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Educating Peter - There will always be a Roland


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Apologies for coming so late to this, but I only finished the book a couple of days ago, and I've been ridiculously busy lately and haven't been posting outside of my official status. I want to write on the other threads but most of all, I want to write about someone who only appeared in the book for a few pages.

The person I found most resonant in Educating Peter wasn't Peter, or Tom even, but Roland. Or rather, it was the relationship between Tom and Roland - described in only a few pages - that resonated. I have had quite a few friends over the years with whom conversation was strictly limited to certain topics. If I ever strayed outside those topics - say, into the personal - I would be met with silence, or embarrassed mumbling, and have to steer the conversation back into safe waters. At most points in my life, since I was about 11, I have had at least one Roland in my life.

I think this kind of friendship is strictly restricted to men - please correct me if I'm wrong. I have had friends where we only talk about sport, I have had friends where we only talk about sport and music. I have had other friends where the only thing we have in common in the present is a shared past. Often the situation is that one friend moves on with his life and the other doesn't, and it is the latter who not only clings on to the friendship but also seeks to keep the friendship in the past, and doesn't want to update the references. That seemed to be the case between Tom and Roland.

I found the scene in Nottingham immensely powerful and poignant, and sad. I have had friends who are exactly the same in their 40s as in their 20s, and you sense that Roland will never change, that he will be stuck as the indie kid of the early 90s when he is in his early 90s, with his very fixed rules about what is OK and what is not OK. No wonder Roland and Peter got on better than Roland and Tom, as mentally they were about the same age at that point. But soon even Peter would be leaving Roland behind.

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The person I found most resonant in Educating Peter wasn't Peter, or Tom even, but Roland. Or rather, it was the relationship between Tom and Roland - described in only a few pages - that resonated.

 

Yes, me too.

 

Is it just a "man thing"? My gut instinct is Yes - but I'm not sure.

 

I certainly have a couple of friendships which revolve around only one or two topics of conversation, but it tends to be something more personal, like children that gets talked about endlessly, rather than music or sport or whatever. Still makes for a limited, frustrating friendship though, at times. What does anyone else think? Do women do this too??

 

Top Cat - has Roland read the book? If so, what was his reaction?

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I'm really glad that you found this chapter poignant, Mad Dog, as it's one of my favourites. I still feel I can get quite a bit more mileage out of Roland, since he's a fascinating character study. I've actually lost touch with him now - not deliberately, but I wasn't hugely chuffed about him pushing my wife of the kerb to get next to me and talk about indie rock on my wedding day - so I have no idea if he's read E Peter, or if he recognises himself.

In my experience, women seem a lot better at closing the curtains on friendships that have run their natural course. Men hang on, because, despite the fact that we're supposed to be more sensitive now, we're still rubbish at talking about our feelings, or even detecting them. When our conversation revolves entirely around a shared culture interest - music especially - we're even more rubbish. I do still talk about music to my male friends, but not in the way I did a few years ago, when it was possible to spend an entire night doing nothing but asking one another if we'd heard this album by so and so. I still have a very small number of acquaintances who do this, and I feel slightly like I'm suffocating when I speak to them - the older they get, the more sadness and social awkwardness hovers around them. I think a lot of them just need the influence of a good woman! Perhaps it's just because I turned thirty on Friday, but I'm really interested in the way friendships ebb and flow at the moment. I hate drifting away from friends more than anything, but it's a bit of a neccessity sometimes. On the other hand, I have other friendships where the case is that we've BOTH changed loads over the years, and that this has actually made our relationship stronger and richer. I'm definitely someone who has issues with the whole "stay true to your roots" thing which seems to be preached so fervently everywhere in Britain north of Leicester. Roots are overrated, in my opinion.

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I still have a very small number of acquaintances who do this, and I feel slightly like I'm suffocating when I speak to them - the older they get, the more sadness and social awkwardness hovers around them. I think a lot of them just need the influence of a good woman! Perhaps it's just because I turned thirty on Friday, but I'm really interested in the way friendships ebb and flow at the moment. I hate drifting away from friends more than anything, but it's a bit of a neccessity sometimes. On the other hand, I have other friendships where the case is that we've BOTH changed loads over the years, and that this has actually made our relationship stronger and richer. I'm definitely someone who has issues with the whole "stay true to your roots" thing which seems to be preached so fervently everywhere in Britain north of Leicester. Roots are overrated, in my opinion.

 

You do grow OUT of certain friendships - but the memories remain (which sometimes leads to guilt, but shouldn't). You shouldn't feel guilty about moving on. A 'good woman' or 'a good man' is not always what makes the common catalyst. But the whole 'stay true to your roots' thing has been twisted out of perspective. It isn't about staying the SAME, it's more about not looking down on those who are like you USED to be, and keeping the understanding.

 

I don't think the 'one theme' friendship has a gender bias - it happens to both men and women at certain times in their lives. ;)

 

However, you can move on to an entirely different life (and location, as I well know) and keep certain friends on the basis of just having been through alot together and just caring about how each other is doing, even when you no longer have much in common. :)

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