Bad news and good days

There’s been bad news and good news this week. Monday was an ordinary day, though – writeups, and minutes of the TADS meetings, a long phone call from the new music guy who’s going to be coming to the prison; and I mowed both lawns. In the evening we went to see Submarine, a quirky little film about growing up. It made me laugh out loud, which is unusual.

On Tuesday I had bad news – one of the guys in my new one-act play has taken a job that means he can’t do it after all. I emailed another possibility, who would have been great in the rôle, and he said no too, but without any explanation. I wonder why? In the afternoon I went to the hospital, and this was great. I met a lady who I had worked with when she seemed to be very close to death, and there she was, walking round in the waiting room, obviously much, much better. We spent a long time working on another piece about her journey back to relatively good health. She said she felt liberated after talking to me, and she wished I could be there every Tuesday.

In the evening I had a long, tedious meeting with the TADS’ treasurer, going through the accounts. We found a few anomalies, and have an idea about where much of the discrepancy lies, and it’s near enough right now to draw a line under it.

On Wednesday I wrote the adjudication report for the play I saw the previous week, and looked at a great interview with an ex-prisoner from my prison on the BBC News website. He said that the creative writing sessions in prison definitely stopped him re-offending! What could be better than that? I did lots of prison stuff and some practice for my gig on Saturday.

Then two emails arrived, one after the other. The first was good news – Ledbury Poetry Festival has received almost all the funding we had asked for from the Arts Council. The second was terrible news – all the funding to the Writers in Prison Network has been cut. It was a good application, they said, but didn’t meet all their requirements. Now, I am totally committed to the Ledbury Poetry Festival, and I think it’s an all-round Good Thing, but there is no doubt in my mind which of these two organisations is the most useful and inclusive. Bear in mind that writers in prison don’t get paid much – keeping one guy out of prison for one year (like the one in the BBC News piece) pays my salary for about 5 years. Complain! Tell your MP that WiPN does fantastic work and should be saved! If nothing happens, then the WiPN will not be able to support any writers in prisons after 2012, and that would be dreadful.

In the evening I went to see another play to adjudicate – three episodes of Fawlty Towers. Obviously I can’t say anything about what I thought of it until the society has had their adjudication.

The prison on Thursday was great – we rehearsed the play which we’ll be presenting in a couple of weeks, and even though most of them have never acted before they really got into it. I spent most of the afternoon with the music guy – not what I had planned, and it put me a bit behind.

But in the evening I had a really unpleasant email, from a poet, in response to a commission from Poetry on Loan. I don’t know what had got into him, exactly, but he took it all out on me. Nineteen other poets have responded enthusiastically to this commission, but of course his response is the one that sticks in my mind. It kept me awake that night, thinking about it. I spent ages on the reply, and since then he has emailed again in a much less aggressive tone, but still… I did the ironing in a strange mood.

On Friday I answered bucketloads of emails, and did my end of month and end of year accounts. Not a bad year, really; I’ll earn less this year, without a doubt, but never mind. More gig practice, and then an interview with one of the guys from the GP surgery group, for a project he’s doing. He was well-prepared and handled it skilfully.

Off to The Bloke’s, for a quick cup of tea with him and his parents who are down from Scotland for a visit, and then off to see yet another play.

It’s been quite a week, and on Friday and most of Saturday I had a headache. But apart from a little snooze, which helped, I couldn’t stop. I made a cake for The Bloke’s parents, did some more gig practice, and prepared for the school and the Ross surgery group next week – and then it was off to the gig, in Malvern. What a lovely way to end the week! I have to say it really went well. The audience was terrific, and that always makes a difference; knowing they were enjoying it I had a good time myself, and lots of people came up afterwards and said that it had been a great set, which is always nice.

And today is Mother’s Day, and soon The Son and The Daughter will be home and we’ll all go out for lunch. Life is never all bad news.

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