FIFTY pence seems a trifling sum but think of it like this – half a full week’s pocket money.

What sort of small girl goes to the school fete and buys a money plant? That’s right, this one.

It was just a little snippet of a thing, a cutting from a larger plant, potted in a tatty plastic receptacle with holes in the bottom, small enough I could fit two primary five-aged hands around it.

A weird, bookish kid – these two things are not synonymous, incidentally – I viewed my wee plant as a new friend and a new friend it became.

As we moved house, Plant came too. As I grew up and moved to my own house, Plant too came there.

Then what happened? Life got busier, more hectic, and Plant was left on the windowsill of my living room to his own devices. There he sat, as he was prone to, getting up to nothing.

A few months ago, who knows why, I suddenly noticed Plant, sat there, as my gran used to say, sitting. He didn't look... well.

He looked a bit lacklustre, a bit wilty. I mulled Plant over. When was the last time I watered him? This took a fair bit of thinking.

Since we moved to Glasgow, have I...ever watered him? Um. Brain racking, it occurred to me the answer was a negative. And how long had we lived in my Glasgow flat? Only seven years.

What kind of monster was I?

I called in the big guns. When you have a plant to which serious reparations are due, one must give him the five star spa treatment.

I sourced a new pot and asked my allotment holding friend to come round with some compost. Plant was re-potted, his naked, desiccated roots gently encased in fresh soil. He was watered carefully and placed proudly in the living room's sunniest spot. He may also have been sung to. [The Allotment Holding Friend would like it made absolutely plain the singing was not his. We are happy to clarify - Ed]

I was told not to hold out much hope for Plant. Seven years is a long time in plant years for utter neglect. It's a long time in any creature's years.

A week or so later, I noticed Plant had a little nubbin on his thickest stem. Before long the nubbin was unfurling. Plant was stretching out to the light, his thick, dark woody stems turning a lighter, fresher green as they reached up and put forth rubbery, fleshy green leaves.

The difference between the old wood and the new wood is stark and Plant's showing no signs of stopping. He'll be needing a new pot soon and, heaven knows, he's earned it.

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As a weird, bookish adult - these two things are still not synonymous, incidentally - I can't help but see Plant as a metaphor. As life gets busier and more hectic, friendships are also hard to keep up with.

Adulthood is trying unsuccessfully to make plans with friends, isn't that how the saying goes? Adult friendships are spending all your time trying to find a coordinating space in your diaries.

Work and young family life make everything trickier and we all inevitably reach the stage we see people far less than you used to.

That's a life stage - property, weddings, babies, sparse nights out - less illustrious than the others.

But there's something really special about these long term friendships where you can go for months and months without seeing each other, with barely a message or an email or a phone call shared, but when you meet up again it's as if the space and distance never happened.

Last year an old school friend got in touch via Facebook - it has its benefits, after all - to say she was moving to Glasgow and could we meet. It's at least 10 years since we last saw each other but reconnecting has been wonderful. It's like a little bit of time travel.

You assume you're fundamentally changed by years but then you meet someone from your teenage past and it's being young and fun again. Another good friend I think I managed to see twice last year, it might actually only have been once, but we finally met up recently and it was like there had never been any gap or pause at all.

I would be quite devastated to lose any of my long term but sporadic friendships. While these aren't the people you see week to week, they're the people who know you best, the ones you have an essential connection with.

You can relax with them because they just know you.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should be more ambitious about Plant and think of him as a metaphor for the planet, or at least Brexit. But we overlook the vital things when we're worrying about the bigger things, and long term friendships are the most vital of all.

Even with gaps of months or years, they're never finished, it’s just a little neglected but there, waiting for some time and care.