When we were writing Farewell Trip together we thought the main characters would probably have some shared tastes – you know in films, books, music – that sort of thing, and so thought we'd see what we both liked and take it from there. And an hour later we realised that we didn't have a single taste in common. We agreed on nothing and no-one. As a Venn diagram we were two completely separate circles. And we wondered how we only just found that out about each other. In the end we agreed it must have been because we'd been too busy over the last 25 years taking the piss out of Mark's tastes to notice.
In fact Mark came home an hour later to find us shouting and swearing at each other over the relative merits of Hugh Grant. He's brilliant by the way, Karin.
And never was this difference more apparent than when it comes to poetry. My greatest love – her greatest hate. Her disdain for my heroes unequivocal. Sylvia Plath – a self-obsessed whiny old harpy. Larkin – a smelly old drunk. TS Eliot an anagram of toilets.
When it comes to poetry I'm with Izzy she used to say. Izzy hates soup. What's the point of it she says. That's how I feel about poetry – what's the point of it.
Now, as a tangent, being a non-driver I have spent a lot of my life sitting in passenger seats observing how other people drive. And much the same is true of being childless, I've spent a lot of time observing how friends have raised their children. And pretty early on both Anne and I decided that Mark and Karin would be the role models by whom all others would be judged. But, strictly between you and me, we did wonder whether all that hippy-dippy, happy-clappy, lovey-dovey stuff might backfire when the loin-fruit reached those tricky teenage rebellious years. In fact, we believed Karin secretly hankered after just this, being preternaturally well-disposed towards naughtiness and difference.
And so it came to pass that, when Elly was 16, Karin e-mailed me in despair. She said I have just caught Elly. In her bedroom. Writing poetry. She sounded genuinely upset. I wrote back to say how sorry I was. But don't despair, fingers-crossed, there was still every chance that at least one of them would turn out to be gay. No pressure, Malin.
So, it was somewhat amazing when looking back through the emails that I stumbled across a poem that Karin had actually written to me, and I thought it would be much more fun to read that out than the old maudlin thing I wrote to her. Not least because I'd be fairly sure it must be the only poem she ever wrote her entire adult life. It's called for GT and look she even centre-justified it, taking the piss out of one of my own poetry peccadilloes.
As I repeat every time we meet,
Poetry is like soup.
You ain't the only one who's tried
And I do wish to be one of that lucky group
who appreciate the joys of metre, assonance and rhyme,
Understand the significance of pensive punctuation...
I have tried,
And my conclusion?
What could be worse
Than a friend who hates verse?
You signed me up to Facebook one drunken New Year's Eve against my express wishes and I spent the next seven years writing on there every day with the sole intention of making you laugh. Out of that came two books, one of which was Farewell Trip which was an honour to write with you and a whole lot of fun. I will miss you terribly.