Poetry sales and shiny boats

A busy week flogging new book Lifemarks, a fundraiser for the MND Association. The Derby launch on Tuesday went brilliantly, with about 20 people including co-editor and MND sufferer Arthur Gardner. Wednesday found me in icy Staffordshire, guest-hosting the Biddulph Literary Society with star storyteller Xanthe Gresham doing Gawain, and I shifted another handful of Lifemarks books. This group is amongst many who’ve been brilliantly supportive during my year as Cheshire Poet Laureate – the post ends soon but I hope the support doesn’t.

Thursday, a meeting to discuss a future poetic/ archaeological/ graphic masterpiece for Derby Hospitals, with friend and collaborator Hannah Fox. Then we headed to That London to see the Wellcome Collection, a newly-opened collection of medical objects and weird stuff. Japanese sex toys, shrunken heads and even the box that Mr Wellcome’s ashes came in….. Fantastic exhibition, beautifully curated and thought-provoking; and FREE, as all museums and galleries should be. And another launch for Lifemarks at the Poetry Cafe – not well attended but it all helps.

I am homeless whilst my boat is painted and on Friday I went up to Poynton to see how Andy Russell, craftsman painter is getting on. Oh, the lump in my throat! I could barely believe this was the boat I left him with a week ago. The rust patches are gone, the dull green paint and patchy anti-slip  has been stripped, and she is a black-and-white mirror-finished princess already. Andy scowled a bit at the memory of the rust, but she looks absolutely bloody marvellous. Sorry purists, I’m changing her name without taking her out of the water (bad luck be damned). She’s no longer Cariad but Tinker. It’s a good solid boat name, and it’s mine too when there are too many Jos in one canal community. Pity my counterpart, Joe the Log (tree surgeon). A week to go before the boat is back in my hands – let’s see if I turn into one of those cap-wearing morons who say ‘MIND THE PAINTWORK’ as they go under every bridge.

Saturday – took Shelley to the airport for her annual I Hate Christmas escape, then back to the House of the Ever Patient Foxes for a last night’s stay,  Orla’s tenth birthday party and a bout of Trivial Pursuit in which Team Tinker resoundingly thrashed the others. Today I finally depart the HEPF, where I’ve been made endlessly welcome during my period of boatlessness, and heading to the glorious Peak to stay with mum and Alan. After all, they are contractually obliged to put me up during such episodes….

Tune in next week for before-and-after pics of Cariad/Tinker, and a gushing page of boaty joy.

Published by Jo Bell

Poet, boater, archaeologist and former director of the UK's National Poetry Day. One third of @OnThisDayShe. Erstwhile UK Canal Laureate.

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