Friday, 29 October 2010

Good tales and good fun.

Douglas had a tale of missed opportunities. Jack had worked all his life and was planning to now retire and spend more time with his wife Sally. He arrived home with a bunch of flowers to tell her and found in her the arms of Jack (his irresponsible friend). Jack says ‘I have won a luxury cruise for two and asked Sal to go with me and she fainted.’ ‘Why ask my wife?’ ‘You are always busy and Sal seemed so lonely, so the least I could do was ask my sister to come with me.’ It was thought to be an intriguing tale that could have been improved with more dialogue.

There was some discussion about the book Eats shoots and leaves. Meanings can be changed by missing out an apostrophe. For example ‘Dicks in tray’ or ‘New members welcome drink.’

John Major read out the first tale about Joe who had just been handed a 3 year driving ban. He woke up realising that the trip to the mountains and the camping holiday were no longer possible, and that he would have to rely on his wife to take the kids to school. He went to work on the DART which was packed and smelly. When he got to his office, his boss Mike called him in and sacked him because of the driving ban. Joe gives Mike a bloody nose, and gives a reversed Churchillian two-fingered gesture to staff looking out of the window as he left. A good story well told. Nik pointed out that it was not advisable to start with the protagonist waking up. The story changes point of view but this can work. Particularly liked was the story within the story of Mike and his secretary and their shenanigans on the table.

Maureen gave us a snippet from her tour leader’s diary when she undertook tours in Hong Kong and China. They were meant as notes to the next tour leader coming after her, telling of the difficulties that had been encountered. She told us about not being able to check bags through from UK to HK. Glyn asked if it was a colostomy bag. Yes he is back.

Anne told of a nurse looking after a man in a coma following a road accident. She recognised him as her maths teacher when she was 15. She had been flattered by his attention and they had an affair which finished when she told him that her ‘monthlies’ finished 3 months previously. He arranged an abortion which led to her being sterile, her dreams of family life finished. She wonders whether she could accidentally disconnect one of the wires that were keeping him alive. Luckily another sister comes in and she goes off duty but what will happen the next time she is on duty? It was Anne’s first attempt at fiction and was thought to be a very good effort. Nik thought she should start by Beth looking at the man and hating him, then going on to say how he came to be there.

John Major gave his second tale about Joe. He is now in Dubai with his wife Susan (all the ladies were astounded that she had stayed with him after having to drive him around for 3 years). He asked his wife how it is that she always knows when he is lying and she says ‘when your lips are moving.’ One day he comes home to find the car is damaged and she says a lamp post was in the wrong place (it’s amazing how they can move). He then offers to go and damage the car again at the same spot and get a police report (which was necessary in Dubai before you could get a car repaired on insurance). There then followed a very funny account of how he tried to hit the same spot but missed it by inches and the people in Spinneys watching and cheering; the staff even came out and directed him. To loud applause he bowed to his audience and the police came and took his details. Joe thought, ‘when I get home my wife will not be having a headache tonight’. Hilarious.

I wrote a little ditty about the Emperor of Exmoor, a famous stag who was shot by a hunter, but apparently it was a hoax so let’s hope he is happily rutting on the moor.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Flash, freedom and frozen genitals

Eighteen members this week. Apologies from Maureen, Glyn, Anne Flynn, Kelle. Stan & Nan, Ian are abroad. Alan and Dorothy send their best wishes. Geoff (from UK) visited again; good to have him back.

Nik read out a note from Maureen: She’s looking for sponsors for the APANEE children’s charity 5km walk by the Lion’s Club on Sunday 31 October. Please call or email her. Any amount per km would be welcome. Or if anyone prefers to walk a donation of 5euros to enter would help too. Just turn up before 4pm on the day.

Nik read out a piece from the Nathan Bransford blog (guest blogger Bryan Russell) which emphasized the need for the writer to uses his senses to convey the created world for the reader. If the reader isn’t given these cues, he or she can’t get immersed in the story.

We began with the reading from Rob. His fiction is improving every week; his rendering of a 500-word piece of suspense was intriguing and is now being polished for a flash fiction competition. Best of luck, Rob.

Heather read her start of (one of) her novels. It’s about Penny leaving the marital home due to an adulterous husband, which posed lots of interesting questions. As ever, the writing was excellent. It was felt that too much was conveyed in too short a space of words; with a novel, you can afford to dwell on scenes and emotions, as long as the story moves forward. We all want to know more about Penny’s bid for freedom.

Anne offered an amusing poem about the twilight years, when retirement seems so busy yet there’s the temptation to do nothing; also, it’s nice to be alone sometimes.

Mary K gave us the reverse of the coin, the narrator’s twilight years to be filled with dance and romance, love and laughter – a yearning to share life and not be alone.

Chris told us in her inimitable way about her husband’s travails within the health service, broken legs and frozen genitals notwithstanding. As she stated, life is bearable even when dire if gems of humour are allowed to shine from time to time.

Geoff introduced us to two male youths who sought the meaning of life in the local library. Quotations of dubious provenance were found, advocating drink and sex for the meaning of life.

