What have we done?

It’s so difficult to look back at a whole year and try to think what has been achieved, if anything. The first three months were spent more or less immobile after my fall from a ladder, so that’s easily dealt with. The prison where I had worked for four and a half years closed, which was a great disappointment to me; I had really enjoyed my work there and found it incredibly rewarding. On the bright side of that, though, I did get all the Koestler entries in and we did phenomenally well. And I used my static period to put together my book, Arbitrary edges (available from your local Amazon store, or – much better – from me directly). It’s sold quite well and people seem to like it, and I’m delighted to have got it done.

I’ve won a few slams, and failed again to get anywhere in the one I would really like to win. I’ve done loads of performances. Although I’m not that keen on festivals, I think my two favourite performances were at festivals – Glastonwick, a beer and punk festival, where much to my surprise I had a fantastically receptive audience; and Lakeside, where I was the only spoken word act – and, again to my surprise, I didn’t have the predicted audience of two people asleep and a dog, but a big and happy audience. Oh – and the Hammer and Tongue national slam final in London was good, too, and I came third. Oh, again – doing a few poems for the Cheltenham mayor-making was good, and got me in the papers; they said I was “risqué”. I was doing the mild ones, I thought. Oh, again again – the Bristol Acoustic night was great, too.

My play Will you marry me? was put on as part of the Worcestershire one act play festival, and won the prize for best original piece of theatre; I just enjoyed seeing it come to life.

My funding bid for Poetry on Loan was successful, and we’ve done loads of good stuff this year, bringing poetry to people who might otherwise have no contact with it.

I’ve had a new central heating boiler, and a new fridge freezer, and a radiator and a complete set of tyres for my car, and been on a lovely holiday to Kefalonia. I wasn’t quite fit, but I felt a lot better for going away. Not much money left!

I’ve written quite a few new poems, some of which I’m quite proud of, and a one-act play, which will probably never be performed.

I’ve seen more than 50 films (favourites probably The World’s End  and Gravity) and loads of books (the Hilary Mantel pair were the best, I think), and found a brilliant new album of music, by my friends The Indelicates. And I’ve had some great outings with The Bloke, and some lovely times with The Son and The Daughter.

And my first boyfriend died. This left me feeling very sad. I wish I had spoken to him recently, but his best friend explained it all to me.

My ex-sister-in-law has been very ill, and it will be some months before she is up and about, and my mum’s been in hospital.

And I’ve run goodness knows how many workshops with groups at various GP surgeries, and in the hospice, and in another prison, and with young people; and worked with some amazing people at the hospital, and this work continues to delight me every time.

I’ve gone a little way towards meeting my last New Year’s Resolution, which was to sort my house out – I’ve taken loads of stuff to the charity shops, and started tidying my office. It’s only just tickled the surface though, really. And, only slightly deterred by my accident, I’ve been up the long ladder and painted the back of the house.

Not a bad year, all in all. Isn’t life wonderful?

And I write that, and think about all the people for whom life isn’t wonderful., and wonder what on earth I could do to make things better.

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