This is my life

Busy. That’s my life. On Monday I did a gig at Raise the Bar, in Bath. I’ve never done a Raise the Bar gig before, and my expectations proved to be correct – the audience were all much younger than I am. I was sure they wouldn’t like me or my stuff – but in fact it was one of the best gigs ever. They laughed in all the right places, and were quiet and thoughtful in all the other right places, and even gave me a standing ovation. Wow! A fantastic evening, although I was a bit surprised to find that I was the only one there who knew it was Shakespeare’s birthday. Never mind; it’s useless information really.

Before that I’d paid some Poetry on Loan invoices, and afterwards I found it hard to sleep. But Tuesday was back to normal, sort of. I went to Birmingham for a meeting with the people from Stan’s Café about the new project in a school in Birmingham. They are good people, and I’m really pleased to be working with them. I did some gardening when I got back, and handled emails up to Sunday, and in the evening saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was pleasant enough, but you got very little feeling for how bad things were in the Channel Islands during the war.

Wednesday was planning, for a gig on Saturday and for my first session at the school. In the afternoon I had a really good session at the hospital, and almost caught up with the emails.

I’m still writing a poem every day; the more recent ones haven’t been that good though, and today is the last. But a lot of progress has been made on my new book – the contents are in their final version now, and after several false starts, the cover is just about right too. What I’m really excited about is that the photograph used for the cover is one of mine. I don’t see myself as a visual person at all, and to have my photo on the cover of my book is a delight.

On Thursday I went to the gym for my yoga class, only to find that it had been cancelled, but this meant that I could catch up with all the emails, do a bit of outside painting, mow the grass, and even do a little light weeding.

I’ve been running every day, even when it’s been raining, and even on Friday, when I had my first session with the school. This was an introduction to writing poetry and to photography – they’re going to be taking photos and using them as starting points for poems. For me to give anyone an introduction to photography is a bit of a joke, but the Stan’s Café people had done all the work for this previously, and the kids really got the hang of it all. They’re a lively bunch, with lots of good ideas, and the school is brand-new and amazing.

While I was there Roger McGough phoned me. Roger McGough! I’d asked him to write an endorsement for my book, and he very kindly phoned to say that although he really liked the poems, he gets asked to do these all the time, and if he did one he’d have to do all of them, so he was saying no. This is what I expected, but I was touched that he would actually phone to tell me.

In the evening I had a gig at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival – very different from Monday; a small audience who laughed only very quietly and politely. Several of them came up afterwards to say how much they’d enjoyed it, though. Afterwards I was a judge for the PoFest slam; I enjoy doing this, and the right poet won.

On Saturday yet another gig, this time in Henley-in-Arden, with a smallish but lovely audience. And on Sunday I had a bit of a rest, although I did go out and buy extra rollers for my outside painting. Now all I need is a bit of dry weather and a bit of time to get it done…

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