So near…

I nearly did it. People have been telling me (quite rightly) that I should have at least one day a week when I don’t work, and oh! it was so close. I would have finished all my work yesterday if I hadn’t faffed about, which meant that there was still a bit left to do today. When I say work, I mean all the urgent stuff, with a close deadline – I’m not including things like preparing for poetry slams (which I really must get on with) and trying to get my plays published (ditto) and writing more of The Novel. Let alone all the decorating that needs to be done, and the gardening… Anyway, I have spent some time this morning sorting clothes out, which made a nice change from the prison work I had to finish off first.

So – I’ve  had a fairly productive week. Monday was a meeting in Manchester, which included a discussion of the Socratic dialogue that takes place between youth workers in youth clubs and the young people. No, really. I enjoyed writing the minutes of this meeting, simply because I’ve never included the words “Socratic dialogue” in anything I’ve written before. We also discussed the big report that I’ve been working on, and it was well received, so that’s good news. Just a few changes, and it will be up on websites all over the place. The only disappointing thing was that some work that has been done recently just replicates what I did with Gloucestershire Libraries in 2003; nobody knew about it, unfortunately.

Tuesday and Wednesday were in the prison, with an overnight stay with my hospitable friends who live nearby. One of the prisoners I’ve been working with for some time has gained a certificate – OCR Level 2, Improving Own Learning and Skills, no less – and he was well chuffed. I though it was going to be an easy day on Tuesday, but I spent nearly the whole day in one-to-one sessions. I’ve helped one guy write two love poems to his missus, and now she’s written one back – the writing idea is spreading beyond the prison walls!

Wednesday was good, too, except for the Steering Group meeting, which was a little unfocussed for my liking. But at least it has been confirmed that I will do a job share next year; there are fallback arrangements in case the guy who came to visit decides against it. Hooray! And my group of poets again turned out some great pieces, although as they were mostly about love, some of them became a bit bashful.

I finished the TADS minutes in between these things, and the script for the Music Festival event. We need a few props – anyone got a battered old suitcase, or an old violin? A palm leaf? A Russian hat? Just thought I would ask.

On Thursday I caught up with some Poetry on Loan work – emails arranging for poets to do workshops and performances all over the West Midlands, preparations for a Birmingham Book Festival event, and work on the design of our poetry postcards and posters. I think they are going to look terrific – not my doing; Yellowjersey, our designers, have done an excellent job in finding visual imagery to go with the poems.

And off to the hospital. It was the busiest I have ever known it. I arrived very early, because there were some people I wanted to see before I started, but spent half an hour looking for a parking space. In the end I gave up and parked 10 minutes’ walk away. I feel so sorry for those poor people who are sick, or visiting. On the way in to the hospital I met a woman who looked tearful, and spent some time with her. She and her friend had been made far more upset by the conditions in the waiting area. I told them that this situation was only temporary, and that it’s usually nowhere near as busy; but they felt frustrated and angry, and I put their thoughts in a poem. And then, on the ward – three ladies who were probably the chattiest, and possibly the most vulgar, group I have ever worked with. They were tremendous fun (these are cancer patients, remember!), and we created a poem that they really liked.

On Friday I had a conference call (get me and my business side!), which resulted in my having to make more changes in the training prep, but now it’s definitely all done and ready. Phew. It’s taken ages; I hope it all works as it should. It’s a bit different from most of the training courses I’ve been involved in – rather more creative. And the rest of the day was spent writing minutes and doing prison stuff, and more Poetry on Loan things.

I’ve been running a few times, and this morning it was decidedly easier. I’ve bought a new light tube for my office (I’ve been working in the dark for a week), but I can’t fit it until my son comes home later today. My Greek is coming on a treat, because of all the long car journeys.

One thing I must do today is tidy up, and finally put away all the washing and ironing. I’ve done part of it, and I really do intend to finish it next, but what will I do when I’ve done all my jobs? Will my world collapse into a black hole of inactivity? Of course not; I’ll get on with the changes to the report, and forget about the day off thing.

The other task I really wanted to today, on my nearly day off, was to prepare my hanging baskets. They are out there, now, all five of them, sitting on the lawn, all done except for the trailing lobelia. The work was interrupted by the rain. So near…

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