Tag Archives: friendship

Relationship through doing

As a child and young adult, I found it hard to make friends. I had no idea how other people did this. Watching my son fall in easily with other children, it’s still something of a mystery. What is the process by which people decide that they will be friends with each other? I’ve never really sought casual acquaintance, although I can be passably friendly because I find other people inherently interesting. But it normally takes me years to really bond with a person.

It’s certainly easier when you have common ground – I am a lot quicker to make friends with fellow pagans and folkies than with others, because I know that we share something significant. Those are such defining part of who I am.

It has dawned on me that my closest and most successful relationships are defined by what we do together. I don’t ‘hang out’ with people, and I spend most of my time doing. I’ve never really known how to sit round not doing much and ‘being sociable’ – I find it challenging, and am not terribly good at it. Where I can do stuff with people, I know how to relate. As a consequence, a number of my closer connections have been with people I’ve shared music with. Other friendships come from sharing ritual and voluntary work, green activism, and my work life with the writing and editing and so on. I bond with people by walking with them, or cooking together. There has to be something going on – if all I can do is watch TV with someone or go down the pub (not activities I do much of) there’s little scope for relationship.

This means that the people I am closest to are also people who do stuff. There have been people in my life who chose to be very passive about their use of time, and I found it impossible to connect with them in any meaningful way. People who don’t do much do not generate new stories, either, and stories are the basic currency of human interaction. I wonder sometimes if relationships flounder when we run out of new stories to tell each other. ‘Did you see that thing on telly last night’ is not a strong enough story to hold people together. People who do not do anything have no stories to share. That’s my other reason for finding it easier to relate to more active people – they tend to have things going on and hearing what they’re up to is interesting. Folk whose stories consist of very small scale trivia – curtains bought, work gossip etc, I find it very hard to relate to. That said, I remain intrigued by the ways in which people fill their time and craft their relationships, and where I have space to listen and am not called upon to interact much, that fascinates me.


(By Tom Brown and Bryn Colvin)

When we write short stories together, we do it like this – with skype on to talk and typing in the chat box, and we end up with just one voice. It’s both different and the same, when we collaborate on the sequential art stories. A very natural process, not unlike a dance. Inspiration flows back and forth between us, leading us both to create things that are not at all what we would have come up with on our own. Better, and richer (frequently stranger and wilder) than what we could arrive at individually. A sort of, third artist is created between us. We call it Copper Age. Sometimes we are enough on the same wavelength that we type the same things, at the same time.

 (Insert note from Tom. Just now for example!)

 We play very well together, in short. This involves large amounts of trust and respect (amongst other things). Out of surreal and wandering late night conversations come all kinds of story ideas, including zombie morris dancers, and the bottling of cat spirits. It’s a good defence against block as well, because usually one of us will have enough ideas to bail the other one out.

 (another note from Tom – Now, for instance)

 The process has brought us down some strange roads (in a creative sense). No doubt there’s more to come in that regard. Not least because, while it’s easy enough to trade words across the Atlantic, we can’t do the same with the art. (Yet). No doubt also that once the annoyance of the (pesky!) Atlantic has been dealt with, the process of collaboration will include the visual art as well. Which will be, to say the very least, very interesting! (in a the-world-is-by-no-means-ready-for-this sort of way). While Tom is very good indeed at drawing things such that they look like things, Bryn isn’t. She favours abstract stuff. How this might work out if combined on the same page remains to be seen.

 (Bryn thinks she could be safely left to paint in the sky maybe.)

 (Tom grins and rubs his hands together)

 It is also very much a learning process. We’re constantly exploring new ways of working, new things to try. There is no end in sight. Which is as well. There’s a strong friendship grown out of the working together, and if we didn’t have such a good excuse to talk most days, we would of course have to make one up.