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I’ll be there

On her birthday, our founder Emma Tattersall shares with us her pledge for the next year in her ode to friendship.

Illustration by Amy Blackwell - Full time artist/doodler/pancake enthusiast/hufflepuff

Some people say that New Year is a time for reminiscing (spoiler alert - it’s only 90 days away). It’s the self appointed time for goal setting and to figure out what the year ahead holds. But for me it’s birthdays. Indulgence, self-reflection and looking back over the highlight reel of the last 12 months paired with a Colin the Caterpillar cake and probably too much to drink is textbook birthday in my dictionary.

To mark my birthday on Speaker’s Corner, I contemplated trying to poorly plagirise the epic article Dolly Alderton wrote to to celebrate her birthday and the beginning of her new column with the Sunday Times style magazine. I quickly realised at best mine would be a Moaning Lisa against the work of art that is her piece. If you haven’t yet read her “lessons” then let my first birthday gift to you be this gem, aka lesson 29 a):

You are so much more than your worst day or your worst joke or your misjudged tweet or your mistake at work. We live in a time when it’s easy to think our entire existence deserves to be “cancelled” for our inevitable failings, but messing up is an essential part of being human. Good people do bad things sometimes. Learn, apologise, let it go.

Last weekend the eternal summer was drawing to a close. My love of Birkenstock's was contending with frostbite so the annual wardrobe Tetris began. As I wrested woolly knits, scarfs and roll necks out from underneath my bed and prepared for the autumnal transition, Spotify was recklessly djing in the background.

As I examined the new moth holes and decided which work dresses might possibly still fit, I was taken back to the last time these clothes saw daylight. As I wandered out of a my day dream, a Jess Glynne song was ringing in my ears. I stopped, for the first time in months, to think about all that had changed while these jumpers had been hibernating under my bed.

This year has been big - in ways good and bad. The pace has been relentless, with almighty peaks and world changing troughs for those incredible people I get to call my nearest and dearest.

The past 12 months have brought new jobs, new nests, new loves, new lusts, new rescue dogs, new adorable children, new appetites, new friends, new adventures, new passports, new cities, new anniversaries and new sighs of relief. It’s been a year of survival, celebration and sunshine. It’s been an Instagram worthy reel of beaming faces, belly laughing and foil balloons.

But it has also been a year of tremendous sadness and world-changing loss. We’ve lost people who we could never have imagined living without, we’ve lost people we never even had the chance to meet, we’ve lost battles with illnesses too cruel and too complicated to name and we’ve lost the happy ignorance of youth. It’s been a year of why-the-fuck-has-this-happened and I-am-just-so-sorrys. There have been nights when no words will make things better, no explanation exists, nothing can take the pain away.

These experiences have changed us - collectively. I’ve been witness to these horrible experiences crashing onto some of the people I care most about. And yet, these same people have shown an incredible strength, an unimaginable resilience and exceptional kindness to one another. Friendship has taken on new meaning, it’s reached new depths.

When I sat with tears rolling down my face last Sunday it wasn’t because my Ladies-who-Launch roll neck had been the latest victim of mothgate. It was because the words in Jess Glynne’s “I’ll be there” rang loud and true.

There’s an elasticity in friendship that you notice more and more each year. Suddenly, you can’t remember the last time you were on the phone with that friend, the one you called on every single commute when you both first lived in London. Or maybe it’s the friend who you've known since the year dot, whose first break-up ten years ago you know about then their current relationship. Then there's the we-should-have-lunch-sometime gang who you once shared a home with, but now you only interact via the blue ticks of WhatsApp. The friendships haven’t worsened, there’s no issue, no break up, no one is at fault - it’s just that things have really changed. Life has changed.

But if this year has taught me anything, it’s that when the unbearable happens - whatever that may be for you - this world is full of incredible people who will rally round and try just to make you feel the tiniest bitter better.

So, on my birthday I wanted to pledge this gift to you all - friends new, old and yet to come.

Friendship is the greatest gift of all.

When your day at work feels like wading through peanut butter and you just need wine and good food and someone who’ll listen - I’ll be there.

When we are thousands of miles apart but you just need someone to vent to - I’ll be there.

When we have relationships and commitments and life is getting in our way - I’ll be there.

When you don’t want to talk about it and just need some distraction - I’ll be there.

In the words of Jess Glynne… “When you need a little love, I got a little love to share. Yeah, I'm gonna come through. You'll never be alone, I'll be there for you.”


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