Happy families

I wonder if anyone else remembers playing a game called Happy Families? It was like rummy, only with pictures of, for example, Mr. Bun the Baker, Mrs. Bun the Baker’s Wife, etc. Now I come to think of it, all the jobs were held by men; the women were just the wives of.. Anyway, this week has been busy but dominated by the happy families event at the end of it.

On Monday I had my first session with a new GP group. They were great! A bit nervous, but once they’d got over that, they really worked hard. I did lots of bitty stuff, including a lot of prison prep, and had to deal with a blocked sink.

On Tuesday there was more prison stuff and practice for a gig at the weekend; and a proposal to the prison for some extra work I could do there. I haven’t had a reply to this yet. I typed up all the poems I wrote on Sunday night, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t bad. Everything else was delayed a bit by some problems with my computer. In the evening I went to see Taken 2, which wasn’t a patch on its predecessor; the plot holes were so wide you could drive a stolen taxi through them.

On Wednesday something remarkable happened. A man came to sweep my big chimney and the gas fire flue; the gas fire was disconnected by the man who last serviced it because the flue failed the smoke test. Also, the chimney chap was to survey my big chimney because some bricks had fallen down it, and I’ve been worried that some might fall on the outside and hurt someone passing by – I live just over the road from a school. So, the man turned up, and on time (unlike the others I’ve contacted before, who never turned up at all). He said that neither of the chimneys needs to be swept; he did a smoke test on the gas flue and gave me a certificate to say it was ok; he went up his very long ladder to have a look at the big chimney, and said that the bricks falling were internal, and nothing to worry about, and that the chimney would need repointing in 5 or 6 years but was fine now. And he charged only £20. It’s so delightful to have such good service. I’ll recommend him to anyone else I know.

I answered loads of emails, and practised for my gig, and did a whole lot of prep, and started on my Arts Council bid for Poetry on Loan – but in the afternoon I had bad stomach cramps and had to lie down for a couple of hours.. In the evening TADS had a readthrough of one-act plays. I have two plays ready to go, one with two men and two women, and one with five women. At the readthrough there were four men and me. Sigh. We have another readthrough tonight, and I hope that after that I’ll be able to cast one of the plays, but it’s a bit disappointing so far.

Thursday was the prison. Because it is Black History Month, they screened Marley, the documentary film about Bob Marley, and all my group and I went to see it. It wasn’t a good film – much too long; some severe editing would have made it a lot better – and I realised that actually Bob Marley was an arrogant, self-deceiving man who treated badly all the people who cared about him. I got loads of bits and pieces done in the afternoon, though. And there was a nice comment from a man in the English class. Someone asked him what was the difference between what they did in the English class and in creative writing. He said, “Maggie (the English teacher) teaches you to drive cars; Brenda teaches you to drive Formula 1.” I’m happy with that. In the evening I paid some PoL invoices, and sent reminders to poets who had forgotten to invoice for events in the past. Poets, eh?

On Friday there were lots of emails to handle, and the sink was really, really blocked, so The Bloke came over after work and took the pipes off and cleared out the revolting gunge living there. Yuk. What a nice Bloke he is. I did a lot of work on the Arts Council funding bid, and went off to a book launch in Wolverhampton – it’s a climate change anthology, in which my poem When ice caps melt appears.

And then to my mum’s, in Cheshire, where I stayed overnight. The next day I picked six bags of apples from her tree, grappling with a step ladder and some evil branches, and then we set off on an epic journey to London, for the annual family reunion. My mum wasn’t feeling too good, even when we started, but she really wanted to go. We picked up The Daughter from my house on the way; mum perked up a bit after a cup of tea (ah, tea!) But on the way she started feeling really ill, and we had to stop three times for her to throw up. By the time we reached the hotel where the reunion took place, she just wanted to lie down. It was good to meet the other family members again – we see each other only once a year, now, with these reunions – but I spent most of the evening up and down to my mum’s room trying to organise meetings between her and the others of her generation, one of whom is in a wheelchair, which wouldn’t go through the corridors… I hardly spoke to anyone, much.

While I was picking apples, I had managed to poke a twig or leaf into my right eye, and it was really sore. By the time I reached home with The Daughter, I had been driving for 7½ hours, and my eye was so painful that it was difficult to sleep, even though it was half-past one in the morning and I was tired.

But never mind. It’s all fine now. On Sunday, The Bloke fitted a new radio in my car (super-duper: digital radio, with Bluetooth so I have true hands-free and it will play the music on my phone with no wires), and I saw the kids for a little while. The charity gig in the evening went really well, although I managed to spill almost a whole bottle of water on stage. Clumsy or what?

And my mum is fine, now, thank you. 

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