The best laid plans

Like all the best laid plans, my thoughts that I would be reaching the end of my deskwork have gone awry. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have done a lot this week, but not enough; it’s never enough.

On Monday I did a lot of Poetry on Loan work and prep and gardening, and caught up with the emails. Tuesday was my Cheltenham group. There aren’t many of them, but they have a really good go at everything, and we have a bit of fun as well. My session at the hospital was not so good this week. Very occasionally, I meet someone there whose views I disagree with profoundly; of course, I don’t say this, but I would really like to argue. And anyway, it’s not about me. I went to an Artlift board meeting, which was interesting, and answered yet more emails.

On Wednesday I did some prep for the school I’m working with in Ledbury and for the school in Birmingham, and practised – because in the evening I was in the Bristol Hammer & Tongue Regional Final Slam. I missed getting into the final three by 0.1 of a mark. I wouldn’t have won, anyway – as I’ve said before, I’m just not angry enough. Home late.

I spent nearly all of Thursday at the school in Ledbury. The kids are going to do group performances of poems they have written collaboratively. We started by seeing the performances, as far as they had got up to. They were universally dreadful – but the kids are great, and knew they had a lot of work to do. With some constructive criticism (and I’m brutal in my criticism) and some ideas to get them started, they got going, and by the end of each session we had some really good performances. The group going on first will just blow the audience away.

Friday was a really busy day. After doing my weekly finances, I went to Birmingham for my first session with a new class at the school. I gave them a quick introduction to taking good photographs, and we went for a walk to a nearby duck pond. En route they took loads of photographs – 408 of them – and they had all got the idea of taking photos of the interesting and unusual. Of course there were quite a few photos of the ducklings, but who could resist that? The kids were lively and enthusiastic.

Afterwards, I drove to Ludlow, for a Poetry on Loan event with Sir Andrew Motion. He arrived only 15 minutes before the event was due to start, but we did a quick sound check and got going only a minute or two late. But then – disaster! I was sitting in the front row, and I was handed a note by the front of house manager. People at the back couldn’t hear him! Would I go on stage and ask him to use a different microphone? Unfortunately, Sir Andrew was reading (with his beautiful voice) from his latest book, which is one long poem; he started with a 20-minute extract, so I had to wait until this was finished before I could do anything. I called him off stage, and the foh manager went on stage and asked people to move nearer the front. Sir A looked very disgruntled, but with the other mic all was fine and everyone could hear. Afterwards I apologised, and he said that it was fine and he completely understood, so that was ok after all. I got home late again.

And over the weekend I’ve done gardening and emails, and cleaned the house, and done a lot of Poetry on Loan work, and started getting ready for next Friday’s session at the Birmingham school.

And now – well, the plans are that I’ll have finished my school prep today, and started contacting poets whose events I’m managing for the Ledbury Poetry Festival, and prepared for my final Young Writers’ session in Evesham, and packed and sent the things I’ve sold on eBay. But we all know what happens to plans…

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