On stage

Running workshops is always a bit of a performance; I’m well aware that I take on a slightly different persona with each group I work with, although basically it’s still me, and there are certain principles I stick to all the time. But this week I’ve actually been on stage twice.

Monday was, as usual, a day of prep – long phone calls about the poetry festival and a project with teenagers and practice for my gig. I worked with one of my GP surgery groups, and jolly well they did too; and in the evening went to a TADS meeting. I still haven’t written the minutes, but that’s my next job.

Tuesday was a special for the prison – Fred D’Aguiar, a British-Guyanan poet, came to give a reading and chat to the guys. We had about 20 in the audience, and it was a refreshing change (as one of them said). He’s a really nice guy. In the evening it was straight to a rehearsal; the new production is coming on well.

On Wednesday it was more prep, and lots of Poetry on Loan work, and some proofreading on the three books that I have nearly ready to go, although I don’t know when I’m going to find time to make the corrections… oh well, they’ll get done as soon as I can find time. And in the evening I took to the stage for the opening gig in the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, with three other poets – Emma Purshouse, Jonny Fluffypunk, and Fergus McGonigal. They were all on excellent form, especially Jonny, who gave the best performance I’ve seen him do. It was nearly sold out, which was terrific, and the audience (including some friends of mine who had never been to a poetry gig before) all had a good time. Phew! I did some more prep and answered some emails.

Thursday was the prison, and hooray! we managed to record the play that the guys have written. Although technically they weren’t on stage, several of them were quite nervous about this, but it all went pretty well, with a lot of fun with outtakes. And in the evening I went to see a play that I have to adjudicate.

Where are we? Oh yes – Friday. GP surgery prep, prison writeup, accounts, emails, my other GP surgery group (who are amazing) – and the Cheltenham Poetry Festival team slam – four teams of 4 poets each, and I was running it all. This was a real cause of anxiety – what if they don’t show up? what if I’ve made a major error in my planning and preparation? But it all went smoothly; the poets were fantastic; The Bloke did a great job keeping the scores; and there was a good audience. And then I slept.

On Saturday I went shopping for props for TADS’ play, and in the evening saw Pirates! This was good fun, and included the best joke I’ve heard this year. I have very simple tastes when it comes to jokes.

And yesterday The Son came home, and together we cleared out the junk heap in our living room; we threw away five bin bags full of rubbish, and although it’s not finished yet, it looks like a proper room again. I keep going in there to have a look. Soon it will be a stage fit for his party in May. I answered some emails, and did the writeup for my GP surgery group, and started the adjudication.

This week will still be busy, but without the stress of a performance. Off stage, then.


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