I seem to have spent a bit of time this week doing nothing – not in a fun kind of way, though. It started well, with lots of gardening, although my mower definitely wasn’t right. Later in the week Rupert, the nice man from Haywards in Tewkesbury (they deserve an advertisement!) came out to have a look at it. When I said it only went wrong after I mowed about two-thirds of the garden, he said, “Well, I’ll just have to mow it then,” and he did. I was worried that the thing would work perfectly and make me look stupid, but no, it went wrong as predicted – a strange case of something going wrong meaning that something had gone right. The cause of the problem turned out to be a spider in the petrol tank. Dead, of course, poor thing. And when Rupert had finished putting it right, he finished mowing the lawn (“I had to test it”), and said I must never worry about calling them out because they want to be sure that everything’s ok. And he gave me some advice on what to do to make the grass better. Nice man. Since then, I’ve spread lawn treatment granules all over it; it will look awful for a while but will then be renewed and refreshed and full of vigour. I wonder if they make a similar product for people?
On Monday I was in Manchester for a meeting about some new training courses. At the beginning there was little for me to do, and I was suddenly overcome with sadness. I think I am like a sponge, and I’ve soaked up lots of sorrow from cancer patients and prisoners, and now and then it just overflows into tears. The rest of the meeting went well, though, although of course we didn’t really finish.
I’ve managed four runs this week, and it’s getting easier. It’s a strange business, running – what are you supposed to do with your mind while you plod along? When I was running a lot (I’ve done two half-marathons, I’ll have you know) I used to listen to recorded books, but at the moment I’m only doing short runs, and that seems a bit over the top.
Just one day in the prison, and there was a lockdown all morning. This means that everyone is locked in their cells; usually it means they are spinning (i.e. searching) the cells because of a suspicion that somebody has something they shouldn’t have, like a mobile phone. This meant I had no access to any prisoners to work with. Usually I have lots I can get on with, but I was reasonably up-to-date this week, so I spent the morning sorting out my files – more or less pretending that I wasn’t doing nothing. The afternoon was better, though – good work with some individuals.
A meeting about a new project went well. I’ll be working in a doctor’s surgery in Tewkesbury, providing writing sessions for people who have really non-medical problems – bereavement, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. But when I went to the hospital I found nobody to work with! They were asleep, or had visitors, or didn’t feel up to it. I did, however, start the staff on writing a poem – something I’ve wanted to do for a while. They came up witha good opening line – A man was dancing under a tree. I wonder what they will make of it? I was also given a letter from a patient I worked with two years ago; she hadn’t expected to see one more summer, let alone two, and she’s written another poem, and asked if I can go and see her. She saw the poem we wrote that time ago as the beginning of a new approach to her illness.
I was at home on Thursday (lawn-mower day). I had lots to do, but couldn’t concentrate. I was also slightly peeved about the lack of response from some people who are supposed to have sent me reports by April 1st; I still have only 11 complete ones and three partly-completed ones, out of a total of 20. But I did make a start on writing my own consodlidated report. I’ve done lots more on this since, albeit with quite a few blank bits.
Birmingham for a Poetry on Loan meeting on Friday. I arrived early and sat on a seat in the pedestrianised bit, and wrote a song. I’m hoping my son will put it to music for me. It’s a sad song, though. At least I didn’t just sit there doing nothing, so some progress.
And now it’s full steam ahead – I have a big report to write, some research to do for a script, and another report to plan. And if possible I’d like to get out in the garden again, this time with my machete, to hack about at the weeds. There’s nothing but doing for me. Not that I would want it any other way.