Prizes

It’s always good winning prizes; I’ll come to those later. All in all, it’s been a good week.

On Tuesday I packed up some eBay parcels (things are still selling!) and dealt with all my mail; it’s been hanging round for a bit. I think I might have thrown out some important letters, though, in my keenness for getting things clear. I picked some fruit – loads of pears have made their way to a box in front of my house with a sign inviting people to help themselves – did some shopping, made a pie, and did some more clearing. More for the charity shops and the tip.

The big room I had started clearing was finished on Wednesday, and I handled some emails and made a new list of jobs I need to do over the next couple of months. My Apollo project (that’s my work in the oncology department of the hospital) meeting went well; everyone seems pleased with how things are going, and I did a session at the hospital afterwards. As usual, I met some inspiring people, who have found reserves they never knew they had. I picked more fruit, and went to a TADS meeting, and wrote up my hospital stuff. There are always lots of little jobs I do as well as those that are worth mentioning, and Wednesday was one of those rare days when I tick off every job on my list. Hooray! I should have some gold stars to give myself for these days.

On Thursday the men arrived to install my new boiler and hot water tank. The man who took out the old boiler was the same man who installed it 28 years ago, which seemed fitting, somehow. They did a good job – three of them, here for three days including Saturday – and when they left he said he would see me again in 28 years’ time. It has cost me a huge amount of money, but it had to be done at some time, I suppose.

I went to do a session at the probation hostel, but no guys came to work with me. It’s difficult to know how to invoice for these sessions. I sent the hostel manager an email to suggest that I should charge only half-price for each of the two sessions when nobody came, and add another session onto the end of the course, but he immediately phoned and said no; I had done everything I should have done and they would pay me the full price, and what’s more, that he and senior management are committed to the project and we will almost certainly run another set of 12 sessions. Having such support is like being given an award, somehow. With some unexpected free time, I went to the hospital; I’ve now nearly caught up on all the sessions I lost earlier in the year when I was laid up with my broken heel.

I did some gardening, and in the evening went to see Elysium, which was gripping without being particularly good. I do like a good self-sacrifice in a movie, though, and it had one of those.

And I had an email saying that one of the pieces produced by my blokes at HMP Shrewsbury, when I was writer in residence there, had been selected for the national Koestler exhibition. The Koestler organisation gives awards each year to people within the prison service (prisoners and people on probation) for achievement in all sorts of artistic fields – visual arts, sculpture, music, etc., and creative writing. To be selected for the national exhibition is terrific – but then on Friday the whole list of awards came out. The men at Shrewsbury, which was a tiny prison, won three platinum awards, three gold, one silver, two bronze and two commended, all for writing. Three platinums! This is a truly amazing achievement, and I was very chuffed indeed on behalf of my lads.

After a while I stopped gloating and did my hospital writeup and my accounts, and went to Birmingham for a meeting of poetry promoters in the region. All useful and interesting. And I wrote the minutes for the TADS meeting.

On Saturday I caught up with the emails and did my end-of-month accounts, and on Sunday I attended a training day for GODA – the Guild Of Drama Adjudicators. This was a really interesting day, and I’d like to go on and do the full assessment weekend so that I can become a GODA adjudicator myself. Unfortunately the next weekend is one that I can’t make because I have my writing squads in Hereford on the Saturday, and it’s likely to be a long wait until the next one.

So – this week, I’ve seen my guys win prizes, and I’ve won some nice comments from various people, and a new boiler. And my plum and pear trees have awarded me with lots and lots and lots of fruit.

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