Thursday, 23 February 2012


22nd February.
There was a good turnout, we get bigger every week. 
Heinke asked people to support the Vivace concert at the Teatro Circo on 17 March at Orihuela, when they will be performing Carmina Burana, tickets are 5 Euros. The town hall in Orihuela Costa is running a bus to the concert.

The theme this week was Spring Flowers
Margaret’s story was entitled Death by Blossom. Gwen resided in Spain but lived life as if she was still in the UK, as was reflected by her office type clothing.  She decided to take her dogs Duke and Duchess out for a walk in the citrus orchards. She inhaled the scent of the blossom and felt intoxicated.  The lightheadedness made her veer off the road into a ditch and the dogs ran off.  ‘The scent of blossom was heavy in the air.’
Comments: Very good characterization.

Geoff’s tale was about Mr Wordforit, who had the most extensive collection of collective nouns in the UK.  His story contained a proliferation of collective nouns, some of them unknown to me, like
Ÿ  a bouquet of pheasants
Ÿ  A clique of photographers
Ÿ  A scoop of journalists
Ÿ  A flash of paparazzi
In the end Mr Wordforit was overwhelmed by an avalanche of collective nouns, which wasn’t a barrel of laughs for the rescue team, so he decided to concentrate on verbs. As usual extremely amusing. 

Alan wrote a piece of tongue in the cheek journalism about a local function he had recently attended. The meal was late, they didn’t win any raffle prizes, they were entertained by a songstress who had to pitch her voice up to compete with the chattering hordes at the tables, but apart from that it was a good event. Rupert Murdoch is setting up another newspaper Alan, any good at hacking?

Gerry gave us the start of something he is working on. ’No-one had seen the Mustang pull into the 24 hour parking block.’  There was a sickly smell coming from the car; a logo indicated it came from the Lone Star State of Texas.  It had been there quite a long time before the attendant forced open the boot to find a headless body, then the detectives arrived to investigate.
Comments:  ‘A fist of foul air’ was very descriptive.  We guessed too early that there was a body inside the car so the impact was lost when the boot was opened.  It took too many words to set the story up.  Gerry appreciated the comments, which will help him to refine and continue the story.

Brenda had written on the theme of Spring Flowers. Mother Nature is working her magic creating the beauty of a bluebell wood. The narrator, who thought her name might have been Margaret, had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Picking bluebells aged 14 years she had been disturbed by a man with blood on his hands.  To stop her telling anyone about his poaching he had buried her alive, but she is not lonely, she can feel the earthworms and hear the beetles, she knows it is spring because of the bluebells swaying in the breeze and she is happy in her magic wood. 
Comments:  Brenda painted a brilliant picture of the scenery and the wild life. It was questioned whether she would know her name or not but as she is now just a body she is a nonentity without name. It was reminiscent of the start of Lovely Bones and we all wanted to hear more. Brenda apologized that she cannot write about nice events!

John went back into history to the time of the mods and rockers.  He was a mod and he had a Lambretta called Bubbles. He overtook a car as he was late for college. Bubbles fell on her side and he ended up in the gutter.  The police arrived and he was fined £10 and received 2 points on his license for driving without due care and attention. Being the suave mod that he was, he was too cool to wear his crash helmet; it was a fashion item dangling from the luggage rack most of the time. He told us about Slab Square in front of the council building in Nottingham which had stone lions in front.  Apparently the lions would roar if a virgin went past. ‘A quiet place Slab Square!’  He gave some old man in a car a V sign who turned out to be his father, not a good idea.  He somehow survived and still has an old Vespa called Bubbles 11. You seem to have had a few contretemps with the police John! Very amusing as always and evocative of that age, which seems like only yesterday to me!

Betty had written on the theme of spring flowers. A mother looked at her daughter with pride, her eyes brimming with tears. In the physio room the girl made her first step forward. She was determined to walk unaided at her marriage in 8 weeks’ time.  It had been a great shock to her mother to learn that her daughter had lost her legs in a train accident which had changed their lives. She brought the wedding dress to the hospital for her daughter to try on.  The dress went down to the floor and covered her new artificial legs.  She punched the air.  ‘With a bouquet of spring flowers it will be my perfect day.’  A lovely tale of triumph over adversity, very nicely written.

