My closest friend at Thomas Tallis arrived after I finished GCSE, and after we had left the old Tallis building to enter a new one.
It was a chap named Jake Bacon, and we met on the first day of Sixth-Form. He came from a famous private school in Catford called St. Dunstan's. Back then, I thought private school kids were a bit odd, and the idea of forming a close friendship with one of them seemed inconceivable - like befriending a member of the Royal Family.
But Jake kept cropping up in all my lessons. In Sixth-Form, I only chose three subjects - English, History and Philosophy - and Jake was in all of them; he was the only person for which this was true.
At first, he was a shy kid. And of course, when we get to know each other, he was not shy at all, but that appearance of shyness is a running joke between us even to this day. We were inseparable because we were in the same lessons, but this connection reflected a growing genuine attachment: he became my best friend.
Our friendship may have seemed odd from the outside. I was a nerd and an introvert. Jake was many things, but he was not like that. One thing that did bond us was football. Jake loved and still loves Charlton, and I'm an Arsenal fan. We spoke devotedly about all aspects of the game, and my friendship with him enriched my love of football. Also, and this is the true sign of a close friendship, I felt comfortable being weird when I was with him.
I had many funny moments with Jake. He also hugely helped me in moments of personal crisis. I will be forever grateful to him. But more than that, I will always, in my own way, love him. The friendship that we developed is a blessing.
-- Tomiwa Owolade