Cure for a headache

I’ve had a few headaches this week. I had to take my car in for some paintwork repairs on Monday; it should have been ready on Tuesday morning, but wasn’t done until Wednesday afternoon, so I was carless for much of the week, but that wasn’t too much of a problem (although the bill was, of course).  I had to do a job application on Monday, and I never like doing these; they always take a long time, and it could all be for nothing. I managed to get a lot of prep done, on Monday, and some practice for the slam on Friday.

On Tuesday I did a lot of Poetry on Loan stuff, and prison stuff, and more slam practice; and spent a lot of time trying to sort out what to do for the other house I own. Yes, I own a third of one house and half of another – it’s all really complicated and it’s become even more complicated this week. It’s all really boring, so I won’t go into any more details.

On Tuesday evening The Bloke and I went to see a film. We had planned to see War Horse but we couldn’t get in, and opted for Chronicle, which was our second choice anyway. None of the reviews I had read had mentioned that this is mostly in hand-held camera work. This kind of filming always makes me feel a bit queasy, and this time we had to sit right at the front, which magnified it. After about 15 minutes I could hardly watch at all, and after the end I actually threw up – only after I reached the loos, of course. Yes – I was travel sick while sitting in a cinema seat. What a wimp, and what a romantic Valentine’s Day outing.

On Wednesday I spent more time on the wretched house stuff, and prison prep, and slam practice, and the book of poems done with hospital patients, and office tidying. My office is a headache. I am determined to clear it all out and get myself a reasonable working environment, but it all takes such a long time. In the evening I went to a Lightning Seeds gig inLeamingtonwith The Son, who is probably the Seeds’ biggest fan. It was a good gig, but the man sat next to us (we were in the front row) kept getting up and walking in front of us and taking flash photos of the band. Bad manners, in my view. I don’t think he saw the look Ian Broudie gave him. And there was a heckler, too! But the music was good.

Thursday was the prison, and by now I had a real, persistent sinus headache. The guys were good, though, and I managed to get a lot done – not always easy in a prison. In the evening I wrote up what I had done, prepared for my GP surgery group, and did more slam practice.

As you will have noticed, I did a lot of slam practice this week. When I do slams or gigs, people often say I don’t know how you remember it all! as if it all happens by some kind of effortless magic. The truth is that I, and other performance poets, work at it; we practise, over and over again.

By Friday the headache was worse. I answered the stacked-up emails, and worked with my GP surgery people (who really go from strength to strength), and got a new toner cartridge, and did some write ups – and then it was off to the slam, in Cirencester, in the rather cold Brewery Arts Centre. There were only 11 poets in it, but they were all good. In the first round I did a new poem, called George Clooney, and got through; in the second I did a poem about prisons, and got the highest score of the evening; in the final I did a rather strange poem that requires me to be a bloke. And I won – by only two points, admittedly, but final scores are often very close. I was so chuffed! The prizes were the usual couple of books, but the most important thing is that this means I have an automatic place in the big slam inCheltenham in October. Hooray! Suddenly my headache disappeared. It’s strange how a bit of adrenaline and a little glow of success, in however unimportant an event, can make you feel so much better about things. I came home and washed up – back down to earth – and slept for hours and hours. And on Saturday I finished tidying one shelf from my office. From one shelf I managed to throw out more paper than you would have thought it possible to get on a whole bookcase. I did some more work on the hospital book, and went to see a pantomime in the evening – I was adjudicating this one, so it wasn’t just for fun.

Yesterday The Bloke and I went on one of our expeditions – Cricklade, Wootton Bassett, and Avebury. Everywhere except Avebury was shut, but we still had fun looking round. Lots of fresh air – another good cure for headaches. Not as good as winning a slam, though.


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