Friday, 18 November 2011


November 16th 
Ian suggested a variation on the hot pen which will run over 2 or 3 sessions, and at the end of the day you have a short story, although each exercise is a stand alone.  It could be a poem.  We could also have hot pens separately.  A new member, Tom, introduced himself.  When he was working he had ideas about what to write if only he had the time, but once he retired he lost the motivation.  We have all been there! He has been writing something for about 2 years.  

Ian was the first one to read out on the subject - a description of a scene or a person.  It is an extract from a longer piece. He painted a verbal picture of a scene in rural Ireland with peat bogs, mountains, a white washed cottage and the odd cow searching for new shoots of grass. Very descriptive.  
Jenny’s had two short poems about almond blossom and a vegetable patch.  They were so short, by the time I had got my pencil out she had finished! 

Anne had written a travelogue about a small village near Rochdale.  When the population had dropped to less than 200 it was decided to flood the village and it is now a recreation site.  The original mullion window stones with the owners’ names on were arranged round the reservoir, and the gate posts to the now drowned hill farms stood like old tombstones. Very evocative.  Tom, our new member, used to live just near there, what a small world! 

Betty’s story was about a gentleman on a trip to Altea. His plan was to sketch the church or plaza. He left the tourists and the café bars to explore the back streets and found himself looking down an alleyway, and he saw an elderly lady asleep in a doorway.  He observed that she had deep furrows on her face, her nose looked big, and she had a small frame, cloaked in a shawl. He felt like a voyeur.  As he passed she moved a box that had been hidden under her cloak towards him and said gracias senor. It was a beautiful vignette of Spanish life.

Avril read her poem about a forest glade and a knarled tree with no leaves in sight, which was like a spire in the sky. It was the oak tree in the forest of Sherwood that had saved Robin Hood from his adversaries many a time.
Geoff told us that he had bought a dictionary of adjectives.  He tried to write a descriptive piece using words from it, but ended up having to go to the doctor with symptoms of satura-adjectivia.  That sounds painful.  He ended up writing a poem, and things went from bad to verse. I laughed so much I can’t remember what the poem was about.  I know it ended with someone vomiting.  Can you put it on the blog please Geoff?

Margaret had written a description of a character.  Simon was tall of about 30 years with a military air.  He sat on the couch showing the contrast between the downy hair on his arms and the stubble on his face.  Very descriptive. I could picture him and liked what I saw.

Douglas’s story was called ‘It depends on your point of view.’ He described a game of football in the European football league in Kenya between a team of former Italian prisoners called Juventus and Caledonians, who were mainly Scottish expatriates.  Juventus won 2-1 and won the cup and that was that.  A report in the paper said the Caledonians were unlucky to have had a perfectly good goal disallowed which was written by the referee who disallowed the goal!  Entertaining as ever.

Heinke’s contribution was of two different characters set against each other.  They were both invited to a party where they will probably have a ‘dead bird dinner’ and they discuss what to buy as a gift. After much discussion they decide to buy roses but when they go to get them the roses are all gone. By the use of conversation alone, Heinke described two completely different characters, David who was a calm personality, and Irene who was a ranter.

Tom’s tale was called the skylark.  It was set in Normandy, Paris had been liberated. The German soldiers were very afraid that they would never go home to their families. ‘We will look after you, you are safe here’ said the RSM. He had spoken to the CO of the German prisoners, who had been educated at Oxford. They are no longer the enemy. The RSM said to the soldiers, ‘We will soon be back in Blighty. All aboard the skylark.’ It made me want to hear more.  It was pointed out that the writer wouldn’t know the point of view of the Germans unless they had told him. You have to come out of the story for an omniscient point of view. 
Darren told us a tale about cars and his wife’s thoughts about cars being a phallic symbol of someone lacking in the trouser department.  25 years earlier, he had an Aston Martin. The car he has now is like Postman Pat’s van with 3 rows of seats.  His wife, himself and their 8 year old son all sit in the front and see the same things.  Would he swap it for a Ferrari? Yes.  Sorry to tell you this Darren but once you have a family your days of owning a Ferrari are over!

Anne‘s sorry tale was about her and her husband’s encounter with the Guardia Civil, something we all dread.  Her husband’s MGM tourer was going to be resprayed, the lights had been removed to enable this to happen and she drove her car to the garage and he followed.  As they approached the slip road they were flagged down, the problem being a lack of lights, even at midday, for which misdemeanor they were fined 100 Euros. Aren’t our police wonderful, not. 

Anne continued her letters to my mother stories.  It is 1805.  ‘Dear mother, my military campaign has taken me across Europe. I wonder what history will say.  Josephine has just entered the room.  I will need a long term plan.  Russia is making threatening noises.  Josephine is showing me her stockings. I told her not tonight Josephine and that is my final word.  Josephine has locked the door. She is massaging my head and shoulders.  Got to go, I have an urgent uprising to deal with. Your loving son, Napoleon. ‘ Highly amusing as always.   It was thought these stories would be good for radio or for an anthology.   

Brenda continued her story about life in the East End.  This part of the story told of Lottie who was the seamstress.  She took Ivy under her wing. She was sent to the workhouse by her mother at 8 years old when her father died. One day one of her brothers appeared at the home. ‘Where is mother? She died last year of consumption.  Have you come to take me home? There is nobody left but me and I am moving away.’ It transpired that 2 years ago her brothers aged 18 and 17 were forcibly taken to work in the coal mines in Wales and died at the mine. Heartbroken, the mother went to sleep and never woke up. When the twins turned 16 they joined the army, were shipped off to Ethiopia and went missing in action. Walter the older brother got a job at the dock, became ill with yellow fever and was buried in the docks. ‘When you find somewhere can I come and live with you?’ He promised her he would come back. An excellent description of a heartrending situation.  It is part of a longer piece about the East End of London.  Brenda was advised that you can change your point of view from Ivy to Lottie as long as it is clear you are going to be telling two stories. It has to be distinctive if you change people and also change the time span.  We all wanted to hear the end of the compelling story.

NEXT WEEK’S THEME – ‘Just wait till I get you home.’  

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