fascinating location and one that is well tipped by the experts at present, it will be a proper catch-up session.

Since those days in the early noughties in the North East of England, Ginnie has lived in El Salvador, Istanbul and now Penang, raising her daughter. Apart from a trip to Turkey to visit her several years ago, our friendship has survived on annual visits that last half a day and the exchange of Christmas cards.

The chance to spend hours talking about books, writing, travel and all the things that mean 12 years down the line we keep in touch is one that I am relishing. And that is why this trip to Malaysia means so much to me.

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