I seem to have spent a lot of time driving this week. I know that it isn’t environmentally friendly, driving as much as I do, but with my sort of work, I would be destitute if I didn’t go wherever the work is, and trains are not wonderful from here, except for the excellent service to London from Evesham – but anyway.
Monday was a bank holiday, and I came over all community-minded and went to the fete at Tewkesbury Abbey; we climbed to the top of the tower, which was fun. Although I am not at all religious, I have a soft spot for the Abbey here. When the monasteries and abbeys were destroyed, the people of Tewkesbury saved up their pennies and asked if they could buy the Abbey, so it wouldn’t be razed, and this was agreed. This must be one of the first instances of keeping a work of art for the nation, and they deserve some credit for it.
It was also the end of the month, with all the accounting and reporting that that means for me, but I got it all done, and had a good rehearsal of Cuffed in the evening, although with one cast member (out of three) missing. The dress rehearsal is tomorrow evening, so they had better all be there then.
After the rehearsal I drove to Kingston (Surrey, not Jamaica, unfortunately) and stayed overnight in the Antoinette, a pleasant and inexpensive hotel, with a big car park and friendly staff. Yes, they do exist. It was five minutes walk from the venue for the course I was running the next day. It’s not a very exciting course, but the people attending seemed to get what they needed from it, so all was well. The drive there took a little over two hours; the drive back took three and a half hours. I did some prison typing in the evening.
Wednesday was a day at home – prep and emails, mostly, a Ledbury Poetry Festival meeting, and diving in the evening. It wasn’t so good this week because I kept getting cramp. I’ve now bought some fins (or flippers, as I still think of them) of my own which are a better fit, in the hope that this will prevent the cramp. I was fitted on Saturday for a dry suit, which I’ll need for the open water dives (dry suits are warmer than wetsuits and it’s going to be very, very cold). I have to say that dry suits are probably the least flattering garments ever made.
Prison on Thursday was a bit difficult. One of the guys in my group had read out a piece at a performance and got into trouble; I did advise him against reading this piece but he wanted to. A staff member who hadn’t even heard the piece complained, and now my guy has lost all his privileges. Two other members of the group are practically at war, and I had to get all stern and give lectures about leaving their differences outside the door. I’m not naturally a stern person, so this wasn’t easy, but next time I go there we are recording the play we have written, and this just has to go well. The one really good thing was that once the play was finished and they had read it all through, they were all very pleased with it, despite the lack of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, alien invasion or terrorist attack. They could see that a 20-minute drama, in which the six characters’ lives are changed through various meetings and decisions, can be just as powerful as an all-action epic movie. Hooray! And then there was a problem on the motorway, and it took me three and a half hours to get home – obviously my new standard journey time. I leave very early on prison mornings, when it’s still a bit chilly. It was a very hot day on Thursday, and on the way home, I was gradually stripping off in the car. Not to an indecent level, obviously; I’m not on holiday yet.
On Friday I helped to run a training session for artists who will be working in doctors’ surgeries, and then in the afternoon I ran my own sessions in the surgery. This went well, although several people didn’t turn up. The Son was home – he had a little gig at the Wychwood Festival – and it’s always fun to see him.
And the weekend – well, a bit of gardening, the dry suit fitting, a trip to a garden centre, and some work. Much like everyone else’s weekend, I guess. But not much driving. I can do without these really long journeys.