Whenever I work at the hospital, I’m impressed by all the people – cancer patients, that is – who say they are lucky: lucky that their cancer was diagnosed fairly early; lucky that cancer didn’t hit them until they were past 60; lucky that they have friends and families to support them. It’s a shame that people who don’t have dread diseases (that’s what insurers call them) don’t feel so lucky.
And I’m lucky, too. Last Sunday was good fun. I went to see Ian Broudie with The Son and his friend (who actually said to my son, before the gig, “But your mum’s cool!” Yay!), and he was excellent. But there was also a guy callled James Walsh, ex-frontman for Starsailor, who had a great voice and a really good crowd manner. Apart from getting very cold, because of course we had to get to the gig early and wait outside so that The Son could get in first and stand right in front of the stage, it was a good night out. I also heard a song I’ve never heard before; strangely, on the radio, just as I reached The Son’s flat to pick him up, and sung again by James Walsh – River, a Joni Mitchell song that I really like. In fact, I’m going to put it on Spotify – there! – and listen to it while I type.
What’s more, I wrote a new poem on the train on the way from Greenford Central London – I need a new love poem for a slam in February, and also for my sessions with a staff member at the prison, and now I have one; I’ve tidied it up during the week, of course.
I didn’t get to bed until 3 am on Monday morning, so Monday was general prep stuff; and I wrote some Christmas cards! Tuesday was a TRA staff day, which included a good but short session with a yoga tutor. And here I am, slumped over my keyboard as usual. It was the Christmas dinner afterwards, but I had to leave before pudding to catch my train – shame!
But poor The Son. He is applying to do a PGCE, so that he can be a primary school teacher, and his first choice of University turned him down, without even giving a reason. This seems really harsh; as he said, he could undertsand it if the course was full, or he needed to have more experience of working in schools.
Wednesday was the hospital, and a great lady who was really positive; on Friday at the hospital I worked with a man who was so full of life it was hard to believe. Both of them knew that they had incurable illnesses, but they were determined to make the most of the time they had. It’s a joy and a privilege to work with these people; the presence of the lovely Pat, always there with kind words and a hug, is a real bonus.
And I got the ACE application sent off! Hooray! Now it’s just fingers crossed. And I had the good news that quite a few poems from the prison where I work will be included in Not Shut Up, an excellent, well-produced magazine for prisoners’ work… and on Thursday I went to the prison, and did lots of bits and pieces; no group this week. It’s all changing there in early January, and all the guys on one wing will be locked up for a fortnight. This must be really hard for them. I know they’ve done some stupid or bad things, but they are human beings; even zoos avoid small cages, nowadays.
And I finished writing my Christmas cards. Hooray, again.
By Friday, the emails were stacked up, and I spent most of the day answering them, and working on a leaflet for Poetry on Loan. In the evening I went to the Kefi Club (for enthusiasts about Greece) dinner. It was ok, and all the people from my Greek class went, but I was too tired really to enjoy it all that much.
I have a tree! I always go to the same place for my Christmas tree, and when I went yesterday morning he had only two left. One of them is ok – a bit fat, but I’ve got enough space for it – and it will be coming indoors tomorrow. The idea is that it stays in the garage for a day or two, to acclimatise gradually. I can’t see how this is going to work this year, because the garage is only a degree less cold than the freezing outside. The water it’s in is now probably ice. And I finished my emails, and did lots of write-ups, and sent an invoice and paid others, and made pastry, and got TADS’ entry done for the Gloucestershire full-length play comp. The Director should do this, really, but never mind.
And I had a bit of excitement – the proof copy of my play Once this was poet arrived. I have to check it and send it back. But – hey! – I now have my very own first ISBN number.
And I’ve managed to get my house reasonably warm, by leaving the heating on son-stop for about 48 hours, and I’ve wrapped some presents, and in the next few days my kids will be home. I’ve still got loads to do, and I won’t stop much over Christmas, but you know what? I’m lucky.