Bridges

I live near a motorway, and most of my journeys start along a road over a bridge crossing this motorway. For three months now, the next motorway bridge along has been closed for strengthening; this is another bridge I use a lot. Hooray! the second bridge has opened again today. Boo! The first bridge, the one I think of as my bridge, has closed today. It will be closed for three months. I timed the detour; it will add about half an hour to most of my journeys. That’s probably five hours a week, for twelve weeks; 60 hours of my life wasted.

But wow, aren’t I lucky that that is the worst thing I have to complain about? I have such a fantastic life, really. On Monday this week I ran a training course in Swindon (crossing the bridge on the way), and it was great – not a single bad bit of feedback; they all had a wonderful time and learned a lot. I even managed to stock up on light balsamic vinegar dressing and no added sugar Vimto in the big Asda. We have to delight in these small triumphs!

On Tuesday I started work with my new group in a doctors’ surgery in Ross. It was a bit of a shock for some of them, because they weren’t expecting to be doing poetry, but there was, as there so often is, that moment when we were writing a group piece and people said, “But that’s a poem!” I love it when people surprise themselves and do something they thought they couldn’t do.

The rest of Tuesday was good, too – I mowed all the grass and in the evening saw The Other Guys. This is a terrific movie that made me laugh a lot, and I would definitely recommend it.

On Wednesday I finished off some bits and pieces and started the Poetry on Loan funding bid. The Arts Council, bless them, have restructured the application form and process, so rather than just tweaking the previous bid I had to do a lot of work on it. I finally finished it at about 11 pm on Thursday. Meanwhile, The Bloke came round and assembled a swing seat for me (bought at a ridiculously low price in an end-of-season sale) in an amazingly short time; what a useful man he is! And we went diving in the pool. And on Thursday afternoon I worked with a woman in the hospital who is in a very bad way, and has not been well treated by the health service. She was deeply touched by the piece we wrote and said that doing it had not only cheered her up but given her heart, and something very beautiful to think about. I was glad to have the funding bid to work on because the whole thing left me feeling rather thoughtful and a bit drained.

Friday was the hospital again, but this time with some outpatients who were quite positive. At lunchtime we said goodbye to the lovely Pat, who has been my contact in the hospital since I started work there, but who is now retiring to Devon. Pat is great with patients and a smashing person all round, and she will be missed a great deal. But then phew, off to Tewkesbury for my work in the surgery there – again, people surprising themselves by their imaginative abilities.

And I was asked to run two family fun day events for the Cheltenham Lit Fest. Two days of paid work, doing just the sort of thing I love doing. Hooray!

On Saturday morning I noticed that one of my tyres was almost flat, again. I had a long journey to do later, so thought I would need to bite the bullet and get a new tyre – £62. But Ski Tyres, my tyre supplier of choice, said they would try to repair the puncture, and they did, and it cost only £15. Excellent service! – and another recommendation.

Later on Saturday I drove with The Daughter to a family reunion in Kingston (not Jamaica, unfortunately). It was lovely to see people again, and, as I was asked to do a couple of poems, a good chance to practise one of the new ones. It’s always fun to spend time with The Daughter, too. We got home late. But next day I was off again, this time to the Clearwell Caverns with The Bloke, with a bit of scrumping (damsons and pears) to round off the day nicely.

So – this week I have run a good training course, finished a big funding bid, helped people write poems, had an offer of some work, spent some important time with a very sick lady, met some relatives, had good service, dived, walked in caves and watched films. Who gives a toss about a bridge being closed?

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