Monday, 30 May 2011

Hasta La Vista, Baby!

The title of this week´s subject was Arnie´s catchphrase.
It was dealt with excellently by Cynthia, who managed to incorporate most, if not all, of the titles of the Terminator´s films in her piece about his contoversial private life.

Other members writing on the same theme:
Mary K with a poem on the breakup of a relationship and Cathy, whose vivid description of two older people had an amusing twist in the tail.

Rosemary and Brenda both continued readings from their novels. Rosemary, it was thought, could include more dialogue and maybe needed to consult a few blokes on blokey-talk. Brenda´s was very well-written with good description.

John McGregor gave us a piece called "The Ex- Files" about women from his past.

Chris J (me) wrote a thoroughly depressing poem about old age.

Ann Flynn continued with her Dementia Diary, which was a sight more amusing than my poem!

Heinke, in her final contribution before going to the UK till September, read a really hilarious continuation of Alf, Minnie and the amputated leg. ( Tip: if you do need a leg donor, make sure he´s the same colour as you so it matches).

Ann G, in a departure from her normal format of poetry, read a short story inspired by her police background.

Jane read one of her French pieces, which she had revised.Very funny description of Didier the postman catching Jane at her ablutions!

Margaret had a short piece about child placement, which originally was meant to be flash fiction.

Gerry´s poem" Dyslexia Rules, OK!" made me glad I´m not teaching anymore.

Some info was passed on to us about a book called "The Diana Directive"by T J Bradshawe about an independent investigator also killed in the Paris Tunnel 10 years after. Coincidence or not, is the theme. A website was given for those interested:

Hasta La Vista, Baby!

Chris J

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Another Published Author! Yippeeeeeee!

John McGregor has achieved a goal - he´s had his memoirs from RAF days published and has even managed to sell quite a few copies! Brilliant! Congratulations, John. He was recently interviewed on Talk Radio Europe by Hannah Murray on her weekly Book Club feature.

The interview is here on the blog and  if you click on the link, maybe you´ll hear it  (Don´t hold your breath - I´m not sure it´ll work).

The topic for this week was something to do with a deadline. As you understand, I´m all at sixes and sevens and haven´t really got myself sorted out after getting back from the UK (first visit since 1998). But I digress. Anyone with an issue here should consider that nobody else wanted to do the blog , so this is it, folks in all its knobbly glory.

Heinke actually wrote something on today´s topic. As usual, her piece was hilarious. Alf, Minnie, a leg amputation in the offing, state-of-the-art wheelchair and sex. What more can you ask for at 11 in the morning?

Rosemary read another excerpt from her novel and was pleased with the positive cricism.

Cathy Rollinson was a newbie who said at the end of the session that she would come again so we obviously didn´t massacre her enough. She read a short story about two former sweethearts meeting after many years.Good.

Avril´s poem Royal Wooton Bassett was very moving.

Mary K read a poem about domestic violence - really good.

Our hero of the week, John McG gave us a piece about how let down you can be by people you befriend, called "Ships That Pass in the Night".

Jane read out " a dreadful poem" ( her own words) which we all thought was OK, actually, about her cat Sheba and a visit to the vet.

Glyn´s piece " Burntout Brass" told of a prostitute´s progress from schoolgirl to her 60´s.

Brenda´s novel excerpt was from 1929. Her central character, Minnie, is befriended by  homosexual neighbours, Kenneth and his partner, offerring to help her with her unborn, illegitimate child.

Cheryl, who has written 9,000 words of her novel, continued reading about Chloe´s wedding day.

Gerry was left to read with no time remaining so he´ll start us off next week.

Thanks to Ann Flynn for chairing the session so well.
She has got her bell ringing technique sorted and everyone obediently hushes up now when she gives the bell a good bash.

Hasta la semana que viene!

Chris J

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Anne took the chair this week and brought us to order. John Edwards gave some feedback from the Open Mic night on Tuesday 10th May. There was an open reading at the beginning, competition readings on the theme of “Summer’s Here” in the middle of the session and finally other pieces that attendees wanted to read. It was the most successful yet and clearly is going to continue. Jenny won the competition with a very moving piece, a well deserved winner. Margaret was runner up, (that’s me) with another excellent poem as unbiased as I am.

