Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Nik told us about some more writing competitions:

A poetry competition for Anxiety UK, poems to be on the theme of anxiety, first prize £50, closing date 31 August; also one for the Whitechapel Society, a Jack the Ripper story competition, the first line being “After the murder everyone was talking about Jack the Ripper”. Length 3000 words max closing date 3 Oct., entry fee £5, winning entry receives £100.

Lisa read about an article she had written for a health centre who was looking to expand their business. They wanted some PR and she wrote this as an editorial. She started off by talking about Henry Allingham who died a few days ago at the age of 113 and gave a synopsis of his life. At the last count in 2006 there were 8970 people aged over 100 years. It is recognized that the population in the UK is aging and that there is a need for preventative medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine benefits the NHS because it saves them money. Holistic studies show that energy medicine will take over from physical substances as a way of dealing with a number of ailments. Energy medicine helps the organs resonate and regenerate themselves. A high tech machine can tell the patients if there is any injury or disease in the body and they will also receive vital information about viruses and allergies. Advice will be given about lifestyle and nutrition, and replacing negative with positive thoughts. Lisa said that Olympic athletes are using this method.

It was thought that Lisa should target this at retirement magazines like “Yours” or “The Oldie” or “Lifestyle.”

Cynthia read a poem about going to the gym.

Mary read a poem she was intending to send to a competition called “How to Listen” which could only be 12 lines.

“To listen with your ear would be a good start

She was finding it difficult to write a poem in 12 lines and the group thought she could double up the lines making it twice the length,

Ian read a poem about Hopes Spring. It tells of news of an unborn child,
“The day draws near, there is a little fear for you know there will be pain
In your mind you hope you will find the strength to do it all again”

The last line is, “Is my child all right?”

It brought back memories to the ladies of childbirth, never forgotten.

Douglas had written a book review about Troubled Midnight by John Gardner. He has written 53 novels, including the Moriati novels, Susie Mountford books and others. This one is a detective story about two officers from Scotland Yard. There had been a double murder in the context of a military operation. We know who the murderer is from the beginning, although not his real name. At the end we find out about the villain; he escapes to France under a cloud back to his German handlers. It said on the cover that the author was a ‘master story teller’, but Douglas thought that the book was ‘rubbish.’ The structure was wrong - saying who the murderer was up front - and the dialogue was dreadful. There was a long paragraph about ITMA the wartime radio comedy programme which he thought was entirely superfluous. He found the book very Boys Own’ish. He called the piece “Assassination of an author.”

Nik said the Moriaty series was good but agreed that this particular book by James Gardner was not up to scratch. Rob said that Book Army, which has a link from the blog, has reviews of other books.

Glyn wrote on the topic “To be honest I am not fond of my own company.” The story was about a Publican and his assistant James. They both had another job besides the pub. They fly on an aircraft to somewhere for a job and are met by an army officer who explains that Hameln where they are going is very bleak as the town had been devastated during the war. They met again at the officer’s mess the following day and the army officer was pompous about the job that needed doing. The publican stopped him short saying that he had 2 rules he followed, preparation and planning. The next day they met at the prison gates. Inside a woman was presented to them, he secured her ankles, she did not plead, accepted her fate and displayed hatred towards her captors. The noose was made ready and she was dispatched from this life. Mr Pierrepoint, the executioner and publican, looked forward to returning home to his pub. He had dispatched 13 people in the time he was in Germany and those 13 souls would accompany him as he drifted off to sleep. The name of his pub was “Help the Poor Straggler”. There were good comments; perhaps there could be more description of Col Schofield.

Rob had also prepared a story on the topic “To be honest I am not fond of my own company”. This was entirely different, being about Jim, a widower. He had 4 children who were busy with their own families and so Maisie, his next door neighbor, had taken him under her wing. He liked Maisie but she was not Beryl, his wife who had died. Beryl had been a good wife and he felt guilty because, as she had been in such pain and he did not want her to suffer, he had helped her to die. His children had suspicions about this and blamed him for the death of their mother. Maisie had come round to prepare him a meal. Some Guinness went into the pie and the rest into glasses for a toast. “To us” he said. Maisie wanted to move things on but Jim tried to stall her. However, they were married 2 months later. Maisie was happy that her plan had worked; it was she who had encouraged Beryl to end her life. She had loved Jim for years and it was now game over.

Nik thought it needed to be a bit longer for a short story, and that perhaps it should be written from Maisie’s point of view only, rather than from two points of view.

Nik read out a story he was going to send off to Western Anthology. It was being edited at present by an American living in Japan.

Kate and her children were alone in their farmstead when they heard horses coming. Her husband was away at the time. Her stomach churned with fear. They moved the animals into the barn, shut the well and she made the Winchesters ready and closed the windows and door. Four Apache Indians rode up in a row and beyond were another 8 on horseback with lances, Kate stepped on to the porch to speak to them. They wanted water for their horses. The Apaches said they had to search for food because they had been given bad food by the white men. Kate had helped the women at the reservation with childbirth and had recognized the main redskin as Grey wolf. A young redskin hit her across the face and she fell, her son then .shot him. She fell through the door…

It was very cruel of Nik to leave us on tenterhooks as to what happens. Hopefully he will be able to read the rest of the story next week. If for no other reason, than this will shorten the time taken up by the dreaded “hot pen.”!



  1. Yes it was a good meeting, even if we were a bit down on numbers due to holidays etc.

    PS Cynthia what happened to the photo?

  2. Thanks, Cynthia - good condensation of various readings: a writing skill in itself.