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

Present: Adele, Gill, Harry, John, Karen, Kaz, Lesley, MicheleIan (chair).

Apologies: Barbara, Jenny, Maria, Pip.

Topic: Members’ work-in-progress.


Matters Arising

Ian welcomed new member John to the group. Members took it in turn to introduce themselves with a few words.

Members’ Readings

Michele — read a further instalment of her novel in-progress: The Undesirables, set in Southern Africa during the Boer War, 1898-1902. Conditions in Camp Irene are improving, following a damning report by the S.A. Ladies’ Committee on their camp visit, and the appointment of a civilian commandant to replace military control. Anna, classified as an “undesirable” (a captured partisan) has suffered appalling hardships along with her family, but her ability to speak both Afrikaans and English gets her a job as a trainee nurse at the new camp hospital. Mogau, who pre-war has worked on Anna’s farm, gets a job in the Officer’s Mess. She can now make loaves for Anna and also to sell in the camp.
The new Commandant is determined to institute a harsh but fair discipline, and puts the able-bodied men to work building and manufacturing essential supplies for the internees.

John — read three poems including ones broadcast on BBC Radio 2: Our Spot, describing a blessed landscape evoking shared memories; Hyde Park, another evocative poem with a sense of place; Bugle Blast, commemorating the harsh repression of the Selborne rebellion in 1831 by impoverished rural labourers in Hampshire.

Kaz — read four poems on the theme of repression of disadvantaged people: I Black – an aboriginal protests his appellation; Locked In – a care-home inmate denied visitors during the covid emergency; Too Heavy To Bear; and Don’t Look At Me Because I’m Inside Out. This prompted a discussion about the status of horror in verse and song: a piquant condiment for the delight of people who take pleasure in such things, or the public exposure of lamentable realities to people who don’t?

Gill — continued her YA novel about Tommy the Tailor who is caught up in a magical adventure in the company of six witches, bent on rescuing their sister from the clutches of the evil Origon. The party arrives at Lake Windermere in the depths of winter, crashing through the ice. Reaching the shore they hijack a snow plough. Origon attacks the vehicle in the guise of a giant bear.

Lesley — read a crime short story: Kidnap, written to meet a challenge set by her writing instructor to set up four (or more) suspects. Skippy the Goat is stolen, and his owner, the first-person heroine, is determined to discover the culprit herself. She draws up a list of suspects; the personality and likely motive of each being entertainingly described. Some claim to be getting a new goat: the heroine checks them out but in each case the goat is not Skippy. Eventually she recognises Skippy in a photo of the winner of the local livestock show, which reveals the person responsible.

Harry — was 5 weeks into Swansea University’s project to study the application of lucid dreaming to the creative process of short-story writing. He had got into a good routine for recording his dreams but was unsure whether any of them was actually “lucid”. He read out some dreams, which were certainly entertaining.
The trick of inducing a lucid dream was apparently to get up for 10 minutes upon awakening, write up the remembered dream (if any), and go back to bed with the chosen topic firmly in mind.
When this study finished, Harry was thinking of joining another study based on Tibetan techniques for entering a dream state to embark on a shamanic journey to meet one’s spirit guide, usually a power animal.

Karen — continues her experience in a religious cult. She is determined to leave her partner Paul for Jesus, for fear of hellfire. But the support she gets from her cult leaders lacks charity and understanding.

Adele — continued reading from her Covid diary, from 19 November 2021. With furlough ending, many essential jobs remain unfilled. If there are no applicants for a given job, then surely the pay and conditions would have to change?
Pfizer had signed contracts with several third world countries to let them purchase generics for less than the western market price, a commendable step in the right direction. Beating the virus was an international effort and would fail if only western nations could afford to vaccinate their populations.
Adele described her experience of getting a booster shot locally. The person behind her in the queue, not wearing a mask, starts coughing. When challenged by the staff, the person claims exemption from wearing a mask, and anyway it isn’t covid. It was selfish, anti-social behaviour. Apart from that one incident, the queue moves quickly and the whole operation runs smoothly thanks to medically-trained but volunteer labour. It seems that the North Yorkshire experience is better than most of the country.
26 November: Adele’s planned Scotland breakaway is cancelled at the Scottish end. Disappointing.
South Africa has isolated and reported a new variant, named Omicron, carried by arrivals from various African countries especially Botswana, where control of the virus is cursory.
28 November: The library service – Adele’s employer – is struggling to maintain essential services. The government enforces mask-wearing on buses, but not in pubs.

The meeting closed at 1:15 PM.