Good news and bad news

What do you want first, the bad news or the good news? I think I’ll finish with the good news. The bad news was that I won’t be getting the extra day a week I had hoped for in the prison. This would have started in October; it’s a huge chunk of work (and considerable pay) to replace, and at the moment it looks as though I’ll have difficulty paying the bills next year, when I thought everything was ok. The prison people had known for a while but just hadn’t got round to telling me.

I finally got round to uploading my holiday photos and video. It’s rubbish; all of it. I was never meant to be a photographer. In the old days, I wasn’t bad at taking photos but now my hands seem to be more shaky, and I haven’t quite got the knack of turning the thing off when I put it in my bag. Not such riveting viewing, and hour’s video of the inside of a bag.

I spent Friday in and out of bed with a migraine, followed on Saturday by an upset stomach.

The mice have been back and eaten some food which was unwittingly left in a place where they could get at it. Grr!

Now the good stuff. I’ve been for a run most mornings. I cleared loads of nettles from my garden, and finished two of the four books I have to make; I had two good sessions in the hospital, and an excellent session with my little writing group in Ross. I made a batch of chocolate brownies, and obviously had to test them before I gave them to The Bloke and his dad. Mmm. My day at the prison went well.

And I did my tax return. In the old days, when this was done on paper, I would set aside a whole day for it. This time it took me an hour and a half, and that included finding a mistake I’d made in last year’s return, phoning the helpline, and correcting it; I should get a little rebate, which will be rather lovely.

I practised quite a bit for the Gloucestershire Poet Laureate competition on Saturday. And I won it! I am the GPL for 2012-2013! 11 poets competed; we had to do four minutes of poetry in the first round. The three to go through to the final were decided by a combination of votes from four judges, who had 40% of the vote, and the audience; everyone could vote for three poets. I rustled up all my 5 friends to go along, as if that would make much difference to the vote… but anyway, I got through, and then won the final, which was decided by the same proportion but with only one vote from everyone. I feel honoured and privileged to have this position, and will do what I can to make a good job of it.

I was a bit deflated, though, to find some snide comments on Facebook from some of those who didn’t win. Poets usually aren’t like this; we accept defeat with good grace and perhaps a few quiet grumbles, but to make critical comments in public is, in my view, bad form. But never mind. I was accused of being a light-hearted crowd-pleaser, and the more I come to think of it, the more I think this is a good thing. I hope to attract more people to poetry, and I don’t think you can do this with boring, serious stuff that no-one wants to listen to. Oh – and I did do a poem about attempted suicide by a prisoner, which I wouldn’t have thought came under the headings of light-hearted or crowd-pleasing. If the competition had been to find the best poet in the county, judged by other poets, then I can think of several (who weren’t actually in the competition) who would have me beaten hands down; but that’s not what it was about.

So, anyway, I spent Sunday with The Son and The Daughter going to visit my mum. My kids are great, and excellent company, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Life is more important than poetry, and yesterday was definitely a good news day.

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