“Thank God it’s all over”

…is a quote from Pygmalion, and that pretty well sums it up. It was a good production; the actors, several of whom had little or no experience, did really well; and we had big enough audiences (who all seemed to enjoy it) to make a profit. But it took up a lot of time, and I was always aware of how much I had to do. Having said that, they’re a lovely bunch of people and most of the time it was good fun. Only two weeks, and we start rehearsing for Once this was a poet again, with a new cast member, who will be excellent, I think. We’ll be on at the Cheltenham Playhouse on March 7th.

The week started with some delightful older people in Ledbury. I had worked with one of them before, and as soon as she realised who I was (she is nearly blind), she recited, straight off, the two poems we had done over a year ago. But a headache developed during the afternoon session, and by the evening it was obviously migraine. I had to cancel my visit to the prison on Tuesday – only the second time in seven-an-a-half years that I’ve had to cancel an engagement becuase of illness (the other time was when I poked myself in the eye with a sharp stick). The next day I was fine, and went in, to be asked by almost everyone I met how I was.

And it was so touching! The guy I’ve worked with most has been given a date for his parole hearing; it’s possible that he will be released in just a few weeks’ time. Great news, you would think – but he was pretty well in tears at the thought that our writing sessions would come to an end. We talked about how he could find a writing group outside – and then he cheered us both up with a brillliant parody of a Bob Dylan song. Later on, some members of one of my groups were telling a prospective new member about it; one of them said When it comes to writing, she’s the dog’s bollocks! Now, I’ve never been described as this before, and I think I must take it as a high compliment. It’s what I do, though, that works, not who I am.

Thursday was spent trying to catch up with things, and getting ready for the first night of Pygmalion; Friday I was in the hospital, working with cancer patients and their carers. It was a much better session than last time; almost everyone I asked wanted to have a go, and said that they had enjoyed it and found it a bit of fun – but all the outpatient participants had to leave before we had really finished. This is always a bit of a problem in this kind of setting. In the afternoon I was on the ward,  and spent the whole time with a woman who said she would be no good but came out with beautifully evocative phrases to describe flowers – she is a florist. She enjoyed  it so much that she wanted to do more, and she did most of the second poem on her own. What’s more, I had a lunchtime meeting with the lovely Pat and the delightful Paul.

I have the best job in the world.

And since then, it’s been Pygmalion – months of work, followed by stage setting; four performances; striking the set; party – all gone, almost as if it had never happened. Yes! I went to a party! Most of the time I was with groups of people of a similar age to me, i.e. in our prime, dismissing the early leavers who were mostly the younger ones. I let the side down by leaving just before 2 am – but I did have to be back in the theatre early for the final clear-up.

I’m still trying to catch up, so I’ve been working all day today, and I do feel that I would like a day off, really. I seem to miss all the things that other people know about – like the Inauguration, for example. I bet it was inspirational, but I’ll just have to use my imagination.

Never mind! At least that lot is all over, and I won’t do any more dramtic stuff for a long time. Except Once this was a poet. And – hmm – now we have a lot more people in TADS, perhaps we could do Ring Round the Moon, which I nearly directed a few years ago… It really is addictive.

But – today isn’t over yet, so back to work…

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