Goodbye, my friend

How do you write about ordinary things when someone you have known for years has just died? I think the answer is a cliché: life, of course, goes on, and I know I wouldn’t people to droop around mourning – much better to just get on with things, and spare the odd moment here and there for thoughts about the happy things you remember.

So. On Monday I did lots of prep, and worked with my GP surgery group. It’s full, now; all the seats round the table are taken, and they are a great group to work with. In the evening was the second one-act play readthrough, but only three people turned up, including me and someone who had been to the previous one. We waited for 20 minutes or so and then gave up. Things aren’t looking too good. But I learned that one of the oldest members of TADS, who has been ill for some time, was now in hospital.

On Tuesday, unusually, I was in the prison – first, for a long interview with the Governor, who will be retiring early next year; we want to put the interview in the prison newsletter. In the afternoon my friend Richie Grant, otherwise known as poet Dreadlockalien, gave a performance for the guys. They loved him; he engaged with them well, as I knew he would. When I got home I did the GP surgery group writeup, and the prison writeup, and answered lots of emails, and sorted out all the apples I had brought home from my mum’s. And I learned that I hadn’t got some work I had applied for. It would have been very challenging, but worth doing, but someone else has got it. I wonder who it is?

On Wednesday I did some prep for a slam I was in last night, and spent a long time working on my big funding bid. And I went to visit Richard, my friend in hospital. He was obviously very ill indeed, and unable to lift himself off the bed, but in good spirits. I didn’t stay long, because he was tired from other visitors, but he seemed pleased that I had been in to see him, and I said I would pop in again on Friday.

In the evening I went to see Ruby Sparks, a clever and well-made movie, which I think is really about how some men control women. I would have written the ending differently, but overall it was well worth seeing.

Thursday was the usual day at the prison; good group session, and lots of bits and pieces in the afternoon, including a very useful meeting with my governor, who is quite hard to get hold of. In the evening I wrote up what I’d done and swam against the usual tidal wave of emails.

Friday was accounts day, and lots more work on the funding bid; I actually finished the first draft of the proposal and the budget, and sent it to a couple of people who had kindly said they would read through it. The Son was here for a little while; good fun, as always; and I prepared for the young people’s groups on Saturday and the GP group today. I called in to see Richard, but he wasn’t really conscious, and I don’t think he knew I was there.

Saturday was my monthly trip to Hereford, where I work with three young people’s writing groups. Their liveliness and enthusiasm is always a real tonic; they worked really hard and had a lot of fun.

But soon after I reached home, there was a text message to say that Richard had died last night. He was a great guy, full of passion for music and the theatre, and he will be missed very much by everyone who knew him. I was asked to send an email out to all the TADS members to let them know. Having seen how ill he was the day before, I wasn’t really surprised by this sad news, but still, that doesn’t make it any less sad.

On Sunday I felt a bit subdued. The Bloke and I went to Batsford Arboretum, and walked in the drizzle through the trees, which flamed and glowed with their own passion. And in the evening I was in a slam in Wantage, with a first prize of £100 (most unusual), which I won. Of course it was good to win; I did a new poem in the first round which went down very well, which was very pleasing. But it all seems so unimportant in a week like this.

Goodbye, my friend.

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