Those of you with reasonably acute memories will know of my friend Kev. We had a couple of beers a day or so ago, and got round to trying the classify the various sequential stages in a friendship.

It starts off with being acquaintances. The early stage of this is a nodding acquaintance, where you see somebody every day and get to the point of acknowledging their presence with a nod or a polite ‘Good morning’ or ‘Hello.’

You and your now full acquaintance will finally get round to some desultory conversation about the weather or, if that’s your thing, the results of some obscure footie match. I zone out at that point.

There’s a subspecies of acquaintance called the bloody irritant. This is somebody with annoying personal habits or a personality traits that makes you wince, who for some reason regards you as a mate (see next paragraph) and attempts to tap you up for a beer.

At some unspecified time, an acquaintanceship morphs into a situation where you are mates. This means you’ll happily spend an hour in the pub talking amiable bollocks. See here for the definition of that.

Mates are people you don’t go out of your way to see, but please when they appear over the horizon.

Now we get to the deeper idea of friends. Not the television series, since I can state without fear of contradiction that I’ve never seen it. A friend is somebody with whom you have deeper conversations than you have with a mate. Now as it happens, Kev and I spend nearly all our time together ripping the piss out of each other, but we do stray into profounder territory.

A good friend is also someone to whom you’re willing to lend money in the sure and certain knowledge you’ll get it back on the mutually agreed date.

A real friend is the one who turns up with a shovel and a tarpaulin when you ring them at four in the morning and tell them you have a body to dispose of.