We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


Alison Taylor on relationships: 'I love a good friendship-flirt'


Made any new friends lately? I only ask because I was at literature festival the other weekend, called Curious Arts – it was jolly, you should go next year – and I came away with two numbers, three email addresses and various invites (*puffs out chest*).

There's this blonde, a bit younger than me, who I've friendship-flirted with once before, but beyond a bit of tweeting we hadn't managed to meet up, until this encounter, somewhere in a field in Hampshire. Now, having bonded over Joan as a Police Woman and pickled onions (not at the same time), I've laughed out loud at two of her DMs and we've got a date in the diary. Exciting!

Then there's 'Silver Fox', the longtime pal of a relatively new friend of mine (brilliantly bonkers, bright red hair, swims in lakes in her knickers), who gave us a lift to Hampshire in his Audi and who has since invited me to a pop-up cinema and an art exhibition.

I got an excitable buzz when I heard from both my new friends after the weekend and realised the trappings aren't all that different from romantic connections, where you may ponder after the fact: that was a definite spark, wasn't it? Did they like me as much I liked them? Will they call? Should I call? Is it too soon?

Now, I'm not boasting here, but when it comes to making new mates, lately I'm Russell Brand in his hot-tub days... I just can't help myself. I jest, of course, but it feels like the time is right for friendships. OK, so you may not get the snogs and sexy times, but you do get the in-jokes, the late-night chats and the intensity necessary to initiate a follow-up on a still-hungover Tuesday. You also get dates.

Sometimes, though, the lines get blurred. Like my Monday evening, back in London. I met up with the guy I'd flirted with on the smoking terrace a few weeks ago (remember him?) and wasn't quite sure if it was a date date or a friend date, given that his text invited me for "a drink and a catch-up". On a Monday. There was also a back-story (isn't there always?) involving another girl he'd just started seeing, which I knew because he was totally upfront when I first met him. But now, Monday night, somewhere in a pub off Oxford Street, had something changed?

It hadn't. "I thought we could be mates," he said. I've heard that one before, I thought.