Another week gifts me with another neologism to play with. Thanks to Boris I now have the shiny word ‘chumocracy’ as an early Christmas present – the word sounds cuddly and warm to me, but when I look it up, I find it is not: ‘(noun) government characterised by the appointment of friends to public office by those in power.’

In our current climate, even this old Grinch feels the need to crank Christmas up before November is out, so I decide that I will keep my new word and just play some festive ‘Balderdash’ with it instead. I give it a new definition; ‘Chumocracy (noun) ; a band of friends who always have your back.’ I feel better already.

If Boris knew of my existence I like to believe that he would have sent a WhatsApp message to my band of brothers at the start of Lockdown saying, ‘ Form a square around the dragonfly – she is going to need us.’

Bojo or not in our lives, everyone needs a chumocracy for it gifts a sense of order and laughter into this coronasphere of wobble.

There is no hierarchy in a chumocracy for true chums instinctively know when to operate as a tag team – when to offer distraction; when to offer an authentic deep dive conversation or when to skim prettily across the surface.

I am not convinced that you can set out to form a chumocracy from scratch – I personally think you earn your friends over time after marination, but you can make sure that your pals feel so appreciated that they will not want to jump ship if an alternative chomacracy starts a recruitment drive.

I am a work in progress and certainly have no gold standard Amigo CV that a Friend Hunter might gravitate towards, but I am making a concerted effort to focus on the active verb ‘chum’ i.e. ‘to chum’ (Def in the Dragonfly Dictionary of Life: ‘to walk besides, to be there, to have a friend’s back, to remind them that they have ‘got this’ when they do not believe that they have’).

I am modelling myself on some key chum influencers already present in my bubble(s) and I have noticed that they display the following strong chum traits. They:

  • Check-in regularly with the chum (moi, in this instance). WhatsApp is fine, as are scheduled FaceTime calls – the important thing is to take no offence when the aforementioned chum fails to message back (or even read the message) or to appear on the screen at the designated time.
  • Have an inability to bear a grudge.
  • Have an instinctive hunch that tells them when their chum’s quietness may mean a self-conscious wobble rather than a ‘can’t be arsed’ approach to friendship.
  • Know that some of the best conversations can happen when you are exercising, but also know that this can not always happen and that chum’s can be unreliable fitness buddies. 1:1 chats on a run/walk are tops at the moment – great chums find the energy to book these opportunities into their Lockdown diary even when they are burnt out themselves and own no lycra.
  • Have an ability to miraculously clear their diary when a chum chat is forthcoming, knowing that a deep dive ‘put the world to rights ‘ conversation will need well over an hour.
  • Put just a select number of uplifting, irreverent and humorous posts on social media knowing that this will nudge their chum to get back in touch rather than plummet them into a fit of comparitis.
  • Share interests with said chum, but also tolerate their chum’s other Marmite flavoured activities.
  • Own a great range of greetings cards – and the stamps with which to send them. They will allow these cards to arrive just when the chum is having a dark night of the soul and will realise that snail mail is still the best. Oh, and they often also send flowers and candles – and chocolate oranges – even though it is not a red letter day and even though they have a legitimate need for chumocracy and chocolate themselves.
  • Know when their chum has been allowed to wallow for long enough and needs to resurface for some belly laughing.
  • Pick up a conversation where it left off – and finish any incomplete sentences if necessary …where was I? Oh, because they know the chum so well, even though their last conversation may have happened months before. The chum will always leave these conversations with a smiling heart and wonder why they allowed so long to lapse between chats.

Bojo/Bozzie Bear – whatever Boris’ chums are calling him currently – can ‘get behind the Prittster’ if he wants, but I am bubbling up for Christmas (hoping that normal T’s & C’s will apply) and ready to become a better chum. I fear if I don’t up my game to shoulder my chumocratic portfolio, my chumsters will run out of the energy they will need to face the tiers ahead (sorry).

It has been quite a week in Castle Dragonfly – a week when the change to my sister’s postcode has highlighted the lack of 60th birthday cards that should have flown her way. As ever, my chumocracy swung into action and ensured enough glasses were raised to ease her lack of birthday candles and bus pass. This week has reminded me of the kindness of chums who have allowed me a little wallow and then stopped me tripping up as I look over my shoulder for the friend I have lost and the chum I will always miss.

Some gifts are too valuable to ever misplace and I know I never will. I also need to stay in the Christmas present so I will let the yuletide games commence (Yes, Mama J, is ‘going in’ with or without mistletoe). Let us pray that someone in Bojo’s inner friend sanctum reminds him that we are longing for a timely Get Out of Jail card on the Covid Monopoly board. I have had it up to my absent tonsils with games of Solitaire and Patience. So have my chums. The chumocracy has voted and we want Christmas to go ahead with our pals. It is unanimous.

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