Brenda can’t come out to play

It’s been a busy week. Have I said this before? I guess so, but this week I’ve been a bit annoyed. Monday was the usual bitty day – loads of emails, prep for the rest of the week, TADS meeting minutes, getting props sorted out for our play, and finishing the adjudication. And my Monday GP surgery group, who worked really hard, as always, although two of the stalwart members were missing.

On Tuesday I had to go into the prison. They want me to write an article about staff receiving awards, and it was the awards ceremony. I picked up some useful quotes, but that was it – quite a long trip for not much, really. And when I came home I had to deal with a difficult email. As part of my work with Poetry on Loan, I had booked a young poet to perform in an open area of a library. He knew this; I told him when I first phoned him, and the library staff had sent him an email that mentioned it again. When he arrived for the event, he complained about having to perform in the open “like some street performer” (and what’s wrong with street performers?), and they showed him two alternative spaces – but these weren’t good enough either; nobody would know he was there, he said. He wanted to know where his warm-up act was, even though he had been told that he would be the only poet in this particular event. He told the library staff that he was going outside to make a phone call, and he didn’t come back. No event, then. As if this appalling rudeness wasn’t bad enough, he then tweeted about it, complaining that he shouldn’t have been treated this way. Now, we’ve had really well-known poets working with us; they have accepted less than ideal performing conditions and small audiences cheerfully, and just got on with sharing their work with the people who come. This guy, though, tweeted that the reason why he doesn’t get many bookings is because he’s not afraid to tell people what to do with their bookings (I’m paraphrasing here). Perhaps he doesn’t get work because he is an arrogant little … Anyway, I was very angry, and very disappointed, that a guy who is a good poet, and who seemed really nice when I met him, should behave in such a way. I had to send a long email of apology to the library concerned.

The next email in the Inbox told me that I had won a Highly Commended award in a poetry competition, so that cheered me up a bit. And then it was a rehearsal.

On Wednesday I typed up my new poem and sent it off for things, and prepared for my young people’s writing groups on Saturday – always quite a big job. I dealt with some stuff for the GDA one-act play festival, and then went to a funeral. What can you say about funerals? They’re sad, and they’re happy. We’ll all miss Mike, but we had all had the pleasure of knowing him.

I went straight from there to the hospital, where I met a woman with stage 4 cancer, who has already lived longer than she has been told she should, and is packing in as much good stuff as she can. She has been skiing this year, and abseiling and rock-scrambling, and she was off toNew Zealandthe day after I spoke to her. Wow! What a woman! In the evening I went swimming; I really need to get the muscles working a bit before I go on holiday. I rounded off the day with some emails.

Thursday was the prison. It was the last day of the drama and playwriting course I’ve been running, and the last day for a guy I’ve been working with for a long time. He’s another one I’ll miss; he had worked really hard to improve his writing and was always good fun in the group. I had planned to go and see a film with The Bloke in the evening, but I had to say no, in the end; Brenda couldn’t come out to play because there were the prison and hospital write-ups to do. Sigh.

On Friday I did more work on props and prep, and made all the corrections to three books to go to an online publisher, and ran my other GP surgery group. I am pushing them way beyond what they thought they could do; perhaps I should rein back a bit.

And I had a letter about my pension. Something else to get cross about – but mostly because of the contrast between my business pension and my local authority pension. I worked for a local authority for just over 2 years, 2 days a week, at half the salary I had when I was in business (it was an arts job, and therefore by nature badly paid). I worked for one company for 12 years, full time, at double the local authority salary. By my reckoning, the business pension should be paying 30 times more than the local authority one – but the business pension is a money-purchase scheme, and the local authority is a nice cushy local authority pension, and it fact the business pension is only 6 times more than the local authority one. Both of them are tiny, of course, but that’s my problem. But I am in a position to make a direct comparison between these two different pensions, and next time I hear anyone complain about local authority pensions I’m going to find it very difficult to keep quiet.

Oh – in the evening was another rehearsal.

On Saturday, I ran three writing groups for children and young people, with only 15 minutes between each one. I love doing this; it’s full-on and all action – but I am tired in the evening afterwards, when the adrenaline has gone.

And on Sunday I worked on a book for the GP surgery group, and the audio edit of the prison play.

And finally I went out to play, to see Salmon fishing in the Yemen, which is a lovely, gentle film. Just what I needed.

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