Hospitals and risks

Lots to write today! Last Saturday I set off with The Bloke to find the secret lake. Ok, it’s not really secret; it’s a lake somewhere near the Malvern hills that I use to go to with the kids when they were small, but I remember it as being surrounded by high rocks and quiet to the point of mystery. First we went to Upton-on-Severn, and bought a map. This is a strange little town with hardly any of the usual high street shops. It has a church which is built of unusual yellow brick – The Bloke described it as the David Dickinson of churches – and a Pudding Shop. You can guess what they sell. We bought two. We tried several little lakes shown on the map, and found one that might have been the secret lake, but I’m not sure – it’s been a long time since I went there. It wasn’t that quiet, because we could hear in the distance a band playing at the Big Chill Festival.

And on Monday we set off for Manchester to go snow-boarding. This isn’t as daft as it sounds; there is a big indoor ski slope near the Trafford Centre, which is friendlier and cheaper than the one in Tamworth. I’ve been skiing a few times with The Daughter, and despite my dislike of the cold, I loved it, but I decided when I became self-employed that I just couldn’t go again, because of the risks of injury. However, what could go wrong on a two-day snowboarding course indoors?

The first afternoon was really hard work to start with, but by the end of the lesson I was beginning to get the hang of it. That evening we went into the Trafford Centre to eat, and wow! It was amazing. This is not your usual shopping mall; it’s been made to look like a ship’s deck, and a Mediterranean street, and an avenue in the middle east… and, well, it’s just weird, but worth a visit.

The next day we were back on the slopes, but this time the main slope rather than the nice gentle nursery slope. And an hour before the end, The Bloke fell badly and hurt his wrist. It had a strange lump, and was very painful for him, so we had to give up and go home. It clearly wasn’t getting any better, so we spent the evening at A&E in Cheltenham Hospital, watching the riots on the tv in the waiting room.

I should probably say something about the riots, but what is there to be said? In my view it’s all to do with lack of self-esteem. If you don’t think you are worth anything, then there’s no reason not to steal things and set fire to things. I spend my time at the prison trying to build self-esteem, but it’s a bit late then. What you do to change it earlier is a real problem, but that’s just obvious. I wish I had some answers; but when you read that a young people’s mentor was arrested for stealing then it’s hard to find anything to say.

On Wednesday I collected my car, which had had its new exhaust fitted. Gulp. £839. Nearly a thousand pounds, all in one go. I tried to take my mind off it with some decorating, and of course found a bit more rot. I did some prison prep, and went off to a Ledbury Poetry Festival board meeting. Finally I checked the proofs for the Poetry on Loan postcards and posters. They look lovely! I’m really pleased with them. They should all be arriving soon at libraries throughout the West Midlands.

I didn’t go to the prison on Thursday, as planned, because The Bloke had to go back to hospital, and there was no way he could drive, so I took him. He’s plastered now, in business blue, all up his right arm to the elbow. Poor thing. Later I went back to hospital to work with cancer patients and carers. Now, they really do have something to worry about. One was very positive, but the other two were carers for patients whose prognosis is poor, as they put it. It’s hard to talk to people like this without tears.

And in the evening it was back to Cheltenham yet again for a meeting with the Gloucestershire Drama Association, to discuss the AGM and awards ceremony, where I’ll be talking about the productions I’ve seen and handing out the prizes.

On Friday there was more decorating to be done outside, and loads of emails to answer. I’ve been invited to two gigs! I wrote up all I’d done at the hospital, and then considered the quote for my roof repairs. £1000. Gulp, again.

On Saturday I went for a run. I’d like to enter a local quarter marathon, but I know I won’t have time to do the necessary training; I really have to concentrate on work and my house.

And yesterday I went to visit The Son in his flat in Swindon; he wanted me to see it now they’ve made it look nice, and I wanted to see his new kitten. I spent some time preparing for my last session with the nurses. The hospital has become part of my life, but I really don’t want to go there more than once a week. With any luck the bloke will make a swift recovery; meanwhile he won’t let me help him much, but that’s men for you.

Oh – and I’ve written a new poem, called Risks. Huh.

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