Heart sink

There are several things in life that make the heart sink – computer problems, children in distress, people who know they are going to die… I’ve met them all this week. Some, of course, are much more serious than others.

So, on Monday, I was all pleased with my new computer, but the Outlook address book was missing. All my contacts were there, but none of them easily accessible. And the printers hadn’t been installed, and I had a lot of work to do. The printers didn’t take too long, but I spent hours and hours on the Outlook problem. I did get two big reports finished, hooray, but finally gave up with the computer.

The next day I started it up, and the address book was there. Now, it might be that one of the things I tried worked, but actually I think I had just ignored the first rule of computer fixing – shut it down and start it up again. If I had done that sooner, there might have been no problem at all. Still, things were looking a lot brighter, and I wrote up my notes from the GP surgery group, and finished another big report, this one for the Arts Council. I wrote up the TADS minutes, and in the evening went to see Haywire. This was ok – better than I had expected, but it didn’t quite come off; it was a film without a heart.

On Wednesday I did loads of prison prep: finished the newsletter, revised the two books and uploaded them again for publishing, and other bits and pieces, and prepared for the GP surgery group and my young people’s writing squads. And I spent some time working with cancer patients at the hospital. Somehow, even though I may be working with people who know they are going to die, and their partners, this is always uplifting. Amazing people.

Thursday was the prison; as usual, a great session with my group, who had all worked hard on their homework. I spent three hours in the afternoon on my feet with a great big rucksack on my back, just finding people I needed to speak to. But the newsletter hit the presses and was given to my distributors, so that’s all done. I was tired in the evening – didn’t sleep well the night before – but I wrote up all my notes and did the ironing.

On Friday I was doing various bits and pieces – accounts, prep, Poetry on Loan actions – and in the afternoon had an excellent session with the GP surgery group; I’m pushing them really hard and they respond! But, quite accidentally, I discovered that my whizzy new computer is not what I had ordered; it has only a 200Gb hard drive instead of the 500Gb it should have; there was that sinking feeling again. I phoned up and was offered a replacement, then kept hanging on the line until eventually it was cut off. And, really, I don’t think this is good enough. The Son and I spent a long time on the changeover, and getting a replacement means we would have to go through all of that again. I’ll be phoning them again today with some ideas about how they can compensate me for this; I’ll let you know how I get on, but at the moment, PCWorld have a big black mark. They must have known that this computer wasn’t what I ordered; did they just hope that I wouldn’t find out? It’s not the sort of thing you would usually check.

In the evening I went to see a play that I have to write an adjudication report for, so I won’t make any comments yet, although I would like to.

And then on Saturday I worked with two groups of young people inHereford. The writing squads have had some excellent publicity – which is great, except that in the morning we had far more kids than we should have had. Fortunately one of the mums, a teacher, offered to stay and help. Most of the kids are lovely – full of enthusiasm and ideas – but I do have one or two odd ones. In the afternoon we had a group of 7, which is a good size for a group of teenagers. We wrote poems about emotions, and one of them wrote a deeply personal poem which upset her a good deal. She kept apologising for crying, but of course I said that there was absolutely no need to apologise; that this sometimes happens when you write poems because it’s such a powerful means of expression. Oh dear. She left early, but when I spoke to her mum later, I was told that she is still keen to come next time. I went home feeling a bit seared by the whole day.

And on Sunday The Bloke and I went to the seaside. We walked on a beach near Mumbles, in the cold and the rain, and I paddled in the sea in my wellies, and it was great. Playtime – nothing like it to lift the heart.


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