Heinke – this psychedelic story is about people who live in bubbles in the sky (I think!?).  Polystyrene and Polyester share a room. They didn’t know whether to have the stem cell soup or the collagen stew. Everything was made from animal or human extract.  The inspector came to inspect and was told to feck off.  The people on the ground are trying to hit the bubbles with stones.  Heinke really believes in the world she writes about, which is a bit worrying!  Innovative and amusing. 

Avril also wrote about spring flowers. She managed to name every spring flower known to man.  We could visualise the scene of the bluebell woods unfolding before us and it made us pine for life in England when spring arrives (but not for long). Very evocative.

Maureen gave us an interesting report of a trip to Poland.  She was dressed up like the Michelin man in sub zero temperatures.  The buildings were charming; it felt like a set from the film The Third Man.  There were medieval markets and quaint churches.  They visited a museum showing the Nazi atrocities.  The river contained thousands of ashes of victims.  They visited an Irish bar at night (as you do).  The next day they visited Auschwitz. ‘The air was like razor blades’ it was so cold.  They visited the salt mines which included a church and a sea. 
Comments: The piece was very atmospheric, the group wanted more description about the salt mine.

Ann also wrote about spring flowers.  It had been the coldest winter on record.  They had decided to leave their stressful lives and move to the country.  They bought a disused property in Galloway which was 5 miles from the nearest village and renovated it.  It was too good to last.  Ann’s cancer had returned and was inoperable.  She passed away and he retreated into his shell. He took a walk to the village, stopped by a tree and could see yellow heads of daffodils pushing through the piles of leaves.  He began to cry, ‘Ann would have said that life goes on, pull yourself together, you have to live for Ann.’ Very touching.  As Mary said, ‘I never thought that spring flowers could bring so much misery.’

Thank goodness Jane had a happy poem about spring flowers.  Lines included: I know a place where bluebells grow, I know a place where violets hide, I know a place where primroses peep.  In my heart they will dwell.’  Beautifully told.

Jenny’s poem was very short but to the point about almond blossom and broom in the April sun.

Alan updated us about Spike.  I was getting a bit worried about him.  Spike told us about Christmas and New Year in his household.  He now has a friend Kitty who lives with him.  Spike behaved himself and didn’t cock his leg at the Christmas tree.  He nipped out to see Fifi, the French poodle.  (No doubt we shall hear more about her, the hussy).  He and Kitty felt like plonkers in their sweaters and boots.  Comical as always.

Next week it is hot pen.  Bring a photo or a card or an object with you.  These will be passed on to someone else to write about.

Spike and Kitty

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Writing Workshop Part 1

Ian explained that this exercise was all about improvisation and that the essence of any good story was  good, believable characters.

Members would be given 10 minutes to create a believable character. This should not be just a physical description but also contain background info including any mindset etc. Because of the timescale the description would be basic but that over the coming weeks could be "layered". Whatever was written should be retained as this would be used in further workshops.

These exercises had been used previously in OU Creative Writing Courses.

The following is a "flavour" of what the members created.

Gerry               A New York policeman who doesn't play by the rules yet is extremely loyal to his friends.

John E             Frank & Jim, 2 single brothers who are farmers.

Rob                 An ex-university male, single, flashy dresser who is a wheeler/dealer.

Alan G            George who is an ex military man now retired and living in a forest with his family.

Heinke            "The Inspector" who is an astronaut come to inspect the bubble unit where Raffe lives

Jenny               "Leeanne"- a young girl of Irish/Italian parentage.

Christina          "James" who is a man's man as well as a charmer but who also has a darker side.

Judy                 "Oscar"- a single,eccentric , almost theatrical person who lives with his two cats.A

Anne G             A deaf CID Inspector who has a jaundiced look on life. Nicknamed "Charlie Chan".

Avril                  "Max"- a self-adoring body builder.

Betty                 "Zak" who now lives on the Isle of Wight and is a Polish refugee from World War II.

Anne B             A male tramp who is ex army but now an alcoholic/drug addict and lives in cardboard city.

