Kicks for free

I’ve been thinking a bit this week about working for nothing. I’m quite happy to do the odd charity event, but some people don’t seem to realise that this – writing, performing, etc. – is how I make my living. I have to be paid for most of what I do, or I can’t pay the bills – it’s as simple as that.

Anyway, I try to keep my bills down. On Monday, Justin Heating (that’s not his real name, but it’s how I have his name in my mobile phone) came to fit the thermostat for the new boiler I had last year. It’s set at 21 degrees, but the house hasn’t reached that temperature yet. I hate the cold, but I’m trying to learn to live with it. I had a look at the online tracker provided by my power supplier, and my costs are 36% down from this time last year, so my efforts, plus the efficiency of the new boiler, seem to be working.

Meanwhile, I handled the emails, and in the afternoon worked with my little follow-on group in Tewkesbury. Great fun! The funding for this comes to an end soon. They want to keep meeting, but they would like me to work with them occasionally, and they offered to pay me to do this. They understand! And it’s local, so the transport costs are low, and it will only be for an hour now and then…

In the evening I did some prep for my GP surgery group, and for the play I’ll be directing, and worked on the book of pieces written by the last GP surgery group.

On Tuesday morning I worked at the hospital; inspirational, as usual! I spent some time writing it up, and answered more emails, and did some work on the Poetry on Loan website. One of the library authorities ran a dance and poetry session recently, and I enjoyed putting news of this up.

In the evening I went to see Cuban Fury, which was fun, and had a most satisfactory ending. It made me want to dance, but sadly did not have the same effect on The Bloke.

On Wednesday I did all the prep for some work I’m doing this week at a school in Sutton Coldfield, and worked with my GP surgery group. Well, I say group – I had only one person. He’s had a really interesting life and with a bit of prompting came up with some good stuff, which I wrote up later.

And in the evening I went to the gym. I managed half a zumba class before my foot started complaining, and spent some time on the machines, and had a swim, and then had terrible cramp in my toes. Perhaps a bit too much after a long period of inactivity.

On Thursday I answered the usual host of emails ( I see far more of them than daffodils), and worked on a postcard for a library authority, and put weedkiller on the weeds in the drive, and got a quote for a flyer for the play, and did some prep for the TADS meeting, and did all the prep for a poetry session at the prison this week, and went to the TADS meeting, and did the ironing.

And I started on the newsletter. I am marginally involved with a local organisation whose chair person sends out a newsletter each month. I got so fed up with the dreadful grammar, punctuation, spelling and writing style of this newsletter that I offered to edit it each month. This one was nine pages long, and it took ages. The chair obviously spends even longer on it than I do, and does it for nothing, and I do it freely too. I think of it as voluntary work, although it’s much, much easier than most voluntary work.

On Friday I wrote a poem and did my end-of-month accounting (I’ve invoiced for very little paid work this month), and wrote the minutes for the TADS meeting, and did all the things I had been actioned to do (mostly by me) at the meeting. And went to the gym again; mostly swimming this time, which definitely does my foot good.

In the evening I paid the licence fee for the play – £285 for three performances! It’s not cheap. I managed to get up-to-date with all the emails. I also spent some time looking for books about Tewkesbury on the library catalogue, and reserved some to borrow. This is for my big project – I’m working with Tewkesbury Town Band, who are celebrating an anniversary. I’m writing some songs to go with specially-composed music, for band and choirs, all about various aspects of Tewkesbury’s history. I love projects like this! It’s something for which I have to do quite a lot of research, and work collaboratively with others, with a spectacular end result. And I’m being paid a reasonable amount of money, too, although I will be spending a lot of time on it.

On Saturday I spent some time revising a course I’ll be running in April, and I collected the books from the library. During the week I’ve been applying coats of varnish to my newly-painted house name sign, and on Saturday The Bloke came over to fix it up for me. I’m very proud of it. To get a custom-made one would have cost £85, and it would have been smaller; this one cost me less than £10, and it’s all my own work. The Bloke also fitted a rather nice lamppost outside my house, so I won’t have to grope my way to the door in the dark any more.

And on Sunday we went to the Wilson, which is what Cheltenham’s art gallery and museum is now called, to see Rodin’s The kiss¸ which is there on temporary loan. Oh, you want to touch it! But of course you can’t. The Bloke hadn’t been to the museum before so we had a look round. Some years ago, I had some poems displayed alongside some of the exhibits; these have long gone, but all my favourite things are still there.

This morning I have had an email asking me to write a poem for a local organisation for their World War 1 commemorative event. Shall I do it? Hmm.

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