Alison reminded us about submissions for The Anthology and Jack set a mini-competition to attract ideas for its cover.

Jen said with conviction that there were ten wonderful entries. There was none of that “Oh for the love of God!” feeling she sometimes gets. She chose four as the best.

Rose’s ‘Tiger’ (“so darn unusual – wonderful technique” said Jen) was told by the carer of 13yr-old John who has Asperger’s. John’s social skills are poor, he can be very aggressive, but mental sparks fly when he is in the world of numbers. He once spoke of “My tiger roaring inside me”. The tiger roared again, on the bus, but with fatal consequences. “I thought I knew him,” says the carer.

Blood Brothers’ by Bill was about two boys who were very close, but they grow apart. Jen praised how this story developed and the unexpected twist at the end. The life-changing problem arose after Claire appeared. David fell in love with her but she later switched to Donny with tragic consequences and a profound impact on David which he channelled into his own, final, form of retribution.

Placed second was Betty’s ‘Lack of Love’. Jen liked the double-tale technique. Part 1 is told by a teenager who, aged 7, had lost his abusive parents, and went to live with a couple – a life of cold punishments, time in the coal shed, and his emotional needs screaming for attention. He killed them and wasn’t sorry. Part 2 is told by a neighbour, who says they were a nice couple, but he was a delinquent with behavioural problems – not a victim at all!

The outstanding winner was Alasdair’s ‘Guilty as Charged’ about murder. Jen was deeply impressed: “Send it for publishing!” She said she couldn’t improve this – it was so incredible and wonderfully written. The story was a very violent account told by a man who found out his little girl was raped and killed by a gang. He goes out to hunt and kill them. This was a raw, dark tale.

We also heard Keith’s story of an entertaining clean-up aboard a luxury yacht; Jack’s ‘Win/Win’ on conflicts within a writers group; my own spoof biog about a couple unevenly progressing through retirement; Jim’s ‘Snakes&Ladders’ allegorical fantasy with CCTV had falling bodies and wheelie bins; and lastly, Sarah’s story concerned animal lib. terrorism.

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