Fit for nothing

I’ve been ill. Nothing major, just a small virus that made me ache all over and feel like some of the seaweed on Weymouth beach. I’m better now, but I think I’ll probably have to lie down after writing this post – and it all seems so pathetic. I’m usually so full of energy that any difference feels newsworthy; it isn’t, of course, so I’ll stop writing about it.

The nursing home visit on Monday was much as expected – sad, really. One gentleman got quite a bit out of it, I think, and they nearly all joined in singing Waltzing Matilda, but it’s so difficult to do when there’s almost no response.

But the next day I was off to Dorset! – pausing only to reverse into a stationary vehicle parked in a dangerous position along the road where I live. I’m not trying to shift the blame; it was my own stupid fault, and not a good start to the journey, which was otherwise fine. Weymouth was just like the seasides I remember from childhood, and the guest house was fine (except for the man snoring in the next room), and the workshops all went well. It was a shame that only small numbers of young people came, but that’s often the case with this age group, and I have to say that if I lived by the sea, and it was the first really sunny day of the holidays, and I could choose between the beach and a writing workshop… well, there would be sand between my toes. Or pebbles, in the case of Lyme Regis. Big, uncomfortable pebbles that are really unpleasant to walk on.  All but one of the young people who took part in the workshops came along to the final slam, and took part, despite their anxieties, and all said that they had enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, so – mission accomplished, I guess. And I had an afternoon on the beach, and swam in the sea – admittedly with my knees touching the seabed because it’s so shallow in Weymouth. A true front crawl.

I sometimes join in and write a poem as part of the workshops I run, and, inspired by a huge man on Weymouth beach who was followed by a tiny Yorkshire terrier, I wrote this while we were in Swanage:

You see it all down here.
Two fat ladies, walking hand in hand.
A swaggering man, with a tiny dog.
A young couple lost in a fog of love.
A plastic shovel handle, sticking out of the sand,
Abandoned by a toddler, and tearfully missed.
Four young men, snoring; pissed.
Beach-ball girls, bouncing in the breeze,
Shunning everyone with the middle-age disease.
A solitary goth, eclipsed by the sun.
Trampoline muscles, out for a run.
Disappointed surfers, with their dolphin skins,
Stranded on the shoreline, flapping their fins.
Overflowing bins, favours and sins,
Flavours and smells, tram-car bells,
Hard rock and candy floss and scattered shells…
The peace of the sea seems out of reach,
But otherwise, I guess, life’s a beach.

The overflowing bins bit is poetic licence; I’ve never seen a cleaner town than Weymouth. Good fish and chips, too.

I nearly forgot – on the Wednesday evening I drove to a pub in Worth Matravers for the Blue Suede Sporran Club. No, really. It’s a poetry evening run by Elvis McGonagall, and my friends Steve Rooney, Sara-Jane Arbury and A.F.Harrold were appearing. I don’t think that they believed me when I said I was just passing so I thought I’d drop in, and I didn’t stay long because The Illness was beginning, but it was a lovely place and great entertainment.

And the week ended with a party (much to the disgust of my son, who thinks that he should attend far more parties than I do) at the lovely house of my friends Paul and Ros, who live in Brighton. Everybody there was a poet, an artist, an actor, sculptor, singer, songwriter or something similar, but we all managed to restrain ourselves and there was very little showing off. Simon Clayton was there. If you get a chance to hear his band (The Indelicates) or see a performance of his masterpiece: The Book of Job: The Musical, then do! He is clever and funny and original, and should be famous.

Well, that’s it for this week. I’ve mentioned quite a few of my talented friends, and it has completely worn me out. How can I go back to the gym, and get on with the clearing work, and start preparing for all I have to do from September onwards, if I feel like this? Fit for nothing.

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