Strings and roundabouts

… from which you will gather it’s been a bit up and down this week. Monday was pretty much the usual – prep and emails; by the end of the day I was actually up-to-date with all the emails, which always makes me feel happy and in control (hah!) Not only that, I undercoated and glossed the front door frame, so that’s one job ticked off the list. Furthermore, I did some gardening, removing three bags of superfluous foliage, brambles, nettles, etc., and I mowed the back lawn (or moss and weed patch, to be accurate). The Poetry on Loan poetry competition closed at midnight, and I did a bit of work sorting the entries.

Tuesday was good, too – I ran a workshop for a lovely group called the Coachhouse Writers, in Stourbridge. They were great – up for anything, even though some of them see themselves as solely prose writers. I finished creating the competition longlist in the afternoon, did some more prep, and wrapped my mum’s birthday presents. In the evening I saw Me and Earl and the dying girl, which was better than I had expected; a very unsentimental approach.

After sending and replying to some emails on Wednesday, I went to meet an Australian visitor who works over there for an organisation rather like Artlift; we went to the Artlift group in Stonehouse so she could see how we do things and find out more. I collected the Artlift email on the way home. When I came back, I found a letter from HMRC – a tax rebate! Well, that’s always nice. I did quite a bit of Artlift work in the afternoon and evening.

On Thursday I was working in Hereford hospital. As I was getting in my car at 12:10, I realised that the post office place in Tewkesbury, where they keep undelivered mail, closes at 1 pm. I had to get there, because The Daughter’s birthday card for my mum was being held there; it couldn’t wait. It was a bit of a mad dash back, and I arrived at 12:57. Result! I also collected (not from the post office) a helium balloon. I can’t take my mum flowers because they don’t allow them in the hospital, and she didn’t want any cake, so this was the best alternative I could come up with. I was a bit concerned about having it bobbing about on its string in my car all the way to Hull, but it was neatly wrapped in a festive binbag. And off I went to Hull for the weekly hospital visit. In the evening I marked my group of the PoL longlist poems, and the next morning did some stuff for the Ledbury Poetry Festival.

My mum enjoyed her birthday; she is making a very good recovery and expressing strong opinions about what should happen next, which must be a good sign. It was a long drive back on Friday, but no rest – I spent the evening on emails and the writeup of the hospital work. To be honest, these days away each week are beginning to get me down.

On Saturday I did my weekly accounts and had a long call with The Brother about my mum. And I dealt with the snail mail, which had built up into a tottering heap on the dining table. I had quite a lazy afternoon.

And on Sunday – ooh! The Bloke and I went on the long zip wire over a quarry near Chepstow – again, something that had been booked a long time ago, or I would have said I had no time to do it. The first go was vaguely disappointing, because I just swung round and went backwards, but we asked how to steer, and the second time managed to do nearly the whole trip facing forwards. Very satisfying. I did a bit more of the LPF work in the evening, after a long call with The Daughter.

And this morning I ran a course with the lovely Jonny Fluffypunk. It went down really well! Great enthusiasm from all the participants, which of course makes all the difference.

The big question this week is – will the strings of work responsibility pull harder than the strings of family responsibility? Will I get to Hull? I have to say that it’s not the most inviting prospect – but we’ll see.

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