Not much chance of overheating in myoffice, although it has been an issue this week. I went to The Reading Agency’s Christmas staff day, which was fun and informative. As part of a health and safety drive, they’ve been surveying us all; nearly everyone who works at home thinks that their place of work is too cold, but on investigation, they said, most of them aren’t. We were all given a thermometer as a Christmas present. Mine is on my wall now. Most of the time, when the heating isn’t on (you have no idea how much my power bills are!), the temperature in my office doesn’t even make the thing glow at all, and the lowest temperature it records is 14 degrees. Now, after having the heating on nearly all day, it’s just touching 18 degrees. I wear a lot of clothes when I’m in my office.

The trip to my mother went well, although I worked out at the end of it that I’d been driving for very nearly seven hours, which is a lot, really. Still, she was delighted to see my daughter and me, and we exchanged presents, so it was worth doing.

This week my prison visits were on Monday and Wednesday. Monday was a long day – 8 am until 7 pm, with only 15 minutes for lunch, but it was all good. It’s great to have such enthusiasm. Wednesday wasn’t quite so good. Most of the guys I work with are really boys who have done something stupid, but some are real villains. However much I enthuse them about writing, they are not going to be turned round, and knowing this makes it all much more difficult. But – the newsletters are out, and everyone seems pleased with them. Hooray! I got very excited this week, because it looked like Roger McGough was going to come to the prison in May and give a reading and a talk and a short workshop. I was going to have to take him to lunch – what a drag, taking your teenage hero to lunch… but in fact it all fell through anyway, so a bit of a disappointment. Now, that would have warmed me up.

In between prison visits I carried on making my phone calls, and went to rehearsals, wrote TADS’ minutes, did lots of prison prep… But the worst moment of the week came on my return from the day in London. As I came into my drive, I was listening to the end of a radio programme; with only a few minutes left, I stayed in the car, with the engine and heater on. And suddenly I noticed the temperature gauge was right at the top. Now, the last time this happened, in very similar circumstances, I needed a new (specially-engineered) cylinder block – £2000 worth – so naturally I was a little anxious. Overheating cars mean lots of money. But my friendly local garage checked it all out and couldn’t find anything, so I’m hoping that it was a one-off failure of the fan to cut in. Fingers crossed.

And so to today. I’ve been out in the garden, pruning, but now it’s back to work again. I found out this week that a piece of work which I understood to be for last year only was actually meant to be ongoing, and the people in charge have suddenly realised that I haven’t been submitting invoices, so we need to work out what to do about it. I really mustn’t take on any more work or it will be my brain overheating rather than the car; but it’s fun, and worthwhile, and near home… I’ll have a look anyway.

And finally, today, I’ll be doing some of the less challenging writing of the year – Christmas cards. I know, I should give the money to charity – but I do buy charity cards, and I just like to see the cards stuck up all round the dining room for a few weeks. Just an old traditionalist, me. In a traditionally cold room; underheated.

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