Tuesday, June 24, 2014

You've Gotta Have Friends. J.P. Bowie

In the Dark Ages when as a young lad I left home to find fame and fortune in the big city, I also left friends behind and I think it was then that I realized just how important it is to have people in your life you truly relate to. I was lucky, being that the early part of my life was spent in the theatre. In that world, friendships are easily made. You share so many things...the rehearsal space, the dressing room, the same digs on tour, sometimes the same bed - but more of that later.

Friends can be a part of your maturing, of molding you into the person you are to become, much more so, sometimes, than family. That was especially true in my case. Leaving home at an early age, being a wee bit naive, can leave a person quite vulnerable, open to making the wrong kind of friendship, and in retrospect I suppose I had my fair share of those. Strange, how in the so many years that have past, I can't remember those names. They are just vague shadows, relegated to the occasional, 'Wonder what happened to so and so?'

Enduring friendships are rare and precious things,made up of people you will never forget even though time and distance make it less possible to meet on a regular basis.When I came to the US, once again I left friends behind, but because of my ties to the theatre, new friends were made, and I found myself in the enviable position of having the 'worldwide web' of friends. Just from my stint at the London Palladium I am still in touch with friends in Vancouver, Cape Town, Connecticut, Glasgow, Madrid, London and Los Angeles.

A few years ago we had a grand reunion and while we were no longer the sprightly young things that pranced across the London stages, we still had the energy to have a damned good time, recount hilarious memories of the past and drink a lot of champagne toasts., to those who could not be with us.
Losing friends, as time takes its toll, is a harrowing experience. Suddenly the one you'd meet for morning coffee, or pick up the phone just to talk to when you're feeling down, is no longer there, and that gap in one's life is very hard to fill. Sometimes, it never completely is, because some friends are just irreplaceable.

Out of friendship can come love, and not just the platonic kind. Before I settled down with my first long time lover, I was a bit of a rover. Guys I knew as friends would sometimes morph into something more. I found out that could be dangerous when you're in a tight crowd. Gossip and jealousy can be the order of the day, especially when on tour and practically living in one another's pockets. Nevertheless, I have some really hot memories of those times when I was regarded as 'fresh meat', and even found my way into the pants of a couple of 'stars', who of course shall remain nameless.

Friendship plays a large part in all my books. Even the vampires demand love and loyalty from their minions. I had a letter from a reader who told me I had created a wonderful family of vampires - don't know what Bram Stoker would have thought of that, but friendship leading to love is a constant theme in my stories.The line from the song Beautiful Friendship still resonates for me - "This is the end of a beautiful friendship, and just the beginning of love".


  1. Don't know how that Fleet Street label got there!

  2. You are lucky to be in the arts, JP. No matter where you are, you can find like minds and make friends. If you have the charisma and get yourself out there.

    An African arts dealer who is also a drummer (did an album w/Chaka Khan) once told me about the way he gets into African villages that may be hostile. He says he goes into town, asks for the biggest person in the music scene, and in turn gains respectability.

  3. JP:
    I think I knew of or knew of everyone on Oh Get a Grip except you. Hello. Good piece.
    Once sentence really caught me: "Losing friends, as time takes its toll, is a harrowing experience."

    I've reached an age where my friends are dying of natural causes. The terrible part is that with good friends from old days you always think there will be time. But there isn't.

    I put friends who have passed into my stories as minor characters. The character may bear little resemblance to the missing friend but using their name is a way to bring old friends around into my world.

    Would love to hear more of your adventurous life in the arts.

    1. Hi Spencer, I think I was on vacation when you came on board. Nice to meet you, mate.

  4. Hi, JP!

    "Fresh meat"! Having met the suave, assured and mature JP Bowie of the present, I find it amusing to imagine you 'way back when, "wet behind the ears" as we say in the U.S. and wide-eyed. But then, weren't we all?

    Great post!

  5. And with Harry Potter glasses too, Lisabet! It amazes me sometimes that I got through my first year in London unscathed!

  6. This account of your clearly well-spent life, JP, makes me want to run away and try the theatre life. Or maybe the circus. I did think long. long ago that I'd like to write for the theater someday, but that someday ever came. I don't suppose playwrights get to share dressing rooms, anyway.

  7. Sacchi:
    I was interested in the circus too, the human cannon ball. I got rejected, they said they needed a man of higher caliber.

  8. Friends as lovers was always problematic for me. They want/expect too much from you. I used to categorize men into either lovers OR friends. Once I had them pegged to a list, they couldn't change places. This, of course, pissed off some relegated to the "friends" list. Too bad, I told them. I needed to keep some of me just for myself.

    However some who were once lovers are still old friends. That's nice. Sharing youthful passion and spunk leaves a nice taste in your mouth, when you're aging.(lewd imagery intended.) It's nice to talk to someone who remembers you when your joints didn't ache and you were only dying your hair because you liked to change colors, not because it's really all silver and you aren't ready to look that old yet.

  9. I really like the image of friends molding you into the person you become. I often get a ghostly sensation when I use a word or make an expression that I think of as "belonging" to someone I knew in the past. In that way, I feel as if I'm always carrying people with me, even if I can't remember their names...


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