Wirral columnist Esther McVey

How a chance meeting with an old flame in a Heswall supermarket put a friendship into context

Over a stack of beans at Tesco in Heswall I saw a face I immediately recognised. Age hadn’t altered it a bit. I ducked, taking cover behind the 2 for 1 special offer. Too late, I’d been spotted. ‘My God’ a voice chimed. ‘Is that you?’ ‘Why hello’ I answered, peering around the shelf still startled by this sudden meet. I hadn’t seen David in 20 years. He’d been my first love and like all first loves (or was that just mine?) it had been a painful experience. Our relationship had been a minefield, full of angst and lust. It had been like taking a degree course in Mind-games and Unsuitability! You don’t look any different,’ he said. ‘What, I looked 40 even back then!’ ‘No, you know what I mean. You just haven’t changed a bit’. ‘Well then this conversation should end in an argument’ I said laughing out loud. He joined in. ‘No, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve mellowed a lot since then.’ He hadn’t changed either: damn good looking with a cheeky smile. ‘But what are you doing around here? I asked. The sentence was finished by one blonde girl running around the corner shouting ‘Daddy’ followed by another, older, more sophisticated teenager. ‘Kids, that’s what! Up here seeing the ex in-laws. I still live in Hertfordshire. Meet Megan and Davina.’ I smiled and said hello, offering a hand of friendship and a gentle handshake. It was funny seeing David with one young daughter and one that looked not that much younger than when we would have first met and started dating. She was a carbon copy of her dad and no doubt ready to break a few hearts. Gosh, where had the time gone? ‘Look, take my number’ he quipped ‘we should catch up’. Should we catch up? I mused, or had our unplanned collision been enough to answer any questions I might have had about him? And did I want to start a new year with an old friendship? If I was being honest the answer had to be, no. It was for similar reasons that I never got excited by Reunite.com and looking up old school friends. I’m good at keeping in touch with my old buddies – many of my best friends I’ve had all my life, others drift away, their lives pull in different directions. Nothing wrong in that but perhaps those friendships were meant to move on, be a part of our life for a little while before departing. In fact, one of my best friends, Lucy, describes friendships as either for a reason, a season or a lifetime, you just have to know which it is, each just as important and all adding to our life’s journey. Shaking hands, I said goodbye, gently passing over exchanging telephone numbers. For in that instant I knew our friendship had been for a ‘season’ not ‘a lifetime’ but it had been fun to catch a glimpse of an alternative life that could have been. 

Former GMTV presenter Esther McVey writes exclusively for Cheshire Life every month from her Wirral home. She is a businesswoman, politician and charity worker.