John read out the end of his Airport Attack novel. It was a fast-paced, bullet-riddled denouement, which shows great potential for a thriller, though it would benefit from some rewriting. Nik felt that the ending (as is often the case with first novels) was rushed. POV needs to be reviewed also.

Rob mentioned the formation of a Culture Group, meeting each Thursday at 5pm at Los Arcos. All welcome.

A straw poll was taken about the Hot Pen. Eleven wanted it to be scheduled, as now. None present wanted to see the end of it. As it happens, due to the fact that there were so many good suggestions for themes, there are some months when there are no scheduled Hot Pen sessions. If during some sessions there are not enough readings to fill in the time, the option of an instant Hot Pen will be considered.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Good tales and good fun

Heinke is back so surreal was the name of the day.
She started us off with a tale of two ladies in a narrow tunnel of white porcelain, the house moved and then came to a halt, the reaper had passed by. I think I must have missed something!
Brenda’s diary continued with Minerva being called into the office and offered a place to live and a job at a better rate of pay. Samuel would collect her from the factory later in the day to go to her new home. Minerva had to get back to the pub and get her clothes without Maud knowing or she wouldn’t let her go. She dressed in all her clothes, put a man’s suit on over them and slipped out while a fight was ensuing in the pub. There were some useful comments about clichés, and the wording applicable to the 1920’s.
Jane had written a story called ‘TV or not TV’. Her new landlord had not paid for the TV so she was without her usual channels for a while and had to look at other obscure channels. One was Hamlet in German, and the French version of Countdown where the loser gives a Gallic shrug. The Frogs never were good losers. Lisa thought it could go to Televisual magazine and she would get info for Jane.
Anne’s tale was on one of the themes for today ‘My biggest regret.’ It told of the hard life of her mother down the cotton mill who died of an industrial disease, cotton dust inhalation. Anne’s biggest regret was that she never told her mother that she loved her or helped with the housework. She ensures that her own children and grandchildren get plenty of hugs. The reading out of the story was obviously a cathartic experience for her. It was an interesting piece of social history.
Mary read a little ditty about ‘worrying’, the other theme. She thinks that life without worrying would be a frightful bore.
Ann’s contribution was also about regrets. She also regrets she didn’t spent more with her mum and wasn’t there to say goodbye, but she didn’t regret moving to Spain and that we had to get on with our lives and enjoy the rest of it.
John’s story was called ‘The swing of it.’ He and his sister and their respective children went to France for a holiday and the beach nearby was a nudist one. He was shocked at first, staying safely in his trunks. John seems to have clocked the attractive woman at the outset! After a while he flings his inhibitions to the wind and bares all. Friends of his sister come to join them and they have 2 teenage daughters with them. John is horrified but it is too late to get his trunks on so had to brave it out. He got in the swing of it. Get it?
Another surreal yarn by Geoff about a Vimto bottle. Nik thought Geoff must have been bottling something up.
John Major read the start of his novel about Alan Skinner who was being held captive as guest of Al Qaeda on the Afghan/Pakistan border. He heard a vehicle approaching with Taliban and their prisoners. The prisoners were Afghans who had worked for the Americans. The Imam said ‘we are here to do God’s work’. A swordsman beheaded one of the prisoners; the crowd roared its approval. The other prisoner realised he was going to die anyway and said he worked for the elected government of this country and he himself was a Muslim and the Koran tells Muslims to treat people fairly. The swordsman beheaded him but blood spurted on to the Imam. There was silence from the crowd. Alan was compelled to watch all this. He thought about his brother who had also lost his life in the bombing of the Trade Centre. Very atmospheric. There were some useful comments. Nik thought John should show not tell as the story is through Alan’s eyes and perceptions.
Mary Morris had a short poem about worrying. She feels that if she worries everything will be fine. Now she was worried about what the members of the group will say.
Rita told of a discussion about someone’s bête noir or black beast. Our bête noir can frighten us or cause us harm, but if you speak about it you can learn to quiet the beast; you have to be the handler not the prey.
Gerry’s input was another day in the life of DCI Farrell the irascible police inspector. He goes to Lily’s swish apartment. She had done well for herself. Her husband had been a big criminal who had eventually been killed. She had heard a whisper about something going on. Farrell asked her what payment she wanted for the info and she said she wanted payment in advance and not money and led him towards the door. I say Gerry, is she going to take him to the bedroom? Nik thought there should be more description of Lily and where they were or you might end up with a plodding story.

Hallelujah, the puns are back.


Friday, 8 October 2010

Meeting 6th October. - If you are of a nervous disposition read no further

2 suicides, an attempted rape, 2 separations, a heart attack, spitting, screaming and smelly people. What got into people this week?

John Edwards told us of a meeting of Wordplay on 9 November at Chadwick’s bar Villa Martin at 7.30. Members read 300 words from a short story.

