Better than most

Speaking to The Bloke, I realise yet again how lucky I am to do a job I love, with the opportunity, now and then, to just take an hour off if I feel like it.

This week has seen quite a lot more work on the house – patching bits of rendering on the garage walls, damaged by the frost, and repainting them. I quite enjoy this sort of job. It’s much easier than throwing out old clothes from the loft – ten bags went to the charity shops this week! But by the end I was suffering discard fatigue, and it was getting more and more difficult to make the decision that I could do without things I haven’t worn for 15 years.

We had a good rehearsal of Cuffed. The last one is tonight, and then next Saturday it’s the quarter final of the All England Theatre Festival. Gulp.

The rest of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent on prep for the training I’m running tomorrow, for the prison, and for the Symposium, but I also went to see Clash of the Titans. This really was rubbish – a bad script with wooden acting, and only a tiny glimpse of the wonderful mechanical owl from the original. Oh well; some you lose. And we started our PADI training (scuba diving). The classroom bit was tedious – we had already read all the stuff in our manuals, but then had to sit through a video and a PowerPoint presntation that said all the same stuff again, before taking our first written test. The swim was fun, practising getting all the gear together and some underwater skills, but not easy, and I got very cold. They’ve said I can have a thicker wetsuit next time.

Thursday was back to proper work at the prison. My wonderful group and I did all the work we needed to plan the book of pieces they’ve written during the course, and the rest of the day was work on the next issue of the newsletter (which I really must get out soon). Two officers came along and asked to buy copies of the diary book, which was very gratifying.

And Friday – well, it was the hospital, and that’s always good. I worked with some lovely people, who as always were an inspiration, and we came up with some good poems too. In the afternoon I sorted out another book, this time with the patients at the doctors’ surgery in Tewkesbury. This isn’t exactly writing, but it gives participants a useful introduction to objective assessments of their work, and people do like to see their pieces in a proper book. It does leave me with a lot of work to do in actually putting the things together, though, but it’s something I enjoy doing.

Saturday was a bit different from normal – I was presenting a paper at the first Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, at Warwick University. The first two papers were deadly, and illustrated exactly why most people don’t like poetry, but it got much better later. My thing wasn’t at all academic – it was all about the work I do in the hospital – but it seemed to go down well and lots of people came up afterwards to talk to me about it. When I read out some of the poems I’ve written with participants it often brings a tear to the eyes of the listeners, and this happened again on Saturday.

And yes, it was a lovely day on Saturday, and it would have been nice to have been outside in the sunshine, but if just one doctor feels inspired to get a poet working with their patients then it’s well worth a day.

And yesterday? I had a day off, and went ice-skating and looking at cars. I have to get a new car. I wish I could just go to a shop and buy one, but then we all wish life was easier. Mine is just better than most people’s, I think.

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