Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 11 July 2019.
Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.
Ian welcomed our newest attendee Sue Thomason to the La Rosa group, and invited those present to introduce themselves.
Ian reminded the meeting that this was the last-but-one meeting before our August recess. We would reconvene, same time, same place, on 5 September 2019, which would be the meeting before our Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (see details at the foregoing link) on Wednesday 11 September 2019, 2 PM to 4 PM. A useful discussion ensued about the format of the event, especially as regards readings from the books for sale.
Lesley — read a childhood reminiscence of family holidays in Powick, in the Malvern Hills just south of Worcester. It evoked for Ian compelling images of defeated Cavaliers during the Civil War, the plumes in their headgear all muddy and tattered. Others remarked on the author’s convincing description of the children’s excitement and anticipation.
Jonathan — read a poem: Who am I?
Commencing with the relationships of his immediate family, the poet broadens his focus to recall the rivalry and often the enmity of neighbouring villages, counties, countries, cultures and skin colours, finally to celebrate our being “children of the same power // nurtured by the same earth”.
Sue — had a favour to ask of the group: to advise on a story she was writing, and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Ian replied that this was just the sort of thing the group loved doing. Sensing the opportunity for an impromptu workshop, he invited Sue to tell her story as far as she saw fit. Then the group took five minutes to jot notes in silence on their feelings for how it would end.
Sue’s story, The Ivy House, tells of a young woman fleeing an abusive father, whom she believes she has killed. She emerges from under the trees to squat in the empty cottage of a recently deceased witch. This lay, as such cottages do, on the very edge of the forest. There she ekes out a precarious existence on the margins of society in a mediaeval east European village, under the suspicious eyes of the villagers. Her only friend is the apothecary, for whom she occasionally gathers herbs in the woods. One day she lacerates her hand and, staunching the wound with a strip of birch bark, is dismayed to see letters of blood appear. But she cannot read…
The group praised Sue’s command of European folklore and her evocative, non-judgemental way of presenting her imaginative ideas. Ian, outlining the notion of hard science fiction, (no aliens, no miracles…) suggested that what Sue had begun was a hard fairy story and should strive to remain within the genre – which alas meant no beanstalks growing overnight. But it did not forbid the tale to be stiff with folklore, and its protagonists to adhere to the magical thinking characteristic of the Age. Neither did it forbid faces in the fire when the birch-strip eventually gets burned (Jenny‘s idea) because such things are subjective.
Jenny — read her poem: The Concise British Flora in Colour: The Reverend W Keble Martin, 1965, as published in the above-mentioned Ink, Sweat & Tears. Discussion centred on the features of this remarkable book, with its artistically arranged yet faithful and instantly recognisable illustrations, all by the author, and was with difficulty drawn back to Jenny‘s poem. All agreed that this was a fitting tribute to Revd Keble Martin’s achievement, and a plausible conjecture on the nature of his ministry within his fortunate parish.
The meeting concluded at 12:45 PM.