Friday, 23 December 2011

WARNING: People of a sensitive nature should read no further, as some of the expressions used may cause offence.

Ian said there is a collection box for Anne and Pat which will be held over till the end of January.  The money donated will go to cancer charity as both Pat and Brian suffered from cancer and had treatment in Spain.

Brenda sent off her manuscript to an agent by email and eventually rang to enquire about it.  The MD said he had received her email but as she was in Spain it was a big cost  to print off the book and sent it off to 15 publisher, and if she was willing to pay £350 that would help with the costs.  Then she rang Nik and he said not to pay a penny because it is the agent who is the risk taker.  She felt a little let down.  Gerry had been in touch with Penny Legge who said you should put a copy of the synopsis and 3 chapters into a sealed envelope, have it notarised and leave that at a solicitors.  If people do copy it they are breaking the law.  She also recommended attending the Book Fair in London from 16-18 April 2012. 

The open mic starts on 7th February next year when February 29th is the theme (leap year). 

Ian‘s poem was about a visit to the UK.  A lot of people have gone back to the UK and the weather has not been great.  You do a lot of visiting then you are back in the sun.

Gerry wrote about the Basque country.  It was the Basques who helped to get British forces back to Lisbon and Gibraltar having been shot down over Germany and France.  He had crossed the invisible line from the charnel house of war to this place of tranquility and peace where he was safe.   That was then.  Now Mother Nature is still as loving as this year he returns as he always does on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for the good earth.   It was written in blank verse and was very lyrical.

Kathy wrote her poem this morning. I am a little fairy on a Christmas tree, I have a lovely dress but I am not full of glee. With wings, wand and my tiara that sparkles and flickers, but I have got this great big spike sticking up my knickers.  I won’t want to sound rude, but it is awfully hard not to feel glum when you have to spend 12 days with something up your bum.   Ian was glad she had not had to rhyme with sparse.

Geoff‘s poem concerned the difficulties he has with sellotape.  His wife is wrapping the gifts while he is helping with the sellotape and spends hours finding out where it starts and ends.  When he thinks he has got it right it turns out to be the wrong side up.  The problem does not end there because we then get presents ourselves and you need a special kit to get the parcel out of the wrapping.  We have all been there!

Ann wrote about celebrating Christmas in Spain.  People think Christmas is not right without snow but as long as you eat pud anywhere you spend Christmas is good.

Mary S also had a poem on Christmas.  She has just watched Scrooge for the umpteenth time, the message is timeless, her favourite film.  Yuletide has changed but we can celebrate with laughter, a merry Christmas to all of us here. 

Mary K had written a greeting inside a Christmas card about friends making merry with a drink of sherry.  (You are not on the sherry again are you Mary?)  A season’s greeting full with cheer, to celebrate the baby’s birth.  She then read out a greeting in German but I’m afraid I couldn’t understand a word so I’ll pass on that one.  Deutschland uber alles, as my father said to me.  That’s all I know in German.

Jane dreamt about her ex husband last night and wrote a poem as a cathartic exercise.  She had to explain it was her late ex husband and nothing to do with latex.  ‘When did you leave, you didn’t say that you were going, when you got home I was in bed and only half heard what you said.  Before you go to work tell me again so that I may understand where you are going.  I have had enough of not knowing.  Have you arranged for us to come out too, or do these plans concern just you?  You are the lowest of the low to emigrate without a care and without your family so fuck off there. ‘Jane felt better after that. I warned you you might be a little shocked!

Ann wrote about a new tomorrow.  She wants to give up smoking but it is not easy to lose bad habits. Non smokers rule the roost while smokers huddle in shop doorways.   If she was in the UK she would not bother with the weed.  (I hope that is not the illegal kind)  She got a plastic cigarette but that didn’t work but is still hoping there will be a new tomorrow. 

Avril’s poem was about the wind, not the sort she wrote about last week.  Loud rang the wind, then died without a trace over the open space.  It was a very descriptive poem about the changes in the wind.

Jenny’s Christmas poem was priceless. ‘A very merry Christmas for all my friends who write, and thanks for listening to my work even though it is shite.’   Oh dear the language is deteriorating!

Gerry wrote about his dog.  ‘My dog came to me out of the blue, she stopped and chewed my shoe, with ears pricked she watches everything he does.   Why can’t I have her zest for life, I think with a sigh. ‘   All this talk of wind, farting, bums and smells makes you think of the Christmas perennial, the sprouts with the Christmas dinner.