Chris                 "Gladys"- a 5ft 5ins woman who appears as mutton dressed as lamb.

Anne F              "Cecil"- a dapper little man, religious funeral director and failed thespian.

John M             "Ray" is an ex rugby player with demanding personality and a passion for gardening.

Brenda              "Annie Bailey " a young girl born in the 19th century.

Alan W               A retired army officer whose family and others around him are a complete mystery to him.

Douglas              "Herbert" - a small chirpy lorry driver, light fingered and not keen on authority.

Cynthia              A loud- mouthed ex Merchant Navy man called Billy who is a rough diamond.

Mary M             "Maura", a young catholic girl who is resentful of the nuns who raised her.

Jayne                  "Audrey", a 46 year old spinster living with her mother and who loves the local vicar.

Tommy                "Carmen", a 13 year old Spanish girl who is a loner as well as being lonely.

Kathy                  "Elizabeth Boyes" born in 1825 one of 10 children but is unlike any of her siblings.

Margaret            "Trevor", an over sentimental character who once met will never be forgotten.

Ian                        "George", a retired bricklayer, now widowed, who lives for his grandson.

As you can see there is a wide variety of characters with plenty of scope for development.

Ian ( Chair)


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

At 1200 on Monday 27th February 2012 a 4km Sponsored Walk is planned in aid of Children's Charities (La Zenia to Cabo Roig and back). The walk can be followed by an optional Menu del Dia at Punto Marina Restaurante complex.On the upstairs complex there is both a good Chinese Buffet and a 'cheepie' Chinese Restaurante . There is also a choice from other restaurantes who serve menus from 6€ -  everything from Pizzas to Subs. One example Menu del Dia from the Captain's Table (well known for it's good British style favourites menu - like Fish and Chips and Liver and Bacon) - who serve - on Mondays - a Rib Eye Steak, Chips and Peas for 5€ - drinks extra.

The raffle will be drawn at 1530 and the winners will be telephoned and ticket numbers published in the local free press.

Please help in fund raising by seeking sponsorship and taking part in the walk. If this is not possible you can still help by: purchasing raffle tickets; donating a raffle prize; making a donation; helping with selling raffle tickets and walker registration - or just by advertising the event among your clubs and friends. 

We are also collecting clean and serviceable used toys and clothes to pass on for sale at Charity Shops including that of the Torrevieja Alzheimer's Support Group.
Should you still have some old spectacles that you no longer use; we will be happy for you to give them to us so that our Lions Club can get them recycled and matched up with the needs of somebody who lives in a Third World country and who would otherwise have to go without.
For more information contact Peter Long, Torrevieja Costa Lions Club, tel  965719216, or TWC member Maureen Moss

Sunday, 12 February 2012

8th Feb. I didn't get this on the blog without the usual blood, sweat and tears

Ian thought it was interesting to hear last week about group members' thoughts about the books they are reading, and would like the group to undertake a book review twice a year.

Douglas told us that he has received a plea from the Gurkha museum in Winchester which is looking for people to be friends of the museum. You can become a member for £15 or a life member for £150.  If anybody is interested let him know and he will print off an application form.  It is apparently worth looking at the website just to see the Gurkha’s kukri!

Rob has discovered how to upload a book on to Kindle and get it published free. The formatting is tricky, so he advised taking it slowly. To read a Kindle eBook you don’t have to have a Kindle, you can download books from Amazon/Kindle to your laptop or PC, the software is free. 

John told us about the open mic evening the evening before, which was a very sociable evening. 

Iarla gave us a book review of The sense of an ending by Julian Barnes.  He was waiting for a revelation and kept wondering if there was something that he had missed.  He never warmed to Tony, the narrator of this Booker longlisted novella, which is a meditation on ageing, memory and regret. John McGregor agreed with him.
Heinke thought that book reviews should be no more than 250 words.

Heather continued her woman in Spain story.  After the party she told us about last time she was asked to join the community committee and arranged to meet someone to discuss this in a cafĂ© bar that served English breakfasts.  ‘It was sad to see that the English were infecting Spain with heart attack food and bad taste.’  She was told about Mick who had a heart attack in the Irish bar – murdered by sausage she thought!  Very funny. Don’t join that committee Heather!

