Four Masks of friendship

1 We are sitting, on the back step of my house, in the warm afternoon sun. I am wearing mum’s black cocktail dress and silver strappy sandals. Lynda is wearing her mum’s best lacy green dress and black patent high heel shoes. My tongue is sticking out through my lips as I carefully cut out the shape of a masquerade mask from the perfumed inner wrapping of a bar of lux beauty soap. I will need to colour it black before I add the red knitting wool to the holes either side of the mask. On the ground a pair of scissors lay discarded.  Lynda used black paper for her masquerade mask and is already adding the elastic her mum found in her sewing box. Dad comes out of the house with a white tea towel over his arm.  He is carrying a tray with two funny shaped glasses full of fizzy lemonade and jam sandwiches cut into fancy shapes.

In school that week, sixty years ago, we had read a book that introduced us to the world of glamorous masked balls.  Today I cannot remember the name of the book but just a whiff of lux beauty soap and I am sitting on my house step in the warm afternoon sun with my best friend Lynda.


2 We are sitting in Lynda’s kitchen. Her mum has left us some egg white from her afternoon baking session in a glass bowl.  The jar of honey is on the red Formica table. Lynda beats a spoonful of the honey into the egg white and we smear the resulting gooey mixture over our teenage faces. For half an hour we chat about our futures, boyfriends, marriages and children as, according to the magazine, the egg facemask works its magic. After we rinse the muck off our faces the mirror reflects our spotty faces and an overwhelming feeling of disappointment fills the kitchen. 

Every time I treat myself to a professional facial for the important milestones in my life I take a trip down memory lane to my best friend Lynda’s kitchen.


3 We are sitting each side of my three year-old son’s hospital bed. His nebuliser virtually covers his face. I soothe back his blonde hair from his hot forehead. Lynda repositions the fan to enable him to receive the full benefit of the cooling air. There is no need for words between us as we wait for all his medication to do their work. 

My son has grown up strong and independent but when his asthma troubles him I recall my best friend Lynda’s comfort during my vigilance.


4 We are sitting each end of the park bench, two metres apart. It’s half way between my house and Lynda’s house, the perfect place to rest for a while during our hour of daily exercise. Our mouths and noses are covered by pale blue masks and its difficult for us hear each other but I can see Lynda’s warm brown eyes and she can see mine. In the middle of the bench there is a bar of lux beauty soap and a black masquerade mask.