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

Present: Adele, Harry, Jonathan, Kaz, Lesley, Michele, MariaPipIan (chair).

Apologies:  Karen, Jenny.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.

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Matters Arising

Kaz asked if there was room for any more members. Ian said we were up to capacity for this venue, and would have to put any future enquirers on a waiting list. Please ask them to use the Contact page.

Members’ Readings

Ian — read a chapter from The Last of the Time Cats. Spookie the Cat copies down two inscriptions on her ancient Egyptian cat statue, one in hieroglyphs, the other in Koine Greek, and takes them to Sunderland Museum. The curator translates them for her, and has some interesting things to say about the “Nine Cats Of Eternity”.

Lesley — Kevin and Daz get up to tricks at Hallowe’en. They raid a pumpkin field by night, and pile their pickup with their ill-gotten gains. But presently they are besieged in a lonely abandoned farmhouse by scarecrows from the plundered field. They flee on foot.

Kaz — read four short poems: Stuff: about accumulating worthless belongings; a haiku Stuff on the same theme; Got No Future: a litany of despair, and Computer: a tirade against our modern oppressors.

Pip — read a chapter from Caicos Moon, her memoir of coming-of-age on South Caicos. The heroine has a bad case of exam nerves: her friends realise how important her exams are for her planned career as a Merchant Navy officer. The exams are held on Grand Turk, the main island of the Turks and Caicos group. Afterwards she meets up with Gus, a close acquaintance from the US Coastguard detachment manning the LORAN station on South Caicos. Someone has told him he was growing up to be the sort of guy any girl would fall for. The heroine feels Gus has been misinformed: he is grown-up.

Maria — has written a fantasy story in her native Russian and translated it herself into English. Ian commended her achievement.
Lucia is the mistress of a fantasy castle, with a troll friend who is too shy to come out of his wall, but prefers to spy on her in secret. She gets pregnant by the groom, and goes away to live with him. During that time the castle falls to ruin.

Harry — continued his memoir of life aboard a cargo boat in the late 1950s. The ship docks at Middlesbrough near the transporter bridge. The author and his fellow radio officer go shopping for essential supplies, then stop off for a beer and a pickled egg. The latter, past its best, is described in horrid detail.

Michele — read a further instalment of her novel in-progress: The Undesirables, set in Southern Africa during the Boer War, 1898-1902. As winter sets in, life in the concentration camp gets yet harder, as food runs low and children start dying in even greater numbers. The gravedigger finds the soil to too frozen to dig until the sun has warmed it a little. Mogau, who has been the cook on Anna’s farm, gets a job helping in the kitchen at the Officers’ Mess. This enables her to smuggle bread back to Anna and her little group of prisoners.

Adele — continued reading from her Covid Diary for mid September 2021. Foreign travel restrictions are eased. The covid maps show England blue, but the rest of the British Isles red. What can England be doing that the rest of the country isn’t? Within a week Scotland begins to acquire blue patches. A new round of covid inoculations prioritises people who have already had two jabs, but children are now cleared to have the jab. The author questions the need for that, because children show mild symptoms if any, and immunisation does nothing to stop them being carriers. Doses have been over-ordered: a billion doses are going to waste, whilst there is a desperate need abroad.
The author donates blood, but finds the system groaning, in spite of blood being in short supply. She misses watching her young family members growing up. The newspapers are revealing the heartache of missing loved ones due to lockdown restrictions. Encountering queues at filling stations, the author discovers there has been a wave of panic buying. Maybe it is a shortage of HGV drivers – the nation is under-strength by 2,000. With a guilty conscience she fills up her tank, knowing she could get by on half-full. The cashier takes her money without comment.

The meeting closed at 1:04 PM.