I’m dreaming of a break, but I’m not going to get one. The week started really well, with the Lightning Seeds gig in Liverpool; I went with The Son (in his blog he refers to me as The Mother, so calling him this doesn’t seem unreasonable). It was excellent – a good mix of new songs and older ones, and far more interaction between Ian Broudie and the audience than I have seen before. The Scouse sense of humour responded well to this.
But I didn’t get to bed until 2 am, and I had to be up at 5 to get to london to help run a course. Somehow it all went well, and I felt ok, helped by some sporadic dozing on the bus and train. The next day I was running another course in Southampton, but it was just in the afternoon, so I didn’t have to get up really early. This particular course is one I really enjoy running – it’s all high energy and hands-on, and the participants have lots of fun while learning.
Two days in the prison went well. Issue 4 of the newsletter hit the streets, and I started signing people up for my August diary project – I’m trying to get as many people in the prison as possible to write a diary, 8th-15th August. I would like 80 diaries, but I’d settle for 20, if I’m honest. I met one young man while I was there who wants to write his life story; some idiot has told him that he only has to mention it to a publisher and they will give him a big advance. I think he probably has a very interesting story to tell, but the market for misery memoirs (as they are called) has slumped. And besides, he told me, “I’m not very good at writing.” So – basically, he thinks I’m going to write his life story for him, publishers will be fighting to give him money, it’s probably going to be made into a film, and he’ll never have to work again. I hate to spoil people’s dreams, but – well, somehow I just don’t think it’s all going to work out that way.
There was a priceless moment in the prison. One guy (one of my writers, as it happens) was told that he couldn’t go to his art class (for a very typical prison-type reason, far too tedious to explain), and said, “But I’m half-way through making my teddy bear!” Tough guy or what?
I stayed overnight with the lovely Clive and Pauline, who run the Writers in Prison Network, and we talked about the way my job share will work in the prison from October on. They are very comforting. Whatever problems you have working in a prison, they have heard of worse; nothing takes them by surprise, and they are completely realistic about what’s possible.
But – I’m so far behind with everything! I decided to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday just ploughing through things that need to be done. I did go into the hospital on Friday, though, and spent some time with a nice, down-to-earth lady; and also with an extraordinary woman who believes deeply and sincerely in the power of dreams – and with good reason, given what she told me. The poem we wrote was moving, and she cried. Oh dear. I do have this effect on people. I forgot to mention last week that I wrote a love poem for a prisoner to send his wife – using all material that he had provided – and he was almost in tears when I read it out to him.
Apart from that, though, I’ve written reports, done the end of month accounts and invoices, started prep for my doctor’s surgery work in September, done some prep for the production of Ring Round the Moon, answered huindreds of emails (and still they keep coming!), typed up some poems, prepared for meetings next week, finished the ironing (hooray! – but now there’s some more), and had long phone calls with The Son and The Daughter. And wrapped my mum’s birthday presents.
I’ve now (it’s nearly midday on Sunday) almost caught up – which means I can start doing the other stuff, like writing a description of all the training courses we are going to run in the South West project, and putting together a book of poems by one of the prison writing groups, and three more books by individuals, and making more preparations for the diary project, and mowing the lawn, and putting the ironing away (it tends to hang round for a bit…)
And I dream of being able to do some painting and decorating in the house, and sorting the garden out, and well, just doing nothing; having time to dream.