Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 10 January 2019.
Present: Adele, Roy, Jonathan, Jenny, Ian (chair).
Apologies: Mike, Graham, Louise, Pip.
Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.
This is the first meeting of our new writing year. Ian had already circulated the new calendar to members in his emailed meeting reminder, and ensured that the management of La Rosa had a copy too.
Ian reported the latest news of our member Daphne Wright (who runs the associated group on the Fridays of alternate weeks to ours). She is in Whitby Hospital following a fall at her home, but is expected to be back home again soon.
Jenny — read two poems:
- What Came To Light – prompted by having to clear the house of her deceased mother. This is the revision of a poem she had recently read to the group, revised in the light of comments received. The meeting agreed wholeheartedly that the revisions had been effective and had improved an already commendable poem with an uncommon structure, an apt balance between wry though understated humour and daughterly love.
- 5 Seconds – the time it took for a wasp to die in her hot beetroot soup, eaten al-fresco, as she struggled in surprise to spoon it out. Apart from recommending “Five Seconds” as the title, the meeting had nothing to criticise in the poem itself. Though “treading lava” was universally appreciated as a compelling metaphor.
Ian asked for clarification of Jenny’s hint of a wider message for mankind: as a one-time hobby entomologist the poem for him was firmly rooted in the insect world: the wasp’s ineffective response to its predicament being the outcome of a billion-year start on humanity.
Ian — took a rest from Anitra’s Petition to read a new children’s story in his Spooky and Dyspepsia series, entitled The Last of the Time Cats.
Spooky the Cat falls in love with an Egyptian cat statue in the window of a Sunderland junk-shop and buys it. Giving it a clean-up at home, she discovered that it takes AG13 button cells. Putting some in, she is rewarded by the cat’s eyes starting to glow. A crudely-scratched inscription in ancient Greek draws her attention, and she copies it down to take to Sunderland Museum, where the curator reads: do not put batteries in this cat! On getting home, she discovers the cat lying in front of the fire, having come to life in her absence. He introduces himself as Puss son-of-Miau, and reveals he is a time-traveller.
There was only time to read half the story, the rest to follow in a future meeting. Members were generally encouraging, Jenny opining that the genre was original. Ian didn’t deem that an advantage in getting it more widely read, since in order to launch a new genre you needed to be a famous author.
Roy — Wesson’s Dilemma. It is 1967. Shadow Foreign Secretary Charlton explains to Charlie Wesson the manner in which he’s being blackmailed. To-date he has paid two sums of £200, but the third demand, the most recent, signifies a departure in more ways than one. Meanwhile Wesson’s girlfriend Jane, on the trail of the missing girl Muriel, tracks her to a shebeen in Chapeltown.
Ian commended Roy on how far his style has matured since his previous book. Characters are described with economy, but observed acutely for all that. Opportunities for drama plus human touches are grasped and worked to the full.
Adele — read a light-hearted essay entitled Mandrake Madness, surveying the history and sociology of this infamous root, which kicked-off a wide-ranging discussion.
The meeting concluded at 12:45 PM.