Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel at 11 AM on Thursday 7 February 2019.

Present: Mike, Louise, RoyJennyJonathanIan (chair).

Apologies: Pip, Adele, Graham.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

Ian plans to recruit new members by updating the group’s spot in the Community Page of Whitby Gazette. A small poster in Whitby Library was also recommended.

Jenny in reply to Ian reported she has no immediate plans for more Merry Melancholy performances until March or April, when hopefully her family commitments will be behind her.

Members’ Readings

Jenny — read two new poems:

  • Invincible – an atmospheric, rumbustious poem in which the poet conjectures coming back as an eponymous traction engine, traffic-light red, powering gallopers and organs and emitting sulphurous burps.
  • Jan Johansson plays ‘Emigrantvisa’ – introducing the music of a jazz pianist little-known in England through one of his better-known pieces, a work of mournful sweetness.

Mike — [Aladdin] resumed the saucy goings-on backstage at a provincial pantomime.
The Twins (playing the comic cops) successfully fend-off the unwelcome advances of Sophie (Spirit of the Ring), who doesn’t mind which twin she goes to bed with because she can’t tell them apart, by pretending they are engaged to a pair of twin sisters.
Steve (Abanazer) has feelings for Suzie (the Princess).
The company sit down to a Christmas lunch of turkey plus trimmings hosted by the theatre owner.

Ian [Anitra’s Petition] — A general assembly is called of the denizens to discuss the future of Oberon in the light of its impending obsolescence by fast-ferries of the Prometheus type. We meet a controversial Selenean figure: Eric Rauthi (“Red Eric”), named as responsible for hijacking Dolpou and Anitra onto the Oberon. He leads a faction which includes Uncle Peter calling for the vessel to be offered to Mars as the vehicle for Project Tahiti. It would bring forward by a generation the Martians’ cherished plan to colonise the Oort Cloud with ice-worlds, spawned by Oberon, as a first step in conquering the galaxy. Dolpou views this as directly conflicting with Anitra’s petition for human rights in the Court of the Goubernator. When they reach Mars, will Uncle Peter block Anitra’s disembarkation, to accompany him on a wildly-conceived journey into the unknown?
Ian was worried that a passage largely devoted to showcase speeches at an assembly would be viewed as a big yawn. The meeting’s reception was encouraging however, recognising the importance of the chapter as a major turning-point in the novel.

Jonathan — read a 650-word short story, Shy Swain. A railway enthusiast on the Orient Express proposes to his holiday companion on reaching Thessaloniki. The backwardness of inland Macedonia of the 1960s is deftly and evocatively described: Skopje still in ruins from the 1963 earthquake, unpaved city streets and chained bears.
The meeting decided that the story needed little if any revision – apart from the title, for which various impractical suggestions were aired.

Roy [Wesson’s Dilemma] — Leeds in 1967. Jane Pinner has tracked down the Colonel’s wayward daughter Muriel to a shebeen in Chapeltown. She takes along Charlie Wesson to talk to her, finding her with the owner Vince Stainton, her malign influence. Wesson, drinking beer at 5/- a bottle, makes no secret of his occupation as a private investigator, nor Muriel – with a bruise on her arm – of her present disaffection.

Louise — revealed what it was like as a trainee radiologist in the early 1960s. She worked at a full-time job on a Local Authority student grant intended to support a young person for just 30 weeks of the year. It was only possible by hitchhiking into work in central Middlesbrough, flat-sharing three-to-a-bed (taking turns to sleep in the middle) and tucking into the free sandwiches at the local pub on darts-match nights.

The meeting closed at 1:05 PM.