Week 36 was not meant to happen just yet, but on New Year’s Eve, I sent this email round the group:
New Year (nearly!) new thoughts. When the committee and I decided on 10th Jan to kick us off again, we did not anticipate starting 2021 in lockdown again. And, also, to have experienced, for most, if not all of us, the strangest Christmas ever- well unless your Zoom went more smoothly than ours!
I’m guessing that a mini project will not come amiss to Shorelinkers, so how about this? Over the next week, (to arrive before Jan 8th) I would love to have your thoughts on this weird 2020 and/or your hopes for 2021. In any form, fact, fiction, poetry or prose, and not more than 500 words.
I do have another motive here. As you know, I have all your pieces stacked in a huge anthology, which I hope eventually to archive, and this would give them an amazing context if someone is reading them in X year’s time.
So happy New Year, and I hope I am right and you like the idea.
And oh yes, Shorelinkers, you did like the idea. Your contributions began pouring in almost before I’d clicked send, and they were fascinating. Perceptive, erudite, imaginative, sometimes funny, often surprising, and always a truthful and personal reflection on that strangest of years, 2020.
Shining through the awfulness of the daily death counts, and the restrictions (how we all miss the hugs!) were two beacons of hope expressed by many of you. So many of us have been relishing the unexpected bonus of clean air in our near silent world, that, just possibly, we have learnt enough to stop the destruction of our planet while there is still time.
And that the comfort of sharing our frustrations and fears has underpinned our optimism for a better future. We have seen so much self sacrifice, so much heroism, that our faith in humanity has been reinforced, not undermined.
Well, that’s what reading your pieces did for me, anyway. So a huge thank you for responding so quickly and so brilliantly.
I do have some bad news, I am afraid. Some of you will remember Paul Cooper, one of the very first Shorelinkers. In fact, Alvin tells me it was Paul who came up with our name. I am told that Paul succumbed to Covid last week. Paul was one of life’s characters. In spite of huge health problems for many years, he stayed cheerful, and he loved to write and read his poetry to us. Sadly, circumstances made it impossible for him to attend meetings in the last few years, but my last meeting with him was a chance one , when, emerging form a crowd, he threw his arms round my neck, and (yes, in a public place!) made me perch on a stool while he recited his latest poem, pulled from his pocket. I am so pleased I was able to tell him that I thought it was, like so much of his work, excellent.
RIP, Paul. And where ever you are, keep writing.
I could not finish this blog without saying that I am not sure whether to be sorry or relieved that the horrendous insurrection in the USA this week took place after most of us had written our contributions. It has certainly occupied most of our thoughts and prayers to the extent that I am sending the groups collective love and sympathy to our online members across the pond.
So- onwards they and we go. This week’s theme presented itself to me a few days ago, and I ran it past Ro who liked it, so if you don’t, you can blame him! Or just do anything else you fancy, of course.
It is The Mirror. Happy writing.