One and all

How many people do you need to make a workshop? I’ve had quite a variation this week, which has been on the busy side. I’ve got a project on with Age Concern, working with carers in Birmingham. On Monday I went back to the place where I was a fortnight ago; nobody turned up then, but I had one person this time – really keen and interested. It’s not easy when you’re the only participant in a workshop; it all becomes very intensive, but she did fine.

I came home and did the writeup and my end-of-month accounting, and some Poetry on Loan work, and then handled the pile of emails.

On Tuesday I was back at another centre in Birmingham; this time – yes, one person turned up. She was lacking in confidence, but once she had persuaded herself that she wasn’t doing it all wrong she was fine, too. More writing up and prep for the rest of the week, and then in the evening we went to see The butler. It was ok; just a touch on the saccharine side, though.

And on Wednesday, as part of a different project, I ran a workshop in Dudley. The room was full, and buzzing with ideas. We covered an incredible amount, and I think they all had a good time. I went straight from there to an Artlift meeting about evaluation procedures, which was interesting and worthwhile. This project now has a bigger database of patient / participant records than any other, and it’s already shown the worth of the work we’re doing. We went straight from there to the Artlift Christmas party, held in Blackfriars in Gloucester. As people always say, it’s a wonderful building, but oh! it was cold! It was cold there when I went to a meeting in the summer. Quite a few people came, including some from my group, but it was difficult to enjoy it with numb feet. And I came home to another mountain of emails.

On Thursday I was in the third Birmingham centre for my next workshop. One person turned up. A pattern was establishing itself. She was a lovely lady with a very interesting life to write about, but it would have been better with more people.

I had a Pilates session at the gym, which was hard work but left me feeling good.

In the evening we had a TADS meeting, which was quite short and consisted mostly of thoughts about our next big production. If only the people at the theatre would confirm our dates! I don’t know what to do to get them to reply to my emails and phone calls. More writeups, and prep for my work at the prison. One guy there had asked me to look at a story he’s written and give him feedback. This is always difficult. I think he really wanted me to tell him that it was wonderful, but I couldn’t in all honesty do that. It was a great idea, but he had written the story and not made any attempt to revise it, and it was full of holes and inconsistencies and repetitions. I wrote him some notes, praising him for the good idea and for all the work he had put in so far, and telling him that most writers will revise their work five times or more before they show it to anyone, and I gave him some tips for his rewrite.

On Friday morning I had an excellent session at the hospital with a mother and daughter, and went for a swim; very meditative.

The AA had sent me a renewal quote which was more than £90 more than I paid last year. I knew what to do, because I’ve done it before. I got some quotes online from other motoring organisations, and phoned the AA. They immediately gave me a new quote which was considerably less than the previous one. I’ve been with the AA for 34 years – why do they do this? Sooner or later I’ll get fed up and leave.

Prison in the evening, for a session on war poetry. It was such an interesting discussion that we only just had time to write our own poems. And I’ve been given the entries for the poetry competition to judge. It’s not going to be easy; there are three contenders for the winning prize. Oh dear. And I rounded off the evening with writeups.

On Saturday I typed up some poems I’ve written, and went to Cirencester for a bit of Christmas shopping. It was rather nice, although the market wasn’t as good as last year. And on Sunday The Son came home and we cleared out a big toybox – part of the ongoing office clear-up saga. Now I have space to put all the bags and briefcases that currently live on the floor of my office. Hooray! I put a lot of effort into planning my workshops, and it’s worth it, whether there is one person there or a dozen, and it’s high time I put as much effort into clearing my office. It will be done.

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