My local running club was where it began, little did I know that I would be spending umpteen hours in a family where I was loved, appreciated and eating Yorkshire puddings and roast dinner for Sunday dinner.
Caroline was a white girl with blonde hair from a working class family in Wembley that welcomed me with wide open arms.
I was a black girl from Wembley from a working class Afro Caribbean family who equalled welcomed Caroline but the difference was on a Sunday, I would have rice and peas and curry goat.
I am sure there are several stories out there like mine, where a friendship is born and developed through a hobby.
Athletics was our hobby, which many years later became a huge part of our lives.
Caroline and I have travelled a journey of many highs and definitely lows over our 35 year span friendship. Never has there been a cross word between us about our skin colour!
For a long time we were like two peas in a pod and nicknamed Ebony and Ivory.
Here Caroline shares her story in her own words
‘As two thirteen year olds, we did not realise the impact and benefits our friendship would have. Race and culture, albeit different merged into one when we were together.
Travelling ‘to and fro’ on the number 18 bus between family homes, eating and sleeping at which ever house we ended up, these were some of the joys of our childhood.
My love of spicy, flavoursome food started on Tokyngton Avenue, and Michelle’s love for Yorkshire puddings, started on Belvedere Way.
We had a friendship that both families embraced with open arms. They had no choice. Disciplined together by any parent necessary..
It was all we knew, and all we needed to know.
35 years of a special bond, where we still teach and learn from each other on a daily basis.
I am completely grateful and blessed and long may it continue and pass down to our offspring’
Can I recall racism when I was with Caroline?
We were 14 years old, walking to catch a bus to our favourite shopping place Kensington Market, when a boy walks passed and says ‘What you doing with that Nxxxxxr’?
Before I could react Caroline calmly says just ignore him.
We were in LA on holiday just after the Rodney King riots, driving through an area that clearly were not welcoming white people. Suddenly we hear ‘Caroline duck down’. We all felt the awkward silence.
Why I chose to share this story with you.
To yet again, highlight, that despite being from very different cultural backgrounds and born into different privileges we formed a friendship that was not based on differences but based on LOVE, LAUGHTER and SPORT!
‘Unity and Parity is all I wish for’
Michelle Griffith Robinson OLY