I have this friend. Her name is Fenn. (It’s not, she’s known by all manner of names, but to me she is Fenn.)
We ‘met’ online over 10 years ago on a website called The Bad Mothers Club. It was pre Facebook, pre Twitter, pre Facetiming, skyping and instagram. A vine was still something that grapes grew on to make delicious wine. Forums were the thing and my family thought I was opening myself up to being murdered by a stranger.
Fenn was one of the big girls on the forum, thoroughly intimidating but in a cool big sister way, not a mean girls way. (She never told me to wear pink on Tuesdays). So we chatted, we found ourselves on the same threads and we talked shit, made terrible jokes and mainly were honest, struggling mums who could tell it like it is. I met some bloody wonderful people on that forum, many of whom I still speak to today, all in the premise of being bad mums. We weren’t and we aren’t. But we found peace in having the ability to share our parenting woes with like-minded individuals.
I always liked Fenn, we clicked and I knew I would make her mine and call her squishy. Months of forum chat turned into emails and private messages where we would talk about anything and everything. It was a really isolating time for me. I had three kids under 5 and a husband who worked away, Timm had just started working for the Arctic Monkeys and was touring for 9 months a year and I was home alone with the kids. I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 2 years before and during flare ups, I would barely leave home or speak to other human beings.
Our first phone call was nerve wracking, the premise of it was that she was going to help talk me through understanding Paypal. Don’t mock. It was all very new!!! An hour later after her banging her head against the wall in frustration of speaking to a tech-phobic moron, we were laughing and chatting as though we had known each other forever.
We first met in person when I took the train to her home town to stay with her. This goes against all internet safety warnings, but after a year or so of chatting on the phone we made the leap. I remember sitting on the train and thinking ‘fuck, what if we hate each other??, what if we have nothing to say?’. I needn’t have worried, we hugged, went back to hers, drank rosè and talked for hours.
Our friendship over the past ten years has seen us through raising 5 kids, relationships breaking down, new loves, illness, surgeries, heartbreak, new loves, new careers, six years working together at Leeds festival, our lowest lows and our highest highs. We live 100 miles apart and don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we both wished but this girl is my love.
I don’t think I would be here writing this blog if it wasn’t for Fenn and her ever helpful tech and social media advise. She is creative, artistic and ever brilliant and you need to go take a look at her work at Sex, Death, Rock n Roll (yes, that IS the best blog name ever).
Today is her birthday and I think you should all go over to like her Facebook page and wish her a happy birthday for she is bloody wonderful.
Friendship comes in many different ways, often when we least expect it. For years, people would say she was my “internet friend” as if that meant she weren’t real, as if the fact we met online negated from any real life connection. We live in a time where we can connect with other people from all over the world in ways never experienced before, that is a wonderful thing. Of course we need to keep ourselves safe, but the internet opens life up and gives you the ability to make friends that can last a lifetime.
Fenn is my true friend. She makes me happy, she talks me through my sadness, she is my shoulder to cry on, my partner in crime and my support. I love her very much and truly hope that I have made her cry as she reads this! 😛
A few years ago, I trained as a masseuse and got the opportunity to go to Leeds festival and be their backstage masseuse for artists. As I had a massive panic attack about it, I knew there was one person to talk me down and be by my side. Together we did 6 years, hanging out with rock stars, giving eye liner to American punk boys, feeding lolly pops and cider to indie bands and generally having a fucking amazing time.
The last time we did that was in 2013. I was ill. I had been ill for months and knew I wasn’t well enough to go but didn’t want to let anyone down. When we arrived there was confusion, problems with work space, a back stage manager who was trying to fuck us over (don’t ask!!) and a lot of stress. I managed the first night and then between us, we had had enough and went home. The next day I was admitted to hospital and I didn’t leave for two and a half weeks. When I left, I no longer had my colon.
My wonderful Fenn, I want to thank you for those 6 years. We had a blast didn’t we?! Josh Homme calling you ma’am, Jarvis Cocker, the Axl Rose debacle, the Beth Ditto debacle, nearly taking out Dave Grohl with a swedish wooden throwing game, you getting me to meet Pete Doherty, hanging out on buggies, sleeping behind the main stage with a stage light for warmth, telling Chung “celeb gossip” about Gok Wan to realise it all came from Pop Bitch, the lovely coffee, the dining with stars, the case of the stolen guitar that we solved like punk Miss Marples, Jack Black, the year of the weird yogi and his life in a cave, the shaming of those who thought we should know who they were, the laughs, the tears and the cider. Always the cider.
I should probably mention now our one and only argument. It involved drunkenness, tents, cameras and a bottle being thrown at my head… It was magnificent!
You are a gem, you know. You deal with so much and you are an inspiration to so many. Though times are tough and you have a lot on your plate, you are always there for me and I am truly grateful. You know what else I am grateful for? That fella of yours. Thank you lovely boy for making my girl the happiest I have ever seen her. It is a real joy to see you together.
We keep promising to do more work together, then life, kids, illness, stress gets in the way. I don’t stress about it though, as I know we are going to do something amazing together at some point. We are both so fucking awesome that it would be a travesty for it NOT to happen!
From the humble beginnings of a tiny corner of the internet to where we are now, I am so glad you are part of my life. I hope you have a marvellous birthday, I only wish I were closer so I could come and clink a glass with you. We will be friends to the very bitter end, when we are old punk biddies in amazing costumes with bright pink hair and kick ass shoes.
And that is why, my love, when I renewed my wedding vows to my Timm last year after the worst times of our lives, there was only ever one person who I could have had to perform the ceremony. Thank you for being such an integral part of such an important day. I love you.
Happy Birthday beautiful xxx
Please do go check out my wonderful Fenn…