The roar of the greasepaint…

I’m a sucker for performing, I really am. It makes me so nervous, and I keep saying I’ll hang up my performing shoes – but they are such lovely shoes that I can’t give them up.

No performances on Tuesday, although I did some practice for the big slam on Saturday. Actually, I practised every day this week. Sometimes audiences think you just go up and do your stuff, but it’s really, really not that easy. Anyway, I did some prep for various things and worked with a group of people with Parkinson’s disease. They were great! Loads of emails to handle, and in the evening I went to see Blue Jasmine. It was ok, although in some parts it had that awkwardness that you get sometimes with improvised acting – I don’t know if these bits were improvised or not, but it seemed as if they were.

On Wednesday I had a long phone call from The Son, who refuses to believe that I ever actually have any real work to do, and did more prep and more emails; and then ran the second session with the GP surgery group in Tewkesbury. They were so good! And they are really enjoying it; it’s lovely to work with them. I just had time to come home and change, and then it was off to Birmingham Library for the Postcard Poets event. All six poets whose poems have been made into lovely postcards for Poetry on Loan in one event! It was all a bit worrying to start with – terrible traffic in Birmingham, so I arrived later than I had intended, and one poet arrived slightly late, but the audience were fine about it. So we had Emma Purshouse, Fergus McGonigal, Jane Seabourne, Roz Goddard, me and Spoz – a great mix of poets, and the audience all seemed to enjoy it and most of them took a set of postcards away with them. I only knew at the last minute whether there would be any postcards there…

On Thursday it was back down to earth with my last session at the probation hostel. My two guys were sad that it was over, and wanted to know if there will be any more sessions… I hope so; the manager is very supportive, but we need a wider catchment to involve more people.

I did some prep for the prison, and finally caught up with all my emails. And I mowed the lawns. I can’t remember mowing the lawns this late in the year before – but it’s so cold now that I’m sure this will be the last time this year. In the evening I did a report on the probation hostel work and sent it off with my invoice.

Friday was accounts and the hospital, which was as inspiring as ever. More emails and phone calls in the afternoon, and in the evening I ran a poetry session at the prison. I had only one man; the others were on home visits or had visitors or were working. It was good, though; the one man is a quiet chap, and he really had a chance to shine on his own.

On Saturday there were writeups, and I dealt with all the snail mail that has accumulated over the last two weeks. The Bloke and I went out to buy some stuff for mending my house sign, and in the evening it was the Cheltenham Allstars slam – probably the biggest slam of each year. This was my 17th consecutive year in this slam. I’ve won many slams, but this one continues to elude me. I was in the first heat, and came second by two points, so that was that. But I had done my poem well, and lots of people came up later and said how much they had enjoyed it, and at least getting knocked out early meant that I could relax and actually listen to everyone else. And the right guy won – Ben Norris, a young man to look out for. It’s not always the right person who wins, and when it goes wrong I go home feeling slightly sour about it all, but not this time. The slam wouldn’t work without reliable people like me who turn up and do a good poem well, and get knocked out. It don’t matter none, as Pete would have said.

And on Sunday I filled and sanded my house sign (which The Bloke had repaired beautifully), and repainted the lettering, and it all looks lovely. Two coats of varnish and it will be back up, performing an important rôle.

Oh – and today I heard that I am likely to get a big commission that will lead to a really big performance next year – more details when it’s all definitely confirmed. And my brother told me he is getting married. Now, I wonder if they will want a poet to perform at the reception…?

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