Nik informed writing circlers about various story competitions. He and Rob have approached the Coastrider about sending in stories and poems, but still wait to see if they're willing to pay any money for work that people have worked hard on. In the latest September edition of The New Coastal Press there are 3 articles by TWC’ers, Nourish a blind life by Nik, The Parting by Ian (I didn’t see the end coming) and an obituary by Nik about pianist Larissa Yvonne Snarli who had died in August.
I read out a poem which had to be written on a post card, the sum total of such postcards being displayed at the opening of THE QUAD, a new Arts Centre built in Derby. It had to be only 50 words long and about a tradition, urban myth or rumour concerning Derby. I chose to write about the Derby Ram.
The Derby Ram was an awesome sight, wandering the streets at night
Seeking willing ewes to mount, to ensure his progeny beyond a doubt
Its ghostly presence is still around, where the youth of Derby can be found
Behind THE QUAD at the break of dawn, unwittingly creating the yet unborn
Jane’s story was on one of the suggested themes, “As I sat waiting for a return phone call, I reflected on ...” Jane reflected on a holiday in Cyprus which had been a disaster in the hotel Paradiso, a bit of a misnomer. On the morning of 22 December her husband, Archie, was feeling very tired, she called the doctor who immediately sent him to hospital. They hadn’t been able to purchase travel insurance so there was a worry about the cost of it all. On 20 Jan he was discharged and they flew back home. On 10 June he dropped dead in the kitchen. It was very well written, despite the sadness of the story, and particularly apposite was Jane’s thoughts that while waiting to see Archie in hospital she sat doing her cross stitching like a woman in a previous age would have done the same while waiting for her husband away fighting in a war, but in her case her husband was fighting for his life.
Douglas read out the start of a story on the theme of Neighbours, and he didn’t know where it would lead. It began, “Oh Stan this is what I have always wanted.” A newly married couple had bought their first house and were struggling to pay for everything they wanted. The wife, Val, was never satisfied and wanted new furniture, a new TV but didn’t want to work to help pay for it. Stan would try to be firm with her but she would sulk. The next door neighbour, Ursula, said to Stan “Tell Val well done.” When he asked Val about this, it turned out she was pregnant, more money worries anticipated. The next day Stan met Ursula and walked with her to the station. She linked her arm into his ..... TWC’ers thought the story could go several ways, the most original being that Ursula and Val would end up together with the baby, another that Stan was going to kill Val and run off with Ursula. Nik thought Douglas should focus on the characters and edit out all clichés.
Maureen’s story was also on the theme “As I sat waiting for a return phone call, I reflected on ...”
Maureen reflected on a time 50 years previously at a dance in a tin hut for members of the air force. Glen Miller was on the record player and the young man said “Are you dancing?” the young lady replying “Are you asking?” (That brought back memories!) Six weeks later they were married and she prayed that her husband would be spared and come back to her after the war. He did come back and they were so grateful that God had treated them so well. They only had one boy and he told them he was being ordained as a priest. She gave up her only son to the church and would have no grandchildren but was happy to do so as she felt she had to pay God back for saving her husband.
Nik read out his heart-warming story which had been published on the beattoapulp website. He said that the editor had personally rung him up to make suggestions, which had been very helpful. It was called “I celebrate myself” and concerned a female NY cop searching a trash compactor because one of the operators, Travis, had thought he could hear a baby cry. She had to search through the stench, trying to steer clear of discarded needles, cockroaches etc. She found a doll’s leg and gave a sigh of relief, but then her torch alighted on two legs which turned out to belong to a baby born about two hours previously. She wondered whether to let the baby die, as being born in such circumstances in a NY ghetto was unlikely to lead to a good life, but the desire to save lives kicked in and she gave mouth to mouth, the baby coughed and she said “Thank God he had a chance.” Travis had been right and little Travis, as the baby was to be known, lived to fight another day. When I read the story on the http://www.beattoapulp.com/stor/2009 site, I couldn’t wait to find out whether the baby lived; I so much wanted him to. There was much tension and imagery in the story. Another story by NIK on the same site is “Spend now pay later” about selling your limbs.
Glyn wrote from the perspective of a woman so it was written by Glynis Dale. I couldn’t help picturing Glyn in full makeup and stockings, but quickly banished the thought. It was Eileen’s 18th birthday and on the radio was the song that went “In the morning mist two lovers kissed...” Her boyfriend, Roy, proposed to her and as her parents were away they quickly consummated the relationship. They kissed goodbye at the station as Roy had to return to his army unit. Later she found out she was pregnant but then received a letter saying that Roy had died in an accident with a troop carrier. The baby, Roy junior, was born but cruelly snatched away from her and given for adoption to a GP and his wife. Eileen pushed an empty pram about in order to sneak glances of her carrot headed baby. Johnny, as the GP called his adopted son, grew to be a teenager, got married and had a son himself, also a carrot top. Eileen underwent chemo and the doctor told her she was now in remission. She rushed to the cafeteria and celebrated with her new love, a cup of tea. There was much discussion about the ending which TWC’ers thought he should change but which Glyn adamantly stuck with.
Ian read out a poem on the theme of “Reflection.” It was about a soldier in Helmand province. The soldier reflected “I will never be lost without trace” because of his loved ones at home. By this time everyone was in tears!
Joy also had a sad poem about an abused wife with an alcoholic husband. “He doesn’t love me, I am to blame, I must keep quiet and hide my shame.” The last line was “Perhaps I will give him one last chance.” The poem reflected the way that abused wives take the blame for their abuse themselves. Nik thought the last two poems should be sent off to a magazine.
Brenda had a poem called “Why?” It asked why life is not what it should be and ended with the stark reality that “We don’t know why.”
Next week TWC’ers can write a book review of 250 words or a poem or story on the theme The Library Book. Let’s hope there is a bit more lightheartedness next week, but just in case there isn’t bring a spare hanky or a box of tissues. Please don’t write a review of the book "The Titanic” or we will all be feeling suicidal!