Jamb-friends

Jamb-friend: A jamb is a supporting timber, of course, which makes a jamb-friend an early 19th-century word for a friend with whom you could quite happily sit by a fireside talking and relaxing well into the early hours.

In the UK we are nearing the time when we will be able to meet with others face to face, possibly indoors and not out on a walk or sitting on a park bench in a howling gale. ‘Jamb-friend’ and the two words that follow, ‘kaffeeklatsch’ and  ‘retrouvailles’ come from a book of soothing words: The Cabinet of Calm: Soothing Words for Troubled Timesby Paul Anthony Jones.

Kaffeeklatsch Borrowed from German in the 1800s, a kaffeeklatsch is a chattering catch-up with friends and family over endless cups of coffee. It’s a lot more poetic than the Victorian alternative: according to one contemporary dictionary, “scandal-loving women” who like to “meet over a cup of tea” were once known as muffin-wallopers.

Retrouvailles Adopted from French, retrouvailles literally means “refinding” – but it’s more usually understood as the French equivalent of what we might call a reunion or homecoming. Recently the word came to be used more imaginatively to describe the utter happiness or joy sparked by reuniting or catching up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time. A word well worth recalling in the months ahead.

Who is your jamb-friend? What retrouvailles are you looking forward to? Might you even imagine yourself as one of a group of muffin-wallopers?

Try writing about friendship; what makes a goof friend? Who has supported you this last year? Might you write them a note of thanks? Who have you not seen for all this time? Anticipate the retrouvailles. Or think back, who were you companions as you sat talking late into the night?Sit yourself down. Pen and paper screen and keboard. Write for ten minutes. Don’t stop. Friends. Go

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