Ann asked Cheryl to read her piece this week as we ran out of time last week. This was a mid section chapter of a novel. It was agreed that it was an intriguing section that the immediate use of dialogue was a good run in. We left wanted to know more about the relationships and future of this bride to be. Hope you will supply this Cheryl.

Ann gave us her poem about Writers Circle, a short poem about writing for fun and that the group was the highlight of the week. We all share Ann’s fondness for our large circle of writers. This was followed by a longer poem on this week’s theme of “The Street” All agreed that this was an unsentimental, recollection of post war Britain when a sense of community was most strongly felt as everyone shared the same experience on a day to day basis.

John read his poem, inspired by the last word in Jenny’s winning poem, the word being reminiscing. Moving remembrances of his father carefully tending the land.

Rosemary gave us an excerpt from her crime novel centered around a Haunted House, in the Cathedral city of Ely Is the building telling the story? Is Caroline influenced by her surroundings, both people and places? Is Mark dying somewhere else? Comments were, there were lots of characters. The description was good. Some repetition noted. Rosemary explained that this excerpt was a quarter way through the book and that Caroline’s Character was in keeping with what had happened previously, relationships she has made with the other characters and her behaviour previously in the novel.

Margaret read a piece of prose about a classroom experience in the 1980’s with a group of teenage boys. Hamlet was much maligned, but somehow it seemed a fitting description. She changed her mind about the teenage boy who described as “infantile and moronic” was suddenly “a genius.” This piece raised some laughter.

Heather stuck with the theme of Street. Coronation - and - car named desire. Caverns apart with loads of other streets between, but for Heather all returned to a book! Empathy all around

Jenny also read her poem about this week’s theme of The Street. A very thought provoking piece about people who live work and survive on the street.

Geoff stayed with the street. He has lots of snippets of quiet people in quiet streets. The one he read was shadow art by waiting Sid. Not is usual style, but left us wanting to hear more. Some discussion about the use of “shiver” and “shimmer”

Brenda read the beginning of her new novel Dead Tree. Ivy the protagonist suffers humiliation at the children’s home by the housemother. Our protective instincts kicked in straight away and we want to hear about revenge please Brenda. Comments were that it was a really good beginning and we definitely want to know more,. Perhaps the novel could start with Ivy’s humiliation and how she came to be at the home could come later in the chapter. Brenda will consider our comments.

John read us his story about Landing in hot water. Would this be a pile of haemorrhoids. Not so. We were entertained by has slavish dedication to following doctor’s instructions. Another fine mess you’ve told us about John.

Avril gave us a detailed account of her experience when being interviewed by police after an attempted assault and rape that happened when she was a young woman with a young son. Treatment by police was quite disturbing and it was suggested that the story could be refocused on the attitude of police in those days. Some shortening of the piece by sectioning it off into sections on how it affected her personal life and the attitude of others about the incident.

Chris read us an account of her thoughts after returning to the UK after 15years. She was reminded of how green the UK is at this time of year particularly, how multi-cultural it has become, how consumer motivated life is. Chris left us with the image of her walking past the rubbish bin in her host’s home and the lid raising itself ready to eat up something, anything, perhaps some of those consumer items. It makes you think doesn’t it?

Jane gave us another of her French stories. This time about the village school. Her Tuesday and Thursday English class experience, where she encouraged Stephan to have more confidence and Marie Claire to break her silence and allow a new Marie Claire to emerge. Comments were that although it was a different style to some of her stories, it was a more thoughtful and moving piece. It’s good when you make a difference to someone’s life and Jane did.

Margaret Rowland (apols for 18th May meeting)

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Nik attended the TWC even though he was busy with his work with Solstice editing manuscripts. He was thinking of doing a session on writing a novel. He will sell his novel to the group for 5 Euros (a Western called Bethesda Falls) and 2 weeks after people have read it they will comment on how the novel was written. There will be notes and handouts. It was decided that he will distribute the book on 14 September and the session will be on 21st. Nik read out his synopsis for the book to be used for the session. The group agreed with Nik that there were too many characters in it and a shorter one could have worked. This is one of the first synopses he wrote. He has since decided that there should be 6 characters as a maximum.

