Facing fears and filling cracks

Oh! So busy! It would have been nice to say I had spent the whole week lying in the sun but alas, no. Monday was mostly gardening and prep – not just for real work things, but prepping the garage for its repainting. Oh – and I had a letter from a prisoner I worked with some time ago, saying that he now has a first class honours degree in creative writing, and thanking me for my work and the encouragement I gave him. How rewarding is that?

On Tuesday I had an interview for Radio Winchcombe. I probably sound like a complete idiot, but I’m not going to listen to it – this is one fear I refuse to face. I had a session at the hospital, with, as usual, some inspiring people. And I filled various cracks in the walls and the wood of the garage.

On Wednesday I had the leftover bit of my birthday present from my kids – microdermabrasion and a wrinkle comb treatment on my face. It was a bit like filling cracks, I suppose, but I think it really did make my face look slightly better. And more filling on the garage, and the hospital writeup, and a job application – and then off to Rugby for a gig in a pub. This was organised by Heather Wastie, who did two 10-minute slots, and included the lovely Fergus McGonigal, who had one 20-minute spot, as did I. They were a lovely, attentive audience, and the whole thing went really well. I sold five books, and one woman even insisted on paying me more for her copy than I was asking!

Thursday was very much a prep day – for the slam in Lydney, the Poetry on Loan meeting, and for my poetry group in the prison; and sanding an undercoating the garage door frames. The Lydney slam was in the evening. This is a strange little event. I never quite know who is going to be in it until the evening – one lady arrived 10 minutes after we were due to start and said she would like to enter. We had only seven poets, but this was great because it meant that each of them did three poems. Instead of having judges, I asked the audience to vote for best poet and best poem of the evening. Thommie Gillow won the best poem prize, and Ben Norris was best poet (after a tiebreak between him and Peter Wyton). It was a lovely evening and everyone had a great time, and it lived up to the description I gave it on some flyers – Probably the most laid-back slam in the world. Oh – and I sold some more books.

Back to the garage on Friday, with a coat of undercoat on the patches of cement filler. I could go on and on about my decorating, but I’m sure that would be really boring. It is leading up to something, though. Off to Birmingham for a meeting with Jonathan Davidson of Writing West Midlands, and a Poetry on Loan meeting, which went well. It’s really sad, though, to learn of libraries closing and jobs lost; one of PoL’s longstanding members has recently found that his post is to be abolished soon; a sad loss, because he has done so much for creative writing in his authority.

I drove straight from Birmingham to the prison for the poetry group; the guys were great, and put a lot of effort into everything we did. I was tired by the time I got home, but did my accounts anyway.

And on Saturday I went up a ladder. This was the first time I’ve been near a ladder since my accident in January. With my tall stepladder, I could do very nearly all the front of the garage; The Bloke came over and held the long ladder so that I could do the top bit. I felt fine on the stepladder, but I must admit I was a little anxious on the long ladder. Still, it’s done now – I’ve faced the fear… but that top bit will not be getting a second coat.

The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the sunshine and milling about at Tewkesbury’s Medieval Fair, where a lot of blokes dressed up in armour (in those temperatures!) and fought each other in a “re-enactment” of the battle of Tewkesbury. Not much of a re-enactment, really; it was a horrible and bloody battle, and apart from one case of fainting, there was very little violence on display at the weekend. Thank goodness. Personally, I think they’re daft, but they clearly get a lot of fun out of what they do.

I started work on the book of pieces from the Hereford adult literacy group, and did a bit of sewing, and failed to sleep.

This morning I’ve helped to clear up after the Ledbury Poetry Festival, which was a terrific success this year, and been to a Festival board meeting. And now I must get up that ladder again, and fill cracks and face fears – oh, and prepare for the rest of the week.

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