Jumping hurdles

November this year is like a hurdle race – lots of things to be prepared for and then done. Real hurdlers just stride across the hurdles, though; I’m not very big so each one seems like a leap. But that’s quite enough of that metaphor. It’s been a busy week with a lot of driving.

Monday was prep for the Birmingham school work, and a good rehearsal. On Tuesday I spent some time with one of the cast who we knew would have difficulty with his lines; he’s very anxious but made good progress. I called in at my local bookshop to confirm arrangements for a book launch, and went to see some thrones. As you do. These were possibles for the play, but in fact they were much too big, although they might be useful on another occasion. I finished the prep for Birmingham and got up to Sunday’s emails, and did some practice.

On Wednesday morning I was running a course for Poetry on Loan, on self-publishing with Lulu. I was a bit worried about this, because it relied on the tech stuff working, but apart from a late start and a few minor glitches it all went well. Phew! Another hurdle jumped. In the afternoon I paid Poetry on Loan invoices and did some prep for a gig on Thursday. In the evening I saw Widows, which was ok but didn’t, in my view, merit the high critics’ ratings; it should have been 20 minutes shorter.

I was a bit concerned because I had a very sore throat, and a big day on Thursday. I answered more emails, and went off to do my session in the Birmingham school. They are a lively class at the best of times, and now they have a maternity cover teacher who they were meeting for the first time; a handful of them were very disruptive, and it was really hard work – not just for me and their teacher, but also for some of the quieter kids. One of them even asked if he could put on his noise-cancelling headphones. My voice was beginning to go – but I had to drive to Bristol for a gig at Raise the Bar. It took me two hours to reach the outskirts of Bristol, and an hour to get to the venue, but fortunately I had left a lot of leeway and I arrived half an hour before the gig was due to start. And my voice lasted out, and the set went down really well! Two more hurdles crossed.

When I got home I wrote a poem, because I’ve been reading a book of poems by another poet – I won’t say who – which got me really cross because they seem to be so random. I wrote the poem to show how easy it is to create this sort of pretentious drivel. Who knows? It might win a competition! Some of the poetry establishment like this sort of thing. Ok, rant over.

Friday was a catch-up day. I had planned to work in the hospital, but I can’t go in there if I’m at all unwell, because many of the patients have low resistance to infections, and I wasn’t sure if my throat was an infection or what. Instead, I did write-ups, Poetry on Loan work, work on the play, rehearsal prep, entered a poetry competition (not with the new poem!), and answered emails – just about up-to-date with these by the end of the evening.

I’d planned to do most of the prep for the next Birmingham session on Saturday morning, but I had a call to say that my cousin has had a stroke and was in hospital, which meant more phone calls to tell other people. In the afternoon I drove to Rugby for the performance of the WW1 poems written at the school I worked in last week. The boys were terrific! I was so proud of them.

And on Sunday I drove to Kingston (Surrey, not Jamaica) to visit my cousin. He’s ok, with just a little problem with his speech. That took nearly all day, and I was tired by the time I got back – so no work at all.

I’ve still got a few more hurdles left before the end of the month – three gigs this week, for a start – so it’s back on the track now. On my marks…

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