Jane wrote on the theme ‘I didn’t get where I am today…’
A couple was having rows about lack of money.  Bill blamed his wife Susan because she had gone back to work for only 3 days a week. ‘Who would look after your mother if I did that?’ she retorted. ‘You do nothing.’  ‘I didn’t get where I am today without being an undermanager in a supermarket in a market town like this’ he said.  He rushed out and slammed the door.  Please let tomorrow be better than today, she thought, then she remembered mother was coming for lunch.   Beautifully written and gave the sense of frustration of the wife.

Heinke – ‘I would not have got  where I am today if my father Leo had not abused me and forced me to be a child prodigy, making me compose requiems and ending up in a pauper’s grave.’  It was written by the young Mozart.

Ann – I didn’t get where I am today without some setbacks on the way.   Things could be much worse.  She ended with ‘I love my life here in the sun; I have made friends and would like to say I am happy where I am today.’ Amen to that.

Avril’s piece was a poem – ‘I didn’t get where I am today without standing up and having my say, ….. getting my own way, thinking of all the things I have acquired and best of all I am now retired.’ 

Mery gave us a piece of prose.  What!? She told us how she came on an inspection trip to Spain and became proud owners of a villa.  It was freezing cold and they had brought the flimsiest of clothes.  The next day they brought 2 tracksuits each, one to wear in the house and one to wear in bed.  They thought about going back to the UK but things brightened up. They decided to sell up and move into a flat which is easier to keep clean and tidy, she hopes never to leave her home, but she didn’t get where she was today without going through some learning curves.  Didn’t we all!

Chris – ‘I didn’t get where I am today without a lot of grief. Looking back I felt quite at ease, I didn’t regret gaining wealth, rank and power.’  Written by Rupert Murdoch. He will certainly get some grief this week after five staff at his flagship British tabloid The Sun were arrested over bribery allegations.

Brenda continued her story about Lottie and Ivy.  Lottie didn’t want Ivy to leave and go to live with a family who wanted to adopt her.  Ivy left for a house in Whitechapel where her adoptive father was a parson ministering to the unfortunates in the East End. He spoke about the whores there and said he had been selected to seek them out and save them from themselves.  He put his hand on Ivy’s knee.  ‘Come sit beside me and I will comfort you.’ They arrived at their destination and she was shown into her bedroom.…… watch this space. 
Comments were that it was very atmospheric, and was pitched just right to create suspicion. Some small refinements were suggested.

Judy – I didn’t get where I am today without my husband Stuart.  She told us of his stressful job in the stock exchange.  He started off as a messenger boy at 15 and worked his way up.  He was diagnosed with high blood pressure and stress and his doctor told him to change his job or move to a desert island.  They went to look at cottage in the Cotswolds as the couple there were moving to Spain.  Stuart asked her what she thought about a move to the Cotswolds and she said ‘I think we should move to Spain.’ Sensible decision.

John – I didn’t get where I am today without a bit of luck.  He told us of an ex who told his boss that he had been banned from driving.  ‘Talk about a woman scorned.’ Luckily he managed to get a replacement licence which didn’t show that he had been banned at some stage.  ‘Now for my revenge.’  Should he let her family know that she had changed a will in her favour? He decided against this and came to Spain to live a more tranquil life in the sun but remembered how close he came to disaster. Entertaining as ever.

Douglas wrote about a self-made man who developed into a bully surrounded by toadies.  He prospered although he was of interest to the police.  He made sure families were looked after if they took the rap for him.  He didn’t get where he was today by being a choirboy. One of his rivals was found dead and he was standing over the corpse.  He was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum punishment.  Now he really was at the top of the heap, as the rope was placed around his neck and he was topped.  An interesting take on the theme and he received some good comments.

Mary Morris – I didn’t get where I am today without blood, sweat and tears, without hurt and despair.  I did get where I am today by sticking in a knife.’  Remind me not to upset you Mary.

I wrote a poem about the futility of war but at the end the group laughed.  It wasn’t meant to be funny!

