I know a number of poets / writers who can honestly make this claim; they are talented visual artists as well. I am not, as anyone who has played Drawsomething with me will know, although getting a GCE ‘O’ level in art was one of my greatest achievements.
But I’m not bad at the sort of painting that involves putting stuff on walls. I’m thorough, and painstaking when it comes to the black beams which make painting my house rather difficult. This week I’ve been painting my office. Ok, to be really thorough I should have moved all the furniture out, but it’s filing cabinets and bookcases, and it would have taken a week to move it all out and another week to move it all back again, and I don’t have that sort of time available, so I just painted round the big stuff. And now it looks bright and lovely; just the woodwork to go and it will be finished.
I’ve done other stuff too, of course – it’s only a very small office! On Monday I answered emails, and prepared for my GP surgery session and for the young people I work with in Hereford, and did some practice for my gig on Tuesday, and did some Poetry on Loan work and some stuff for the prison, and typed up and sent a poem I’d been asked to write for a World War 1 event, and did some prep for the probation service event, and went to the gym for a swim. No painting, though.
More emails on Tuesday, and I wrote a short poem to perform at the event that evening – the theme was current affairs, and I didn’t really have anything appropriate, so I thought I should make the effort. I cleared half the office, filled the cracks, and gave it its first (very streaky) coat of paint.
In the evening I had a gig in Kidderminster. Why doesn’t Kidderminster have name signs on its roads? Are they worried about invaders? The gig went well, although I do think 15 minutes is a very short slot when you’re billed as one of the two headliners – I’d have liked a bit more, really. And there was no pay, not even travel expenses, which always seems a bit of a shame. Never mind; everyone seemed to have a good time.
On Wednesday I made some revisions to the probation event plan, and gave the first half of the office a second coat, and ran my GP surgery session. Next week I’ll have a few more people, which will be good. A third coat of paint, and I took a photo of the ceiling. The difference between the painted half and the unpainted half was quite wonderful, and very rewarding.
In the evening I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you like films, especially slightly quirky ones, then you must go and see this – it was an absolute delight. Even the lady who gave us the tickets and sold us some popcorn and pop was lovely.
On Thursday I had to do the GP surgery writeup and some PoL stuff before I could start on the second half of the office. The walls were even worse here than on the first half, so I washed them with sugar soap, before their first coat. And in the evening I went to the cinema again to see a live transmission of Warhorse, the play. This was very clever, but it suffered a bit from being filmed; what looks perfectly normal on stage seems overacted on film, with close-ups and different camera angles. And while the horse and goose puppets were terrific, the ships and some other bits were just naff. I think I’ve been spoilt by films.
On Friday I ran out of paint. I was using a can of matt paint (I usually use silk finish), which would have been enough if I’d only needed two coats instead of three. Fortunately The Bloke had a nearly full can of matt paint, so I used that to finish the painting in the evening. Meanwhile I did my accounts, and proofread the book of pieces written by the GP surgery group, and handled emails, and did some PoL work, and went to the gym.
On Saturday I had my young people’s groups in Hereford. They were terrific. I made them work really hard and they came up with some great, imaginative stuff.
And on Sunday I had a real treat. In Spoonley woods, above SudeleyCastle in Winchcombe, are the remains of a Roman villa. Among these, just covered by a piece of plastic sheeting weighted down with stones, is a lovely mosaic floor. It’s a five-mile round-trip walk to get to see this, but it was a lovely afternoon and The Bloke and I did it. It was well worth the effort, just for the pleasure of this strange treasure, unguarded and quiet in the middle of the wood. And it was so nice to be able to walk this far; I couldn’t have done it a year ago, when I was still in the fracture boot and on crutches. I couldn’t have been a painter then, either – but then I never really could have been.