Well, a few things have been sorted this week. It started with both my kids at home – a rare event – which is lovely, although I get no work done. But there are more important things than work.
Monday saw my first visit to East Park school. It’s a great school; the head and the teachers are really enthusiastic about what they do. Unfortunately, I have a really limited time with each group of kids, and to produce a newsletter made up on interviews with other people in four and a half hours is going to be really difficult. We worked on interviewing techniques, and they all had a practice, but the difference between open and closed questions can be quite difficult to grasp if you’re only 8.
Later in the week, I finally sorted out my sessions with the adult literacy groups in Herefodshire. Their tutors are, very understandably, protective of their students, and wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t expect too much. But, just as with any group, I’ll start with where they are, and want them to have fun and be proud of what they achieve, and those are really the only expectations I have. My first visit to the prison has been organised, too – important, because my mentor there is going to be away for most of October, which will make it difficult in the early stages.
On Tuesday I had the sort of letter that, and I hate to say this, but it’s true – makes it all worthwhile. It was from a man whose wife I had worked with at the hospital. She died only last month; but still this man has taken the trouble to write to say that the poem we wrote captured her essence; that they laughed and cried at it when she was very ill; and that it was read out at her funeral. Gulp.
I’ve made loads of phone calls this week, to library contacts in the West Midlands about Poetry on Loan, making sure that I had details for the right people in each area. This should have been a really dull admin task, but everyone was really keen to talk about what’s going on, so it was actually quite fun.
I’ve had two sessions for the Literature Festival sleeping and dreaming project. It’s a great topic, because everyone can talk about this. The two sessions were very, very different – one at a day centre for mental health sufferers, and the other at a Mandarin school, for the children of Chinese parents. The first group (with only four people) were very keen on writing; the second (18 kids, plus helpers) mostly said “Eugh” Poetry!” But all of them turned out some great poems, and they really should be proud of what they achieved. The evaluations show that they had fun too – so, sorted there, then.
I’ve treated myself to a new toy – a very small and light pc, that I can easily carry around with me without endangering my back. I’ve been too busy to do anything wiht it, yet, but it will be brought into action next week when I’ll be going to Manchester by train. It’s cute. Yes – a cute pc.
And what a great end to the week! Yesterday was the Gloucestershire Drama Association’s AGM and awards ceremony. My play Once this was a poet won the 2007-8 playwriting award – £100 and a little trophy. My first play, Don’t give it another thought won the 2005-6 award, and I was really, really pleased to win again. It was interesting, though, that the adjudicators had reservations, because “most amateur plays that we see are performed by people whose audiences know them, and they migt be reluctant to put this play on” – because it contaisn nudity and swearing and references to sex. But – this is life! And they would be acting!
At the one-act play festival, I saw four plays as well as mine. One was a really awful play for young people; one was about fairies; two were about amateur drama societies. I can’t think of anyone who would want to see a play about fairies; only the parents of the actors would want to see the young people’s play; and only members of amateur drama societies would want to see the other two. I can’t help thinking that it’s a little bit insular. I’ve seen much better plays than mine, and they are all about real people living real lives. Or fantasy people, living lives that are real in their own worlds. Still, It’s great to win a prize, and I’m delighted that the adjudicators were broad-minded enough to overlook their reservations.
It was also lovely to hear people still talking about the first performance of the play. No room for complacenecy, though – rehearsals start today for our LitFest performance, which has really got to be good; expectations have become very high.
Next week will be very busy – out every day except Monday. Time to get off my pleasurable plateau and buckle down to some hard work.