Something’s got to go

That’s it. I’ve decided. I’m going to have to give up one of my activities. But which is it to be? Not the prison work, obviously. One of the guys I work with said this week that he didn’t know how he would have kept going without the writing; that he seriously thought he would have topped himself. Now, that’s a bit of over-dramatisation, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m doing some good there. There is a constant demand for my help, and it’s difficult to keep up, and I’m already cutting down to one-and-a-bit days a week from October onwards.

And not the hospital, either. Again, this week, I met a woman who really valued the opportunity to talk to someone who would just listen, and understand; and she was delighted at the thought of the poem.

Not the directing. Directing plays is one of the thing I enjoy most; and even thought we haven’t really got started on Ring Round the Moon yet, it would really cause problems if I said I wasn’t going to direct it. We have readthrough / auditions this week, and I’m beginning to get excited about the whole thing.

There are my library projects. One has just started, and will involve a lot of training, which I enjoy doing a lot; and getting things started is always challenging and therefore fun. I’ve already given up the Yorkshire one; I knew I couldn’t do everything. But then there’s the North West one. And I don’t think they really need me there now; and if I’m not useful, well, what’s the point? But on the other hand, it’s easy work, and not bad pay.

Poerty on Loan? To start with this really wasn’t enjoyable at all, but now we have got several things going, and have attracted some good poets to the region, and commissioned some new stuff and got lots of lovely poetry postcards printed and distributed to public libraries throughout the West Midlands, and organised a great gig for the Birmingham Book festival and – well, it all seems more worthwhile, although very, very time-consuming.

My work with patients in a doctor’s surgery hasn’t started. It’s about 3 miles from where I live, involves 30 half-day sessions over a year, and is paid very well; and I know it will be worthwhile, so that’s out.

The other things I do – with adult literacy students for the Ledbury Poetry Festival, and with the Cheltenham Music Festival with kids, and other bits and pieces – are all fun and rewarding. And I’d really like to do more with Write On! in Birmingham and around. ..

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I know how lucky I am to have all these possibiltiies, and I’m very aware that they all have end-dates, and when they have finished I will be desperately looking for work again. But I had a migraine again this week, and I know exactly why – it’s because I’m under slightly less pressure for a week or two, and when this happens my mind and body get together and make me rest. A migraine forces me to stay in bed, more or less, for a day or so. And that means I’ve fallen behind with work again, just when I thought I’d caught up.

Anyway, apart from the migraine, it hasn’t been a bad week, except for a trip to Manchester which was a bit depressing (sorry, Manchester, nothing personal). And I have managed to do some gardening, and fix a broken downpipe, and have a bonfire. Hooray! I’ve even won £10 on the Lottery. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for me to give up any of my work; but whatever, something’s got to go.

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