annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary



Here I am in Sheffield Waterstones, part of the pre-workshop write-in. Doing it in Word, as last night’s post vanished into thin air. B, in real life, sat opposite me, writing, instead of being trapped in a tiny square in gallery view on a screen.
The grief event was very moving and comforting. The chapel in the cemetery was nothing like I’d imagined – the chapel itself had those massive column outside, like an ancient Greek monument, giving a sense of importance, more than a flat roofed modern building would have done. Inside there was a display of artefacts and work, words and images, people mooching around, others part of the exhibition, greeting me when I arrived. It was a bolt of shock to see my Sammie’s face, already there, part of it all. I didn’t know any of them but once you know you’re all there because you’ve lost someone you loved the normal barriers
The cemetery itself was utterly wonderful, abandoned to nature, forty years ago, then partially reclaimed – there will be photos when I get home and can add them – massive ancient trees towering into the sky, forming a lush green canopy, ornate Victorian gravestones partially hidden by ivy, lots of women’s stones with names like Flora Parkin. Lovely. Just that made me so glad I’d travelled here (tho also sad that I never made it when Ligia was here).
Then the exhibition closed, a cups of tea or beers all round, and then the reading. I went first, after B introduced the event, reading the poem about the grief swimmers, which choked me up a bit in places – like reading the names – we always start a swim by dedicating it to our lost children – which is not really my thing but H suggested it as it’s what she’s always done and the others like it so I go along – so I started the reading by saying their names: I’m reading this for my Sammie, for H’s Matthew, etc and it did feel so sad, so awful to have so many names, so many lost children. But I took a deep breath and on I went – I’d felt as if I was used to reading my work, having done so many workshops, but they’ve mostly been online or in mental health institutions with people I know – not the same as standing on a stage, speaking into a mike to a room full of strangers. When I looked up, there were quite a few eyes brimming over with tears – does that constitute success?
I went first so I could concentrate on the others who, as ever, were a motley bunch (which reminds me that H, a member of our Monday zoom group, came along during the day and she’d seen Motley Crew in concert the night before and her ears were still ringing). I was followed by A, a young person who started by saying “Hello, my name is A, I have autism, I am transgender and I am a Ukrainian refugee. What I read will be fiction but it is fiction from the truth of what happened.” Shocking tales, so much more than I can imagine surviving, let alone surviving into being a chirpy little soul, making a life in a foreign land, learning to speak and write a new language and use it so powerfully.

Now I’m on the train south, feeling a bit of a fraud writing on my laptop on a train, like I’ve seen a lot of smartly dressed young people doing, not so many scruffy old women in a dress they’ve been wearing since Sunday, with big fat wodges of tuna between their wobbly teeth. I missed the train I was booked on because I saw London, St Pancras, Platform 5 and headed straight there without checking which time train that was. There followed a sequence of events that could have been set to that godawful Benny Hill soundtrack as I lugged my self and my two bags up and down staircases in search of the right platform for the 13.37 to London. I finally got to the right place just as it pulled out and swore copiously, but the nice young woman in the high vis jacket and headphones scribbled a note on the back of my ticket saying “Please pass on 14.00 as lifts broken at Sheffield” and so far so good.
The workshop was great – so fab to just be sitting round a table, with a mixture of familiar faces from the zoom and a few new ones. It was a big group, twelve of us, so we were only able to do two pieces of writing as that’s a lot of reading out. One of the faces I recognized but hadn’t met in person before was A, who had brought characters from her work in progress to use with the prompts in the workshops, which inspired me to oik out Bella and Paul from the depths of my memory and reinvent them twenty years later. Though they’ve only aged about seven years. So it was great to see A and she was thrilled when I told her she’d inspired me and that I’ve written about 30,000 words since then. And now my battery is running down so I will save and go, having lost the entry I wrote last night. Laters xx

12:17 a.m. - 25.05.23


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