Jacquie set this week’s theme, and she chose: I have seen something very strange in the local woods. As most of you know, Ro and I walk our dogs every day in our huge local woods so I was delighted and intrigued by this, and it certainly did fire up our collective imaginations. The stories and poems ranged from the horrific to the humorous, and reading through them this afternoon was a hugely pleasurable task.
I began with Jacquie’s own brilliantly written woodland sightings, both actual and illusory, deliberately very unsettling stuff. Then I was plunged into a romantic poetic fantasy, which like so much of the work this week, whisked me from classical mythology to traditional fairy tales. Beautiful.
There were several references to the Teddy Bears Picnic, including a hilarious updating of the song, and a wonderfully ironic take on traditional fairy tales which finished with a bald Rapunzel – I can’t get that image out of my head, poor woman!
Another journey through folklore was also a contemplation of the gifts of solitude which choosing a rural existence can bestow. And the dogs! Oh, yes, dogs featured largely in these contributions. I guess they are so much a part of wood-walking, but who knew what a Chug was until today? Apparently it is a cross between a Chihuahua and a Pug, and in one charming story it disappeared briefly, with its owner some weeks later discovering it had used the time to father a litter of .look-alikes. I think there is a pun in there somewhere but I can’t quite get to it!
Quite a few of the contributions were poems, which ranged from thoughtful musings to seeing the woods through children’s eyes and also contemplating their more primal aspects. And one paid tribute to Hastings Jack in the Green festival, made world famous this year by going virtual, an unexpected lockdown bonus.
Our resident comedians really found their stride here , from the wood-living would-be super-hero (with a somewhat risqué name) planning a sky dive without a parachute while relying on flapping his long artificial arms, to another claiming aristocratic descent from King Erwig the Average. And I have only just realised, as the moose fighters prepare the technology to decamp to the moon, that the moose are addicted to chocolate!
And inevitably some very creepy stories – there be monsters in them thar’ woods…
Thank you all, such fun! And for so much really luminous writing.
Next week’s theme is Waking in a cave with no memory. And as the following week is theoretically another Bank Holiday I was going to suggest we take a week’s break and restart on June 1st when I will ask Alan to choose the theme. Let me know if that is OK with you all. In the meantime, I look forward to next week’s contributions.