Our ‘end-of- term’ party was the annual Drama Day (9th May), again hosted by Helen at her home. Beautiful clear sunshine meant we were able to enjoy being in the garden throughout, whilst batting away the odd flying lettuce leaf in the ‘stiff breeze’ that was another memorable feature of the day! Not only a welcome chance to enjoy an al fresco lunch with our LWG pals, the lazy ones amongst us were also able to sit back and enjoy performances from the active ones in a set of 22 sketches masterminded by Jack. Informality and a relaxed atmosphere ruled the day – a thoroughly entertaining event with lots of laughs.
Thanks especially to Helen and to all in the drama team.
The group met for the last time in the Masonic Hall. From September, meetings will be held in Largs Library. This session was devoted to members reading their own work.
The readings included several short stories, all with strong storylines and wit; three poems which were completely different from each other; a reflection on the wonder of flight; and an extract from an autobiographical book. An example of the imaginative content was Betty’s story with a magical whirring bird ornament – which gave out powerful, clairvoyant messages borne out with positive and then fatal consequences.
Time didn’t permit everyone to read, so next time there is a Read Your own Work opportunity, we will be looking to hear from those who missed out on this occasion.
Alison, Judith and Jack were the adjudicators and my goodness it couldn’t have been an easy task. There were eight submissions of soliloquies: from poor wee housemaids left up the duff, and sadists, to deathbed secrets. This promised to be an entertaining morning.
Each writer was asked to read their story to the group but more of this later. Alison started with the Commended by Sarah as ‘Granny Smith’ and her A Secret Kept. Should she tell all before she departs this world? ‘Granny Smith’ looked nothing like a granny.
3rd place was given to Evie as ‘Jessie’, housemaid – a wee Yorkshire girl, working at the Big House and taken advantage of by the master. Evie read her soliloquy in the voice of a young lass with a convincing Yorkshire accent.
2nd placed was ‘Floundering’ for Shame or Courage. Unfortunately we were unable to identify the writer. This was a story of an illegitimate child and the lack of a legacy.
1st place went to Frances for An Adult Decision to be made by a spoiled child and her pony called Merry Legs. Which parent should she choose to live with after the divorce? Quite a dilemma for her and her horse.
Runners up were Ina for 2b or not 2b (so many drawing pencils to choose from and desperate to choose the right shading); Jim’s My First Job; George’s Of Other Times; and Timeless by Keith, as ‘Spook’.
For probably the best of reasons, there was a change in the syllabus when a ‘feature writer’ was unable to visit LWG. However, members who attended this meeting were not at all disappointed by the entertainment provided by our very own featured readers of their own work.
Jack read a report of his visit to Perth at the weekend as our delegate (for the final time) at the SAW Council’s annual meeting, which usually follows soon after the Spring conference. He is not one who is shy about coming forward with his valid, and sometimes hard-hitting, opinions on SAW’s policies. These included his objection to encouraging multiple entries in SAW competitions; some of his reasons for a fall in attendance and income this year at Conference; and the unnecessary expense for adjudicators/speakers, who are paid a fee, as well as getting free hospitality at the hotel. LWG folk seemed grateful that he had spoken on their behalf, although Jack and everyone agreed that the Council puts in a tremendous amount of work to make SAW a successful platform for writers in Scotland.
Jack also had spoken to Largs Library re our changing the venue for Monday morning meetings, and this proposal was unanimously favoured by members for the new season starting in September.
The morning proceeded with more excellent readings of our own work. We heard thoughtful, funny and convoluted poems from Angus, Tony, Sarah, Ian, Keith and Jim; a very interesting article tracing a long-lost watchmaker from Helen; and short stories from Bill Do- (his wayward Uncle Wilbert!), Bill Da- (a whiffy dog) and Evie’s sad epistolary tale of a broken family. George read his horror story which Marc had referred to the previous week. Gruesome and grisly could sum it up, but George’s fiction can often be thus – stranger than fact! A good meeting, featuring writing par excellence.
Marc said all ten entries were horrible (!) and good fun – some on the lines of a ‘fairytale’, others more ‘gothic horror’. He reiterated ten general rules for horror writing: Be original; follow the accepted rules of the genre; challenge the rules; remember 4 categories of horror (terror, alienation, horror, grossout – use delicacy); have real characters and dialogue; use correct facts; surprise (but don’t say ‘SUDDENLY…..’!); show don’t tell; avoid stereotypes; avoid predictability at start/end.
The winner was The Skating Minister by Rose. Marc liked everything about it – a first class horror story. It was inspired by Sir Henry Raeburn’s portrait of the Rev. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch. Marc commented on the beautiful language, the brave setting of a story behind the image, and the scene effectively drawn. Winter 1793 set in early – from the frozen loch and the curling club crowds, Rose takes the reader on a journey in a carriage, with an ominous dead hooded crow, wind from souls in distress, the sight of a woman swathed in a plaid shawl who vanishes. A murdered infant is revealed and the minister resolves the unrest of the spirits to conclude this truly superior and satisfying tale. Respect!
In second place was Ross’s strongly rhythmic and impressive Scots poem At Lammas Moon. Marc loved the repetition and meter, and the way the story deals with the veil between this and the nether world. It could be set to music – reel/strathspey; also the use of illustration could be apt. A bit more work on the battle between the protagonist and the slaugh would help to make this a real epic poem.
Steve came third with A Bad Day At The Office – a nicely written story. It had a good opening sentence featuring a wiry ginger cat (a motif used again later); convincing police dialogue; and the effective inclusion of a ‘Nairobi Tribune’ article. Marc loved the dénouement.
Evie’s Good for the Soul was highly commended: a convoluted confessional story in which character meets inquisitor, with a doppelganger towards the end. It was well told and Marc liked the dialogue at Ennis’s Bar.
