How many things can I pack into one week?

I would like a few weeks of travelling light – a workshop here and there; perhaps the odd meeting. However, much though I like to think that I could go anywhere with just a spare pair of shorts and a toothbrush, the truth is that when I go on holiday I have a huge suitcase, and my weeks are pretty much the same.

There have been two rehearsals for my new play. Two main characters, one almost unable to move and the other having to speak almost alone for 20 minutes; it’s a really difficult play to act in. Yet at the first full rehearsal on Monday, the other character and I found ourselves moved, even though the acting was (of course) full of errors, and the actors had their scripts in their hands. I think it’s going to be ok.

Monday morning was a bit odd. I was supposed to be running the first session of a multicultural carers’ reading group, but only one person turned up. This project is not the best organised thing I’ve worked on. I hate it when people pay me for doing nothing; I want to start a good group with these people, not sit around waiting and hoping for interest. We have a plan for having another go, so let’s hope it works out. I did manage to get a lot of bits and pieces done on Monday afternoon, though.

Tuesday was Bolton for a steering group meeting. This was really positive, full of good ideas for how the project (with libraries in the North West) can continue after its official end in the summer. I always enjoy these meetings, and this one was no exception. I stayed at my mum’s in the evening (after a brief excursion in Bolton to buy a new dress), and she was on good form, and pleased with her belated Christmas presents.

The North West Board meeting followed on Wednesday, in Manchester. It was the chairman’s last meeting; she has been promoted and can’t carry on working with us. But again it was a good meeting, although I’ve been left with lots of actions, as well as having to write up the minutes for both meetings. Normally I would have done both of these sets of minutes this weekend, but in keeping with my new policy, I haven’t; they can wait for a few days. I’ve been having fun instead.

Thursday was a bit rushed. In the morning I went to the prison. I had one objective: to collect the names of men who want to join the writing class I’ll be starting this week, and make sure their names went on the list of movements, so that they would be brought from the wings to the right place. A simple enough task, you would think, but it took more or less the whole morning, with an interlude for a one-to-one with my regular prisoner and some fun distributing the Eight Days book. Nothing can be rushed in a prison.

I dashed to Birmingham for a Poetry on Loan meeting. These meetings are usually bright and breezy and engaging, but this time everyone seemed gloomy. This was partly due to the facts that all libraries are suffering from budget cuts, and that we don’t know yet whether we will get our Arts Council grant for 2010-2012, but it was also caused partly by the lighting. Once we realised and turned on the main light, everything seemed a lot cheerier. Strange how these things can affect the mood of a

group of people.

In the evening was  my Greek lesson. I was very tired, and not looking forward to it, but it was great. Our tutor was being inspected, and it was noticeable that we in the class all sat up straight and tried to be good boys and girls so that he would be ok. And the translations I was asked to do all happened to be things that I know quite well. I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on though for the qualification we are working towards; I didn’t even know we were doing this until this week.

By Friday I was beginning to feel that I had done enough, but there was still a long way to go. I spent a long time in the hospital with a wonderful lady in the morning, and then had a lunchtime session with some palliative care nurses, helping them to look at and express the very difficult emotions they go through in their work. Basically, the whole morning was about death. I am firmly convinced that people with terminal illnesses should be able to ask for their suffering to end sooner rather than later; what difference is a few days going to make? But the nurses can’t help in this way; they have to hear people asking to be allowed to sleep for ever and know that the next day will be the same thing again.

And in the afternoon I had my doctors’ surgery group – only two this week, but boy did they work hard!

And a trip to the bank, and some shopping, and an evening of emails, and an attempt on the ironing mountain… But by 2 pm yesterday I stopped work, and went on a mission for my son to check out a coffee shop he wants to buy, and a trip to Cheltenham, and an evening out. Life is good; in fact, life is very, very good. I am lucky to have so much to fill it; however much there is to do in any week I’ll manage to get it done, and have a life as well.

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