A common word used to refer to a friend here is “mate”. I realize I am not quite used to this yet. It makes me think either of two things:
1. “mate” as in a person of the opposite sex, in the context of someone with whom one is “mating”; OR
2. a sailor — a (ship)”mate”.
Either way it’s still a bit strange. I should get used to this quickly. :) Meanwhile I’ve caught up with the accent (again) and now have my “British ears” back.