Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on Thursday 12 May 2022.
Present: Michele, Jonathan, Jenny, Kaz, Ian (chair).
Apologies: Lesley, Pip, Adele, Fiona, Peter.
Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.
Kaz — read a short story. The narrator learns of the death of Tony, her lover. Only then does she discover he was married. She is invited to the funeral and then back to the family home for the customary get-together of mourners. She is made tolerably welcome, but feels out of place and betrayed by the deceased: he could never have married her.
Michele — read a further instalment of her novel – The Undesirables. It is 1900. The war is going badly for the Boers. Pretoria has been taken. “Refugee” camps are being built, but everyone knows the “refugees” will be civilians rounded up by the British to enforce a scorched earth policy against the belligerents. The siege of Mafeking begins.
Anna’s fiancé Eloff has been killed in action. Her father, coming home on leave from the front, breaks the news to her. The settlers make preparation to flee their farms and seek refuge in local caves.
The khakis (British soldiers) arrive at Anna’s farm. The officer scornfully menaces the household and strikes the defiant Anna, drawing blood. Anna asks if they are to be killed, but the officer orders her to gather necessary belongings before the householders are taken away. The soldiers commence smashing up the farm and shooting the animals.
A far-ranging discussion ensued, there being ample time to explore wider issues than simply critiquing the piece read out. Ian commented that if he had been listening to this a year ago, he’d have thought only of the horrors of wars of over a century ago, of which British people would be less than grateful to be reminded. But the invasion of Ukraine and consequent atrocities committed against non-belligerents has made Michele‘s material highly relevant and topical.
Ian — read a poem entitled Why didn’t you make me? A wayward daughter blames her mother for not doing enough to prevent her from ruining her own life and destroying her children’s opportunities.
There followed a discussion of software to assist the novel-writing task (Libre software was mentioned), which widened into members’ reminiscences of how computers have changed familiar tasks in business out of all recognition over the past 40 years, painfully eliminating the jobs of hot-metal compositors in newspapers, and typing pools in the Civil Service and other major enterprises.
The meeting concluded at 1:05 PM.