A room of two halves…

That would be my dining room. I’m painting it one half at a time, to minimise the problems of moving furniture (it has a heavy electronic piano in one corner). But it refers to everything else as well – how do other people manage to juggle the conflicting demands of work and everything else (maintaining houses and gardens and relationships)? I know, I know, it’s an almost universal problem, but I think it’s a bit more tricky for the self-employed.

So – it was a Bank Holiday. The self-employed only know about these because they don’t get many emails on Bank Holidays. I did a lot of prep for the week – prison stuff, and arrangements for training courses – but I spent a lot of time on the dining room.  Over the week, I think I have used every sort of filler there is – plaster repair filler, bog-standard multipurpose filler, wood filler, no-sanding filler, fine surface filler, and finishing skim filler. I’ve sanded and filled, and filled and sanded, and at last I’ve started painting – two coats on the ceiling so far and one on the walls. The ceiling is, I’m afraid, going to need three coats. And then I’ve got the black beams to do, and the white paintwork – and then I start again on the second half, which is – hooray! – in much better condition. But bigger.

But – back to work. I’ve revised a longish poem to bring it under three minutes, and therefore suitable for slams; and found a much better ending for the one I gave up on last week. Excellent! I’ve started practising for my slam triathlon this week – Malvern Friday, Tewkesbury Saturday, and the Radio 4 semi-final on Sunday. I get nervous just thinking about them, still.

Prison day went well; I’ve got such a lovely writing group that it’s a joy to be with them, and I slotted in some good one-to-one sessions, too. And we have finished judging the diaries in my diary project, and sorted out the winners in the different categories. The amount of money available to prisoners to spend is strictly limited, and a prize of even £3 can make a big difference to the treats of chocolate bars and phone calls they can pay for. The non-winners are going to be disappointed.

I’ve had two really bad headaches this week. One stopped me going to the TADS readthrough of our new play, and the second laid me up on Friday and Saturday, until I took a mega-painkiller. Huh! that sorted it out.

I met two lovely people at the hospital on Wednesday; neither of them wanted to write about the illness or how it affected them, but nearly always this is what thoughts return to.

Towards the end of the week there was more prep for the training, and work on a book of poems written by one individual at the prison. The range and quality of his work is astonishing; I need to get this done because he has a parole hearing soon and he might just go, overnight.

And then my son came home, ready to hire a van and organise his move from one flat to another. Somehow nine – yes, nine – loads of washing came into the equation, with a corresponding amount of ironing. Any moves made by my kids have an inevitable consequence: there is always surplus stuff which is left in the living room. My living room is full. It could be a lovely room, and one day it will be again (for one thing, it’s on the painting and decorating target list) but at the moment it’s a tip.

And my daughter came home too, quite unexpectedly, so I’ve had both of them around. It’s been lovely. But now there is so much to do – more prison work, more slam practice, more training prep, more painting and gardening…

Two halves would, I think, be easy to manage. It’s the other five or six halves that cause the problems.

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