Nik was back as Chairman and it took him a little time (about five minutes) before his pun-making reasserted itself.
Glyn told the meeting about a helpful book for writers called Writers Market 2010, which he thought was better than the Artists’ and Writers’ year book, as it gives more selections of publishers and what they are looking for and what they will accept. He paid about £10 for it including postage. Nik said it was available from the Book Depository post free.
There were two new members, Stan and Nan (you’re having us on aren’t you? Stan said it was his first attempt at writing. His story was about a holiday at Butlins. Names were being taken for a singing contest and George’s name was put forward. He decided on a Paul Anka song and the boos started. The results were announced and he was the winner, much to his surprise. He found out that he had been entered in Butlins' worst singer contest and that the boos had been orchestrated. In fact the one with the most boos won the contest. Everyone thought it was a good first attempt.
Next came Nan. The best days of your life are your school days and she felt so proud on her first day at school in her new school uniform; she usually had to wear hand me downs. The new children were given a wooden board and plasticine and she set about making a model of a dog. When she finished it she realised that her mother had gone, so she gave the model to the teacher and said ‘I had better get home now, my mother will be worried about me.’ The teacher was hard on her and called her a spoiled brat and when she went home at dinner time she thought the school day was finished, but was dragged to school screaming after lunch. She realised that her brother was right, school really was hell. Everybody enjoyed Nan’s first effort.
Alan’s story was about ‘spot check’, one of the themes for this week. The narrator was doing his garden, got a rash, went to hospital, got MRSA and C Diff and died. Because he went to heaven quite young he was given 35 years of everything he wished but he would rather go back to his old life as long as he could have a bit of luck once a month. It was thought that if he had used his name when he was at the doctor’s earlier in the story, there would have been less confusion when he ended up in heaven. At least I will be warm where I am going!
Heather’s contribution was about a cop’s widow in the USA called Marcy. She had come to see the lieutenant. Her dead husband’s partner, Barney, had been suspended after his death, we don’t know why yet. Marcy said that if a homicide detective is suspended Joe public will think he did it if the force insisted on looking in the wrong direction. This is part of a longer story. Nick suggested reading cop fiction to get the flavour of what publishers are looking for, and doing research into the police set up in America as there was a bigger market for these types of stories if they are set in America.
Chris’s contribution was on the theme ‘seeing ourselves as others see us.’ It was about the change in routine that is necessary when visitors arrive. You have to get up earlier, you can’t slop around in old clothes, and you give a sigh of relief when they go. It also makes you rediscover your neighbourhood and even feel a sense of civic pride in the changes that have happened. You discover that your feelings about Spain are redefined and that actually it is not too bad after all. Thought-provoking.
Christine also wrote on the theme of ‘spot check.’ Her poem was about spots on the bum. I hope they are not catching! Better give that the bum’s rush.
Mary K wrote a poem about ‘the woman next door’. A young attractive widow moved into the street, threatening the stability of marriages as the men were all keen on her. After a few months it was noticed that she was pregnant and the ladies waited nervously to see who the baby would resemble! Amusing as usual.
Jenny had written a ditty about dieting, a subject dear to all our hearts. We all ate big breakfasts in the 70’s and weren’t worried about diets then because that was before calories were invented. How true!
Ian’s poem was on the theme of ‘the visit’. Early morning the sky was grey, there are miserable faces on all you see. It was about a visit back to Scotland. Was he glad to get back to ‘laugh in the sun!’
Rita’s story was ‘a brief observation.’ She had been watching ‘Come dine with me’ when a young so-called celebrity, a pop singer, didn’t know who Omar Sharif was, when he had been such an important actor and had starred in Rita’s favourite film Dr Zhivago. It was a shock to realise that the generation gap was so wide. That got us all going.
Glyn’s story continued. Ned had an afternoon soccer match to look forward to. He went to the sports store for his kit, and indicated his keenness to be in the team. The pep talk before the game was ‘if they move kick them, every time you fall down shout foul, but fair play was paramount, so make sure the ref doesn’t see you when you kick the bastards.’ Very amusing as usual.
Rob’s tale was on the theme ‘she burst into tears’ and concerned Russell’s dilemma. Anna fancied Russell but all was not as she thought. They all worked at the same firm. Anna wanted someone to go to the theatre with her so Russell went. Afterwards she rang up the narrator saying that she was going to resign because she felt so humiliated. “Why didn’t you tell me, I felt such a fool.” It turned out that Russell was gay and she hadn’t realised, and in those days there wasn’t the tolerant attitude to homosexuality that exists today. It was suggested that more description of the characters would give them life; clothes and body language can convey character.
I told members of a new prize for writers over the age of 60 (of course there are only a couple at the TWC!). They want stories of no more than 750 words which must be an account of something that happened in your own life. Details are available on www.bookbite.org.uk. You don’t have to send the stories by email as they can be handwritten or typed. The winner receives £500 in book tokens. However, as Rob pointed out entries have to be from people resident n the UK, although I am sure that is not an insurmountable problem.
Another enjoyable meeting. Welcome to our new members and welcome back to those returned from their sick bed or trips abroad.