Present: Peter, Dermot, Simon, Amanda, Hilary, Liz, Heather, Alan, Jane, Ramzan, Carla, Tricia, Cathy, Sarah DD, Sarah SH

Apologies: Greg


Dermot has seen Shirley Valentine and given it a glowing review.

Alan has had a story accepted for Best of British magazine. The story is about chaos on the railways due to snow, so will probably feature at a more appropriate time of year.


Ramzan – The Extreme Side of Insanity: This was another night driving story where the narrator receives a phone call that threatens to bring him back into the company of the volatile crowd he cannot seem to escape from. There were lots of amusing nods to a wife’s nagging and the closing Weetabix serial killer reference lightened the mood at the end of the story.

Cathy – This atmospheric and intriguing piece featured a woman sketching memorials in Brookwood cemetery. The emotions stirred by coming across a tiny child’s grave were powerfully conveyed and the meeting of strangers happened naturally and convincingly. The stranger sending pictures to his great grandmother’s iPhone added lightness and the linking of past ancestors in the graveyard with an as yet unborn great grandchild linked past and future in a realistic way .

Note: Peter reminded the Group about gathering together pieces of local interest.

Carla – Tidying the Shore: There was some debate as to whether this was a prose poem or prose, but the consensus was that terminology was irrelevant and that this was a lovely and lyrical piece of writing about a child gathering shells. Colours, smells and touch sensations were delicately but powerfully conveyed and there was an understated hint of some imminent threat to the child’s safety.

Tricia – A scene from a play: All agreed that this would make a brilliant first scene rather than a scene in the body of the play. It convincingly conveyed the tensions between the two principal characters – the woman who had been the cause of a marriage breaking up and the son of that marriage. The father had been murdered recently and the scene paved the way for the development of the relationship between the ‘other woman’ and the son after the latter suffered a seizure and was taken to hospital.

Hilary – Bin Liners: This was an extract from a novel set in the 1980s. The action took place in Cloud Hill hospital where Alexi was visiting his grandmother, Henrietta, on Cloud Nine ward. Tea was brewed constantly as a ritual and was skilfully used to illustrate the power play and interaction between characters. There was a feeling that revelations and possibly a sinister element was building up. Everybody wanted to hear more.

Heather – Hannibal’s Big Idea: This rhyming poem featuring Hannibal and his elephants successfully lowered the tone. The poem suggested that he simply made a mistake on eBay when ordering supplies for his planned attack on Rome, but finished by reminding the reader that jumbos can actually fly.

Jane – an extract from a new book: This featured two separate scenes which could link as the novel progresses. In the first scene, a vivid picture was sketched of a chaotic household, a wealthy (and ghastly) woman and a cleaner who is desperate to be paid ‘cash in hand’. The second, equally intriguing scene featured a woman with a migraine and a gunshot, plus a convincing South African accent. More, please!

Peter – Ideas – a poem: This was a poem full of ideas (sorry!) – all of them good. Everyone enjoyed the poem which contained some vivid and thought-provoking images. The lines, ‘… plenty is the beginning of greed … famine brings us back to compassion’ were profound and generated discussion.

Alan – An Iconic Revenge: This was a story packed with distinctive and memorable detail, including the painting entitled Pillock with Drone. The revenge on behalf of the underdogs is subtle and totally unexpected – and the contrasting emotions of all involved were powerfully conveyed with great economy of style.

Amanda – In Case You Were Wondering About My Age – a poem: This was a hugely amusing poem about a woman getting older and laying it on the line about what she had had done and what she hadn’t. The rhyming contributed significantly to the fun and the poem earned a round of applause.

Sarah DD – The Muse’s Viewpoint: Shall I Compare Thee … Sarah had written more lines to her sonnet and all agreed that the meaning and feeling of this sensitive and clever piece had been beautifully maintained. Please keep going with this, Sarah!

Sarah SH – Margot – an extract from a longer story, Fringe Benefits: In this extract we learned that Bernard’s young sweetheart died in a tragic accident and he was still haunted by the last seconds of her life. Although this was written from Bernard’s viewpoint, Sarah had experimented with telling Margot’s history as Bernard tried to imagine what she saw as her life flashed before her eyes. This was a beautifully crafted and poignant piece with elements of the unexpected.

Liz – Extracts from diaries: Liz had been looking back on diaries from years before and had found many moving extracts from 1978 and 79. There was an interesting discussion about keeping diaries – quite a few members had done so and had kept them, others had notebooks for jotting down ideas and memorable events.

Next meeting: Thursday 20 April

Chair: Dermot

Minutes: Cathy

Wine: Heather

Milk and Biscuits: Tricia

Homework: A response to a note reprimanding a group or individual for behaving badly: a note which included the question, ‘Can You Live With This?’ as part of the reprimand.