Paddling in Plymouth…

…was probably the highlight of this week. I love the sea and will swim at almost any time of the year, so when I knew I was going to Plymouth I decided I would arrive early enough to have at the very least a walk on the beach. Of course, I arrived a little later than I had intended, but I did get to the beach (it’s of the latest, miniaturised design), and braved the very pretty red-and-blue pebbles for a paddle. The water was surprisingly clear and not at all cold. While my feet were drying, I chatted to Rob and Abbie, who live locally and told me all about the landscape features surrounding us. Thanks to them, I found out that there were to be fireworks later, at the end of an open-air concert, and the final display rounded off the evening nicely. The training next day went well, too.

And my TomTom did a splendid job getting me around Plymouth. I still don’t really like it – I think (although it’s probably self-delusion) that by planning routes on maps I get a feel for a place, rather than just following instructions; but it does work, and it does save time. Ah well.

Recently I’ve seen a few red fields, and more recently blue ones. They are a source of great delight to me, these unexpected flashes of colour – poppies and flax or lovage – at the side of the road. Now if only the TomTom could direct me to the blue fields, I would be a lot happier with it, but I guess that would be asking a lot (should be possible, though; satellite photos of the earth are pretty amazing and I’m sure they cold detect the blue fields…)

But back to the work. I dealt with all the mail, although more has stacked up since. I ran a steering group meeting in Manchester on Monday, and wrote the minutes. I’ve had meetings with a doctor at the Cheltenham Hospital Oncology Unit, and with TRA people, and with Poetry on Loan, the West Midlands organisation of which I am now the co-ordinator. I like working alone, but I would miss good meetings like this if I spent all my time in my garret. Not that I have a garret. And I seem to have done loads of stuff, but not, until last night, completed any of the big things on my list of jobs.

I tried to give blood this week, but they wouldn’t take it because I am a bit anaemic; perhaps this is the reason for my recent tiredness. The units they measure in fascinate me; this time my blood was 21; last time it was 28 – but 21 or 28 what? Anyway, my blood is obviously not red enough, or not heavy enough, or something.

A little goodie cropped up at the end of the week. I checked the Ledbury portal, and sure enough there is a film of me reading the flood poems. Unfortunately it’s only the beginning of the set, and the best poems come at the end, but unusually it is a film that doesn’t make me want to cringe and / or run away. If you want to see it, go onto YouTube and search on “Ledbury flood poems”. And this morning I did a little interview for BBC Radio Gloucestershire, mostly about the flood poems but also mentioning some of my other stuff. I wonder what it sounded like?

So, a bit of a bitty week, really – but I did write a poem. I started it when I was waiting on Ashchurch station for a train to Birmingham; it was all quite ordinary on my platform, but across ont he other platform strange and worrying things were happening. I hope it’s self-explanatory:

On platform 2

On platform 1, boys in a pack

Swing cricket bats at googlies from the future.

A goth complains: he has two D-rings missing –

The legwear he has chosen is high maintenance;

Mud freckles make his leather coat less gloomy,

But his mum says what they need is

A damp sponge.

On platform 2, it seems, a man is dying,

Head lolling like a wind-blown rhododendron.

His wife supports, and with the paramedic,

Drip shoulder height, looks up from time to time –

Across the line, trains unimportant now,

And ambulances don’t run to a timetable.

And what can I do? Nothing.

Shining lengths of high-speed rail

Grow into barbed-wire fences.

My train comes, and a stretcher,

And we set off for our different destinations.

I wish I could do something about the formatting – sorry about the extra blank lines. I’ll have to ask my blog specialist (i.e. my son).

And now – well, I’d really like to be out in the garden, or painting window frames, but there is still work stuff to be done before I can get on with life. No paddling this week

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