Normal service resumed

After all the excitement of this week, it’s down to earth now, and back to work.

The week started witha  major success – I got the lawn mower going! Not very literary, I know, but these small successes are important; I think some researchers found that continuous small successes are the key to happiness. Getting the mower going made me happy, if only for a while. Perhaps I should get out more.

Earlier on I went to see Roger McGough reading at the LitFest. I had an argument later in the week with another poet, who said that his poems are simplistic, and that hers are better. Hmmm. I think it takes far more skill to write simply and well, giving a new outlook on something, than to write clever poems that are, in a way, self-aggrandising. Roger McGough gets paid a lot of money for his appearances, but he writes interesting, accessible poems that win a lot of people to poetry (his At Lunchtime was the first poem I really enjoyed). My friend thinks he is arrogant; much though I like her poetry, I think she is on shaky ground claiming that it is better than his.

But anyway. The final rehearsal of the play was amazing; the best they have ever done it; and my sessions at the school in Wolverhampton went pleasingly well, too. I was impressed by the fact that the kids really wanted to make their pieces as good as possible; they were keen to put right grammatical as well as stylistic problems, even though the teachers would have let many of these slip through. Expect high standards, and that’s what you get. Or does that make me sound like a boring old fogey? Actually, I don’t care if it does, because my experience shows over and over again, that the more you ask of writers (ok, people) the more you get.

Two fruitful meetings on Tuesday morning were followed by a complete inability to do any concentrated work; I was too anxious about the play performance in the evening. The venue was a marquee; well, part of a marquee, really, with an incomplete barrier between it and the remaining parts. The material soaked up the sound; traffic and people and cooling fans for the lights contributed their various sound effects, and it was really difficult for the cast to make themselves heard – they have no problems in a proper theatre. Radio mikes were suggested, but two of them get undressed and dressed again on stage and they would be too easily dislodged. The cast worked so hard, and I could tell it was a strain for them. Fortunately, the audience couldn’t, and there were many compliments afterwards. Phew.  All over now until March.

I did something just for fun on Wednesday! I went to see a rock band, Three Doors Down (that’s the name of the band, not where they were playing) in IndigO2 in London. They were excellent – good music and good performers. But, oh dear, where do these bands get their support acts from? My son would have been much better.

But Thursday saw the return to normal things – work for TRA and Poetry on Loan (with a small trip to Cheltenham to hear Tom Holland speaking about his new book – he’s a historian who brings his subjects to life with precise but imaginative writing).

And oh! the Adult Literacy students excelled themselves this week. I pushed them to do something outside their comfort zone, and the results were terrific. When I can help with this level of achievement I feel that I am actually being of service, and not the normal kind either. It was a delight.

And today was my last visit to the Cheltenham LitFest. All the Cheltenham Festivals are worth going to, but not every event is as good as you might hope. Today I saw Michael Frayn, one of my favourite playwrights and novelists; a fascinating man with lots of interest to say. Unfortunately, the interviewer was so poor that he made the whole thing boring; I’m afraid I nodded off in the middle. This is not normal service at the LitFest, I might add.

Next week will be busy. No play rehearsals to look forward to. No trips or events to attend. Just normal. Ah well.

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