If you had been in Islington last night, you might have heard the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Spandau Ballet and Al Green, intermingled with the laughter and murmuring of six women, drifting around you.

If you had pushed through the heavy, creaking metal gate, past the open front door leading to a 1970s bungalow house, filled with old movie posters, knick knacks, clothes draped over chairs, signs of life cluttering the furniture, if you had stepped out into the back courtyard, you would have been faced by the sight of six women laughing, sharing, confiding, singing, eating, chatting…

I haven’t spent time with a group of women in a really long time. It’s not that I avoid that sort of interaction, I just find that most of my girlfriends and I are social one-to-one, and group situations invariably include male partners and friends.

Last night I was so happy to have these charming, intelligent, excitable, funny, generous women surrounding me. I was suffering another bout of homesickness, because a dear friend of mine back home is suffering a heart break, and I desperately want to be there to comfort her and remind her how amazing she is, and get drunk with her, and let her cry, and then let her plot her revenge, and at the end of the day, watch her heal.

Instead, many miles away, I sat in the middle of a garden, on colourful rugs (there was no space to sit so we just plopped ourselves in between plants, like a fairy-ring in the centre of an overgrown garden), toasting Cumberland sausages, and then marshmallows, on the tiniest BBQ you’ve ever seen, playing DJ with Rach’s extensive, old record collection and passing the night away by the light of candles, sharing experiences.

No conversation was out of bounds; we traversed religion, moved to high school memories, on to parents and our potential as future child-rearers, back to broken hearts, over to first jobs, second jobs and job interviews, onto housemates, lingering past the pros and cons of being single, staggering toward diets and vegetarianism and finally resting on “gee isn’t this vodka and fruit juice nice? Oh my god, it’s 11.30, I think I’m going to miss the tube”, and all of us dashing off to try and catch the last train.

This morning I woke up and all I wanted in the world was to gather all my girlfriends in one room and tell them all, “thanks for supporting me, thanks for not being annoyed when I didn’t have much time to spare before leaving Perth, thanks for still loving me while I’m so far away, thanks for reminding me that I’m not really alone because you’ll always be at the end of a phone, or email, or plane ticket for me…” And give them each a really big hug.

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