In praise of friendship.

When you live in West Wales , and the sun is shining, even the shortest journey to the shops or the sea is beautiful. Look:

Isn’t that glorious?

Tomorrow I plunge back into the world of telly properly. Up to my eyes in it. For the last few months we’ve been developing a TV series, and then I wrote the first draft of the first episode, and it was all jolly nice and cosy and fun. Full of promise. But that’s the cosy bit over – today the dogs go into kennels, and tomorrow I get up early to drive to our first script meeting. Back in the saddle. The first script meeting is where the rubber hits the road and it all gets really real – we see the white of each other’s eyes, find out what we each really think about various aspects of the project, and discover how easy/hard/bloody impossible it’s going to be to work with each other. It helps that we start off liking each other, and long may that last!

As I print off the script and sort out a notebook (sweet old fashioned thing that I am) and put the meeting place into the sat nav, I’m so very glad that I do already know and like my colleagues. The producer was (many years ago) the locations manager on one of my films and now he’s a leading light and exec in TV production, and still – somehow- the lovely bloke he was back then. I should add that he doesn’t read this blog so I can say what I like without fear of a sudden blush. The third member of the team is the development producer and she, too, is warm and funny and altogether human. Over the next three years we three will work hard and long to come up with something that we will all be happy to put our names on. That’s the secret – working together to make something we all like, so that when the drama has hit the screens, whatever the world and the critics say (!), we can agree that we’ve had a great time and are still together, proud of what we’ve made.

I know that in the course of writing and producing a TV series, there will be bumps. There will be frustrations and disappointments along the way, misunderstandings and disagreements – but if we are ready to forgive before we growl, all will be well. In any creative industry there are huge characters but the trick is to have the personality without the ego. And to practice forgiveness. Oh, and humility, Oh, and to remember that part of forgiveness is forgetting. The word I’m groping for is ‘friendship’.

In all I’ve spent about 30 years writing many films for TV, and many series/serials, but in all that time I worked over and over again with the same people – sometimes we met as absolute newbies but then stayed together or joined up again years later to create our own projects, growing in confidence and experience as we went along. I think it’s true that friendship is one of the greatest gifts we can develop. We can learn discernment, forgiveness, patience, self-knowledge and accountability when we find a true friendship. That’s when friendship works. When it doesn’t work, life can become very messy and complicated.

We can’t be true friends with everybody – there aren’t enough hours in the day – but who we spend our time with is important. The friends we make and the way we interact can create joy or misery, for ourselves and for others, often without us even recognising it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has slipped into friendships that have sneakily and silently turned the world grey rather than sunny. It’s not the fault of ‘them others’, it’s usually some sort of chemistry that we make together, but once we recognise what’s happening we can call a halt to the downward spiral. I have pals, people I like and care about, who I’m careful not to spend a lot of time with because, when we’ve been together for any length of time, all the joy and hope drains out of the day. For both of us. Beware the pal who greets you with a complaint about the traffic (we really have none!) or the weather (what can we do about it?) or gossip about their neighbours (probably nice people) or some slight they’ve suffered (oh, the injustice!). What we talk about and how we interact with each other is important. Better to be silent than to join in, better to remark on the blue of the sky or the birdsong, than to add to the complaints. Together, we make the day sunny, or we make the day grey. It’s up to us.

I’m not a great one for the Message version of the Bible but this is a neat translation of Phillipians 4:8-9

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

It’s not that we have to pretend that everything in the garden is rosy, of course not. It never is absolutely-perfectly-wonderfully glowing, is it? ‘In this life you will have troubles‘. Friendship is being open to hear each other, to hear the truth of the situation and yes, of course, that means that there will be the occasional grumble. Of course there will. There will be times when we must be, and want to be, present and attentive to the friend (or stranger) who needs to break down, or to blow up. It’s not all about the individual conversation – it’s all about climate. We live in the climate that we create. If we create a climate of humour and acceptance and forgiveness, even those we complain about, even those who are really really bloody annoying, will be loveable. And when we need to break down or blow up, it’s just a necessary moment, and not a lifestyle.

I do thank God for my friends. I thank God that they forgive me. And laugh at me. And are there for me. For those of us living alone, facing the future alone, friends are precious. And I hope that in three years time the friends I meet tomorrow will be even closer, our friendship even deeper, and that the work we do together will be good, good, good.

May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us –
    yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17

5 thoughts on “In praise of friendship.

  1. What a lovely (and true) post Lucy, it made me realise a few things about my own life and some changes I’ve been avoiding. Thanks


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