Minutes of the meeting at La Rosa Hotel on the above date.

Present: AdeleMicheleJonathanPip, Jenny, Kaz, Max (guest), Ian (chair).

Apologies: Lesley, Gill, Fiona.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

Ian introduced his son Max, who teaches English as a foreign language and is on a short visit to England before taking up a new post overseas.

Jenny has a review of her latest novel The House under the Stars due to appear in Whitby Advertiser.

Members’ Readings

Adele — read more of her Covid Diary, starting on Monday 2 August, 2021. People are not reporting negative LFTs as they ought. No athletes’ families will be travelling to the Tokyo Olympics. Adele attends a wedding in Cheltenham, where she finds herself the only person wearing a mask, or indeed taking any precautions.

Jenny — continued her historical novel being written in conjunction with Karen, about Mary Eleanor Bowes, the heiress of a vast fortune. She read out the start of the novel, drafted by Karen, who prefers to write it in flashbacks.
Mary Bowes, wrecked by her experiences, looks back on her career and her disastrous involvement with “Stoney”. Members praised the power and emotion of the writing, and wished all strength to this collaboration of opposites.

Michele — read a further instalment of her novel in-progress: The Undesirables, set in Southern Africa during the Boer War, 1898-1902. Anna and family arrive at the concentration camp. Her past life is gone, and now for her there are only people. The tent walls are thin, threatening hardship when winter comes. She introduces herself to the other tent occupant: Esther, who has two children. Outside the tent, violence breaks out between Anna’s party and the “hands-uppers”: those who submitted freely to the invading British (put their hands up) and so enjoy better treatment. The guards move the hands-uppers to a secluded corner of the camp. Anna goes to collect rations and learns she is one of the “undesirables”, allocated poorer rations. She is provoked to fury, beating up the khaki administrator, and is dragged to the isolation tent.

Kaz — read one of her stories published in Strange Whitby Tales. Kate has just turned 12 and now has onerous responsibilities at home, scraping mussels for fishbait. Her father belts her when she defaults. At night she creeps down to the beach to dance with the selkies. In the morning her father knows he has lost her to the sea.

Pip — read a further instalment of her memoir in-progress: Caicos Moon. Skip, the captain of the US coastguard station, has come to the end of his term-of-duty. A new man, Cap, takes over, and tightens discipline at the camp. Attending a parade, her father observes that the Union Jack is upside down. Nobody in the camp knows how to tell, so Cap asks one of the men to find out, who asks Pip, who asks her father. The required intelligence is communicated back along the same route.
Pip also recounts a few amusing language difficulties with the Americans, who don’t understand the words buoy and quay as the Brits pronounce them. Her mother hears that someone on the camp has VD (=a STD) and straightaway insists that all glasses must be carefully washed.

Jonathan — read a poem: Nemea and the Lion, a nostalgic evocation of famous classical sites in Greece where none of their former glory is nowadays in evidence.

Ian — read two poems:
The Old Man at the Great Wall, a minatory poem about the Chinese sage Li Erh (aka Lao Tzu) journeying to the West,
What is a Boy? – a versification of a prose-poem sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

The meeting closed at 12:45.