The Hard Way or The Easway.

For once in life the Easyway is the best way. Even better than the hardway.  In this blogpost  I will skim through events from  Sunday 3rd November until this  exact moment.

Sunday November  3rd. 10.30am.  Live interview with Cerys Mathews for BBC Radio 6  in central London

Then straight to Paddington station. from Paddington to Yeovill in Somerset.

Go for a walk in Yeovil Country Park  to feel the sun go down. Then later I read from My Name Is Why at The Swan Theatre for Yeovil Literature Festival. Sold out ages ago.

Wake on Monday  4th November and catch a train to Royal Hotel in Weston Super Mare.

I stay in Weston Super Mare for The day taking random selfies like a wierdo and checking out the town and the people.  One of the strange joys of beinng a performer over thirty years is to  to see how cities and towns change.

On Tuesday 5th November 10.30am I give a workshop at Winter Gardens Pavillion.

And then at  3pm to 4.30pm I read from My Name Is Why to a rapt audience.  Then travel back to London arriving home for

Wednesday November 6th at 6am  podcast in Clapton.  10am – 3pm business meeting in Clapton.  6pm to 10pm Manchester International Festival Artsitic Advisors meeting on  Southbank. Home for11.30pm. Thursday November 7th  Clapton 8am meet with lawyer and barrister then  to Paddington Station arriving at hotel  in Stroud in darkness. It’s beautiful I am told.

The hotel is called The Painswick.  It is all kinds of Soho House beautiful.  Maybe better. Later that night I perform at the Goods Shed which was designed by Brunel for Stroud Book festival. Book Signing ends 11pm.  Hotel sleep. Midnight. Basically it is really difficult to sleep soundly after these events because none of them are the same. They are all  deeply personal and I can’t pretend. I can’t trick myself into pretending to be present,   

5am Friday November 8th catch 6.15am train from Stroud back to Paddington

Then I arrive at Raynes Park for 10.30am to  start a  course called EASYWAY  to stop smoking.  I have paid for this course. It’s important I do it to the end. 

At 3.30pm I had my last cigarette then caught the train from Raynes Park to Middlesborough aarriving middlesborough 11pm. There’s been flooding.

6am on Saturday 9th November I get ready and then by 8am I walk to The Curve at Teeside Univerisity for Hackathon and  at 9.30am deliver the keynote opening speech at  the conference and it is an emotional one.  A really emotional one. And rightly so. I am raced to the train station and thankfully I catch the 10.43am

The 10.43am train  to London.  I arrive at 3pm and get home for 4pm .

At 7.30pm I attend the Artangel Annual Artists Dinner held at The Museum of the order of St John in  St John’s Gate.  And at 10.30pm I gave the speech.   Thankyou Anna Chojnicka for being my guest. 

One hundred and fifty artists relaxing in one room. I knew alot of them: The Wilson Sisters, , Grayson Perry, Philipa Perry,  Jeremy Deller. I was sat next to Carol Morley and Lavinia Greenlaw and Hannah Berry.  But I was tired. So tired and so happy to have quit smoking.  My veins were bubbling with new oxygen but my actually body was saying rest Lemn. See these events I have been doing…. I can’t do them by half… and now I am at this dinner…. I have eaten the first course…. and it’s going over time…. it’s 10.30pm…. I have to be awake at 4.30am to get my flight to Sydney Australia… I haven’t prepared for this….. because it’s not a reading….therefore its going to be difficult to know what to say…. 

I had the most wonderful chat with actor Fiona Shaw and writer  Sonali Deraniyagala.  I went back to my seat and then stood up at my table. And I gave a speech.  I gave a speech to a room of speakers. The only guarentee I could give is that I would give my all.  There was some form of standing ovation.    Got home for midnight. 

News. I will be reading from  Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats to launch the recording on 24th November at The British Library in Kings Cross.    Then on 28th November Body and Soul celebration of lost Birthdays at The Library on St Martins Lane.  Different library.  I urge you to come. It’s a fundraiser and it’ll be good.  There’s tons of other events and they should be on my website.

