Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 12 December 2019.

Present: JonathanAdeleSue, Malcolm, Lesley, PipIan (chair).

Apologies: RoyLouise, MikeGraham, JennyB.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

This was to be the last meeting of the year, and members would be reconvening at 1:30 PM at The White House for the Christmas Lunch. Along with her apologies Louise had sent her best wishes to the whole group for a good party.

Members’ Readings

Sue — read a further instalment of her short novella Tea with Mrs Devi. Helen and her daughter Jolynn meet Mrs Devi (the Hindu goddess of Smallpox, in genteel retirement thanks to its worldwide eradication) in the local supermarket. Politeness dictates that a personal invitation to their home should be extended.

Ian — read a poem in honour of UK Election Day: We Are The Nazgûl. It was greeted with stunned silence.

Adele — read two poems: Aristotle and Blood Lust. The latter was particularly commended by the group. A discussion followed on whether publication on the website of a writers’ group rendered a poem unpublishable in the traditional outlets.

Malcolm — read out a creditable essay recalling two opportunities in life he most regretted having declined. Opportunity Number 1 was at the end of his National Service in the former Malaya, when he was invited to attend a training course run by the Paras (the Parachute Regiment). In later years, volunteering to do a parachute jump for charity, he so enjoyed the experience that he regretted turning down that invitation. Opportunity Number 2 arose when he was holidaying in the Nyanga Mountains in what later became Zimbabwe. Attending chapel in a small village, with a tiny congregation, the verger explained that there was no priest and would he kindly consider taking the service. To have done so might have been a turning point in his life.

Jonathan — read a seasonal piece entitled Joseph’s Tale. Narrated by the foster-father of Jesus, it reviews a dysfunctional family life, from his shocked disbelief on hearing the news of his betrothed’s pregnancy, through unwilling sufferance to painful exile and childbirth in distressing circumstances, as seen through the eyes of one fated to be the eternal onlooker of an inexorably unfolding tragedy.

Pip — once more took up the story of her coming-of-age on a Caribbean island. It is three months since her arrival on South Caicos, where her father has been appointed District Commissioner. Her boss at the small trading-post cum hotel asks her to fly by small plane to Grand Turk, the chief island of the archipelago, to look up the details of a company alleged to be registered there. After a hair-raising journey she finds the company registration records in a sad state, with no sign of the company concerned. Returning by boat no bigger than a tug, she sails across apparently empty seas until she reaches her home island which, being low-lying, could not be seen until they were almost there.

Lesley — read out Jingle Bells, a humorous Christmas tale with an unusual angle on its festive heroes. There has been a tightening-up at Air Traffic Control, and Santa Claus receives an unwelcome official letter detailing his serious non-compliance with European flight regulations. A strained correspondence ensues.

The meeting closed at 12:59 and members repaired to the hotel for what turned out to be a most enjoyable Christmas meal.