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How we met: ‘We dressed up as a horse together – I was the bum because Alice rules the roost’

Alice admits that her earliest memories of her best friend, Lydia, are hazy. “We both went to the same playgroup in London in 1991,” she says. “I remember seeing a blond girl playing in the sand and being very taken with her hair. Our mums were friends, so they started taking turns childminding us. Whenever I went to Lydia’s house, we would watch Bodger and Badger together.”

The pair quickly became close, and can barely recall a day when they weren’t together. After nursery, they joined the same primary school, and their budding friendship continued to grow. “We only wanted to play with each other,” says Lydia. “Once we dressed up as a horse together for World Book Day; I was the bum because Alice ruled the roost.” For as long as they can remember, they have had joint birthday parties. “One year, we had a Lion King-themed party and I dressed up as Simba,” says Lydia.

When they turned 11, they started a joint diary, taking it in turns to write about the week. “Lydia’s first entry is about school and her Beanie Baby collection,” says Alice. “We did everything together, but through the diary you got the week retold from the other person’s perspective. If we ever had an argument we talked about it in the diary.” As they grew into their teenage years, conversations turned from Beanie Babies to the boys they liked. “For ages, we were quite shy and just friends with each other. When one of us was ill, the other would pretend to be sick too so we didn’t have to talk to anyone else,” Alice says. “When we finally admitted we fancied boys, it turned out to be the same people.” They had keys to each other’s houses and Lydia would regularly go round for breakfast before school. “Alice would always be asleep when I arrived. I left my house so early but somehow we still always managed to be late,” she says.

One year we ended up getting each other the same inflatable sumo suits for Christmas

After school, they both went to Manchester University, Alice to study economics and Lydia to study English. When they completed their degrees, they spent a year saving up to go travelling to South America for five months. “Alice gets travel sick, so I remember a lot of throwing up out of moving buses,” says Lydia. “We had a brilliant time, though.”

Alice then started her career in finance in London, while Lydia decided to move to Australia for four years to work in travel. “I was crying when she left,” says Alice. To cheer her up, Lydia sent her friend a lifesize cardboard cut-out of herself. “I took it to all my house-shares and my housemates were always really confused.”

When Lydia came back to the UK, the pair started doing everything together again. “We’ve been able to go on lots of amazing trips: this year we went to Rwanda and Uganda to trek with gorillas.” They have supported each other through every up and down, including relationship breakups. “After my latest breakup, Lydia came to live with me for a while. She made a bad time really fun,” says Alice.

In 2019, Alice’s dad died and Lydia was by her side straight away. “I was at a festival when it happened,” Alice remembers. “He’d been very ill for a long time and I knew it would be soon. Lydia was with me immediately. We had a bench dedicated to my dad in Alexandra Palace Park and we often go and visit it together.”

Lydia describes her friend as the happiest person she knows. “Because we’ve known each other so long, we can just sit with each other. Sometimes it feels like we read each other’s minds. I remember one year we ended up getting each other the same inflatable sumo suits for Christmas.”

Alice says Lydia is always helping out her friends and family. “She’s there for everyone and she’s a great life partner. I feel fulfilled because we have such a strong bond.”

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