Nik started off by reading the introduction to his collection of Leon Cazador short stories – essentially, a potted biography of his main character, Leon, which read as if it was a real person!
Rob had written a review of a book by Ken Follet - A Dangerous Fortune. The story is about a battle within the Pilasters, a great banking family from the 1800’s. Rob thought some points were over elaborated and tended to insult the reader. Follett could have omitted some of the explanations and left it to the reader to figure it out.
Rob said that Follett tackles different subjects in his books but he was not over-enthusiastic about this one. Nik said that Follett is fetured in ALbert Zuckerman's book Writing the Blockbuster novel. Zuckerman was Follett's agent; he also uses Gone With the Wind and The Godfather to pepper the book with useful examples.
Glyn read out an edited version of the third chapter of his book about the Army Apprentice College at Chepstow. It was their first day and the new recruits had to listen to talks by various people. Matron came on to the podium, she said her door was always open if they wanted to speak to her, she talked of cold showers (I wonder why); she said many of them would be missing their families, whereas in fact they had joined up to get away from them.
Three padres then stepped up, one Church of England, one Catholic and one to cover the rest. They announced twice weekly services to commemorate the two world wars. Atheists and agnostics had to wait outside so you wouldn’t get out of going by saying they were not C of E or Catholic. Glen had contemplated saying he was a druid because they got to shag all the virgins.
Next up were Diane, who ran the NAAFI shop, and Cherie who ran the NAAFI club. They had the full attention of the young men. Diane was 30 and comely whereas Cherie was in her late teens with long legs and a large bosom ‘asking to be caressed’. Her bra size was BS, bloody stupendous. The two girls were nicknamed ‘tits and toenails’.
There were a few helpful comments but it was thought to have been well edited and painted a good picture of life as a recruit in the Army at the time.
Brenda read out chapter 2 of her book. Kenny, the favourite son, had put his mum in a care home which left him in the clear to spend her money. The narrator visited her mum and found the place an eyesore, with no security. The place was drab and sterile, nobody smiled, and there was an air of hopelessness. Most of the residents had Alzheimer’s so they could not see the conditions, or smell the urine tainted air. ‘Bastard’ said her mum, speaking of one of the ‘carers’. Someone broke a tea cup and the carer made the old gent bend down to pick up the pieces of broken china. ‘You wouldn’t treat a dog like that.' She tried to get her mum moved but she had a fall, developed a chest infection which turned to pneumonia and died a week later.
Comments were that it could be improved by more dialogue, but had been well edited. Nik said that some of his stories had taken 30 years to get published so not to lose heart and keep on writing and editing.
A new member Kellee told us a little about her writing experience with women’s organisations.
Mary S wrote a tribute to the Morris team. As usual with her poems, it was ‘laugh out loud’ funny.
Tribute to the Morris Team
I’m trying hard to get myself fit –
and lose a bit of weight
I need to get into the right dancing kit
But I may have left it far too late!
I have a very strong obsession –
I need to rejoin the team
They make such a strong impression-
I just have to fulfil my dream!
I used to perform a really good strip-
Of the Willow I hasten to add!
I went on many a good folk trip
It wasn’t just a passing fad!
I’ve been to festivals –camped in a tent
I’ve danced on a slope in the rain
I entered the spirit to great extent-
But then it was less of a strain
The team’s dancing these days is a quite sedate
As they have quite a few aches and pains
They can still perform ‘The Yorkshire Long Eight’
If they take god care of their varicose veins!
The music needs slowing just a touch
As they ‘Speed the Plough’ with due care
But it doesn’t appear to alter it much
And it wouldn’t be fair to compare!
As the hankies flick they cut such a dash
Their rants, sets and steps just in time
What a performance, what pride, what panache!
You would think they were still in their prime!
The men’s Morris team has only one man
So the ladies have to help out
They change into trousers all part of the plan
That they do their best there’s no doubt!
They’ve had to cut down on high leaps
They are perhaps just a little less frisky
But they do their best not to fall into heaps
The strain on their knees proves too risky
But I’m not yet ready for acting my age
I’ve got some more dancing to do
I ‘m in my ‘Make a Statement’ stage
But I do love it all – through and through!
Mary K surprised us with a story about a “massage in a brothel” as opposed to message in a bottle. It was Harry’s 18th birthday and his mates had paid for him to have a Thai massage with a happy ending. Harry gave in his voucher and his mates were laughing in the car knowing what awaited him. The massager finally got to the ‘happy ending’ bit and the next thing his mates knew the police and ambulance arrived. Harry looked very pale and was rushed into emergency. The headline in the paper the next day was “18 year old died prematurely of an overdose of ecstasy” ...
All of a sudden the room had got hot and we had to open the windows. There were a few helpful comments, but overall it was a pleasurable, racy story and the TWCers couldn’t wait to get to the happy ending. Nik thought it could be tweaked and sent off to one of the gossipy type magazines.
Jane read to us about her cruise, which did not have a good start as her credit card was rejected and she had to borrow money from Pat and repay her when they got back home. Nik said Jane had ‘got it off pat’. She spoke of her telephone calls to the bank account in Jersey, and then she talked about the cruise and the trips when they stopped off at places. She told us of the seating aboard the ship. A lady flopped on to their table uninvited and said "I simply have to sit here”; a man had been placed on her table who she had had several rows with. They called her the flower lady, and she never stopped moaning. They could see why she had a row with the man as she always wanted her own way.
Comments were that it painted a good picture of the holiday. Perhaps there were two stories in it as the telephone calls to the Jersey bank could make a story on their own. The word ‘very’ was used a bit too often. As usual with Jane’s stories, it was very enjoyable and evocative.
Chris read out a poem about some unknown lady.
Everyone thought she was clever
Everyone thought she was bright
So she didn’t put in much endeavour
She didn’t try with all of her might
She thought she’d do well without hard work
Just relax and go with the flow
But top marks aren’t always a nice perk
Or a present tied up with a bow
It was a bad shock when the news came
It set her right back on her heels
She burst into tears in her deep shame
And knew how a failure feels
There was only one way to get through it
To be truthful – face up to them all
To say she was sorry and admit
That pride always precedes a fail
It goes without saying she couldn’t
To apologise isn’t her way
To eat humble pie she wouldn’t
Just the thought filled her with great dismay
Next time in the same situation
You’d think she would do the reverse
That she wouldn’t give in to temptation
She wouldn’t be so damned perverse
But people like her cannot abstain
They believe they should always be top
They treat others with scorn and with disdain
And friends who aren’t like them they drop
So let’s hope she comes a huge cropper
Meets her match and quite loses the plot
Then she’ll learn some behaviour that’s proper
If she doesn’t, I hope that she’ll rot
Who was the lady and what was it she had failed at? If I was her I would mend my ways!
Next week the themes are ‘suddenly all the lights went out’ or ‘chance encounter’.