I wonder if there is anyone called Pristine? It should be  in the same class of names as Prudence and Charity, and it certainly sounds like a name. Anyway, the walls of the playroom are now pristine white, and no doubt warm under their three coats of paint. It gets a bit tiresome, living in a black and white cottage; I long to see other colours splashed on my decorating clothes! But it’s done, at last; at least, the walls and radiator and wainscotting. The woodwork will have to wait until I’ve caught up with some real work.

It’s been a busy week, but I have made a start on my New Year’s resoultions – I’ve actually asked one of my best employers if he can replace me easily for some upcoming work. I was fairly certain he would be able to – and he could – but of course if it would have been difficult for him I wouldn’t have let him down. One thing fewer to worry about.

I’ve started back at the hospital, too, in the Oncology Unit. The first two people I approached were quite keen to write poems with me, and they ended up reasonably well, but then 8 people said no, one after another! Three of them would have liked to but just didn’t feel well enough, which isn’t surprising seeing what they are going through. One problem is that if people have seen someone say no, I think they feel a bit self-conscious about saying yes, so after a few have demurred, there’s very little chance of anyone else taking up the offer. The other problem is the waiting room, which has  no windows or doors to the outside. I ended up writing a sad little poem, which isn’t at all a reflection of how I have found the Oncology Unit on other occasions – it’s usually a place of cheerfulness and hope.

No windows

No windows, and no door that leads
To air, and sky, and life outside.
This is a waiting room for death.
The treatment rooms are there to hide
The truth. Though people read and chat,
As if this were a normal place,
They’re prisoners, with no escape,
And fear is locked in every face.

I offer words. What good are they?
I don’t provide a magic key.
They want a surgeon’s sledge hammer
To break these walls, and set them free.

Cheery little number, isn’t it? I’m sure that this was just a bad day, though. And, on the bright side, the lovely Pat (who is my main contact at the hospital) donated her old blue kettle to me, and it’s sitting smugly in the kitchen now.

Rehearsals are progressing apace for the production of Pygmalion. It’s coming on quite well, now, despite all the problems that have occurred, and I’m sure the production will be excellent. As long as I remember where all the props are. But oh! – it’s been cold in the rehearsal spaces. I love the snow, and this week it’s been a treat to see little hedgehog footprints leading up to the dish of leftover cat food I put outside, but the rehearsals have been freezing.

The prison – well, apart from an attempted suicide during the week, everything was fine. A guy I haven’t worked with much has done fantastic work rounding up people to do things for the newsletter, and written a very lively piece himself. This is how it should be, of course, with contributions from lots of different people, but I guess that idea takes a little while to get established.

And I’ve caught up a bit today with work; I’m all ready for what I have to do up till Thursday, and then I’ll have a day at home to work on the next phase. But the most exciting thingthis week  is that I have booked a holiday in June, in Skiathos, the place I love most. A week of lying on pristine sand, and swimming in pristine sea, and gazing at the pristine sky, with no black and white cottages to be seen, and no work. Less than 23 weeks to go!

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