Doing and dying

A sad title. It was a sad week – my next door neighbour Norman died suddenly on Wednesday. Norman was a lovely old chap – and not that old, either – who was a real countryman. He had a comprehensive knowledge of plants and garden tools and a dry wit, and never said anything unkind about anyone. He was always willing to help, without even being asked – even with horrible jobs like cleaning the drains – and he grew the best runner beans I’ve ever tasted. It was very sudden, and poor Sue, his widow, will be lost without him.

Apart from that, there was lots going on this week. I had a bit of a blitz on my son’s bedroom and did several loads of washing; unfortunately I haven’t ironed anything for weeks, and so my house is festooned with laundry. Perhaps if I added some fairy lights to it it could just stay there and become a feature.

I’ve finished my big report for the north west project; well, the first draft, anyway. I’ve had some comments back and need to make a few changes but the bulk of it is done. Hooray! And I also wrote the interim report for my prison work. I feel a lot better for having got these done.

Two days at the prison this week. The first was a day for sorting things out. I’m planning to show a DVD to some guys (Shakespeare in Love! I think they will really enjoy it), but thought I would test the DVD player in the room I will be using. There was a TV in there, and a video recorder, and a DVD player, and a Scart lead. Everything fine, I thought – except that there was no socket at all in the TV for linking it with either of the other two bits of equipment. This was odd, because I knew that they had shown DVDs in there at Christmas. The kind Education Manager carried another TV over for me, and sure enough, the one already there did not belong to education – somebody else had taken that one and replaced it. Prisons are strange places.

I worked with two members of staff; one had never written poems before, but likes Yeats and Dylan Thomas, and, as I had promised him, we wrote a poem together in half an hour that he could be proud of. Another convert! And the new poetry group’s three members worked really hard and wrote some good stuff in their first session. We had permission at last to go to print with the newsletter – but both the printers had broken down, so that’s been delayed a bit.

My prospective job-share partner came to visit. He wasn’t at all impressed by the lack of office facilities, although he liked the atmosphere of the place. I do hope he says yes.

On Thursday I ran two training sessions for frontline library staff in Bristol. (I do love the way they call themselves “frontline”, as if they are troops in some battle zone.) This particular session is very well-planned (not by me) – very practical – and everyone always has fun doing it, which makes it enjoyable for me as the trainer. But two sessions, with only half an hour between for clearing up, setting up, and gobbling down a quick snack, is quite tiring. I had hoped to meet a friend in Bristol afterwards, but she had forgotten something else she had to do and couldn’t make it, and I was quite pleased to get home.

The night before I had been to a Ledbury Poetry Festival meeting. Not surprisingly, sponsors are a bit thin on the ground this year. I’m not quite sure how it will all work out.

Meanwhile, the emails were moutning up, and are still lurking menacingly, waiting for me to deal with them. On busy weeks I try to look through them each evening and answer the really urgent ones, but the slightly less than urgent ones will not go away. I think I need some kind of repellent, like you put down to keep cats out of the garden.

Friday was a lovely day, and my Reading Agency manager and I started our meeting (in Reading, rather appropriately) sitting outside a pub. We could cope with the noise from a large group of young men, some dressed as superheroes, presumably on some kind of stag do (would you go to a pub by Reading station for your stag do?), but then they put the TV on, and we had to move. We ended up in a swish but very, very dark hotel. It was a good meeting, once I had persuaded her that my depression of last week was not long-lasting, and that I am fine, really, and can cope with all my work.

A note about train fares. I live at an equal distance from Cheltenham and Evsham stations. If I had traveled to Reading from Cheltenham, it would have cost £138. From Evesham it was £18. I suppose there is some logic in this, somewhere, but it beats me.

While I’ve been driving this week I’ve done lots of work on my Greek. I can say lots of things, now (and I can actually say “I can say lots of things, now” in Greek!) I’m using the Pimsleur course, which is excellent. The poor people in Skiathos are going to have a lot to put up with.

And I have planted a rose bush, and bought a new garden spade  and fork (they are small and really girly), and fixed a down pipe that had detached itself, and put up a new shower curtain. I’ll mow both lawns, and then… and then… Oh dear, it will have to be the emails, before I can tackle the outstanding actions from The Reading Agency, Poetry on Loan, and the prison. Oh, and start the script for the Music Festival, and prepare for my appearance tomorrow evening on online Radio Wildfire. Oh, and do some sewing for my son, who has managed to split two pairs of trousers, and start the ironing. And arrange a rehearsal date for OTWAP.

Fortunately, this week is relatively easy, so I should be able to catch up with anything I don’t do today.

But first, I’ll go and see Sue next door.

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