I stayed awake all night in fear that if I slept I would miss my plane. I am at the airport ready to fly to Sydney. Posting this.   Tell me about My Name Is Why and whom you might buy it for at Christmas.  My Christmas present is that I quit.  I will never smoke a cigarette again.  And I feel wonderful. It is called Easyway for a reason.  However the flight is not easy at all.  Send me some good news so that when I land I  feel the love.

37 thoughts on “The Hard Way or The Easway.

  1. Gosh that’s a brilliant schedule of meeting and reading and performing. Your book is sobering, enlightening, overwhelming. I was at a teacher training college in Warrington in the 70’s. Your experiences resonated in so many ways. I missed tickets for the BBC readings you are doing at Brooksby’s Walk for the Christmas lunch. Hugely in demand. My daughter lives close by. We are hoping to be involved at least in a similar project next year. It would make Christmas.
    Have a wonderful trip around Australia. Hope you have time to fit in some yoga or mindfulness. I never do . But it’s worth it.

  2. Dear Lemn, the world’s a better and changed place for knowing your story. I hope sleep and peace cradle you as you fly to the sunshine. X

  3. Well done quitting smoking Lemn – you can do anything you set your mind to. I listened to your audio book as I said I would & have bought your book for my sister in law for Xmas. She, like me, will love your honesty & resilience. Mother in law has your poetry book & I hope I receive it too.
    Your visit to The Swan in Yeovil was very powerful & timely for me – thank you – and I loved meeting you. You are doing some great work and I hope you feel fulfilled and valued – enjoy life Lemn xx

  4. Wowzers that’s one heck of a schedule no wonder you’re tired. Well done on quitting smoking and here’s hoping you get a bit of time for yourself in Aus. It’d be a shame to go all that way and not see some of the country. In terms of Christmas presents I would buy my name is Why for a friend who had a childhood which involved loss and rejection which impacts everyday. You’re an amazing person Lemn Sissay

  5. Lemn I’m thinking of buying “My Name is Why” as a Christmas present for my son. He is studying Sociology and Criminology and is choosing to study care leavers for his disitation.

  6. Lemn take care of yourself, you don’t want to be heading for a breakdown. Find yourself some meditation time. You don’t have to find a quiet place if there isn’t one. Just go inside yourself and BREATHE. Always more out than in. We don’t want you become lightheaded. Go well you brave man, long warm hug, Dorli xx

  7. It’s not an easy flight, Lemn. It wasn’t bad when I was 17 but now at 40, it’s just a really, really long way! But I’m so glad you’re taking this trip because I can’t wait to see you at Byron next weekend. Thank you for your wonderful book. Promoting it must feel at times like an emotional roller coaster but I’m grateful you’re sharing it. Enjoy the cigarette-free living!

  8. Wow! I’m worn out just reading your schedule! Well done for quitting smoking – perfect timing so you weren’t desperate for a fag on the long flight to Sydney! You’re endless energy and enthusiasm for life is truly inspiring. I hope you have a fabulous time in Australia and take time for yourself to relax (and enjoy your new found freedom from cigarettes!!)

  9. Dear Lemn,
    I don’t know if you’ll read this but there’s something I wanted to let you know.

    I’m an English teacher. Four years ago a boy in my Year 11 form class was kicked out by his nan. I took him in, expecting to just be a sort of land lady to him. I didn’t expect to be hit by a juggernaut of love for him, to feel relief when I put the bolt on the front door of a night knowing he was home and safe. To realise that I wanted to be a mum. I think he loved being with me too.