Margaret wrote a poem about Agadoo, a song from the eighties by Black Lace, about dancing and romancing, first its left and then it’s right, push pineapples shake the tree.  How sad I know all the words and remember the moves.  In the end she got off with Kev in the south of France. 

Rosemary wrote about murmuration.  Starlings assemble, crashing; the rush of wings, suddenly gone, across the sky the dance begins again.  Lovely poem about the starlings’ movement across the sky as if in a dance.  Rosemary has been marking exams and wrote a letter to the Times, which got printed.  It was about too much filling in of paperwork instead of allowing the educational process to flourish.  Too right Sheila!

Mary Morris gave us Harriet’s home hints, broadcast in a radio programme. ‘Over to Harriet for her hints.  Good morning.’  One of her tips was to iron socks and underwear because in the olden days you had to do this to kill off the fungal spores and the body lice.  ‘Next week there will be hints on the use of vinegar, bye for now, back to Jenny.’ It made Ann feel itchy.

Jenny’s hilarious poem was about a dog called Bob, she tried to get him to mate with a bitch called Kate, but he fell asleep on the job.  I have similar memories but not about Bob.

John had a story about a man he knew when he was younger, whose nickname was Dickhead.   This man thinks he is gorgeous, and has an irritating voice. He developed a mid-Atlantic accent like Kid Jensen, his real name was Richard (hence his nickname of dickhead).  He was like Worzel Gummidge on speed.  He said to John when he presented his new girlfriend (another one!) ‘Who is this, this, this?’  He kept repeating his words three times and I wish, wish, wish he would stop it.   I thought I was developing tinnitus because I kept hearing a triple echo.  John’s repetition of the words dickhead and wanker are not for delicate ears, so I won’t repeat them.  Oh dear I just have.

Brenda read out more of her story about Ivy.   Her 8th birthday drew to a close.  Ivy loves to hear Northanger Abbey read to her by Lottie, she was captivated by the heroine who lived in a country house, and she became intoxicated by Gothic novels.  One morning she was summonsed to Mrs Gardner’s room who told her that a gentleman (a man of the cloth) and his wife would be paying her a visit about Ivy going to live with them. They had lost an 8 year old child and the wife was grief-stricken. It was Ivy’s one chance to be somebody.  She came face to face with her prospective new parents.  Mr Davies was a strange looking man with dark menacing eyes; he looked like a hungry bird while his wife resembled his prey.  (Lovely analogy)  Fear crawled up Ivy’s back.    I do hope she doesn’t go t o live with them, they don’t sound nice.

Then we all went for our Christmas lunch.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Happy Christmas

I have added a few seasonal touches


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sad news and sad stories but good writing.

Ian had very sad news for the group.  Ann Flynn’s husband died recently and the funeral is on Friday at the Pilar Chapel of Rest at 1 p.m.  Our thoughts are with her.  Also Jane had very bad news about Pat, who she was informed died yesterday.  Having looked so well when we last saw her, she unfortunately developed bronchitis back in the UK.  Also TJ has gone back to Ireland because his sister is very ill and waiting for a transplant. 

Last week it took Ian 20 minutes to explain how the Secret Santa and the Christmas meal would be organised and today it took another 20 minutes going through it again and picking out Secret Santa slips. 

Brenda told us that she had sent 3 sample chapters of her book to an agent and was asked to email her full manuscript as a Word document along with a short synopsis and CV, and they would be glad to consider her book, which is good news.

 Ian will be sending an email out with the subjects for the next 6 months, including hot pens with a twist.  Ian is away for the next 2 weeks so someone else will have to take the chair.  Good luck to whoever it is!

Darren read out part of his novel.  It was a gripping tale of mounds of bodies, with twisted limbs, grimacing in death. The ‘repentees’ who were clearing away the billions of bodies were prisoners who were given a devil’s deal.  If you did one year with the clean up squad you were free. They all had to wear breathing apparatus and given drugs to numb the pain to enable them to bear the burden. Very few survived the ordeal.   They had to wear wrist bands which would explode if they did not check in for work.  It is set in the future and tells of an Armageddon awaiting the world.  A spellbinding story that I can’t wait to read in full.  There were some good comments from the group about style change and characterization.

