My destiny

Ok. All right. I accept my allotted fate, my destiny, which is clearly to work non-stop, morning till night, day after day, for ever and ever, amen. A couple of times this week I have tried to break away, with a little outing or adventure, but the results have been disappointing. I should have stayed at home.

Oh, the week started well enough. A useful meeting in delightful Swindon left time for a quick Christmas shopping foray before zipping off to Bristol. The Bristol thing was fun. They are knocking down two old hospitals in Bristol and building a super-duper new one, at unbelievable expense; any new build like this has to allocate a percentage for the arts, and part of this is going on helping staff, patients and local residents to be involved in the transition. The event was to give people more information about what was goingon; it included various workshops, and I was running a poetry workshop with the theme of what people would want to take with them from the old hospitals. It all went well, even though we had only 40 minutes; we came up with a quite respectable poem, which one of the group read out in the plenary session. I had no idea who the people were in my workshop, so it was a pleasant suprise when one of them stood up at the end, and among her thanks, mentioned me as a “brilliant” workshop leader. She was only the Chief Exec of the Bristol PCT, i.e.  almost god. Coo!

The prison went well; my group is of course getting smaller, as they always do, but as well as losing one of the best ones, I’ve also lost the ones who were less keen, so I’ve ended up with a strong kernel. We’ve started planning the next issue of the newsletter, too.

On Wednesday I caught up with emails and got everything ready for my tour of south coast resorts; I finished the day by driving to Lyme Regis. My hotel was not as swanky as the one I stayed in last time, but much cheaper – and it had a swimming pool. I had a lovely swim, all alone. The next day I helped three people write stories for the BBC My Story website. One of them was terrific, a really beautiful piece, and my assistance was needed just to help the writer shorten it to the right length.

In the evening I drove off to Bournemouth, where I ate not very good chips in the rain. I know how to have a good time. But I did see the sea under the moonlight, and the course I was running the next day, in Bournemouth’s lovely Central Library, went really well. So much so that afterwards I was in the mood for a little adventure.

Earlier in the week I was offered a guest places in a slam in London; this meant I would not have to go through the first round of the slam. The event started at 7:30, with the slam starting at 8:15. The guy running it sent me an email – “You have a place,” it said. I explained that I might not make it, what with Friday evening traffic and all, but as I was feeling good and we finished a little early, I set off for London instead of coming home. The last half a mile to Hounslow West underground station took ages. I had chosen to go there because I know it has a big car park, and I really didn’t want to drive through central London. But I made it in time – just under four hours of travel, and I arrived just before 8:10 pm. “Sorry,” the guy said. “Too late. Hang on though, and I’ll see what I can do.” I should perhaps have left straight away – this guy has a reputation for being one of the least well-organised promters around. But I hung on and watched the first round; some very good poets and some less experienced. By now I had a headache. And then he still said he couldn’t include me. He had taken my email to mean I wasn’t going to get there; I had taken his to mean that there would definitely be a place for me if I got there. All that way for nothing, except for hearing some poets I might not have heard otherwise.

I went to bed just before 2 am. And the next day, Saturday, was a planned day off! A trip to the British Museum and a Greek restaurant, organised by a Greek club and my Greek teacher. I knew I shouldn’t have gone; far too much work, but everyone keeps telling me I should have a day off, and in his last email to me, my Greek teacher said, “Please be there!” I’m such a sucker for somebody asking me to do something, which is probably why I take on too much work in the first place. How could I not go? And it was good seeing the stuff in the British Museum, which is a lovely building in its own right. It always fascinates me that the ancient sculptures, Roman and greek and Egyptian, all show people who look just like us. I kind of think that people will have changed in 5000 years, but no, we haven’t really.

But after nearly four hours, I had seen quite enough stuff and I was dead tired, and fell asleep on a bench. It didn’t even have a backrest bit; no sitting comfortably in the BM! The Greek meal was disappointing; mediocre, overpriced, lukewarm food. I had hoped it would make me feel I was in Greece, but no. And then home. It was ok, I suppose, but not worth all that time away from work.

And here I am working again; I’ve just finished all the emails and now I can start. Back where I belong, facing my destiny.

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