I didn’t get where I am today by stepping back from joining the fray
I joined the army my dues to pay, my family’s fears I did gainsay
I was deployed without delay, and keen to serve my part did play
by going out the following day, on patrol with Sergeant Grey
‘There’s gunfire incoming’ is what he said, and the very next moment I was dead

Ian told us about the workshop starting next week.  The workshop will be in 4 parts, each linking in with the others, although each one is a stand-alone piece. He gave no other clues damn it!


Sunday, 5 February 2012

What Are You Reading?

Another good turnout for this week's meeting.

Ian advised that this month's copy of "The Writing Magazine "was available for the members to borrow.

Jane advised that the collection amongst members had raised 230 euros  and that she had been in touch with Paul Cunningham Nurses and hoped that a member of the organisation would attend to collect the donation.

Ian stated the he was looking forward to hearing from all the members about what they were reading.

Betty:            "Winter in Madrid" was Betty's choice an came highly recommended especially to those who had visited this wonderful city.

Margaret:       "Fall of Giants" was discussed at great length by the members along with some of Ken Follet's other works. Margaret's criticism of this book was that the characters lived happily ever after.

Kathy:            "The Girl Who Played With Fire" Kathy thought was a racy novel packed with incident a that she was looking forward to reading the others in the trilogy despite the problems with name pronunciation. Discussion took place on foreign novels being translated into English. It was recommended to those that have not read these books by Steig Larrsen to read them in order as they would make more sense.

Heather.         "Extremely Loud......." Heather found this book extremely sad but a great read. It was pointed out that this book was the basis of Tom Hank's new film.

Mary M:        "Doomsday Kiss" is a suspense thriller and a really good exciting read.

Cynthia:        "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" was the choice of Cynthia who thought this book was full of good characters and flowing prose.

Alan W:        "Getting Our Way" is a book of a diplomats anecdotes about his experiences around the world representing Britain's best interests.

John M:         "Stirred But Not Shaken" is the life story of TV chef Keith Floyd who has become an icon as far as John is concerned.

Chris:            "Death Of Faith" is a Brunetti murder mystery by Donna Leon and is book number 6 of 21 which shows how popular this series has become.

Mary S:        "Black Diamonds" was Mary's choice as the book is set in her former home area and tells the story of the Fitzwilliam dynasty and their ancestral home - Wentworth House.

Mary K:       "The Hitchhiker" is a tale of an investigation into missing youngsters.

Avril:            "The Diana Directive" Avril thought was a well told and intriguing story including the conspiracy to murder Princess Diana.

Anne G:       "The Devil Rides Out" is the second of TV star Paul O'Grady's autobiographys and is full of caustic observations.

Douglas:      "Tales Of An SAC" was the choice of Douglas who did not reveal the title until after he had reviewed these humourous anecdotes of service life.

Judy:            "The Accused" is a crime novel based on facts.

John E:         "Our Kind Of Traitor" is an intriguing story of criminality somewhat removed from the norm of John Le Carre.

Heinke:         "Oryx andCraike" is a typical Margaret Attwood classic which does not fit into any genre other than being "off-the-wall".

TJ:                This was not so much a review but an announcement of the publication of Rob's articles etc. on Kindle. No doubt Rob will elaborate on this when he next attends the group but this item certainly stimulated discussion on ebooks and Kindle.

Ian:              "The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet" is a well told story of life in Japan in the early 1800's. It is full of rich characters as well as having an excellent plot.

All of the above reviews stimulated conversation and discussion which could not be elaborated upon here but if any member wants info on any of the books reviewed then they should contact the individual member.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

TWC Member published on Kindle

Rob Innis, long term TWC member and ex Chairman, has compiled an anthology of his articles, fiction and blogs which he has published on Kindle eBooks - Spain Exposed

He said, "I wanted to understand the technology and share with the TWC. I had some formatting problems which members with Kindles have helped me to resolve."

The eBook is priced at 1.98 pds (2,68€) and can be downloaded from any Amazon Kindle site ( .com or even .es) For more see the widget* on the RH side of this blog or visit here.

Interestingly you don't have to own a Kindle eBook reader (or eReader) to view Kindle books you can download Kindle for PC software (for free) and read or a PC or Laptop etc.

* The widget also displays The Chinese Attack, a historical fiction novel which Rob Innis helped get too publication.