Present:   Cathy, Sarah DD, Sarah SH, Amanda, Heather, Hilary, Greg, Dermot, Shaun, Alan, Liz

Apologies:  Ramzan, Tricia, Simon, Peter


The Lightbox’s first literary festival will be from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 April. WWC contributions include the Write Out Loud poetry open mic organised by Greg, and “In conversation with Nicola May”, where author Nicola May will be talking to Cathy about the process of getting published.

Dermot reviewed Fracked at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre for Essential Surrey. It was better than he expected and cleverly acted. Amanda reviewed The Woman in Black at Woking for our website. It was terrifying! Cathy reviewed Million Dollar Quartet at Woking, also for WWC. Although the performances were good there wasn’t a great deal of story and it may have worked better as a straight tribute show.

Alan had pitched a piece about his mother’s experience with walking frames to Disability Now, only to find they had folded (Disability Now, not the frames). Not to be put off he went on to offer it to Disability Review magazine where he spoke to the editor and they are considering it for publication.

Greg is shortlisted in the Saboteur awards as reviewer of the year. This will be voted on by members of the public and the circle was strongly encouraged to do their democratic duty and vote for whoever their favourite poetry reviewer may be.

Shaun mentioned almost as an aside that he has incorporated a publishing company, Gadfly Press (after Socrates). He intends to continue to publish true crime, as that has been very successful for him so far.


Greg, ‘Black Gold’

Greg’s poem about his father and his father’s compost heap was full of solid imagery and gave a sense that his father had come through the struggles of his life and “landed”. The poem contained double meanings of compost and mortality and tackled large subjects in a tiny world.

Heather, ‘The Dancer’

Heather’s poem was a bitter-sweet collage of ideas. We felt it was very authentic and powerful. It looked at issues of ageing, dementia, shame and guilt. The reference to the song If You Were The Only Girl in the World was very evocative.

Shaun, blurb for The Cali Cartel

Shaun read the back cover blurb for what will be his eight book, The Cali Cartel. This is to tie in with the new season of Narcos on Netflix. He also had a cover design. The group asked questions and offered suggestions on the blurb, and discussed whether the cover’s similarity to that of Shaun’s previous book was a positive or negative thing.

Hilary, Breath

Hilary’s short story was a very intense look at a grieving mother with the intimate thoughts of a woman just about holding it together. There were references throughout to breath and breathing and some powerful metaphors about the brittleness of a stick and of life.

Sarah DD, Babu

Sarah’s piece about Woking’s Peace Garden used imagery of the symmetry of the garden and the trees planted for the men who had once been buried there to encourage the reader to think about peace. As it stood it could have been either poetry or prose. The circle felt it could be condensed into one or even two poems.

Dermot, Mistaken Identity

Dermot’s short story about helping a young lady in an airport then briefly being mistaken by the press as actor Raymond Burr (of Perry Mason and Ironside fame) was wryly amusing as always. Although he got slightly less than 15 minutes of fame he did get the experience of being papped and wasn’t sure the celebrity life was for him.

Liz, Eggs, flowers and the word ‘wonderful’

Liz’s moving tribute to her mother was read out by the vicar at her mother’s funeral. It was a lovely, powerful and well balanced piece which gave us a strong impression of the woman Liz’s mum was. We felt Liz’s second piece, which focused on eggs and chicken keeping was, while interesting, a very different piece and the graphic descriptions of the slaughter of chickens may not be quite right for the intended audience, the Oldie magazine.

Alan, Mock Humility

This period piece offered numerous opportunities for Alan’s rich descriptions and sense of humour. Brilliantly funny with phrases like “Dripping boscage”, boscage meaning wood (it was clarified to the minute taker).

Sarah SH, Fringe benefits

A continuation of Sarah’s story about a woman and her hairdresser-turned-artist. Sarah was concerned that it was getting confusing with jumps in time and point of view, but the group felt that it would fall together as she wrote. Alan in particular thought that the “crafted confusion” could be a positive and the group noted this was a style employed by Faulkner.

Amanda, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’; ‘Love Letters’

Amanda’s poem, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ about commercially aware funeral directors struck a chord with all members who have arranged funerals and been up-sold caskets and other accoutrements of death. Her second poem ‘Love letters’ compared the love letters of the past on Basildon Bond notepaper with today’s culture of immediacy. The construction of the poem underlined the contrast between old and new.

The next meeting will be on 18 May


Minutes: Alan

Chair: Hilary

Milk and biscuits: Dermot

Wine: Cathy or Amanda if Cathy unavailable.

Homework: “There’s one thing I’d like to forget.”