And I do write poems…

Thank you! – to all those people who persevered and tried again to read the blog, and did so when my website came back up. And thanks to The Son for sorting it out for me.

This week seems to have been a bit like last week. Monday was a prep day – for my women’s group in Hereford; for the TADS meeting; for my new prison course. I also went to see a car, but although it was nice to drive it didn’t have a drinks holder so was obviously out of the question. This may seem pathetic, but I spend a lot of time in my car and I need a drink now and then; it’s as important to me, I realise now, as comfortable seats. And I had a bonfire. It was, though I say it as shouldn’t, an excellent bonfire; in the morning there were a just a few of the thick chunks of wood remaining amid a neat pile of ash. And I weedkilled the patio, and went to the TADS meeting.

On Tuesday I had a long phone call with my boss from The Reading Agency, who is expecting twins. Having children and being pregnant seems such a long time ago; mine are now nearly 28 and nearly 25. Wow! Where did it all go? I did a lot of work on the prison newsletter, which we finished on Thursday. It has to be checked by a governor before we can go to print, but both the production manager (a prisoner) and I are really pleased with it. In the afternoon I had to go to a meeting in Gloucester, where I wasn’t really needed; it was a bit annoying to spend three of four hours out for very little reason. Anyway, I had an evening off and went to see The Ghost with The Bloke – not a bad film; Robert Harris is an excellent writer and I read all his books.

My sessions with the women’s group in Hereford started on Wednesday. They are at a strange time – 12:30 until 2:30, which effectively means that almost the whole day is gone. But I did manage to do one job that has been waiting for two months (sending Poetry on Loan leaflets to publishers), and prepared for the Poetry on Loan meeting, and for the prison. The Hereford session went very well, too; they are a lovely group to work with, and their tutor and I get on really well. In the evening was my third scuba diving lesson. This time they gave me extra weights in the pool and at last I felt in some sort of control; The Bloke said I looked like a natural. Perhaps I can do this after all.

The prison was, as usual, fun and invigorating – ok, that’s an odd thing to say about a prison, and I expect Daily Mail readers wouldn’t like it, but I try to give my writing group the feeling that for a few hours they are not in prison, and they say it works. We have started a new playwriting course, and I got them doing the silly things that actors do when they are preparing; the guys joined in with enthusiasm and no embarrassment, and wrote some excellent character pieces as a start to developing our own play. A short story written by one of my guys may be turned into a film, which would be a real boost for both him and the prison.

And I’ve made a decision that I don’t like. I have a really busy period now, for a few weeks, and I just can’t do everything. I know I can’t pay enough attention to my Greek homework, and I don’t want to do it if I can’t do it properly, so I have decided not to go to my Greek lessons for a few weeks until my busy period is over. This means that I won’t get the qualification, but I don’t really mind about that. I’ll try to do a bit of Greek on my own when I can, but really work has to come first – that and maintaining my new-found personal life.

Friday was Birmingham. In the morning I met the wonderful Jonathan to discuss our new training venture, which is already getting some positive responses, and in the afternoon was what might be the last ever Poetry on Loan meeting. It’s such a shame; they put so much into it all. In the evening I mowed all my grass, and did some work on the latest prison book.

Work doesn’t actually stop at weekends of course and on Saturday I started one of my big pieces of work – the end –of-project report for the North West libraries project. The first stage is the analysis of the reports I have been sent; tedious but essential. I’ll finish that bit today, I hope.

And in the evening I had a gig! I wish I had more gigs; I’m much less nervous with an extended set than when I do slams. This was a variety evening in Bilston, so it was all stuff to entertain people – none of the serious poems at all. It all went well, although I think I had as many remarks about my legs (I wore a dress – usually I wear trousers when I’m performing) as about the poetry. I thought it was time I included a poem in the blog, so here’s one I did on Saturday:

NCP

Strip lights and concrete.
The sign said NCP.
The end of our first date,
And this near-stranger smiled at me
And took me in his arms…

And the strip lights became candles,
And the concrete wasn’t bare
But hung with rainbow velvet.
The watchman wasn’t there,
And the ticket machine was humming
A new and lovely tune,
And he kissed me. And the strip lights
Turned into a full moon
And the chill of winter concrete
Held the sunshine of the spring,
And the echo of cars leaving
Was a choir about to sing.
The exhaust fumes smelt like perfume,
And the strip lights burned inside me,
And this stranger was the lover
Who I hope will stay beside me
All my life…

We arranged to meet next day.
And he turned and walked away.
And the strip lights were just glaring,
And the concrete dull and bare,
But I knew this was the real thing,
And my feelings quite proportionate,
When I found I didn’t care
That this was NCP,
And the charges were extortionate.
It cost me a small fortune, parking for our date,
But £10-50 for new love? That’s not a bad rate.

There! Hope you like it.

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