Lowering the tone…

…which is what I did on Monday. I was invited by the mayor elect of Cheltenham to do some poems at her mayor-making – she had heard me at the Poet Laureate selection thing last August. So I prepared a 5-minute set of poems related to Cheltenham in some way – two funny and one serious, and warned them that although I could adhere to the “smart dress” code, I would be wearing the big fat red trainers that fit my big fat red foot. But when I arrived, it all looked so formal – loads of people, quite a few in robes, and all looking very serious. I had a bit of a panic, but fortunately the man who sat next to me in the front row eased my fears. I asked him if he would rather hear funny poems or po-faced ones, and he said, “Oh, funny, definitely!” I warned them when I started that I had obviously been invited to lower the tone, and launched in. And they loved them! Loads of people came up afterwards and said how much they had enjoyed it. I was tired when I got home, though, and just managed to answer emails, and that was it.

On Tuesday I worked with my adult literacy classes in Hereford, and they were great – full of ideas and enthusiasm, and so keen to “do it right”. Actually, they were so chatty that it was difficult to get them to focus, but we managed. In the evening I went to see Mud, a coming-of-age type film set in the southern states of America. It was all well-acted, but somehow didn’t do a lot for me.

Wednesday was my Ross surgery group – the last one; it’s gone so quickly. We sorted out what they want their book to be like, and I set them some really difficult exercises, which they rose to with aplomb (I like that word). But only one person turned up for my afternoon group in Tewkesbury, and understandably she didn’t want a session on her own; my one-to-one chap came, though, and I had a good session with him.

In the evening I revised My Book Of Poems and ordered more copies, did some writeups and answered a load of emails, and typed up the two poems I had written at the weekend.

On Thursday I answered even more emails (where do they all come from?), and did yet more writeups and practised for my gig, and wrote a briefing note on the proposed funding bid for the prisons thing. And then set off for Hit the Ode in Birmingham. It was an excellent evening – Rhian Edwards, who is a proper poet but one who really knows how to present her work; me; and Ben Mellor, who was excellent. Rhian was serious, and Ben made strong points; again, I think I was there to lower the tone. I had the strange experience, though, of seeing someone in the front row join in with one of the gestures in one of my poems. He can’t have heard this poem more than twice before! I mentioned it to him afterwards and he said he’s just a groupie…

I worked in the hospital on Friday morning; two lovely ladies who almost wrote their poems for me. The rest of the day was busy – accounts; hospital writeup; prep for things this coming week; writing copy for an event in October; mowing the grass; the report for the group in Ross; and of course the inevitable emails.

On Saturday I wrote a summary of a new course I’ll be running for Poetry on Loan, and on Sunday it was off to visit my mum with The Son and The Daughter, who are always great company.

Phew! This week is going to be just as busy, I think. I will try to answer all the emails waiting for me politely, but with some of them it will be difficult. I must strive to raise my tone, perhaps.

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