Looking up

Things are! Looking up, I mean. It’s been a busy week, but aren’t they all? It started well – last Sunday I tried out a couple of new poems at Buzzwords, Cheltenham’s poetry cafe, and they both went down well. It’s always good to hear what other people do, too.

I’ve started running again. Some years ago, I did a couple of half-marathons. I don’t run seriously now, but when the weather starts getting a bit warmer I do find I feel better after a monring run. So far, I’ve had four little jogs, and this morning it all seemed a lot easier than before. I’ll try to go out every day when I don’t have an early start, and when it’s not raining. Call me a wimp, but I don’t do wet weather running. Can’t see the point.

The week started with a day at home, and I got a lot done – Poetry on Loan stuff, a start on my big report for the North West project, sorting out insurance for TADS, the amateur drama group I work with, and a TADS meeting in the evening. The next morning I was at home too, and cleaned up my old mower ready to sell it, and planted some bluebells in what I like to call the wood (there are three trees) at the end of my garden. I did some prison work and more on my report, and then it was off to the hospital, where I worked with two nice ladies, who were both very upbeat. They didn’t really need any arts therapy, but at least it made a change and passed some time for them.

Two days at the prison. The decision I didn’t specify last week seems to be working out. I can’t go on doing as much work as I have been doing; it would make sense for me to give up the prison work, because it takes up so much of my time and energy and is easily the worst paid work I do. But I love it! So, knowing that one or two prison residencies are run as jobshares, I asked if this would be possible for the second year of mine. And yes, another prison writer is looking for more work next year, and is really keen to join me; the prison people see no problem in pricnciple, and he’s coming for a visit soon. Hooray! I think this will work well. It will be good for some of the guys to have a male role model, too, so they can see that real men do write poems.

And it was a good two days. I have seven participants for the big workshops next week, and in one of my little groups I got the guys reading Shakespeare speeches – Prospero and Macbeth, Antony and Jaques. What great writing! they said. They are up for a performance of our little play, too; not quite Shakespeare, but we all have to start somewhere. One excellent writer has come back; he’s been transferred between prisons 5 times in two months. Why do they do this? Anyway, he’s back, and despite never having written anything before my classes, is doing a grand job; he very quickly got the hang of writing in iambic pentameter. And Issue 3 of the newsletter has been put to bed; it only awaits the permission of the governor to get it printed.

Oh – and I was asked to go to a qualifier for the next Radio 4 poetry slam. I was in the first one, two years ago, but I don’t expect I’ll qualify this time. Still, it’s always worth havinga  go.

My new toy arrived on Friday. It starts; it turns, it mows; it picks up grass; it has a drinks holder. How cool is that? Obviously, I mowed the grass, but I also cleared up all my emails. Late in the afternoon, a black cat appeared in the garden. My black cat, Leo, left home a couple of years ago when one of the other cats was dying of cancer; Leo didn’t seem to want to be anywhere near. I wonder if the visiting cat was Leo? I tried calling, but the cat ran away when I came closer. I would be really pleased if Leo came back, even though my kids thought he was an isntrument of the devil. He was a bit fierce.

And yesterday I did loads of work! Prep for two big meetings, lots of emails, work on the next book of work for the prison… And I washed the car, had a bonfire, made shelves for my garage, spread some extra gravel on my drive, and put my old mower on eBay. I’ve had two questions already about a quick sale, so that’s looking good.

I even watched some television. Dr Who and Red Dwarf. Well, why not?

So – I’m well up with all my jobs, and so I’ll sit in the sun with a gin and tonic, shall I? Of course not. I still have loads to do, and the sun isn’t shining anyway. But my packed schedule for the next two months doesn’t look so scary, now; things are definitely looking up.

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