Maureen’s story was a conversation with a computer.  ‘Hello I am Sarah from PayPal.  I am your automated customer support assistant.’  ‘I want to send money to a UK bank but the fields don’t match’. ‘Please rephrase your question and I will be able to give you a better response.  Would you like more information on how to send the money?’ She repeats what she wants to do. ‘Can you tell me more about your issue?’ Request repeated again. ‘Was this helpful?'  Me, ‘no’.  ‘I am a virtual assistant and I cannot think.  I do not know what you mean.  Can you be more specific?’ Me ‘ha ha’. ‘ I am sorry that was too complicated for me’. At that point Maureen switched off. 

Christine’s poem was about a Christmas pudding.
It was the night before Christmas the children were sleeping, the stockings on the mantle, mum was weeping.  Her husband was a soldier in a war torn foreign land helping people for a reason she didn’t understand.  He was due home for Christmas but it was getting quite late.  She heard the doorbell, and her returning husband was there.  Thank goodness for that, we were getting worried. 

Ian’s story was called Santa didn’t come.  Because Santa never turned up the little boy asked his mum ‘Was I really bad? He had to ask his mum because he didn’t have a dad, who had just died.  ‘No you have been very good.’  He took his mum’s hand; it is up to him to take his father’s place.  ‘I hope next year is better, I wrote to Santa saying please bring my daddy back.’    Chris said ‘where’s the knife?’  We were all suicidal by this time.

A new member Pam Brennan introduced herself; she likes to be amongst creative people, and is a painter and artist,

Kathy had written a poem to Avril who had presented us all with a handmade card, ‘I cannot express in words, it is not in my power, Avril you are a star, a little flower’

Gerry’s story was read out by Maureen. It is set in 1475. The storyteller’s father was a huge man with a booming voice who controlled every aspect of his life while his mother was timid, subservient.  He had got to get out from under his father’s dominance, so leaves to seek his fortune. After 2 hours of walking he was hit by loneliness and excitement.  At 17 he was a boy entering the world of men.  He looked out for something to eat in the forest and saw a young woman lying on her stomach with her hands over the water like a statue. Her hands went into the water and she pulled out a fish from the stream.  She picked up a large stone and hit the fish on the head.  ‘Are you going to help?  You behind the tree, come and help.’   Her face was dirty as were her hands and feet. ‘Are you hungry?  Follow me walking upstream’.    We hope he will be writing more as we all wanted to know what happened next. It is a voyage of discovery. 

Jane wrote on ‘wait till I get you home’, the subject from another week.  The narrator was walking home when she saw Ben, her son. What was he doing?  Wait till I get you home.  12 year old Ben was taking flowers from Mrs Brown’s garden. If I have found that you have thieved how can I face living here?’  ‘Mum she asked me to take her daffodils.’  When asked Mrs Brown said Ben brings her a lot of joy.  ‘You must be so proud.’  ‘I puffed up like a bird and held Ben close.’   

Avril’s poem is from the point of view of a fed up Christmas pudding.  This must be a first!  There is a dead turkey on the table.  I will be set on fire.  How thrilling, they will take their spoons to me to look for the coins.  I don’t like that grandpa, I am going to set alight his beard and make him fart like thunder.  Hilarious!

Mary’s story was about a Christmas spree.  Eating everything in sight, it was a terrific night.’ The evening consisted of food with alcoholic drinks at every stage of the meal. Several glasses of sherry with the turkey, brandy with the Christmas pudding and rum with the mince pies.  ‘I will probably spend tomorrow in bed. I was only sick twice.’  That reminds me to stock up with Rennies.

The next Mary’s story was about Christmas puds again.  I feel full up now.  It was 30 years ago and she had to make a Christmas cake as it was the done thing to produce homemade goodies.  She had a brand new microwave and a sure fire recipe for Christmas cake. There were a lot of ingredients to go in the magic appliance for 20 minutes.  She followed the instructions and it smelled delicious but looked like pudding.  Started again, there was a disruption and she ended up with another pudding. Eventually she had enough Christmas pud to feed the whole street.   Her husband came in, looked at the recipe and said that looks easy. ‘You do it then Mr. Smarty’.  The result was a perfect cake.  He read the instructions properly and found that you had to use a different kind of flour.  Her family had pudding with cream, custard, yoghurt and ice cream.  She hasn’t eaten Christmas pudding since.

