Travelling light

I wish I could – travel light, that is. I like to think of myself as someone who can just pack a pair of shorts and a toothbrush and take off, anywhere, but it’s all fantasy. Even on work trips for one day I have a case as big as Everest. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But I have travelled a lot this week.

Monday was quiet – loads of prep for this week’s activities, plus a bit of gardening. Tuesday was my first visit to the prison, which is quite a long way; unfortunately the afternoon’s security talk had not been arranged, so it was 174 miles just for a few hours. It’s going to be a difficult project; the guys there are banged up (locked in their cells) for a lot of the time, so contacting them outside of normal work / education hours is going to be tricky. And I’m not even allowed to take in biscuits for them to have during writing group sessions. Not much will happen for a few weeks, anyway, because my buddy there is on holiday. Shame – I’m keen to get going.

One of the most significant things I’ve done recently was the ArtLift project, which took me in to Cheltenham General Hospital to work with cancer patients. The project is to continue over the next three years, concentrating on residencies in doctors’ surgeries. I’ve deferred my start for a year (all the artists are likely to work for two years out of the three), but still went to the induction day this week. It was fun; great meeting lots of artists from different disciplines, and some old mates; and of course having lots of questions answered. The project has full support from the public health deparment, who can see that if people with long-term problems (e.g. depression or anxiety) can have a creative and purposeful activity, it can and in many cases does reduce their dependency on drugs and doctors.

And now a bit of praise for Orange. And no, they’re not paying me. When I first got broadband, I had terrible problems; I spent 17 hours on the phone to BT and Orange trying to sort them out, and they were all useless. But now Orange have really sorted out their support provision. I’ve had to phone them a few times over the last year, and each time I’ve been answered promptly by a support person who knows what he’s doing, helps me through all the necessary rpocedures, and is smart enough to judge how much I know and how much mollycoddling I need. It’s all done with great courtesy and patience. This happened again this week when for some reason we lost our Internet connection. Hooray for Orange. Now, if only they could sort out my current problem; I think I have a virus, and I am, apparently, sending out hundreds of emails advising people on how to increase the size of specific organs. If you have had one of these from my email address, please be assured that IT’S NOT ME!

Thursday was a long day – up to Manchester for a board meeting about work with libraries and young people, and loads of emails (not about my organ size) to answer when I got back. My new little pc came into its own, though. Now I need to learn to trust it, and just take one small device rather than great wodges of paper in a huge bag.

And on Friday, I bought a new huge bag – the one I have, with wheels, has been really useful since I hurt my back, but it’s a bit flimsy and the handle isn’t long enough. So, arriving in Leominster with half an hour to fill before my workshop started, I popped into the factory outlet shop and found a new one, exactly what I needed, for £10.50. Hmm. I think my longing for travel has given me a bit of an obsession with travel bags. But really, I need lots for workshops – paper and notebooks and materials for games and a flipchart and pens and poetry books…

Anyway, the two workshops – Leominster and Hereford – with adult literacy groups were terrific. They were a joy to work with and had fantastic ideas, and really enjoyed writing poetry. We have four more sessions, and I’ll look forward to all of them.

Meanwhile I have a lot to do – writing minutes, preparing for some training…

Tickets for the play are going really well – 71 sold by last night. There are only 120 available, so if you’re planning to come, buy your ticket now! The first rehearsal was very promising. I just hope that the LitFest can provide parking for the three cars needed to carry our props and bits and pieces. Sometimes a pair of shorts and a toothbrush just aren’t enough.

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