It’s been another busy week. Lots of prep on Monday, millions of emails, a bit of gardening, and then a gig at the Bristol Acoustic night. It’s so nice to have these gigs where I’ve got 25 or 30 minutes; I can do a range of poems. Great audience in Bristol – very attentive – and a delightful evening all round. The motorway junction was closed on the way home, though, so I had to take a long detour and got home late.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week treating a bit of rot in one of the beams on the porch. Wet rot like this isn’t really a problem, but it was in an awkward place which required lots of uncomfortable stretching of my still-painful foot. It’s all done now except for the painting, which I hope to do today or tomorrow. I managed to do a bit more gardening on Tuesday, too. My garden looks like a vast plain, full of high grass waving rather beautifully in the soft breezes. Or, looked at in another way, it’s a complete mess, because I haven’t been able to do anything with it until now.
I went to the hospital on Tuesday and worked with a lovely chap who has lost the use of his legs for a while. We worked on a poem, and when I read it back to him, tears came into his eyes; people are often moved in this way when they hear their own words back in a concentrated poetic form, and it’s very humbling for me.
In the evening I went to a TADS’ meeting. We really need a new major production to work on, but nobody feels that they have the time or resources to tackle this at the moment. It’s a bit of a shame. And later I dealt with yet more emails.
On Wednesday I did some more work on the beam, and designed a poster to advertise my forthcoming course at a probation hostel. In the afternoon I worked with one lady from my GP group, did the hospital writeup and some Poetry on Loan stuff; and then went to see Populaire – delightful and very French.
Thursday was an unusual day; I went to a probation service conference. This was mostly for me to learn about desistance, which is the latest thing in trying to prevent people re-offending. I know I’m an outsider, but really, it all seemed just common sense to me – if you can help someone get a job or some useful activity, find somewhere to live, and develop good relationships, then they are less likely to commit crime. They talked later about the reorganisation of the probation service, much of which is to be nationalised. There was a lot of anger about this, but really, given re-offending rates as high as they are, it seems sensible to try a different approach. But what do I know?
And in the evening I did a bit more gardening, and practised for the slam on Saturday, and paid some Poetry on Loan invoices, and answered emails, and revised my poetry book to correct some little typos, and ordered more. They have been selling well, but when I stop this current phase of gigs the sales will slow down, I know.
On Friday I happened to go into our little-used living room, which was fortunate, because two young jackdaws were fluttering around in there in a state of great excitement, or probably fear. This happens almost every year – they fall down the chimney and can’t get out, and knock everything over and poo on the armchairs. Fortunately they hadn’t been there long, so there wasn’t much to clear up. One of them flew out immediately when I opened the windows, but I had to catch the other one – not easy, because it persisted in hiding behind the furniture. Some people are terrified by birds flying around indoors, but fortunately I’m not one of those.
I did my accounts, and lots of prep for future workshops, and some more Poetry on Loan stuff, and in the evening went to the prison for the little poetry group I run there. It was good – a lot of thoughtful discussion and some nice writing.
Saturday, though, was the day for adventure – the Hammer and Tongue National Slam Final. I drove to Slough, took a train from there to Paddington, and then underground to Aldgate East, and then walked to Wilton Hall, the old music hall where the event took place. I was in time to hear some of the team slam, and then went into the qualifier; I had the highest score, and so went through to the final proper. I won my heat, and finished third in the semi-final – good enough to get into the final. And I came third. The right guy won – Stephen Morrison-Burke; the poet who came second was someone who performs his poems at such speed that I can hear only about one word in every five, so I have no idea if he was any good or not – but perhaps it’s just my old ears, because the judges certainly liked him. And basically, I was absolutely delighted to reach the final; H&T slam poets seem to me to be predominantly young and right-on, and I don’t fit into that mould at all, so I hadn’t expected to get anywhere. It was a good slam, well organised and hosted.
But oh, it was late when I left, and retraced my journey back; it was 3 am when I got home. I really enjoy doing these things now and then; it’s not much, really, but it seems like a bit of an adventure to me.
And on Sunday I did some sewing, to get some things ready for the adventure of my holiday. This week is busy, too. Actually, my whole life is a bit of an adventure. I’m so lucky!