Saturday, 1 October 2011

Here comes the sun...

I write this, sitting outside (on my camping chair) basking in the gorgeous sunshine we are inexplicably blessed with. These things seem all the more special when you consider that it's October 1st today. Yes that's right kids, October 1st. Bloody hell, after all this furore about global warming, and how bad for us it is (going to be), no one stopped to tell us that it might mean I can write outside on a sunny day, in my shorts, IN OCTOBER. OCTOBER !

Did I mention it was October ?

I've gotten up reasonably early today (well, a shave before 9am) grabbed a coffee, after feeding the cats, and taken netbook with me to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine whilst catching up on some script editing and some reviewing for Beacon.

I even decided to risk letting the cats outside. It's so quiet, and there's probably no better time to let them have a sniff around than today.

Too often I lazily trap myself in my flat, in front of the television, or more often, in front of my Mac. Living on my own (sorry Midnight & Twilight, you don't count as people) that leads to a rather insular existence. Lots of moping and self reflection may be good for you, or at least required if you're a teenager, but at my age it's just a bit on the sad side. I don't feel a burning need to be with other people because I can't manage or survive on my own. But I do recognise that I learn the most from other people (usually all the ones I disagree with) and do enjoy the company of others, as long as they are the right people.

The group I work with (my team) at work the 'right kind of people'. Which I don't think is something that neither I or they would have said six months ago. It's been quite the roller coaster this year. I do feel good about the difficult times I've been through, because we (as a team) have all come through them together and that gives us a better understanding of one-another. I'm a great believer in whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. It's as true for immunity to virus and germs as it is to resilience to emotional distress and conflict. Having said that, there is still work to be done. There is more for me to learn (from them) and about how to get along with people better, and achieve more.

Times gone by I think I have been so eager to get a result that I've knocked everyone and everything out of my way in my determination to get there. Unfortunately this always involved knocking over the very people I needed to help me get there.

By far the greatest pride I feel about this year is that one person in my team managed to be successful in getting a job in another area of the business they were really interested in, when they've been overlooked a lot before, two others have been headhunted by other managers to stand in as their deputies, and another has shined so well that I'm convinced pretty soon the same will happen to her.

I'm sure that if you asked any of these four people, six months ago, that they thought they would be in that situation, and how well we'd be getting along, they would have all told you it was impossible and not to be so fucking funny or stupid.

I would have probably said pretty much the same. I've changed, they've changed. We've all grown. I'm sorry this all probably sounds rather mush and twee or terrible Americanised corporate bollocks. But it's true.

Someone who my relationship with has moved in the opposite direction is my friend of nearly 20 years. The person that I've written 4 plays with, countless sketches and created improvised videos for the world to enjoy (or avoid). We've always had diametrically opposing political views, and it's been something we have always been able to work with, ignore and manage. It's actually contributed to some of the balance in our writing. Now we can't seem to see eye to eye on anything. I don't think it's down to the politics. I think it's much more deeply routed than that.

You may recall that we fell out during the production of the last show. It really does seem to have been the death of our friendship. How she was feeling and reacting at the time was due I guess to the severe strain that she was feeling at home. She's had domestic issues for quite some time, in that one of her sons has unfortunately been caught up in the drugs world, and this has also made worse (or been made worse by) his problems interacting with people. He is afflicted sadlywith not being where you would expect a man of his age to be, in terms of social mental development. I am sure there's a medical or psychological name for such a condition, but I'm sorry, it escapes me. She also has, from time to time, problems where her other son gets involved in what could possibly be discribed as the darker element of society, or seems to want to declare war on the drug dealers as a whole for what he perceives as their decision to ruin his brother's life.

All of these pressures take a place in amongst all the others of money and time that an awful lot of people feel at the moment. She also has to deal with suffering from a debilitating condition herself called fibromyalgia. She works from home, as is sadly no longer well for long enough to be in the mainstream workplace. (this wasn't always the case).

We fell out because we disagreed about how to organise some things, or how to make things work within the show. Increasingly her ability to invest productive time and energy to the show became an issue. She became steadily frustrated that I (as she saw it) had taken over and was running things less as a partnership and more as a one man show, with an assistant director / producer. This situation was not due to a lack of effort on her part, merely that she couldn't seem to focus on the things that needed doing.

I steadily began to recognise the symptoms of stress in her, and what certainly looked like her heading toward a breakdown. I could see this, because I have been in that situation before myself, and have been able to move on with my own mental well being (if you like) because I can recognise these traits and take action to deal with things before they get worse. Unfortunately, she wasn't able or willing to agree that this was what was happening, and pretty much saw that I was being mean spirited and making her feel worse.

In the end, I had to manage to juggle not only my day job, and my own outside work pressures (they were nowhere near the sort of thing she was going through of course),  protect her from the harsher elements of what I had been told or observed from members of the cast, and the some of the workload AND protect the show from the more destructive behaviors she was exhibiting. I do think I did a good job of this under the circumstances, because we managed to get to the end of the production with a show that was watchable, and enjoyable (although it could have been 1000 times better had we planned and organised better) and without our friendship exploding right infront of everyone involved.

I don't feel good about having to make decisions to do things without telling or asking her. I didn't like it, but didn't see an alternative at the time that didn't pose a greater threat to the show.

Somewhere along the line we have stopped communicating by telephone. I think this may be attributed to me getting cross with her after repeatedly being unhappy that she'd be on the phone to me for hours on end, when I've just come in from work and hadn't even had a chance to eat and was due back into work in 8 hours. These conversations would always be bad ones, that would make me feel shit, and would ruin my evening, or they would be ones that didn't actually achieve anything other than to moan about how much work there was to do, and how little time we had to do it. My observation at the time that we could achieve more by doing things than by sitting on the phone talking about them seemed to fall on deaf ears.

The paralysis of negativity is something I can see in people that are depressed, and also understand is hard to see past. I also know that the only way to feel good about achieving things is to get them done. You won't get the reward from finishing something if you never even start it.

She has now sent me several either lengthy (2000 word plus) emails or similarly long facebook messages, including one which she sent out to her nearest and dearest friends to 'brief' them on what's been happening in her life. In addition to this, she has now mentioned twice in different messages that she was offended because I haven't commented on her status at all. That I had 'hidden' her.

What's the netiquette about how often you should comment on your friends' status updates ? What if you don't want to, or feel the need to comment ? What if you don't because you're pretty much certain that what you say is going to start an argument ? Her updates are normally very political in nature, and mixed with rather lame personal attacks against those in power, that are usually all in capital letters. She also has the unfortunate habit of copy and pasting just about every pointless internet hoax or chain message that's doing the rounds.

I don't comment, because I think such things are either just rude or stupid, and say lots of things about how gullible and crazy the person repeating them is.

One of her longer messages that was sent out to a 'select' bulk of about 20 friends listed all the things that's been happening to her lately. Truly horrible things. Lots of our mutual friends made impassioned comments in reply to it. Was I wrong not to comment ?

I'm now left with the troubling problem of what to do. I'm not happy to be painted as the villain, but I'm also not happy to be expected to say things that someone likes just because they want to hear it, even if saying it will mean me lying, or being false.

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