Jane read out one of her stories about France. Gaston a French workman had been employed to install a septic tank. There was a lot of good description of him and his character. He didn’t measure the gate where the loader needed to go through and the hole dug for the septic tank wasn’t big enough either. ‘Laissez faire comes to mind.’ The group thought Jane’s stories about living in France would make a wonderful radio series.

Jenny had written a poem called ‘From within.’ ‘I sat and stared at the world outside’. The narrator thought about her life, running up the hill to school, Sunday going to pray, travelling to foreign climes. She makes plans for the future. ‘But life has not been kind to me; I sit and stare from the window in my wheelchair.’ It was very moving and thought provoking.

Mary is taking computer lessons!! She wrote a letter to asking for an explanation of computer terms, which are completely foreign to her. It finishes ‘If you cannot help me I will just adopt a child.’

Ann wrote about the imminent arrival of her first grandchild who is going to be a boy. The waiting is driving her wild, her bag is packed already, and it will be a wonderful day.

Ann Flynn gave us more of her dementia diary. ‘It’s very lonely being a political activist’. The rant included Amnesty International, Wikileaks, low settees, computer hacking, computer cup holders and much more. The group thought it was hilarious, better than ‘ladies of letters’. Lisa will look into the possibility of getting it on the radio.

John had a piece of prose and a poem about writing wrongs. The content concerned the worst thing he did in his life, i.e. split up with his wife. They had a 7 and 5 year old and he was a weekend father. On the way back to her mother’s house his daughter put her arms round his neck and asked ‘When are you coming home?’ He tried to let her down lightly. Writing the piece was cathartic for him as he confronted his demons. He also wrote a poem about it, ‘You cannot turn back the years. Wounds are like fossils to be dug up later.’ As usual very well written.

Geoff was either going to write a long novel or a short poem. He wrote a synopsis about the novel and it ended up as long as the novel. He went to his neighbour and said ‘I have been up all night and I have got this synopsis’ and she said ‘Oh that sounds nasty.’ He decided on a short poem instead. It was called ‘Welsh cheddar thong.’ We waited with baited breath and with nostrils akimbo to hear more about this, but it turned out to be an anagram of ‘The world has changed’, the theme for this week. Amusing as ever.

Avril wrote a poem about the summer night train, with the clickity clack of the sounds of the train on the track. Evocative.

Brenda read out her synopsis again after makings some changes. Glyn had given her the email of a lady who is a synopsis doctor, and she sent her last week’s one. She is waiting for the lady to come back to her. Nik said that some agents won’t read a 4 page synopsis. He thought that she should mention that the brother has drug problems and she should not over explain.

Brenda also wrote a poem, the world is changing, turning, shifting, coughing and sputtering, the world is changing, rotating out of control, wake up and smell the roses. The repetition and the twist at the end were effective.

Maureen contributed a piece - ‘One second is all that it takes, one blip, death comes suddenly.’ She had come tumbling down. When you fall people think you are drunk, if you end up with marks on your face people think you have been beaten up. ‘I am not another victim nor a vagrant, just careless.’ We could all relate to that.

Margaret had written a poem – ‘The Question is do women have souls?’ This was considered by the Council of Macon in 585 AD. A woman was thought to be a defective male. In the 18th century the Calvinists and Catholics discussed how to resolve this question which was later revisited by the Lutherans. ‘I am still around. I am not equal to a man, I know I am superior and they can kiss my can can’. Margaret was worried the poem didn’t scan but the group thought it didn’t matter in a meaningful poem.

Mary gave us some thoughts about the Royal Wedding of William and Cate. She felt emotional when William and Harry appeared, remembering them walking together at the time of their mother’s funeral. She loved the atmosphere, the composure of the Queen, Kate’s figure and that dress. She thought the British people really needed this. Some of the ladies thought that princesses Beatrice and Eugenie looked like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

Next week the theme is ‘The street’ or ‘Inventing.’


