Hurting

I’ve got to do something about the pain. Life in terms of work is just about back to normal, but I’m not, and every evening I have a period when it hurts so much I’m almost in tears. Anyway, I’ve just phoned the doctor’s surgery, and a doctor will phone me this afternoon. They said they can’t fix up an appointment, which seems strange, but at least it’s a start – I’ve admitted I need help.

I guess I should mention the fact that Margaret Thatcher died this week. The reactions on Facebook were predictable – a lot of people I know were gloating and talking about having parties. I replied to several of them to say that I can’t believe that anyone I know would gloat at the death of any other person, whatever their opinion of him/her. If you are perfect, then gloat. If you had a party when Mao Zedong died, have a party if you feel that she was as bad. Otherwise – well, she lived, and now she’s dead; there were much better people than her in the world, and many who were far, far worse.

Anyway, on Monday I wrote the proposal for the work in the probation hostel, and I’ve heard since that it will definitely be going ahead, so that’s good news. I worked with the GP group who are continuing on their own; they miss me, they said, but they are plugging on, which is great.

On Tuesday I went to see the lovely Fergus (who has an equally lovely wife and five lovely sons), and we practised for our show – Captive Audiences, as it’s called; poems about prisons and schools. It all went well; the timing was good and we felt happy with the mix of funny and more serious pieces. And they gave me delicious soup and home-made bread. I did some prep for my groups on Wednesday…

…two of them, both GP surgery groups, one in Ross, and one in Tewkesbury. The Ross group went really well – six people who were a little dubious at first but who took to it like the proverbial ducks in a pond, and surprised themselves with what they could do. The afternoon group didn’t go quite so well; several people couldn’t make it, for very good reasons – but still a good start.

In the evening I went to the Ledbury Poetry Festival AGM and ordinary meeting. I was hurting quite a lot by then, and had to give up and go home, but I lasted for most of the meetings.

On Thursday I made a cake! I wanted to do something for The Bloke, and at last I could stand up long enough to get this done. Then it was lots of prep, and practice for a slam and my gig, and writeups for the two GP groups; and a TADS meeting. I had received the proof copy of My Book of Pomes (which is actually called Arbitrary edges) and I finished proofreading it in the evening. It needs lots of changes and an index, but really I’m very, very pleased with it.

Friday was a long call with Clive of the Writers in Prison Network, which desperately needs funds; and my accounts; and slam practice; and then off to Birmingham for the first Poetry on Loan meeting for the new funding period. This was terrific – the West Midlands library staff are full of great ideas, and I’m sure we’ll be able to do a fantastic programme of work over the next two years. As soon as they have firmed the ideas up, we’ll get the poets out there; meanwhile I have a lot to do in setting up a website, and planning a training course, and sending out invoices…

I was hurting by the end of this, but went straight to Solihull where I was taking part in a comedy slam. I came third, which meant I didn’t get into the final. I think I chose the wrong poem for the semi-final – it has quite a serious bit in the middle, and probably wasn’t what the audience or judges wanted. But on this occasion I was glad to be knocked out, because the strain was really telling. I was very pleased to get home.

On Saturday I was in Hereford all day, working with the young people’s Writing Squads. I had a new helper, Claire, who is a delight and a great asset, and the kids were terrific as always. And again, straight from there to a performance – this time as a taster for the Cheltenham Poetry festival; the world premiere of Captive audiences. The audience wasn’t captive, of course, and consisted of eight people, but they all seemed to think it was good – and one of them put in an advance order for My Book – the first sale! And then  I went to The Bloke’s and collapsed.

Yesterday we saw a film of a live performance of War of the worlds, the Jeff Wayne version. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a combination of two good tunes, lots of filler, and some GCSE drama. The best thing was the close-ups of the musicians. And in the evening I was crying with the pain. You probably don’t want to know that. With any luck, my talk with the doctor will improve things, and this week I won’t hurt so much.

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