Well, of course, I’ve been better this week. I had difficulties breathing on Sunday and Monday nights, so I went to see the doctor on Tuesday, and immediately started to recover. It’s amazing how doctors have that effect, isn’t it?

I finished the draft version of the Hereford young people’s group book this week; with any luck the proof copy should arrive before I see them this coming Saturday. My GP surgery group on Monday were a bit depleted; only three turned up, but hey, it’s coming up to Christmas, and some of them weren’t well.

Tuesday was the doctor visit. I never go to the doctor. I hope I won’t need to again for a long time. I did some prison prep and paid some Poetry on Loan cheques, and did a big application for some work in schools. I really do need to find some more work for next year, but there’s precious little about. And The Son came home, with two pairs of trousers that needed sewing, and The Daughter too – she had to be in South Wales on Wednesday so it made sense for her to be here overnight. They are always fun to have around.

On Wednesday I finished the job application, then went to an ArtLift meeting, followed by an ArtLift party. Three of the members of my GP group read poems they had written to the assembled party crowd – they were great! I was so proud of them. It’s not an easy thing to do.

And then I heard that someone I’ve known for a long time had died – an overdose; probably suicide. He had had mental health problems for a very long time. He was another longstanding member of TADS. It’s all so, so sad.

I did some prison prep in the evening, and finished writing Christmas cards, but I didn’t really feel Christmassy.

Thursday was the prison. I was feeling much better by then, but talking a lot, which I more or less have to do on prison days, meant that by the end of the day my voice was almost gone; I sounded like something out of a horror movie. Still, my group did some good work, and the Christmas issue of the prison newsletter was more or less put to bed, so that was good. I did all the writeups in the evening.

On Friday morning I had my last visit this year to the hospital. Unfortunately it wasn’t that good. One man was very chatty, but said he didn’t want anything to be done with the poem, because it was all about something he wanted to put behind him; and I couldn’t find anyone else who was interested. It was busy in the waiting room, which makes things more difficult – I have to find someone on their own to sit next to, really, and most people were in pairs.

But I came home and placed my Lulu (online publisher) order, and did my accounts and some tidying, and some prep for the GP group, and put Christmas cards up, and did some prep for TADS’ next production, and answered loads of emails.

And on Saturday I got a tree! It’s standing happily in the dining room now, waiting for today’s efforts at decoration.

Yesterday The Bloke and I went to Bourton-on-the-Water. Their tree looked picturesque as ever, in the middle of the river, and we did a little late Christmas shopping in the rain. It always  rains in Bourton. I need to write a poem about it, as part of my Poet Laureate sequence, but I haven’t started that yet, and there’s loads to do today. But at least I feel better, and ready to face anything!
And I want to say something about the father who commented on TV about his daughter’s death in the school massacre. He said his thoughts were with all the parents, and added something like, “And that includes the family of the shooter. God knows what they are going through.” I was so impressed by the compassion of this man; I would hope that I would be able to feel like this too. This really is the spirit of Christmas.

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