Welcome to the first instalment of a weekly life and relationships column by Iris Owen, aka Nectarine Girl – the reigning queen of Depop, fame-hungry wordsmith, and author of the wackiest newsletter in London, Nectarine News. Juicy.
When it comes to friends, I always want more. I love meeting new people and thoroughly enjoy talking to strangers. If you don’t, here’s a short and sweet guide to making mates as a grown-up.
Firstly, you need to decide if you value quantity or quality. If it’s quality, you should probably rule out pasting flyers up with your number as a tear off. If it’s quality and quantity you’re after, keep reading.
I’d recommend finding strangers who share common interests with you, and there’s nothing better suited to this than hitting up a car boot sale. Haggle with the sellers and, if you like their old tat, who knows? You might soon find yourself reminiscing over a Westlife T‑shirt from 2004 and booking tickets together for their comeback tour. You’ll be bonded for life after that.
I recently filmed a daytime TV quiz show with four middle-aged team members. It hasn’t aired yet, but I was told I was the youngest person who’s ever been on it. Undeterred by the age difference between myself and my teammates, I joined the squad for a couple of drinks after the recording and did my very best to empathise with their divorce stories.
I improvised a few “yeah, that’s always the hardest part” type of lines, before admitting to myself that I probably needed to have had at least one unhappy marriage before I could really get on the same page as these guys – but not for lack of trying! I also realised I don’t know what a mortgage is.
I could also suggest you go and sit alone in a Wetherspoons until you naturally attract a random assortment of people, but that might not be your scene. Recently, I went for a drink with two friends in Balham, South London. Sitting in the pub garden, which was packed for a Tuesday night – the football must’ve been on, or so I thought – we noticed there was a crowd surrounding our table. Before we knew it, a lovely man named Gerard had come to join us.
He asked me if it was my first time there, to which I replied that although I don’t often come to Balham, I do know the area. He explained that we were sitting in an area reserved for a FetLife meet up, a monthly soirée where individuals interested in BDSM, kink and fetishes can get together. Their website describes FetLife as the “best place to meet new friends, play partners, and life partners”. Gerard himself was into dogging but I politely excused myself. Each to their own, eh?
You could also try team sports. Last year, I was in an athletic phase of my life and had the idea to join a ladies netball team. I signed up to Pimlico Beginners on Wednesday evenings, my heart set on post-practice lols and drinks down the local with our cute kits on. This would have been an amazing way of making friends had I not been banned for having long acrylic nails. Joke’s on them, as I was going to get N E T B A L L painted across them that very week.
If you have trouble going up to strangers and happen to smoke, I’d also suggest never leaving the house with a lighter. That way, you’ll be forced to borrow one and speak to a stranger. It doesn’t always work, though. I once asked a guy in East London if he had a lighter, to which he replied: “I only use matches, you get a more genuine flame.” What does that even mean? If you aren’t a smoker, keep a lighter on you at all times, just in case. You never know who might ask for one – maybe your new best friend.
I’ve known my best pal for eight years now, and all she did was buy me a tube of pink smarties. You could always try that. As long as you’ve got a good heart, pure intentions, and don’t mind going up to strangers every once in a while, you’ll be sorted in no time.