Getting older

The year is getting older, and so are we all. Sorry – that’s a bit of a depressing way to start the blog, but the weekend has been a bit sad.

The rest of the week was busy as usual. On Monday I finished sorting out the content for the new Poetry on Loan website, and did lots of prep, and my end-of-month accounting, and practice for a slam; and picked up the very last pears from under my tree.

I tried to repair my house sign on Tuesday. I used a whole tube of expensive wood filler, and propped the two bits together, and left it to set. And it fell apart. A different approach is needed. Meanwhile I took advantage of the good weather and painted the kitchen wall, which had a patch of new cement where the boiler outlet had been put in, and the bit of wall behind where the house sign was, and added a second coat of woodstain to my big front gate. There were lots of emails to deal with, and then I went to see Prisoners – a good movie but a bit gruelling.

On Wednesday I worked with a mother and daughter at the hospital; this was a really worthwhile thing to do – they sent me an email afterwards to say how much it had helped them. In the afternoon I started with a new GP surgery group – a mixed bunch of people who worked well together and individually to write some poems. We tried to have a TADS meeting in the evening, but only four of us turned up; we were inquorate, and so couldn’t make any decisions. I do hope we can get a production going soon.

Thursday was interesting – National Poetry Day, when of course all poets are feted and cherished. In our dreams. It was probation hostel day, and this time I took along an ex-prisoner, who talked to the guys quite movingly about what creative writing had done for him. Good session; and then lots of writeups and slam practice and lots of emails.

On Friday I did my accounts, as usual, and more practice for the slam, and worked at the hospice. I asked where one of the patients was who had been in the group last time, but she had died in the intervening two weeks. I felt awful to have asked, but everyone was very understanding; it happens, they said.

And in the evening was the Bristol Festival slam – 15 poets, four professional judges – one each for quality of writing, quality of performance, audience response, and star quality. Star quality? I had my gorgeous rainbow shoes on, and I hoped that would count for star quality. The judges started their scores ridiculously high; in the whole evening only two scores below 90 were given, and they were both 89. This gave them very little leeway. Anyway, I did ok; I got through to the semi-final and had the second highest score – but the highest scorer was in my heat so he and the winner of the other heat went through to the final. A bit disappointing, of course, but that’s the way slam goes – and I have now been slamming for 17 years, so I should know all this. It’s when you realise that you have been performing since before some of the kids you work with were born – well, that’s when you feel you are growing older. Anyway, I was pleased with my performances (only score of 100 in the evening!).

And on Saturday I set off with the Bloke for the Scottish Highlands. His mum has been poorly for a while, and it’s now reached the stage when his dad can no longer cope, and she has to go into a residential care home – but she is confused, with all the medication she is taking, and it’s not clear how much of this she understands. It’s all so sad. They’ve been together for 59 years, and now they have to be parted. Growing older is a hard thing.

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