Thank goodness Chris’s story was not about Christmas pudding.   It was about Sweden and a recent visit to Stockholm.   Things happen on time in Sweden, there is no manana there; you have to be punctual, Swedes remove shoes when they enter a house; some people take shoes to change into, and you have to make sure your socks haven’t got any holes in them.  Alcohol shops are few and far between.  A bottle of gin costs 27 Euros.  (Don’t go to Sweden Mary)  They drink a lot of coffee and eat coffee bread with it. Most shops have tickets with numbers on that you have to pick to get served. Swedes line up properly in a bus queue. They speak English from an early age.  Chris’s Swedish is not perfect, she thought she was asking the hairdresser for highlights when in fact she was asking for her to put cornflakes in her hair! In Sweden you have the right to hike across private land and friends will take you to a nearby lake or forest and collect wild berries and mushrooms.  You have no daylight hours in winter but indoors is warm. Very picturesque.  The group thought it would be a good article for such as the Sunday Telegraph.

Brenda read out the start of her story about Lottie.  The year was 1867.  Her brother put her on to the horse drawn trap.  ‘Where are we going?  We are going on a trip.  Are we all going?  No your brothers and I have work to do but we will come and visit.’  Mum gave her a squeeze.  ‘It is a fine house you are going to with kind people who will take care of you.  Soon you will be strong and healthy and return to your brothers and me.’  Lottie felt frightened and looked back at her mother who looked small and frail.  Her bloom had given place to despair on the day Pa died. Pa had worked on a farm while ma ran the home. Her brothers helped Pa while Lottie’s tasks were to help around the home.  As the only girl she felt special and protected.  She was a sickly child and had arrived early with lungs not fully formed, but had a zest for learning.  Pa took to his bed, and died of a fever 8 days later. Ma grieved for a year and became withdrawn. She said to Lottie, ‘You are an excellent seamstress and cook.  You will find a gentleman and make a good wife.’  Lottie wondered if she had been punished for her weakness.  ‘Why does Ma not love me anymore?’  Willy said ‘Lottie, Ma still loves you as we all do, you will get strong and healthy and come back to us.’    Lottie remembered her family as she set out that cold winter day. Very evocative. There were plenty of comments on Brenda’s story and the group wish her success in her undoubted future career as a published writer.

Next week is our Christmas meal.  I think I will be cancelling my order for Christmas pudding as a dessert.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I would just like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas,  A Happy, Healthy and Inspiring New year so that you can keep me entertained every Wednesday.    A special thank you to Avril.  The time and effort you spent on wishing each and everyone of us was so special.  Thank You.

As I have said before.  I don't send Christmas cards, but send a donation to the Homeless. 

Seasons Greetings from Margaret Rowland

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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Blog for 7/12/11

21 persons attended. Chris J passed round the menus for the Christmas menu del dia. She volunteered to be the  person  to contact for those who wished to order their meal and were absent on the 7th. There followed a discussion on Jenny's proposal to run a secret santa on the day of the meal. All those attending would draw a name from a pool and buy a gift, maximum cost of 2 euros, and enclose with the gift a clue to the identity of the donor. We all agreed it was a good idea and hope details can be finalised at next weeks meeting.
     Douglas drew attention to a proposal of the British Legion to begin a scheme for volunteers to read to people with limited eyesight. I believe they have publicised the scheme in the free press.
     We have received an email from a man requesting information  about our region for the purpose of promoting tourism to the area.  John Edwards volunteered to undertake this.
      Douglas was the first to read about joining a procession in Torrevieja with a contingent from the British Legion which turned out to be quite shambolic. The piece was entitled "How on earth did Spain manage to win the World Cup?"

      Gerry read Part one of a proposed tale of a Detective Nelson, who had been transferred to NYPD from San Antonio, Texas, and is partnered by a Mexican American, with a smattering of banter about the Alamo.
They are on the murder squad and are called out when a body is found. I'd like to know more, for one.

     John Mac's piece was called 'The Prisoner' . which was a twist as it involved an ex service friend who had gone into the prison service on the Isle of Wight and felt himself just as imprisoned as his charges as he lived in Home Office property by the prison walls. From being the game for a laugh being John remembered he was now a very depressed soul, who had been sickened by the brutality of prison life.

      Brenda's children's story was on the theme of Neighbours, about a large oak tree in a wood. It had several tenants in it's apartments including Clarice Starling and her family who are preparing to fly south for the approaching winter and a family of squirrels looking for accommodation

      Chris J gave her tongue in cheek[I hope)view by way of a poem on neighbours. From hell springs to mind.

      Mary read a prose piece about another invasive neighbouur disturbing her Sunday peace and quiet. It was entitled 'Love thy Neigghbour' but I'm sure one would have to have the patience of Job to bear her experience.

      Avril wrote a poem about the post Christmas blues which eventually follow the rush in the run up to the festivities. I think we could all sympathise and wonder why we put ourselves through it year on year.

