Where do the weeks go?

Let alone the weekends… Mostly on prep and writing up, it seems sometimes. Monday was a prep and writing up day, together with time writing the blurb and creating a poster for some work I’ll be doing with a women’s group in Hereford. In the evening I went to see The girl with the dragon tattoo. I hadn’t realised it was in Swedish with subtitles; I don’t mind this, although I do find myself trying to learn some words of the language rather than concentrating on the film. I now know how to see “Good morning” in Swedish. Very useful. The film wasn’t bad, although I suspect that the book is better.

On Tuesday I went to Sutton Coldfield to work with the teenagers on Chaucer. The session I had planned would have been good fun, but the class had been hijacked for a practice lesson for applicants for the deputy head’s job. Their teacher didn’t know about this, and was very embarrassed. And that was that. There was no funding for my to go there again, so I gave her my lesson plan so that she could at least do some of what I had hoped to do with the kids. It was a bit disappointing all round. I arrived at the school a bit early and wrote most of a poem while I was waiting, so not all bad. The rest of the day was emails, mail and tidying, and Alice in Wonderland in the evening. This was a slightly disappointing film; given all the possibilities of 3D I felt that it could have been amazing, but fell short. Another slight disappointment.

Wednesday was different – my last session with the Asian ladies’ group in Gloucester. I have some lovely photographs of the group standing round engrossed in books of poetry. They loved some of the poems and read them out with enthusiasm; some of them were read in Gujarati, but they were kind enough to translate them for me. I finished the day with lots of Greek homework – it’s been a bit of a language-oriented week, really.

Oh. And I looked at a book, on CD, written by one of the officers at the prison. It’s his life story. He has done a lot of research on this and found many photographs of his relatives, places where he used to live, etc., but the writing is not very good at all, and the whole thing is an exercise in self-justification. This is always a difficulty for someone in my line of work – what to do when someone asks you to read what they have written and give feedback? Usually I ask them what sort of feedback they are looking for, and usually I can get a feel for if they just want a pat on the head or if they really want the sort of feedback that will help them improve. But I was, I admit, dreading talking to this guy at the prison.

As it happened, it was all ok – he just wanted to know how much it would cost to publish the work as a book, using an online publisher. I did suggest that before he does this, he might want to tidy up the writing a bit, but he said no – it’s more like a diary and he is happy with it how it is. At least I’ve tried. The guys in my group at the prison aren’t like this at all; they want proper feedback, they listen and learn and try to put things into practice in their writing, and they’ll have a go at anything.

The hospital was ok on Friday, but my session with the nurses went really well – they wrote some fantastic stuff – which made up a bit for the fact that my surgery group was sadly depleted by illness. In the evening, The Roses theatre had a little presentation for artists, medical staff and other interested people about their new project, which is a kind of extension of ArtLift – various classes in the community. I did a little bit, but didn’t stay for the show afterwards – it was a play performed by actors in masks, and these were the kind of masks that give me nightmares (what a wuss I am!)

The worst thing in the week was a strange noise coming from my car. I took it to my local garage, and apparently I need a new crankshaft pulley, and of course this is a part that is not readily available. They said I shouldn’t really drive the car at all. Fortunately, I could spend the whole weekend with The Bloke, so it didn’t really matter much, but it will this week if I can’t get it fixed. The part has been ordered, but there is no certainty about when it will arrive.

I have lots to do at home today – loads and loads of writing up from last week. Having a lazy weekend is lovely, but you have to pay for it sometime. The time has arrived. I can’t just let this week go by with nothing to show for it.

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