Done and undone

Lots done this week! Although it started witha  bit of fun – a trip to see The Dark Knight with my friend Paula. I hadn’t expected to enjoy this, but, as all the critics have said, Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is truly outstanding; and I was so caught up in the car chases that I jumped far enough out of my seat for clear air to be seen below me – or so Paula said.

Monday was an early start for a meeting in Manchester, which went well; and the minutes are all done and sent too, now. The Poetry on Loan stuff is well under way. I’ve been heartened by the good wishes of some of the library contacts, although disappointed that so many have not yet responded to my emails at all. I know they are busy; I’m sure this is low priority; but it seems to me to be common courtesy to return just a brief email. Ah well.

And suddenly I was to be in a slam on Thursday night – some people had dropped out. Excellent, I thought – gives me a chance to try out the new poems; so I practised and practised, in between trying to work out why occasionally my dishwasher trips off the power to the whole house, and sorting out my car insurance, and trying to contact J, who will remain nameless. (Incidentally, writers’ car insurance is much higher than that for most occupations, clearly because we spend our time at wild drunken parties, driving home recklessly, with our minds elsewhere.)

Thursday started well, with a meeting about the residency in Cheltenham Hospital’s Oncology Unit, with lovely people who have great ideas and get things done. More slam practice, in between trying to contact F, who shall remain nameless.

And on to the slam, which shall remain nameless. More often than not, you don’t win slams; and more often than not, you can think that’s ok, the poet who won was better than I was. And indeed, the poet who won was better than I was; I came third. But – it was all a bit of a muddle, because the guy keeping the scores had added them up wrong, and I had to take part in a sudden death battle to get into the semi-finals because of this. When I run slams I provide the scorer with a calculator, with nice big numbers so it’s easy to read in the semi-drakness of a slam venue. It’s not difficult to do these things right. It doesn’t really matter; as I say, I definitely wouldn’t have won, but it was just another example of the (oh! I hate this word, but I can’t think of a better one) incompetence I’ve dealt with this week.

Take J. Early in July, I had arranged dates with J to work with two groups. We were to start on Friday 5th September. Despite my emails, no further news was forthcoming – I needed to know where I was going and exact times for the workshops. Eventually I got through to her, and she said she hadn’t received any emails, so I gave her my email address again. Still nothing; and by now it was Wednesday 3rd. And at last she said that the tutors were only just back, we couldn’t start until the following Friday (when, as I had told her in July, I will be away), and she would contact me again. And still nothing. Again – it’s not that difficult to get these things right.

And take F. I’ve been trying to arrange a meeting involving several busy people. A date was in F’s diary – but sorry, she said, she was going to be on holiday that day, after all. I rounded up another set of dates, and one was agreed, and I emailed everyone else to confirm it; but when I tried to book a room I was told that in fact the room had already been booked by F, for another meeting. She hadn’t put it in her diary. Off again on another round of dates…

Now, none of this really matters. It’s just stuff. But most of the people I work with can do it properly, and I guess it’s just the coincidence of three examples of this in one week that have set me off on a rant (sorry, I promised I wouldn’t whinge in this blog, but perhaps I’m allowed just this one). The thing is, it’s discourteous, and I think that courtesy – treating people as you would want to be treated yourself – is a basic and important part of  how people should behave.

Of course, what will happen now is that I’ll find I’ve done something stupid, and let someone down, and end up as the subject of somebody else’s rant; and yes, we all make mistakes, and I make as many as most. But at least I’ll feel bad about it afterwards.

There! That’s got that off my chest.

Meanwhile, Martin, the magnificent techie from TADS, has been looking carefully into taking Once this was a poet to the Edinburgh Festival next year, and thinks we should go for three weeks. Three weeks! I don’t think this is possible. But we’ve sold 57 tickets for the Cheltenham Litfest performance already, so that’s looking very good.

And this week? I’ll write about it next weekend, but I should get a lot done.

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