My treat

It’s not beena  bad week. Prison on Monday; my big group was going great guns – they had mostly written at least one poem for homework, and this isn’t easy. Most people think that prisoners have all the time in the world, but the time they do have is interrupted constantly by noise, and it’s really hard to concentrate. By Wednesday, two of them had given me their homework for this week. I’ve been working since I started at the prison with a staff member, quite an accomplished writer, and we have embarked on a project together, writing about some not-at-all deadly sins, using a different poem form for each one. This is great, because it makes me write a new poem each week. We’ve done a rondeau redouble and a villanelle (the first one I’ve ever tried) each, with free verse (on lack of trust) last week and this week a sonnet (on rudeness). It’s a bit like Weight Watchers – if I didn’t do one, I’d feel that I had let myself down – something that I never feel if I’m writing alone.

It was end-of-month time; accounts and invoices. I never mind doing this, but I was tired, and had only just enough energy for some slam practice.

Tuesday was a home day – just as well, because I had to arrange visits to six schools for the Cheltenham Music Festival project. Amazingly, they’re all sorted – usually it takes ages to arrange anything with schools. I got up really early and went for a long run, promising myself a treat later as a reward – and I had it, too: half an hour just lying in the sunshine. Bliss! And I answered loads of emails and did a lot of prison prep – and, of course, some more slam practice. And a TADS meeting.

Wednesday was back at the prison, with the last session for one of my groups. They have been great. I was slightly disconcerted, though, when one of them said he had been inspired this week, and would I read all he had written – oh, and here was the folder with everything he’s written in it. Gulp. It’ll take me ages. When I got home I thought I would have a little nap. I woke up 2.5 hours later, so that was the evening gone. So much for my work plans.

Another run set me up nicely on Thursday; off to Ledbury for a meeting about the Poetry Festival events I will be managing. I’m delighted that I will be looking after Roger McGough, my poetry hero since I was about 13. That is, if I ever find the time to do it. I shouldn’t have treated myself to that half hour in the sun, I guess. I changed some money for euros on Thursday, too – my holiday is growing excitingly near (but when will I pack?)

And then on Thursday night was the Cheltenham Science Festival slam. My new poem (Bert and me) went down well, getting the highest score in the heats; Mind the gap got me through the semi-final; and naturally I did Robot – written for the same slam about four years ago – in the final. Which I won. Hooray! I was extremely chuffed, and didn’t mind at all that I didn’t get to bed until really late, and couldn’t sleep even then. Anyway, it was lovely to meet some old friends there, all delightful people.

Oh – meanwhile, this week I’ve had a blackbird (Monday) and two baby jackdaws (Thursday) in my living room. The stupid things – they must sit on the edge of the chimney and just fall in. I had to go hunting for them, because they were too scared to get out of the window by themselves. And, of course, they have really added to the mess. I’m not looking forward to cleaning it all up, and I’m not going to do it until the end of the nesting season, when the adolescents have stopped fooling around. Perhaps they were out bingeing and had lost all control.

Anyway. On Friday, I treated myself to another run, and then I paid my income tax. This is not a problem. The people I work with in the hospital have real things to complain about, although the one I worked with on Friday was a great lover of life; she was quite moved by the poem we ended up with.

The weekend has had its share of treats – a film on Saturday night, a bit more gardening – although, hang on, I don’t actually like gardening much. How come it has become a treat? I suppose it’s outdoors, and it’s not hunched over a computer. But today has been all work, and I haven’t finished yet – prison stuff mostly, and some things for Poetry on Loan, and the TADS minutes.

So, just to get my energies up, I think I’ll have a bit of my secret Crunchie bar. My treat.

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