Time flies when you’re not paying attention to it. The years sweep by so quickly they can meet themselves coming back.

So, in another merciful respect, time stands still.

That’s not supposed to be some crazily confused April Fool’s theory – though it might well qualify.

It was a lesson learned with spirit-lifting gratitude when an old friend came to call this week. How old? A lady spills no such secrets, lest she should inadvertently reveal her own. But he and I have been friends since school days – so, that old.

We reckon we last saw each other about 30 years ago, which would be a very long time, did we not now both know about time’s nifty little trick of standing still. It’s a piece of magic.

Reconnected more recently via social media – you see, it does have its uses – Ian proposed dropping by on his way back to Yorkshire from Newcastle. Seemed like a plan.

We would have dinner. Another good plan.

With wine – I hadn’t planned on quite so much of it.

But therein lurked lesson number two.

When presented with the vagaries of stand-still time, don’t attempt to plan.

Go with the flow… and order another bottle.

That could well translate into a lesson for life, supposing the liver can cope with it.

But once in a while, it’s worth risking the negative effects of a few (all right, a lot of) toxins to put time and tide into perspective, with the importance of magic in the foreground.

Anne Pickles It isn’t true that time waits for no man – or woman.

All it requires is a bit of space and permission to roll back and it becomes almost meaningless – at least until closing time.

So much time is spent now in anger that we can overlook what matters in our allotted share of it.

Fury over political and religious differences, government tricks and deceits, injustice and perceptions of inequality, in or out of Europe arguments.

Background noise has skewed perspective and dominated the foreground.

But in comparison with what truly matters, it’s all still only noise.

Friendships; relationships with people who fill a life, enhance and enrich existence with kindness, trust and absence of judgement – they matter.

But what would we talk about – we two who hadn’t met for three decades?

Neither of us had come up with a plan. Why would we?

The park where we used to picnic and watch village cricket is now all grown over and sorely neglected. No! Really?

Friends we knew as teenagers have moved on, slowed down after heart attacks, retired, some have died.

Ian’s big career as a scientist is over now. He’s a seriously successful jazz musician. No! Really?

The pub where we consumed our underage toxins is still there, with roughly the same clientele – now overage and leaving early enough to catch the TV news before bed.

We thought we were so naughty, back in the day when we were convinced we’d fooled the landlord into believing we were 18 – until he presented us with birthday cards.

By today’s standards we were innocents.

By tomorrow’s standards, today’s naughty boys and girls will no doubt be considered similar.

But it has to be hoped they too will have formed lasting friendships.

In a tentative attempt to blow away cobwebs and wine-induced headaches, we took a morning trip to Birdoswald.

Under familiarly glowering skies, showing little promising patches of pale, spring blue, we marvelled quietly – neither of us dare speak loudly – at Hadrian’s Wall and the fort that had been a thriving town some 2,000 years ago.

“I wonder what we’ll leave behind to be admired in a couple of thousand years,” he said. It was a struggle to come up with a suitable response.

But, to be fair, putting one foot in front of another was proving a bit of a challenge.

Even now, it’s hard to imagine what meaningful 21st century legacy will stir people sufficiently to pause and look in wonder.

So much is being stripped away, so little is valued and preserved.

Apart from the noise.

“Friendship,” I said finally. “Some things in life are timeless – especially when time stands still.”