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Lots of variety as always

Ian kicked off with The Storyteller, which tells of his evolution from a technical writer to where he is presently and of his love of reading and of book stores. He remembers writing a poem or story in the past, reading it out and awaiting comments, just as he did today...

Heather had another charming tale about Rufus Macgregor which will form part of a number of stories about him. It is Em’s birthday and she wakes up early and goes downstairs and opens her presents. One of them is a pink hippo which Rufus hates on sight as he fears it might replace him in Em’s affections but he learns to accept the fact that a friend of Em’s is a friend of his. The stories are intended to show children that they must learn to share.

Gerry wrote a poem about writer’s block.

‘There is nothing worse than writer’s block except sucking sick through a sweaty sock.’

I‘m glad I am not eating my tea as I write this blog!

Brenda read out her synopsis for the book about Belle and the diaries. Everyone agreed it could be shortened by at least 60 words by taking out unnecessary words.

Glyn’s contribution were two 500 word first pages of a book for entry into a competition. ‘His first customer was Irma, an evil and haughty woman, her gaze never wavered.’ He pulled the handle and she went through the trap door. The story-teller was an executioner and Irma had been sentenced to death because of atrocities during the 2nd world war. The other first page was about a young soldier in Kandahar. The narrator sees tears on the young soldier‘s face and then realises that they are his own tears, and that the soldier is dead. Glyn also told us that two London agents want to see him about publishing his Army book and he will see them when he visits UK in September.

Geoff wrote on the theme ‘Premonition‘. ‘It was the size of her shoes that struck me.’ He had run out to post a letter to the council with only a towel to hide his dignity, which slipped from him as he was dragged to the home of the lady with the large shoes. She looked deeply into his eyes ‘I heard that you have been fined by the council.’ As she was the local ASBO-holder she didn’t want anyone else muscling in on her notoriety. There was only room for one social nuisance on the street. When he read his horoscope later it said ‘Today you will meet a person of social standing and the morning will be full of surprises. You will need TLC later on.’ If only he had read it before he went out to post his letter. As usual the story was amusing and surreal.

John’s ditty was on the theme ‘How the affair started.’ I thought it was going to be one of John’s stories about his past misdemeanours but the affair was with Spain, which started when he and his family went to the Costa Brava on a BEA aeroplane that took 6 hours to get there. Skegness it was not! He came to live in Spain in 1995 and the novelty has not worn off yet. The story was descriptive and evocative.

Douglas read out a charming anecdote about his wedding to Jean who he met while on leave from the Army. They married in 1952. It was very descriptive about the lean times that existed then, when make do and mend was the order of the day, highlighting England’s war-time spirit. Douglas passed round a picture of the happy couple on their wedding day, and what a handsome young man he was then and still is now of course.

Avril had penned a poem about a car wash and confectionery!! It was a sweet rhyme about all sorts of things. Avril is writing a book of anecdotes for her son in Australia.

Norma also wrote on ‘The Premonition.’ A scream erupted from her mouth as she reflected on her dream in which her son was thrown off his cycle and she shouted out ‘Mark.’ The intensity of the word ‘Mark’ never left her. Three years after this dream she saw her son’s scarred back when he came out of the bathroom. Two years later she travelled overseas while her husband stayed at home. A voice in her head insisted that she get home and she managed to get on a plane. Her husband was on the landing and the doctor said the effects of the stroke had been ameliorated by her speedy arrival home. Mesmerising.

Jenny wrote about Summertime. Ned rocked back and forth, sat on his veranda. Teenagers were nearby. Ned sat swatting and watching. The boys saunter over to the girls and they pair off. Ned remembers. The repeating of the rocking, the swatting, and the watching was very atmospheric.

Maureen read out a shortened article about travel to a ski resort in Bolivia. The party left the ski lodge for the capital La Paz. A young girl peed on the ground and Maureen noticed the smell of urine pervading the air (not all of it from the little girl!). It was very descriptive; perhaps too descriptive for a travel mag.

Next week's theme is 'The world has changed' and that is the ending.