    All went well until about 5 months down the line when he went home to see his mum for Mother’s Day (he didn’t want to live with her because of her MH / drug issues. I always encouraged him to see her regularly tho, and helped him to patch things up with his nan). When he came back from the visit it was like he’d turned into a different person. He was so angry and aggressive, and I seemed to be to blame for it all. He told me he’d never liked me and wanted to leave. He began staying out all night and wouldn’t answer my calls or texts. The social worker organized for him to move on. I begged him to stay, told him that this was his home and that he was loved and wanted here. But he left on 8th April 2016 at 1.50pm with his support worker. And I haven’t seen or spoken to him since.

    I tried to keep in touch via text, but he blocked me. In the end I realised I had to respect his wishes so I stopped contacting him. Last year he texted me out of the blue, to ask if he could come and see me . I was so excited and happy – but he didn’t show up.

    Every now and then I hear about how he’s doing from someone else (I think he’s doing ok). It kills me to hear his name mentioned. Sometimes I think I see him on the street and I feel like my heart will stop. It never is him tho. The pain has never lessened, I think of him all the time, from the moment I wake up until I go asleep at night and all the moments in between. I tell myself I have no right to feel like this, he isn’t mine, but it makes no difference. In the end all that matters is that he is well and happy. And if that means having nothing to do with me, then so be it.

    Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all this is because one of the things I find really difficult is not being able to buy him Christmas or birthday presents. A few months after he left I heard about The Christmas Dinners and how you can send presents anonymously to the young people. So that’s what I do. His 21st is coming up in a couple of weeks. I buy two presents on Amazon. It really does help me. Selfish I know.

    Really admire all that you do – saw you a couple of years ago at The Turnpike.

    Best wishes,

  10. Here is some good news. My father never knew his mother, because his father took him away when he was small because his mother was drinking.
    The good news is we are connected because of this. Because loss of family is shared.
    And to be connected is a human good, as good as, or even better than, being biologically connected.
    I think this is right?

  11. Ah, such beautiful news. Mind/body/soul without the cigs, and you’ll be interstellar! Look out world. The work you do connects so deeply with so many ~ hard-earned and so, so generous.
    Life, be kind to Lemn in return. Love, and love again.

  12. Lemn, I’m at home. Just came back from a book presentation here in Pisa. Before reading this incredible post, I was already thinking of you, how generous you are to your audience.
    I really take part in a lot of cultural events, but I’ve NEVER attended anything which could be remotely comparable to what you do. You are an incredibly talented artist, your performances are unique, and you are also a wonderful person, who always respects the audience. I’ve seen you signing hundreds of books even when you had to catch a train soon after that. This post shows that you give all of yourself in what you do.
    And I’m happy and honoured to come to see you whenever I can.
    Enjoy Sidney and breathe deeply. I know from friends that when you stop smoking you can smell again!

  13. Evening/morning whichever you are experiencing right now 🙂 You’re busy, i’m building up to my busiest time sorting the logistics out for these here quilts !! And something i have learnt from all this is that i work with so many people who are care experienced and I had no knowledge of that – i’m so proud of them. I’m about to do some work with my local care leavers users group – tea time gran at Room 42 – and i’m going to buy their PA Phil a copy of “My name is Why”. I’m sure he’ll lend it out. Keep smiling my friend 😉

  14. Dear Lemn, I hope you are keeping well in Australia. Good luck with the stopping thing, I stopped at 50 and never looked back. I know you are very busy, but I would love to catch up properly one of these days. You have my number. lol Let me know when you do one of your meet-ups in Londinium and I will try and attend. Else might come to the Possoms thing, I love that book. Rosie.

  15. Oh my goodness. I got it!!!!!!
    Yes, I understand now why your mom named you Why.

    Lemn, I don’t have enough words or to express how deeply your story moved me…. thank you, thank you, thank you for putting out your story. God bless you,

    a friend and a sister…

  16. I am impressed by Lemn’s honesty.
    I am happy that you have quit smoking voluntarily.
    You do not need to pay for that poison.
    Breathe freely and deeply.
    The word is yours, inhale the good air among the roses and thorns.
    Continue being creative and generous. Now you know why.
    You need this to enjoy and live each day.
    Be Blessed!

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