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

Present: Adele, Harry, Jenny, Kaz, MicheleIan (chair).

Apologies:  Gill, LesleyPip.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

Ian asked Adele to report on progress for this year’s Fish and Ships Festival, 20-21 May 2023. Adele duly detailed the state of preparations, which were likely to be in-time this year. There would be sessions in the library devoted to performance and readings. There was scope for members to submit poems and stories of a Whitby/fishy flavour.

Ian brought up Swansea University’s project to study the application of lucid dreaming to the creative process of short-story writing. Harry had signed up to be a subject, and was three weeks into the study. This prompted a lively discussion on dreaming, clearly a popular topic once one could justify talking about it.

Members’ Readings

Adele — continued reading from her Covid diary, from 2 November 2021. A total of 5 million deaths worldwide, plus 50 million reported cases. These figures are likely to be gross underestimates, depending on some countries’ efficiency in collecting the data plus the will to do so. Certain classes of people can now walk-in for a covid jab, although North Yorkshire is short of walk-in hubs and an on-line booking is likely to take one to Middlesbrough or Scarborough.
Adele’s mother has a covid diagnosis. So far she has come through remarkably well, surviving cancer and covid plus having to deal with the failing health of her partner. Adele gets pinged by The App, which tells her she’s been in contact with an infected person at such-and-such a time. She cannot think how this was possible. Maybe the app works by recorded location, and her “contact” was on a different floor?
France has introduced a rule that over-65s who have not had a booster jab are to be refused entry to a range of public places. Suggestion of a return to the wartime “yellow star”? The Royal British Legion can now collect again in the street. Their loss of income must have been severe, much of it coming from donations of small change from purchases, which during covid have been almost entirely via credit card. Austria, with the lowest vaccination rate in Europe, has been forced into lockdown due to rocketing infections.

Kaz — read the lyrics and sang a few songs she has written. Whitby; Facing My Dragons; Dark Moon; Apathy (about young drug-takers: “one foot in the grave, the other in the sky”).

Ian — read Chapter 5 of The Last of the Time Cats, which he justified as work-in progress because it had not yet been officially published, but only recorded as an audiobook and sent to the grandchildren for whom it was written.
Dyspepsia is still at school, and gets to go on school trips, this time to Egypt. Her little friend Spookie the Cat isn’t, and doesn’t, so she has been left to languish in Sunderland. There she has discovered a gorgeous full-size Egyptian cat statue in a pawnshop, which turns out to be one of the mysterious Nine Cats of Eternity. Spookie finds a battery compartment which takes button cells (AG13), which bring the cat to life. Meanwhile Dyspepsia, disdaining mere tourism, engages in a little archaeological research, having discovered an ancient AG13 button cell on display in the Cairo Museum masquerading as a decorative bead. She knows it’s no use telling the museum staff because they will only laugh at her.

Harry — has started a 4th memoir of life as a radio officer in the heyday of the British Merchant Navy, a continuation of his (published) 3rd memoir. The Mahronda leaves port on Boxing Day 1959 bound for Bremen. Harry, as the chief (and only) radio officer, is accompanied by his newlywed wife Beryl. In addition to his promotion, Harry has been granted this concession in return for giving up his leave.

Michele — read a further instalment of her novel in-progress: The Undesirables, set in Southern Africa during the Boer War, 1898-1902. Anna, classified as an “undesirable” (a captured partisan) has suffered terrible hardships in Camp Irene along with her decimated family, but now, following a damning report on camp conditions by the S.A. Ladies’ Committee, life is beginning to look up a little with the establishment of a hospital (in a tent) by the new civilian commandant and Anna’s employment as a trainee nurse. The hospital matron is a lady who has lost her entire family of eight children to hunger and disease at the camp. Anna is getting better rations, and her waistline is growing slightly. The patients mostly have typhus or lung ailments. The essential hygiene – washing her cracked hands with carbolic soap – is a hard thing to learn after the rough-and-ready medicine of the veldt, but represents modernity.

The meeting closed at 1:05 PM.