      John E wrote of a trip he undertook to a national park with friends, where they were fortunate enough to see 70 species of the local fauna, including the elusive lynx. Sorry John if I have the wrong locale but i heard it as Andujar in the Sierra Morena.

      Janes piece was another of her memories of running a gite in France, entitled 'Four in a Bed' concerning a lady's outlandish request to accommodate her dysfunctional  family who were not on speaking terms.I think that Jane ought to have been in the diplomatic service.

     Anne G's poem on the theme told of how she feels her neighbours here in Spain take more interest in other's welfare and hark back to times when she was young and the rat race was non existent

     TJ read a short piece about the time he was drunk and snogged Hazel O'Connor.  A song on the car radio had jogged his memory.


Thursday, 1 December 2011


    21 people attended yesterdays meeting.  Ian opened by recommending this month's Writers magazine, in particular an article on women's fiction writing.  There followed a discussion about arrangements for our Christmas lunch, and by a show of hands we settled on the menu del dia at Mil Palmeras on 21st December.
It was proposed to supplement the cost for members from our funds. Please let Ian know  as soon as possible if you intend to attend in order to calculate the numbers.
         Guests at TJ's potato party last Friday were in agreement that it was a very good do with lots of praise for the catering.
               Alan was first to read with another  tale from Spike. He and Kitty had been packed off to kennels while their humans went on  a foreign holiday. All seemed very promising until Spike was led to a smelly cage and given rancid  food. I liked the part when he said the cage was open sided so that he could talk to his neighbours, a poodle and a boxer.  Before long Spike organised a revolution for better conditions by a policy of non cooperation and barking through the night.  He really is a loveable  mutt with a very intelligent view on life. More please, Alan.

               Maureen gave us a revised version of the border crossing into Mongolia which was more detailed and the group generally agreed that it conveyed more atmosphere.

               Jenny had a conversation piece about the theme, a road accident. It featured a couple driving their son to his 'posh' school in heavy traffic. The husband who is driving becomes  increasingly frustrated and short tempered using very ripe language about other drivers and the fact that he hadn't had the advantage of his son's education opportunities.  This all leads to the inevitable crash, with both parents receiving head injuries but their son loses his life. A cautionary tale indeed..

               Anne G wrote of an accident she experienced when living in Aden which ended up re-enacting the circumstances using toy cars before an Irish judge and his  Arab interpreter.

               Mary read a short piece about a sparrow wearing a potato necklace, inspired by TJ's challenge to write a propos his potato party.  She followed this with a thought provoking tale about a young  boy asking his father "What's a retard?". It transpired that that he had been so called by his classmates.

               Chris wrote a poem on the theme about being knocked down by a car and then being offered a lift to work by the driver. She accepted grudgingly and was cheered by the fact that as he left her she saw him crash into a lamp post.

                Brenda had re-worked her tale of Lottie, the seamstress at the orphanage in the first person which described her earlier life on a smallholding along with her parents and brothers. Following her father's death the family fall on hard times and she is sent to the orphanage.

                John M wrote of being in Windsor and overhearing American tourists requesting french fries. The rapid fire response of the waiter explaining why they were not available was priceless.

                Heather's short piece concerned her personal experience of being advised by her daughter's boss that she had been involved in an accident. She wrote of the thoughts racing round in her mind about her daughter's childhood, not knowing how seriously she had been injured. We were relieved to learn that apart from shock, her daughter had only sustained whiplash injuries.

                Douglas described market day in a small rural town when the peace is shattered by the sounds of a crash.  The methodical Mr.Plod eventually arrives at the scene  when he is told the cause of the accident is a Rhode Island Red.

                Kathy wrote a moving piece about visiting a Welsh beauty spot, known locally as the blue lagoon,when she spots what she believes is a pile of driftwood on the shore.  She is shaken to hear the plaintive cry of a seal, and realises the poor thing is covered in oil. Makes you dispair, don't it?

                 Alan closed the meeting by reading a conversation  piece. Amanda and Alan have been out on a date. Alan refuses Amanda's offer of an alcoholic drink as he has to drive home, but is invited to stay the night.   Fantasy Island?

                Next week's theme is Neighbours. See you then.             Anne Grierson

The Inland Magazine

My article on the TWC coach outing to Almansa and Alcala in the province of Albacete is published in this months TIM, on pages 12-13. If you miss getting the magazine it can be viewed online here

Rob Innis