With old friends, I think the truest sign that you have passed the test of time is when you only rarely, sporadically, get together but when you do, if you peel away all that is different, there is a base sameness that is still there. Some stories and details have inevitably been forgotten, of course – and maybe, layer by layer, phase by phase, a large part of life has grown beyond reach or knowledge or interest to one another.

But then old selves resurface, seep into the new, and jointly shape the back-and-forth of bad jokes, the digs, the life anecdotes – blending the grown-ups you are now with the same children you were a decade ago. First, you find that buried beneath all those new, hardened layers, are the better fragments of your old self that you seem to have left behind, and maybe it’s time to pick up those pieces again. Then you realise, also, that you could never get this singular flavour of merriment with anyone else but this one group of people you have worked and laughed and sung and cried with, and you think to yourself – egad, I hope I never ever lose them.