Trying to be positive

I do try to be positive in this blog, but really, it’s hard at the moment. I hate the cold. It makes me miserable, especially because times is hard too and I can’t afford to have the heating on all day. And yes, I know that there are a lot of people much worse off than I am.

Anyway, apart from moping around feeling sorry for myself, what have I done? Last Monday I worked with the women’s group in Hereford – only two, this week, but they were great. I did lots of writeups and prep and answered emails.

On Tuesday I worked on the prison book and had two sessions in the hospital. Quite apart from the uplift I always get from working with cancer patients, there was a nice moment when a male nurse I didn’t know asked me if I had written a poem called Fiery Jack, and another one about the first moon landing. He had heard me perform both of these in the Pelican in Stroud. I worked out that this can’t have been later than 2002; he’s remembered these poems for 9 or 10 years! Wow.

In the evening we went to see Hugo. This was a big disappointment – beautifully shot, fantastic production values, but a pedestrian script, leaden direction and mostly bad acting. It really dragged.

On Wednesday I wrote up the hospital stuff, did some prison prep, practised for the slam on Friday, did some prep for my Poetry on Loan meeting, pruned a tree, did prep for two sessions today and tomorrow, and wrote my hospital end-of-year report. I thought pruning the tree would be good – nice outdoor work – but I just got really cold.

Still, Thursday at the prison was good. It was the first session of a new course – philosophy for beginners – and my guys took to it like the proverbial ducks. A steering group meeting went well, too, and it seems that the prison will not only want me to work with them again next year, but might want more of my time. In the evening we saw Moneyball; not a film with high intentions, like Hugo, but one that was well paced and entertaining. But I kept sneezing, and my throat was getting sore, and it was clear that my annual cold was on the way…

…which was a bit of a shame because Friday was a busy day. I did the prison writeup in the morning, and then went to Birmingham for a Poetry on Loan meeting. All these library staff are amazing – they have jobs and services cut all round them, but they still manage to retain their enthusiasm for promoting poetry. I was supposed to meet The Daughter for lunch before the meeting, but she had tonsillitis and couldn’t make it. I really wasn’t feeling too good, but had to go straight to Stroud for a slam. I’d written a new poem especially for this, because the first round was all in the theme of Beauty and the Beast. The new poem got a great reaction, but I didn’t get through to the semi-finals, unfortunately. I sat there for the rest of the evening feeling headachy and cold. Honestly, what a misery I can be!

On the way back I started writing a new poem in my head, and was so engrossed in this that I completely missed not just my turning off the M5, but also the next three turnings; I finally came to my senses at junction 5. I didn’t get home until much later than I had planned, but at least the new poem was about 80% completed. I quite like it.

On Saturday I woke late, did my spreadsheets and finished off some writeups and an invoice, and went off to Cheltenham for my very last bit of Christmas shopping. On Sunday, The Bloke and I went to Bourton on the Water. The river runs right through the middle of Bourton, and they have a Christmas tree in the middle of the river, and it all looks very pretty – except when it’s cold and pouring with rain, as it was on Sunday.

But now I have a confession. On the way back to the car, we walked along by the side of the river. In the rain. Some ducks were standing near the edge of the river. Now, on a dry day, I might have thought that they had got out of the river for the night, and were nice and dry, but –well, it was pouring with rain, and they were obviously as wet as I was, and with just a tiny push I could tip them into the river, and it wouldn’t do them any harm at all… I can recommend the sport of duck-tipping if you need to be cheered up; it made me giggle, anyway.

And this morning I looked out onto the patio to find that a small gnome has appeared in a plant pot. Ok. Despite the cold, there are always things that will cheer me up. Duck-tipping and mystery gnomes are a good start.

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