We started off with the leftovers from last week. John Major read a piece from an ongoing story. Ann was sitting in the front room reading when Bill her brother in law came in, he smelt her scent, he followed her, she panicked and tried to get out. ‘I always get what I want.’ He forced her onto the sofa. If she wouldn‘t cooperate, she would have to join Michelle in the woods (a girl he had previously murdered). At that moment his wife and kids came in, ‘She led me on, nothing happened’ Bill said to his wife. ‘Be out of here tomorrow‘ Mary said to Ann, and then collected her thoughts. Ann filled the bathtub, took tablets, got in the water and cut her arms. She was going to a better place but she was taking a baby with her. Mary realised it was her husband who was at fault and told Bill to break the door down but it was too late. Can't wait to read the book.
There were useful comments.

Douglas read the start of a story consisting of 125 words. He could hear his heart beating, he heard a scream and realised the scream was his own. This was for a competition in the Mail on Sunday; entries have to be sent in by 29 Oct. There is a prize of £200.

Gerry wrote on the theme ‘That’s not what I heard ‘(theme from last week). His story was about a fast-track DC from public school and his old fashioned DCI, and the conflict between their two ways of solving crime. Comments were that it was too adverb-rich (nice word Mike).i.e. the DCI was disdainful, testy, irascible.

Jenny’s story was about a young lady who worked difficult hours. She was a concerned mum during the day but when she got to work it was all different. She wore red lipstick and red stilettos. The roulette table was in full swing, she gave a big smile, she hoped some punters would be lucky and she would get some big tips. It is 4 a.m., one man left at the table ‘You have lost £3,000 Joe’ his friend says. He gets up from the table with his head in his hands; he clutches his chest and falls to the floor. Just another night’s work for a croupier. Jenny wrote the piece for a writing competition about people‘s memoirs.

Mike wrote about a carnival that takes place in November in his home town of Bridgewater. The carnival takes 2 hours to pass, there are 100 floats, each one with 15,000 light bulbs and deafening music. It has taken place since 1605 just before Guy Fawkes Night every year.

Maureen’s tale was of a walking trip up a mountain. Agostina, a South American lady, sounds a lovely woman with sensible clothes and a moustache. Unfortunately she wore the same clothes for the whole holiday. Maureen more or less pushed her up the mountain, she farted all the way up and when she got to the top she fell asleep and snored. Charming.

Ann wrote a piece about the virus affecting a group of immigrants from the UK. To keep their culture alive they formed the TWC. All goes well until the time for hot pen. Some people develop a nervous tic, some go to their local hospital rather than attend, Hot pen is placing a heavy burden on people, and it is a matter of grave concern. These were happy smiling people who now suffer from mood swings. It is reasonable to assume this would not have happened without hot pen virus, and now the virus is infecting other breakaway groups. She begs people to bin this invidious and insidious infection. Very funny and apt.

Anne wrote on the theme of ‘Before the colour fades.’ About a change of hair colour which makes a big difference to the way us ladies feel.

Mary (one of the three hale Marys) wrote a poem about ‘All legs and knickers.’ She is learning the tango and her legs are going where they have never been before. She felt quite dizzy, and landed flat on the floor. I hope you didn’t show your knickers Mary.

Jane is editing her story about life in France with her husband. They received an invitation to the French revolution celebration in the village. The tables cleared and the people danced. A man in a beret with grey hair came over and wanted to dance with Jane. She was forced to dance with the man for England. Mr Clement was very drunk and spat in her face. After many dances she was saved by the bell heralding a break for the musicians. Entente cordial and all that. Very descriptive.

Brenda continued her story. Daisy had been murdered and Minerva had to get away. She went to work and as she hadn’t finished her work Mary said she had to stay behind, Sam came out of his office and beckoned her over. What is going on with you and Mary? ‘ She said ‘As from today I haven’t got anywhere to live and am frightened to walk the streets.’ He said his father owned properties in the area and was sure he could find her a place to live. He asked her to become an assistant in the office while he took over his father’s duties in the factory. Is this the start of a better life or another wrong step? The story continues –

Heather also wrote on the theme ‘That’s not what I heard.’ The tale concerned the folly of an aged man seeking to change himself with a new wife, as if everything else would stay the same, and children and friends wouldn’t change towards him. Excellent as always.

John read the second part of a story about a negotiator who had just saved someone from jumping off a bridge. Sue had wanted him to get home by a certain time but now he just wanted to relax and watch the football. He let himself in; his wife was sitting in the corner. 'I thought we agreed you would come straight home'. ‘You know how it is.’ ‘Oh yes I know how it is‘. This sounds serious he thought. This was in the category of 7-10 in his negotiating manual meaning that care was needed to solve the problem, but he could usually talk her round. Sue said ‘I have been unhappy for a long time. I am leaving you and the kids are coming with me.’ He felt paralysed. ‘Me and the kids are at the bottom of your list. Don’t think I don’t know about your affair with the Jones girl. I hope you’re happy.’ The car drove away. He vomited. This cannot happen to me, his game was up, he had lost everything, he would be a laughing stock. He went upstairs, and took two-thirds of a bottle of tablets. His negotiating skills hadn’t worked this time.