Another year over…

I’ve done my end-of-year accounts this week. Finding the sort of work that I do is difficult at the moment, as everyone knows, and this is reflected in my accounts to a certain extent. I’ve submitted more than twice as many invoices this year for about the same amount of money as I earned last year; I’ve managed to find as much work, but it has tended to be bitty. My business mileage has gone down considerably, mostly because I’m not driving a long way each week to HMP Shrewsbury, where I was writer in residence until it was closed in March 2013. But I’ve had enough work and enough income to pay the bills, so I don’t yet need to go for my planned third career of working at B&Q.

I had a surprise, too. I am one of the group of people whose pensionable age is not on a birthday; for my group, the pension age gradually goes up. I was confidently expecting to be eligible for a state pension later next year, but this week I had a letter to say that I reach pensionable age on July 6th this  year. Suddenly I felt old! I won’t take the pension yet; I couldn’t think of stopping work, and its value goes up if you defer it. But still – me, a pensioner? You can find out online how much your pension will be; strangely, you can’t do this if you are within four months of your pensionable age, and you have to send in a form instead. I can’t help thinking that you are far more likely to want this information in those four months than at any other time… but never mind.

Anyway, it’s been another busy week. On Monday I handled loads of emails and mail, and undercoated the patio doors. In the evening we had the TADS AGM, and straight afterwards, the second rehearsal for Quartet. The cast is beginning to get into their characters now, and they made me laugh out loud at some points; always a good sign! When I got home I did all my accounts.

On Tuesday morning I went to the hospital, but it was one of those frustrating times: whenever I started working with someone they were called in for their appointments. I did work with one very interesting chap, though. In the afternoon I glossed the doors, and tried to give blood, but they were short-staffed and only taking people with certain blood groups – not mine. I felt rejected! I wrote the minutes of the TADS meeting and mowed the grass, and answered yet more emails.

On Wednesday I had two very promising phone calls about work for Ledbury Poetry Festival. It’s probable that these will lead to some work in June and September, which is good news. Both the people concerned had had good reports about me from other people, which is terrific; it’s always good to know that people think you have done a good job. I had another long call about my work with the young writers, as well, and then worked with my GP surgery group. They were brilliant! We are writing a little play, and they’ve really got into the spirit of it.

In the evening I went to see Long way down. It wasn’t the greatest movie of the year, but it was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. But by the time I got home I was really tired. I should have known – when I just can’t stay awake even though it isn’t late, it’s usually the sign of a migraine, or at least a really bad headache, and sure enough I woke on Thursday almost unable to hold my head up. I had to cancel a radio interview and go back to bed. By the middle of the afternoon I was able to function again, and caught up with all the emails and planted some raspberry canes I had brought back from my mum’s garden.

It was the last meeting of my prison poetry group in the evening. We had an open mic session without the mic, and they all stood up and read some of the poems they had written; well done them. A good evening! And they gave me more poems to add into their book; I can’t get it printed yet, though, because I’m waiting for the official word on whether the book can include their full names. This could be a long wait.

On Friday I did my weekly accounts, and finished writing a poem, and cleaned the house, and went to Liverpool with the Son and his friend for a very special Lightning Seeds gig, with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. We had a box! It was a great evening, but by the time we had taken the friend home, it was late and I didn’t get to sleep until after 2:30 am.

Also on Friday I was asked to take over another young writers groups, whose leader had lost her voice! By Saturday I knew it was definite, so I did some prep and set off. It was a small group, but I made them work really hard and they wrote some excellent stuff.

And on Sunday I went out and bought a wheelbarrow. What an exciting life!

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