Minutes of Woking Writers Circle meeting on Thursday 18 May 2017

Present: Liz, Greg, Dermot, Amanda, Ramzan, Peter, Sarah DD, Cathy, Simon, Hilary (chairman) Alan (minutes)

Apologies: Sarah SH, Tricia, Heather, Carla

News: Greg announced, to great admiration, that he is to take the lead role in Send Amateur Dramatics performance of Goodnight, Mister Tom. See details below. Amanda will be circulating an email regarding booking to see this.

Greg recommended the Woking Write Out Loud poetry event at the New Inn, Send, on 12 June.

Liz reminded us that June sees Jane Austen’s 200th anniversary, while recommending the Dancing at Tilney Hall, details of which may be Googled.

The book group read Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys and everyone enjoyed it. Greg recommended her autobiography, of which he has a copy.

Liz also brought the Ambassadors Cinema guide referred to below.

Hilary saw and thoroughly enjoyed Jude Law In Session.

Dermot reviewed Funny Girl, then he and Greg were informed, after Greg published the review on the WWC website, that it was embargoed by the Ambassadors Press Office, until the following day. All was resolved.

Peter recounted a fascinating conversation on the relationship between painting and literature that he had with a fellow admirer of Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” at the National Gallery.

Dermot reviewed Thoroughly Modern Milly, with Joanne Clifton, which he thought was a wonderful show. Carla’s prizewinning co-authored poetry translations from the Italian are now online.

Peter invited comments about the recent exchanges with an Australian writing circle, and undertook to summarise future communications with them.

He also reviewed the status of the Woking-themed stories and articles for which he recently appealed, concluding that all contributions would be gratefully received.

Alan announced that his first novel had been accepted for publication. Further details follow, in step with the associated publicity machine. He also receive a payment for a letter about the first episode of Decline & Fall, that was published in What’s On TV. A glance at the relevant spreadsheet reveals that the payment was £10, not £5 as reported!

On the table:

Greg brought the flyer for the forthcoming (7–10 June) Send Amateur Dramatics performance of Goodnight, Mister Tom, at the Rhoda McGaw theatre, Woking.

Liz bought the Ambassadors Cinemas Woking Film Guide. Full details and prices are available at www.atgtickets.com/cinema or from the box office, on 0844 8717643

Dermot brought a copy of the NAWG “Link” magazine. http://www.nawg.co.uk/

Readings: The homework was “There’s One Thing I’d Like To Forget.”

Dermot read Something To Forget, about a member of a magician’s audience being asked to tell a joke, as a fill-in act. His joke, painfully recalled after an initial period of blank-minded, terror- induced memory loss, falls flat. He still longs to forget the humiliation. We all enjoyed this brief, humorous piece.

Ramzan read How Can I Live With This? This was a reflective and wide-ranging treatise on the psychological effect of bad news on the recipient. The philosophical treatment of Ramzan’s spiritual and practical search for positive influences gave rise to a corresponding level of appreciative reflection among his listeners. Margaret Thatcher, quoted by Ramzan with exquisite, gossamer-light irony, once cited the Islamic poet Alama Iqbal as saying “For the individual, to belong to a society is a blessing. It is in the community that his work is perfected.” Ramzan concluded by acknowledging the central role of humour in his life.

Greg read a review written for Write Out Loud, of the Stanley Spencer poetry competition anthology reading. The piece was a delightful commentary on the relationship between painting and poetry, focusing on work deriving its theme or title from Spencer’s output. We learned that ekphrastic poems are those inspired by paintings. Greg succinctly and effectively explored several related ideas, in this skilfully crafted model of brevity and eclecticism.

Hilary read Counting, a piece rewritten from an earlier work. It was written from the viewpoint of an unborn child, addressing its pregnant mother from within her womb. The mother was apparently studying for her maths A-level, judging by the references to the differential calculus. Sharply perceptive descriptions of the insensitive gaucherie of a group of adolescent boys, highlighted their inability to relate emotionally to the protagonist’s condition or feelings, despite their pathetic attempts to feign experience and sophistication. These vignettes were skilfully juxtaposed with vivid descriptions of morning sickness. This beautifully written piece was an experiment with writing in the second person, regarding which Hilary cited Martin Amis, as a skilled exponent of the technique.

Liz read a piece about the first Woking Lightbox literary festival. Greg and Cathy had significant roles in this event, which included a three-hour poetry marathon, in which Amanda read her poem ‘I’m Sorry For Your Loss’. Carla read, too. Liz intends to send some photos of the event to Greg and Cathy, plus author Nicola May,  whom Cathy interviewed during the festival. More on this interview may be found on the WWC website. Liz commended Cathy’s seamless, natural interviewing technique. Cathy was able to give WWC a very enthusiastic plug, while Greg regarded the festival as having been very successful. His only regret was the lack of a break in the three-hour reading marathon, originally motivated by a desire to maximise reading time.

Cathy read a wonderfully evocative piece, (for your amanuensis, among many others present), about her old school, in Ossett, West Yorkshire. Cathy has joined a Facebook page called Ossett Through The Ages, on which the old school song had been reproduced. What followed, in her piece, was a gloriously authentic catalogue of school idiosyncracies of the period; cricket rules amended to encompass Tarmac pitches, tennis balls and the complex Newtonian devilry of catching a ricocheting ball from a high brick wall. Equally authentic was the comparison of the song’s words to an East German coal collective text. Balancing these hilarious, poignant reminiscences were perceptive reflections on the alleged and actual divisiveness of particular educational selection systems of the past. Richly anecdotal, we were left with a question worthy of Poirot; why did the school burn down?

Amanda read the Stuart and Lauren Love Bake Sonnet, celebrating her daughter’s imminent wedding. A baking-themed poem for a similarly focused ceremony, this typically witty and original paean to the happy couple’s nascent professional skills was captivating and original. Voting on three options for a final couplet resulted in an overwhelming endorsement of the first. ‘The Icing on The Cake’ was suggested as an alternative title, to widespread acclaim.

Alan read Toxic Flows The Main, a futuristic account of the trial and sentence meted out to a corrupt official whose dishonesty had rendered him an ecological saboteur. The deliberate mixture of “gothic” legalism and social comment was appreciated.

Next meeting: Reading meeting at Strollers, Goldsworth Park, 7.30 on Thursday June 15


Chairman: Sarah DD

Minutes: Peter

Wine: Ramzan

Milk & Biscuits: Hilary

Homework: Grief

Additional Note: Discussion of the annual summer social commenced. Amanda kindly offered to host the event in August and also agreed, on popular request, to write a murder mystery, for solution in the garden. Amanda will be circulating an email seeking preferred dates and times.