Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 19 April 2018.

Present: JennyJonathan, MikePipIan (chair).

Apologies: SandraRoseAdele.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.

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Ian — asked Jenny for an update on plans for the next performance of  A Rehearsal Of The Life And Death Of Robert DevereuxJenny confirmed that the venue was not “Scarborough Library”, as Ian had recorded in the previous minutes of 5 April, but Woodend Arts Centre in The Crescent, Scarborough. The correct place and time are given on the Facebook page of Merry Melancholy. Nearer the time, Ian said he’d make an announcement on this blog.

Mike — read more from his story Aladdin, which is now definitely planned to be book-length. The theatre manager contemplates his programme for the year, and how it was the same as last year and would be the same again next year. His chief concern is whether the pantomime will bring in enough money. His janitor looks in to report “no lurkers”.

Jenny — read two new poems. The first poem, Death Defying, written as a competition entry, was inspired by a recent holiday in a less-fashionable part of Sicily. We learn of a monastery where the local dynasties are salted down and mummified for permanent display, an activity which leaves visitors’ clothes smelling of something resembling salami.

The second, Anniversary (nominated for Poem of the Week), about the assisted passage of the family cat, was a touching piece describing the aged pet trustingly going to sleep in its owner’s arms, and its subsequent burial in the garden, where the birds can now come and peck without risk.

Pip — continued reading from her fascinating autobiographical tale Caicos Moon about her coming-of-age on a romantic tropical island. The empty shells of conch (pronounced “conk”) are harvested from the beaches by an American firm for sale by mail-order, but their catalog proves a disappointment, saying nothing about the animals themselves but merely showing pictures of their varied shells. Nobody knows how they live or what they live on: they just keep coming and coming.

Meanwhile Pip, still exploring her new island home and learning about the horses permitted to roam wild in the woods, has the additional thrill of starting her first real job.

Jonathan — read out two poems, the first about flying to Greece over romantic terrain hidden alas by cloud-cover most of the way, the other about the view of Whitby from Spion Kop.

There followed quite a discussion of Whitby place-names, about which the group as a whole confessed itself to be lamentably ignorant. Ian thought he’d heard the name Spion Kop before in a local context, and conjectured that it came (as did many Whitby names, including the nearby Khyber Pass) from our colonial heritage  – probably a battle in the Boer War.

Ian — read another section from his novel-in-progress Anitra’s Petition. Our heroine, on her way to the Moon by spaceplane, is re-engaged in conversation by Commissioner Nilsson, who at long last explains the crime for which the notorious Peter Zwillinge is due to stand trial. This is the Gaiascope Atrocity – the occasion of sixty thousand Selenean deaths.

In the subsequent discussion, listeners wanted to know more about the presence of water on the Moon and the scope for providing it, both fictional and factual. Ian was compelled to admit that the “Adin” of Adin’s Process was “Nida” backwards – but he nonetheless stood by the science.