WOKING WRITERS CIRCLE MEETING ON THURSDAY JANUARY 24 2019
Present: Liz, Alan, Hilary, Amanda, Simon, Carla, Heather, Peter, Greg, Daniel. Plus Cathy (late arrival).
Apologies: Tricia, Sarah SH, Sarah DD, Peter Murphy.
1) Greg reported that his open-mic poetry night, Write Out Loud Woking, would be switching to the fourth Thursday in the month at the Lightbox from May – another looming fixture clash with Woking Writers Circle. Amanda said she would look into the possibility of the circle switching back to the third Thursday of the month, to avoid members like Greg and Carla attempting to be in two places at once.
2) Hilary is to take the WWC finances into internet banking. There was some discussion about outstanding subs, and whether the annual subscription fee may have to be increased soon.
3) Liz’s book group will by now have met at The Crown pub in Horsell on Tuesday January 29 to discuss Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
4) Peter has been contacted by David Evans, a 100-year-old Dunkirk veteran, who he met on a second world war battlefield. David had just been to Catterick garrison in North Yorkshire to unveil a new war memorial.
5) Amanda reported on another highly successful visit by WWC member Shaun Attwood to her school in Cobham. It was his third visit in three years, and he spoke to 180 pupils.
Carla read a chunk from ‘Re-mythologising myths and fairy tales in Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing’, which was a blog for a university reading group. She said that this was not an academic paper as such, but related to her current PhD work on Atwood, as she examines the parody and subversion of fairy tales in Atwood’s work. Carla also explained the word “intertext” to members who hadn’t come across it before.
Greg read a new poem. ‘Waxwings’ describes the rare and unexpected sight of a flock of winter visitors from Scandinavia just yards from his front door. He is exultant about seeing them, but afterwards regrets that he didn’t spot them in a more exotic location than in a street of “chalet bungalows and grass verges”.
Heather’s poem ‘A New Notebook’ was in response to the homework theme of “starting again”. The poem refers to a “lust for virgin pages undefiled”. This inspiring January poem about the process of writing, which includes the refrain “This is the best time / when anything is possible”, struck a chord with many, including Liz, who confessed to having a hoard of unused notebooks.
Hilary read from another chapter of her novel, a psychological thriller. It was a flashback to the teenage years of the now 35-year-old protagonist Sam, as she tells her therapist of an incident at school which results in a housekeeper arriving to take her home. There is a change of pace and viewpoint halfway through and Hilary wanted to know if this worked. We told her it did, as we enjoyed, as ever, her stylish prose.
Liz read a poem ‘In Memoriam’ which began with some found details from the deaths notices page of the Woking News and Mail. These apparently related to a former member of the circle, who was a member so long ago that only Liz and Greg could remember him. Liz’s poem imagined aspects of his funeral, and paid tribute to his canal-boating family background, and wondered whether he ever finished a planned memoir for children about growing up. A poignant reflection on the fact that so many circle members in the past were with us for a relatively short while before moving on.
Simon read a draft of a poem that he will be delivering at his mum’s 80th birthday party. He is commissioned to write one every 10 years, but is not yet happy with his latest effort, not least because his mum “is very much a woman of letters”. It starts in the summer of 1976 – amid “twelve shimmering weeks of heat” – and talks of an idyllic afternoon, stretched out in the long grass, listening to her read. Sounded pretty good to us, but Simon has exacting standards, and it sounds like his mum has high expectations of her son, too.
Amanda read her recent review of Rain Man at the New Victoria theatre. It’s not easy to turn round a coherent and entertaining review in less than 12 hours, but Amanda is a master at this, and her review reflected her relief that the stage production adhered to the spirit of the original movie. Cathy suggested a couple of minor tweaks, while acknowledging that the piece had already gone up on the Woking Writers Circle website a couple of days earlier.
A window-shelf herb garden is not all that it seems but may be just what the doctor ordered in Alan’s skillful short story Diorama. This fantastical tale included one of his typical passing references, this time to the splendid place-name of Monks Tantrum. Another Alan invention to be cherished. Although it might be a place to avoid on a Friday night after the pubs close.
Daniel contributed what he described as an early draft of an excellent short story, The Sock Ghost. This tale of a boorish husband came with a satisfying twist for those who believe in social justice, and provided one answer to the perennial question of where all those missing socks and other disappearing items of clothing might actually end up.
Cathy’s first chapter opened with a TV documentary about a missing boy, 30 years after his disappearance, and a mother’s despairing cry: “I just know he’s still alive.” The passage is related through the eyes of a TV journalist, who sees missing children cases such as Madeleine McCann and Ben Needham as “TV gold”. An excellent beginning.
NEXT MEETING: Thursday February 28 at St Mary’s church hall, Horsell, Woking, GU21 4QQ at 7.30pm
JOBS Minutes: Heather; Chair: Greg; Wine: Carla; Milk and biscuits: Amanda.
HOMEWORK: An Encounter