I need to warn you that some of the stuff mentioned below has happened pretty recently (over the past couple of years), so you might prefer to discover it elsewhere first!
So, as I say, there're nine of us, and we've somehow ended up with the nickname of 'The Circle' – a quite recent invention, actually. Adele's ex-husband first coined the term at their wedding, during his speech, when he introduced us as such to the rest of the guests, and if I'm brutally honest, he really hit the nail on the head. It's a shame his apparent ability to read people didn't extend to realising Adele was still in love with Dan before they got married, but I digress. The analogy of the circle describes our friendship group very accurately indeed and is best illustrated by the diagram below. My apologies in advance for this; I ask George to sketch something, but he told me to do it myself, so you'll have to put up with my woeful, computer-generated effort instead.
Now, I should point out that our relationships do shift about from time to time, and it's our positions in relation to each other that are important, rather than how high up the circle we are (although someone was always going to be at the top, so I thought I may as well stick Dan up there, to keep him happy).
And, I suppose, that's as good a place to start as any…
Who are we? A Brief Introduction…
Character images created with Daz3D
Dan – your stereotypical alpha male, for the most part. He works out, likes sport – he was quite fanatical about football when he was younger and still tries to get to FA Cup finals and other such grand occasions. He's not just a spectator, either, playing on the rugby and football teams at school and university, as well as taking part in a few charity games over the past few years, not to mention the occasional extreme sporting adventure with his brother. He's a decent guy, so long as you don't cross him.
Adele - she's petite and still as pretty as she was when she was eighteen. In fact, she doesn't look anywhere near her age, which I'm not allowed to mention, obviously. She studied fashion design at college and really knows her stuff, or so I'm told. I don't really know much about fashion myself, but by all accounts Adele is an expert in these matters. She's also a qualified beauty therapist, which is what she does for a job these days, alongside sharing the parenting of little Shaunna with Dan (I think he might do marginally more of this than she does). She can come across as quite dippy and shallow; I'll just say that sometimes things are not as they first appear.
Shaunna – she's an incredible woman. She had Krissi when she was fifteen – a real shock to her, and to all of the grandparents, who are quite middle class and didn't expect things like that to happen to them. She did a great job of bringing Krissi up, though, but isn't one of those stereotypical motherly types. True, she is house-proud and an exceptional housewife and mother, but she's also independent, attractive and funny. Now her daughter's all grown up and left home, she works in a hairdressing salon. She says she might go back to college one day, to get a few more qualifications, but we'll see.
Kris – when we were at high school, he was camp and outrageous, then he and Shaunna got together and he 'decamped'. Now he's back to being outrageous again, which is quite fun to watch, especially when we go out as a group. It does go with the job, though; he's an actor, mostly radio, but he's done some TV as well and occasionally gets recognised. His parents are from Sweden, and he has Scandinavian colouring. He's quite vain, with the looks to carry it off, which is not to undermine what a kind and generous person he is. He will always make great sacrifices for his friends, none more so than Shaunna.
George – he is, in fact, an onion. Or an ogre, if you ask Oliver (James's son), who happened to be there at the time we were having the conversation, which is to say that he has layers. The top layer is kind of affected – it's the arty, sensitive, listening layer. On this level, he can talk about aesthetics, laugh at terrible jokes, gush about new outfits and so on. Below this veneer is the tough man who takes no nonsense – the authentic George, if you will, but at his core is the vulnerable, loving, truly creative soul that no-one gets to see. No-one, apart from his mother, perhaps, and me.
Josh – that's me. I'm a bit of a brainiac, which is why I'm a year younger than everyone else – two years younger than Andy – as they decided to move me up a year in primary school. I did OK, but university was where I found my niche, studying psychology. These days, I'm big enough to admit that 'The Circle' is mostly my doing. I'm the one who kept us all together over the years, interfering when relationships went awry, listening when people needed to talk, keeping confidences. I'm not bragging, because I did it for selfish reasons, but I wouldn't change it for anything. My mum and dad both died when I was very young, and my grandma's getting on a bit, which makes me truly grateful that I have the best friends in the world.
Ellie – or 'El-e-a-nor', as James calls her. She's a complete and utter control freak, unbelievably bossy, constantly in need of attention, demanding… my best friend, whom I love dearly. She's way cleverer than me (I get told I'm a genius, which sounds awesome, until you realise how useless it is to know a lot about a little) and she's a doctor, of the medical variety, although not really a career person, content instead to be content in her job, which leaves plenty of time for bossing the rest of us around. These days, she's with James, although she very nearly wasn't – you can read all about that elsewhere!
Jess – she's supermodel material – not the skinny, modern day variety, but the tall, well-rounded sort. She's a lawyer and formidable in a courtroom. I've seen her in action a couple of times – they don't stand a chance! Away from work, though, she's much more down to earth. She does daft things sometimes, without thinking through the consequences, which usually ends up hurting her more than it does other people, but in many respects, Jess is a lot like me – enjoys reading and nights at home, relaxing on the sofa and spending time with the people we love.
Andy – he's Dan's older brother and maybe a little less alpha male, but he still works out, likes sport, and so on. He's travelled a lot, loves adventure sports and adventures in general. He's got the same temperament as his 'little' brother, certainly the same temper, although he's much more laid back, whilst also being a little more impulsive. Where Dan would save up for a couple of years to buy a fast car, Andy would be out getting it on finance and trashing it before the first payment. I think he must wake up each morning and think What crazy thing can I do today? although he's not quite as bad as he used to be.
Sean – what can I tell you? He's got the ole Irish charm – the accent, the cheeky grin, the sense of humour - and he knows how to use it. He loves women, none more so than his mum, and, more bizarrely, they love him in return. I should probably also mention he's a clinical psychologist with a string of publications under his belt, and his arrogance, at times, seems to know no bounds. It's all an act, I'm almost sure. Almost. When he's not showing off his academic prowess or flirting, he can be found at home with a cup of tea and Sphinx, his curious cat. They were made for each other.
Ade – he is one of those people who have such great depth, it take years to get to know them, and I must admit, my first impression of him was somewhat inaccurate, although it was a while before he came out of his shell, unsurprisingly, given what his ex put him through. The 'real' Ade is flamboyant, flirtatious – an eye-roller, to dramatically hilarious effect. Yet for a performer, he's modest, reflective, and highly intelligent - not that I'm suggesting performers can't be those things, of course, but I daresay his intellect is a match for mine.
So, that's us – The Circle – in brief. Obviously our lives are filled with far greater complexity than that which I have portrayed above (especially George's…), but hopefully these short pen portraits will prove useful as you get to know us better.