Winning, losing and lemurs

It’s been one of those weeks. Another one of those weeks.
On Monday evening, I did write ups and got up to Friday’s emails, and on Tuesday morning reached Saturday’s. Off to Hereford Hospital, where I worked with two amazing women; this project is going really well. The care home in the afternoon wasn’t so good. I had hoped I could get the ladies to use their imaginations a bit, but it was a struggle. I galloped through Sunday’s emails, and went to see Pride. This is an excellent movie and I can thoroughly recommend it.
And on Wednesday morning, I cooked – a rare thing for me to do. I made chocolate mousse and a fish pie, but of course I still had emails to handle, and I caught up with Monday’s. I did a bit of slam practice, and went to work with my group in Moreton. They are working really hard and getting a lot out of it – but then, that’s how life works, really, isn’t it?
And then – hooray! I went to collect my friend Jackie from the station. Jackie lives in New Zealand and comes back to the UK once a year to stay with her mother. She escapes from her mother for 24 hours or so to be with me, and it’s always lovely. It’s just occurred to me that I have known her for 44 years, yet somehow we always have plenty to talk about. It’s a tradition that I cook fish pie, and we eat too much and drink a little more wine than we normally would.
And on Thursday I had arranged a special treat for her – well, for both of us. They don’t have wildlife parks in New Zealand, and Jackie loves lemurs, so we went to the West Midlands Safari Park, where we drove round and took lots of photos, and then hand-fed the ring-tailed lemurs. It was lovely, with all these gentle, soft furry things all over us, but it was over very quickly. I just had time to change (lemurs have very muddy paws) and get her to the station in time for her train. A sad farewell, and then off to the Ledbury Poetry Festival Board meeting. It will be shorter than last time, the chairman said. Huh! Now I have a lot of minutes to write up.
I did the Hereford hospital writeup when I got home, and lost half of a big filling from a back tooth. Eating crisps. Honestly.
Friday was full on! Weekly accounts; a call to the dentist to arrange a temporary filling, which was done later in the afternoon (with great mirth; I always enjoy going to my dentist); the care home writeup; lots of prep for two slams; more emails; prep for almost everything I’m doing this week; yet more work for the prison book and cd, which is becoming a bit of a headache. I paid my car tax – no disc to show for it now! – and wrote up the actions from the LPF meeting, and did a bit of practice for the Tewkesbury band project. Emails done up to Thursday’s!
On Friday evening I went to the Malvern slam. I’ve won this one once and wouldn’t normally enter again, but they asked me specifically. And I won it! I felt a bit bad about this, because one of the last three was a local poet, and I really though she might have won – but anyway, everyone seemed to have a good time, and that was the important thing.
On Saturday, I did some more slam practice, and reached Friday’s emails, and prepared for my session with young people next Saturday, and zipped into Cheltenham for the slam qualifier. Normally, for the Cheltenham Literature Festival slam, anyone who has won a slam run by Marcus and Sara-Jane gets through automatically to the evening event; I won one of their slams in February. But this year it was different. It was Marcus’ last slam. He’s been doing them in Cheltenham for 20 years, and as a celebration they invited only past winners of the slam to the evening event; other poor fools like me had to go through a qualifier in the afternoon. I did a very serious poem and came third, which meant I was through to the evening event. This was my 18th consecutive appearance in this event – more than anyone else. Not that that wins any prizes.
I came home first for a little sleep – I was so, so tired. And back to Cheltenham again. Now, it’s a kind of long standing joke that I am pulled first out of the hat at slams more than anyone else, and certainly more than you would predict by chance. First out has a big disadvantage, and although people (including me) have won slams after being first up, it’s really quite rare. And yes, my name was pulled out first. The winner of my heat was Elvis McGonagall, who went on to win the event. For quite some time I was the highest-scoring runner up (who goes through to the semi-final), but I was pipped to this position; I missed it by 2 points. At least this meant that I could sit back and relax and listen to the others. It was great, too, to meet so many people who I’ve known for years and not seen for ages. I couldn’t help being a bit sad, though.
And on Sunday we had the first rehearsal of the Tewkesbury band thing with choirs and band together. It was terrific hearing my words come to life! The choirs and the band sounded great, and I think this will be a tremendous event. It’s at 7 pm on Saturday 25th October, in Tewkesbury Abbey, if you’re interested; tickets available from The Roses Theatre box office. The final movement in the piece always brings tears to my eyes; my dad played in brass bands all his life and I can’t help wishing he was still around to hear this.
And then I fell asleep again.
This morning I’ve been to work with a GP surgery group. The lady I had last week didn’t come, and when I phoned her she was full of apologies – she had completely forgotten about it. Meanwhile another person arrived to join the group, but one of the receptionists told her I wasn’t there, even though I had talked to another receptionist when I arrived. Sigh. With any luck I’ll be able to get in contact with her and explain what happened; you never know, we might have a group of three next week!
But I’ve got this week to get through first. No lemurs this week, no slams; no losing, and only the winning that I have from my work every week. And loads of emails.

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