Growing older

It was my birthday yesterday. I was 58 – yeah, right (interestingly, that expression is the only time where two positives make a negative). I don’t feel 58. In fact, I don’t think we really grow older at all; life just goes in phases. At the moment, I’m in a very busy phase, so I don’t have time to feel old.

On Monday I did the final report for Poetry on Loan for the Arts Council, our major funder. I hope it’s ok – we don’t get the final slug of money until they have agreed it. It took quite a long time, analysing the feedback forms from all the 74 events we have run, so I was really pleased to get it finished. We also had a rehearsal for Cuffed, in preparation for the Gloucestershire One Act Play Festival. My actors are so good; I’m always touched by the effort they put in. And their sense of humour, even when this collapses everyone in the middle of a serious scene. I did lots of prep on Monday too, and even some gardening, so it was a really productive day.

On Tuesday I did some work on my North West report; it’s going to take ages, and I really don’t know how I’m going to get it done. Oh well. While I was thinking about this, I suddenly got some ideas for my work with the school that will start in a few weeks’ time; it’s strange how often it happens that concentrating on one thing brings forward ideas for something else. In the afternoon I ran a library staff training session in Coventry; great fun, as this course always is. The course is on promoting poetry. One woman there hated poetry and hated training courses, but with a little bit of help she wrote a poem; I think she was quite proud of it, because she made sure that she took it away with her. A minor triumph (but see the previous blog). In the evening we went scuba diving in the local pool and practised our skills. We hadn’t planned to stay long because I was tired, but once I was under water all the tiredness disappeared; I’m such a water baby.

And the prison on Thursday. Oh, I love going there! My group is in the middle of writing a great little play, and as long as I can persuade them that we don’t need an earthquake, shoot-out or other major and quite unwarranted drama, it will be excellent. They happily play the parts of pregnant women and men who come out as gay, daunted only slightly by interruptions when the cleaner comes into the room. When they found out it was my birthday on Saturday, one of them made me a card and another gave me a card with a present in – a strawberry and mango teabag, probably the only thing he had in his cell that he could possibly have given me.

There was a little problem in the evening – I was about to pay some Poetry on Loan invoices, when I found that our account was overdrawn. It just needed a transfer between accounts, but I’m not the account holder and couldn’t do this; it’s all sorted now, but for a while I thought it might be a real problem.

I had a bit of a disappointment at the hospital on Friday – nobody wanted to play poetry with me! Well, two people did, but they were both called in to appointments just after we had started. Everyone else I asked said no. This has happened once before, and is bound to happen occasionally, but it meant that I went home feeling a bit rejected and dejected. Never mind – my surgery patients were great, and made up for it. And in the evening I went to see Prince of Persia with The Bloke; it was ok, but just a bit of a romp, really. The Bloke and I always stay to read all the credits, and it was a delight to see among these, for the first time in my experience, both a Head and Assistant Ostrich Trainer.

And yesterday I was suddenly a year older. I had some lovely and unexpected presents, and Went Ape with The Bloke (this is an adventure course through the trees, crossing and swinging and sliding and just generally wearing yourself out while having fun). In the evening we went to see Andy Hamilton at the local theatre – excellent first half, not so good second. The Bloke did a grand job of giving me a good birthday, and today I am promised a cake. Meanwhile, though, I have to write up stuff from last week and do some prep, and tidy the house – I would like to do some more in the garden, but that’s not going to be possible. I thought that when you got older you were allowed to slow down a bit. I haven’t. In my view, this is just further proof that I am not growing older at all.

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