I’ve just been listening to the Desert Island Discs podcast on BBC Radio 4 where 95-year old ex-Royal Navy test pilot Captain Eric Winkle-Brown was interviewed. Other than listening to an incredible man who lived through such key moments in history as attending the Berlin Olympics and taking part in the liberation of Belsen, he also talked about the importance of companionship.
At one point during World War 2, he took time off for ’emotional leave’ and in that time he chose to get married for the ‘companionship’. He was so convinced that he would not survive the war, he decided to get married which in hindsight was quite an optimistic and life-affirming thing to have done at that point in his life. They were married for 50 years.
As we are constantly surrounded by Cosmopolitan-style, sex-based headlines, it was such a lovely thing to be reminded of the significance of companionship in our relationships.
And at the risk of sounding like an old-age pensioner myself, I thoroughly agree with Eric who is from a generation who believed that ‘companionship’ was a good thing as opposed to the potentially rather dull connotation it may have nowadays. The word ‘companionship’ particularly struck me as the importance of being ‘friends’ in a relationship is often overlooked as not ‘sexy’ enough in our current society, however I would argue that it is that which is the very foundation of a relationship.
Of course I didn’t think this when I was younger and know that my then 20-something self would be appalled by the prospect of companionship being so important, but that is how things are and perhaps should be as I would no doubt disagree with my younger self on many things. Love, sex, trust, communication and everything else are of course also hugely important (and let’s face it, they’re all so interconnected), but perhaps it is companionship, aka being friends, where we can simply live, laugh and just ‘be’ together that holds us together more than anything else.
What do you think?
As an aside, in addition to his perhaps inevitable 1940s-based music choices, it turns out Eric is also a fan of 70s pop singer Rod Stewart. Not what you’d expect. Fascinating man! Eric, not Rod…