We enjoyed listening to these winning stories and the diverse other entries. Betty’s bloodsucking starfish… ugghhh!
Just a quick report back from yesterday’s AGM.
It was all change on the committee, with Alison taking a small step down from the chair to swap places with Jack, so now Jack is chair and Alison is vice-chair. Ross stays on as secretary and Bill as treasurer, and Cara stays on as web admin (although she’s no longer on the committee). Judith joined the committee, along with Ina and Helen, and will be taking over Evie’s role on the pencil.
Lots of awards were given out. Well done to everyone. Many thanks too to Tony for the lovely certificates.
A fuller report will be available in the pencil.
Alison was presented with a bouquet to thank her for chairing the group for the last 5 years. Thanks to Lorraine for the picture.
Alison’s entertaining drama was presented as a radio play. Our MC for the morning was Jack, as Richard “Dicky, Darling” Townsend. Ross, as Janitor, assisted with sound engineering.
- Susan: Ina
- Alan: Bill
- Julie: Helen
- Robert: George
- Tom: Tony
- Catherine: Val
- Aerobics Instructor: Helen
- Fiona Forsyth: Camilla Dobson-Bottomly aka Alison
Susan and Alan have a heated discussion, after a disastrous evening out. The next morning, Susan and Julie (friend and neighbour), chat about their husbands and how things could be better between them. Julie suggests attending a lingerie party, to be held by Fiona Forsyth. Meanwhile, the pair persuade their husbands to start an aerobics class.
We are introduced to Tom, son of Susan and Alan, and Catherine, Julie’s sister. Tom has recently lost his job, and Catherine is divorced. The pair chat in the kitchen.
— ADVERTS —
Alan and Robert attend aerobics. It is so bad that they decide to re-start golf instead. They become obsessed with this. At the lingerie party, Fiona sells Julie a bed as well as the lingerie – a four-poster complete with red satin sheets. This is disastrous, and Julie is in despair.
— INTERVAL —
Alan and Robert announce that they are hoping to take over the golf driving range, as a revived business. They request the others to help with the venture. Catherine and Tom chat again. Catherine reveals that she trashed her own house, whilst the divorce was going through. This was to stop the new girlfriend getting her hands on it. Tom understood this as a way of letting off steam. Catherine’s nickname of “Catherine the Great” may not really fit, but Tom likes “Kiss me Kate” instead.
The annual trip to Oran Mor (7th March) which has become one of the highlights of the LWG calendar, was as usual wonderfully organised by Helen (there was a slight mishap when the Naked Pilot mistook the ETA…). Helen’s travel arrangements were first-class with excellent pick-up times at both Largs and Glasgow. On arrival at Byres Rd, coffee and bookshops were raided by various groups, one of which found some naked coffee pictures.
The play, Some Other Stars by Clare Duffy, dealt with a patient in a coma and the difficulties and problems this brought for his wife; but it also looked at things from the point-of-view of the comatose patient, imagining his possible thoughts and feelings. It examined the irretrievable differences between the two characters and possibly also stood, metaphorically, for the problems faced in all human relationships. The acting, setting, light & sound etc were of the highest professional standards and one can see why Oran Mor enjoys such great respect amongst the artists and audiences.
Their Play, Pie and Pint formula and the intimate nature of the surroundings always provide an excellent theatrical experience, and on this occasion we were given an extraordinary entertainment which was both stimulating and demanding. Certainly the play provided a very good learning curve for those of us involved with the production in the Masonic Hall on the 14th (A Question Of Identity by unknown playwright who just happens to be our very own Alison ).
Afterwards, drinks in the Oran Mor bar and a spirited discussion indicated that nearly everyone enjoyed the play and that there were as many opinions as to the various nuances and meanings as there were LWG members in attendance. Hopefully another visit will be included in next season’s syllabus.
An excellent morning of poetry, judged on content, performance and audience-reaction by May, Joanie and Elsie (Rose’s sister). There were 15 ‘slammers’, all of whom proved that LWG knows no bounds. Poems serious, saucy, sad and simple – there were no no-nos. Everything was positive, and enjoyable. Alison, bowler-hatted, was MC, with Rose keeping a tight hold on fair-play. Great fun. Out of the eight finalists, with scores scarily similar, George, Bill D, Jack and Frances took the prizes (in that order). Surely this will become an annual event!
On 22nd February we welcomed Rose’s friend Pat Woods back, this time to talk about writing ‘Soliloquy’. When I suggested this as a subject to the committee, I must admit that I had thought the soliloquy did not need a writer steering us to an understanding. Much better to hear it from an actor – and I was pleased when Rose suggested that Pat could be persuaded to do it – and she was.
Pat explained that Soliloquy (from the Latin, meaning speaking to oneself) is a device used in drama (and in song) when a character speaks aloud, sharing thoughts and feelings with an audience). Basically it is a dialogue with him/herself, rather than a monologue. Pat said that we’re currently prevailed upon to show, don’t tell in writing, and often this doesn’t translate well on film, the audience left wondering what it’s all about. However, the soliloquy tends towards telling rather than showing, and I just love someone’s thoughts, uncushioned and unexpurgated, being revealed. It was interesting to hear Pat’s view that Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’ were examples of the soliloquy, rather than monologues.
In the second half of the morning, Pat had us role-playing, imagining ourselves as characters within a Victorian family home. This was good fun, and formed the basis for our Drama Competition submissions – to write a soliloquy from our character we elected to play in that family (this is optional, and any soliloquy will be acceptable). Pat stated that she is not a writer, and feels that she should not judge this competition which will be judged by Alison, me, and A. N. Other who is volunteered(!).
It was a most enjoyable morning, and we are grateful to Pat whose energy and enthusiasm were an inspiration to our group.