Looking down

After the positive blog last week, I’m afraid this one sees me a bit down. It hasn’t been a good week, really. It started off ok, with a useful planning and evaluation meeting at the Oxford school. Apparently the kids are all enjoying it a lot, and feel involved in the planning and the work, so that’s ok. And I answered loads of emails and did some weeding and gravel-spreading.

On Tuesday I did lots of prep, and the gas man came. He serviced the boiler – all fine – but then said that the gas fire, which we use only rarely, is dangerous, and he’s left it disconnected. Now, I think it’s likely that the only problem is that stuff has fallen down the flue – birds’ nest materials, probably – but it’s just hassle having to get it swept and then getting the gas man back again. A trivial but annoying problem.

In the evening we saw Rango. This is one of the weirdest movies I have seen; the cartoon characters are all animals but dressed in human clothes – something I don’t like, anyway – and it felt as if the whole thing was meant to be funny, but failed.

On Wednesday I went to Manchester for an Arts Council meeting about writers in schools. This was slightly odd. It was good meeting lots of other writers, some of whom I know quite well, but I do wonder sometimes… One of them expressed astonishment that there are writers who go into schools and don’t read their work! I said nothing. I very rarely read my work in schools, because as far as I’m concerned my work is with them, and about them, and not about me at all; I’m there just to facilitate their creativity. Anyway, the ACE people (whose office is very posh – I wonder how much it costs them?) seemed pleased with the meeting, and I got quite a lot of useful stuff done on the train there and back, and in the evening I got lots of Koestler entries ready. And realised I had a cold – sore throat, runny nose, all the usual petty stuff. I think the existence of the common cold proves the non-existence of a benevolent deity, but that’s for another time.

Thursday was the prison, which was fine; the group went well, I got lots of Koestler entries sent off, and the newsletter is on its way. I think. I had lunch with The Daughter, which was lovely, except that having a cold meant that it was the one day in the year when I didn’t feel like eating anything.

On Friday I got loads done – slam practice, accounts, prison stuff – and had an excellent session at the doctors’ surgery, where my group continue to astound me.

And then the weekend. I drove all the way to Great Torrington to try out my new slam poem. I got through the first round ok, but in the semi-final came third, by one point; the top two go into the final. Rats. Irritating, but that’s slams for you.

The Son was home at the weekend and I spent a bit of time with him on Sunday morning. The tv broke. Rats, again. The poor thing was 16 years old, and we had another one to put in its place; just another little annoyance.

And on Sunday The Bloke and I had planned a nice day out to Exmouth. We didn’t get there, because we had an accident on the M5. Like most accidents, it was a silly little mistake that happened at a bad time and place and ended up as something serious. The Bloke’s car was not badly damaged – we drove it home – but the other car (a Shogun) rolled over and is probably a write-off. Fortunately nobody was hurt, and the rest is just managing stuff, but it left us a bit shaky.

So, lots of annoying things last week. And it’s pathetic, really, isn’t it? I just have to think about Japan for a second and I can kick myself.

Today, I haven’t been looking down, though. It was the first of four consecutive days at the Oxford school, and what made it special is that the most difficult person in the class decided today to be engaged, to like me and to want to join in, and it made all the difference. Perhaps this week will be better…

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