Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 20 February 2020.

Present: Jonathan, Mike, Veronica, Sue, Pip, MalcolmIan (chair).

Apologies: RoyLouise, JennyBLesley.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

At the last meeting, Ian gave out “homework” – to think of references to books, plays, films etc which we are reminded of by Pip‘s memoir Caicos Moon. The purpose being to spice-up a ms submission. We all like to think of our books as unique – as indeed Pip’s is. But it’s a sad fact of the trade that books have to be promoted on their similarity to other books or works.
Veronica asked: why “Moon”? Pip replied that it had to do with the whiteness of the landscape and the buildings of South Caicos, which showed itself to stunning effect by moonlight.
Jonathan was reminded of Over the Bridge, an autobiography by Richard Church.  Ian in his turn was reminded of Maxim Gorky’s autobiography Childhood (“Detstvo“), because Gorky’s book has hardly anything in it about himself, but dwells lovingly on the fascinating characters that surrounded him as he grew up, a focus that Pip’s autobiography tends to adopt.
Sue saw the book’s special feature as growing up in an exotic location as the child of a diplomat. To that end it bears comparison with Daughters of Britannia by Katie Hickman, who describes the lives of wives and daughters of British diplomats from the 17-cent to the present day.
Lastly there were the two well-known classics about coming of age in splendid isolation: The Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables.

Members’ Readings

Mike — read a poem from his collection This is my Yorkshire, about the fishing village of Staithes, and the strange people who used to live there when he did.

Sue — read part of the final scene from Tea with Mrs Devi, in which a mysterious Indian lady – actually the Hindu Goddess of Smallpox – retires to a small English town and impacts the lives of Helen and her family. Helen has just discovered that her husband Mike has been carrying on an affair with a family acquaintance. Mrs Devi is thinking of ways she might be able to help her new friend…

Veronica — read a piece entitled Music Matters featuring the ballet Petrushka.

Malcolm — continued describing his recollections of Africa. There is labour unrest at the tea plantation, and the author settles for a time-honoured remedy: wait it out till the fuss dies down. He describes his meeting with two Catholic missionary priests: Fr Gerry and Fr Benny, both lively characters and good company. To raise funds for their missionary parish they hire out wedding dresses. A nun attached to the mission dons one of the wedding dresses for a dare, which kicks-off a memorable evening.

Ian — read out the final part of Volchin – the story of a man brought up by wolves in mediaeval Russia.

Pip — continued reading from Caicos Moon. Thanks to her father’s diplomatic occupation, the author has attended ten different schools, which hasn’t encouraged her to delve deeply into any particular subject. She would like to go to sea however, and decides to aim for the job of purser on P&O liners, for which she requires two languages. She opts for Spanish and Latin, and is compelled to study them both by correspondence course.

Jonathan — read out a diatribe against supermarket shopping: The Curse of Tesco. The present-day customer experience is contrasted unfavourably with shopping in traditional grocers, in the days when there were plenty of these around.
Jonathan also invited members to hear him deliver his submissions to the Poetry section at the Eskdale Show, due to take place place on 3 March in the Whitby Spa from 2 PM onwards.

The meeting concluded at 1 PM.