…which stands for Arts Council England. ACE gives fnding for arts projects, and I’ve spent most of this week writing a funding application for Poetry on Loan, the organisation I co-ordinate that promotes contemporary poetry through public libraries in the West Midlands. I’ve written a long proposal, using all the headings they supply; worked out a detailed budget for our planned expenditure over the next two years, and made it balance; and contacted people on the management committee to ask for their CVs, which have to go with the application. As soon as these come through it will be sent off, and then all we can do is cross our fingers and hope. ACE have recently turned down an application for a similar readers’ network organisation in the West Midlands, so I’m not sure what will happen to our bid. But anyway, it’s such a relief to have it done and almost ready to go.

A lot of ACE’s money comes from the Lottery, so when I buy a ticket, which I do occasionally, I think of it as paying my own wages. This week I won £10!

Otherwise – well, guess what, it’s been a busy week. I ran a course in Swindon on Monday which was great fun – a lovely group of people, as always, willing to have a go at anything. The feedback was really positive and I think they all learned something, as well as enjoying themselves. And of course I stocked up on cheap Swindon petrol.

I’ve had lots of long phone calls this week. I won’t go into the details, but various people I know are unhappy about the actions of various other people, and for some reason they feel able to talk to me about it. If it helps at all, I don’t mind. Monday evening was full of phone calls and emails.

Tuesday was the prison; a good day, with my group excelling themselves. One of them has real difficulties with writing, and the pride he feels when he written a whole poem is inspiring. The newsletter is beginning to shape up, too, with some good artwork and a lovely centre page calendar. (No, not ladies in a state of undress, but a photo of the Grand Canyon.)

Wednesday was a strange day. I went to do a session at the hospital, but when I’d parked my car, I heard a strange buzzing noise from the back. It was the aerial motor, still straining to lower the aerial when it had already done so. Bad news, I though; quick battery drainage. I popped in to tell them I wouldn’t be stopping, and drove to my friendly car repair place, Autostation. They had to cut the wires to stop it, but left the aerial up so I can still listen to the radio. Not a problem at all, really; I’ll get it replaced when I have time…

And then back into Cheltenham for a bit of Christmas shopping. On my list was an item that said Silliness ; I always get The Son something silly for Christmas. So, I walked into a shop; an assistant came over and asked if I wanted help; I said I wanted something silly for my 27-year-old son; she asked me one question and led me straight to the perfect thing. I wish all shopping was as easy as that. Don’t talk to me about cards for The Daughter.

And swiftly on to a meeting about a possible schools project with the Literature Festival next year. I hope it goes ahead. My role will be mainly research, but it should be lots of fun, and working with lovely people. In the evening I gave blood, after waiting for an hour and a quarter. That was my 48th donation – only two more and I get a gold badge! And then on to a TADS meeting. We’ll be doing two one-act plays next year: one of mine, called Cuffed, and one by another member of TADS. I’ve approached my potential cast members (there are only three) and they all seem interested. They are reading the script now, and I hope they all say yes. It will be on in the first week of March, as part of the Cheltenham One Act Play Festival, and then again in June at Gloucester. And I rounded off the day nicely by cleaning out the cat’s litter tray. I hate doing this.

On Thursday I went to Birmingham for a meeting of the West Midlands Reader Development forum, to talk about Poetry on Loan, and caught up afterwards with the wonderful Jonathan. And got myself an iPhone. I’m two years overdue for a phone upgrade, and it cost me nothing. But my son has made me promise not to turn it on until he comes home and sets it all up for me. That’s fine with me; why keep a The Son and do technology yourself?

By Friday it seemed like a long week. The day started badly with a phone call from a manager at a library where I ran a course a few weeks ago. Apparently during the course, one of the participants had fallen over. I knew that there had been a collison of bodies during one of our icebreaker games, and that someone had ended up sitting on the floor. I didn’t know she had hit her head on a table, and has apparently felt unwell since. If I had known that this had happened, then of course I would have got her to go and report it, but she said nothing, neither at the time or for the rest of the afternoon. Oh dear. I’ve seen this game played many times, with no mishap, but in future I’ll have to warn participants to move sedately and take care.

Off to my excellent dentist for a new crown (you may address me as Your Majesty), and then the final session this term at the doctors’ surgery. We worked on putting the book of pieces together. They were so, so proud of all they had done, and said how much they had enjoyed it – three ladies who had never written a word. They all look brighter, too, but perhaps that’s my imagination.

Yesterday I finished the ACE bid, worked on a leaflet to publcise Poetry on Loan’s recommended poetry books list, wrote the minutes of the TADS meeting, and finally started writing Christmas cards.

And today? I’m writing the blog early, because soon I’ll be going off on a jaunt with The Son to see the Lightning Seeds in London. Should be ACE!

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