Online Shorelink Week 28

This week’s theme was a potpourri of animal phrases, Every dog has his day, or Pulling the Rabbit out of the hat, or The 9 lives of cats, or The eyes of the Tiger or, finally, There’s more fish in the sea, or as always, anything you fancy.

The poems which moved me most were all off theme.  Two were about the pain and joy of loving. Coup de foudre combined resignation, hope and courage, and Another night drew on the belief that love survives even death in its power to succour the recipient.  Then there was Privileged Women, which went way beyond its initial cynicism in its exploration of motives, cause and effect. All these poems were thought provoking, poignant and intensely recognisable. I felt very fortunate to be able share them.

I also loved Tiger in the night, an ironic and somewhat ambiguous take on Blake’s poem. Then I was plunged into the extraordinary fantasy world of Love Lost, a long and quite compulsively creepy poem finally revealing its central character – the werewolf of every child’s nightmare. Don’t ponder this one too late at night!  

But there was some more cheery stuff, for instance a picnic in the woods accompanied by the Bear and the Rabbit (imbibing Presco? No wonder they were so happy!), and a perfectly delightful one, written by a very literate puppy, on the family celebration of his first birthday. Another quite beautifully demonstrated the joyous relationship we have with our canine friends (Eric the pointers birthday this time!) and, not to be forgotten, we also had an extremely cultured cat who submitted a long essay on the history of her species.

A fascinating true story from across the pond described the ‘Tiger Eyes’ that drove a murderer to confess his crime, and also a fictional account of the recovery of loot, stolen by a bent copper, after 15 years hunting for it, was great fun. Then we left a spy called Johnny Derringer, along with his girl friend  Fyfee Belle D’Jour, on Hastings beach, contemplating which to give the most importance to, a smuggled load of fish or a nuclear bomb. Decisions, decisions…

A short piece described the heartlessness of telling a boy who has just lost his girlfriend that there are more fish in the sea, even while he recognises the truth of it And our resident spoof maker eschewed the theme in favour of a hilarious pastiche inspired by the return of Strictly Come Dancing which somehow involved almost every dancer from Rudolph to Fred with an abundance of references to men in tights.

A  quite charming true story recounted a little girls search for her ‘garden animals’ which turned out to be ants, snails, slugs and spiders and climaxed in her search for the whereabouts of a worms mouth. Well, I had to think, didn’t you?  And a lover of nature described to perfection the sounds and colours of autumn, culminating in a meeting with a stag, and hearing his voice, which foretold the destruction, once unknowing but now wilful, of our beautify planet. A timely warning indeed.

Alice is nearly off that boat, though in greater danger of a watery grave than ever, and from the same writer a Bond like character has just made his first appearance surrounded by bullets and bodies. Fasten your seat belts… And our continuing Moose story is now galloping along at Chapter 14, Ryan, the chosen one, has been spotted but spared, and has just met the leader of the Moon dwarves – a woman! Yeah!

Great stuff from everyone. Thank you all.

 If you have an idea for a theme, do send me it. Helen’s Bond one was inspirational. Now this is a bit off the wall, but I have some favourite words. Not for their meaning, but for their sounds. And I thought perhaps some of them might kick start those of you like a theme, so here goes: Phenomenal,  Bedraggled, Serenity, Privateer and  Somnambulist.  Choose one or all or tell us yours. Have fun with it    

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 27

Even as I type Week 27, I feel a sense of disbelief. Surely 2020 must be the one of the strangest years ever? And no end in sight, so thank heavens for Shorelink and our mutual abilities to entertain each other, graphically illustrated by this week’s submissions. The theme was the Bond movies, basically, choose a title from the very long list and go for it – and go for it you did!

Several of you could not resist a cocktail of all the titles, indeed one submission describing a jungle excursion, entitled it thus, and was huge fun. Fun was definitely in the ascendant this week, with JB spoofs abounding. Holmes and Moriarty continued their eternal rivalry in Bond land, and I loved the coining of the word in-humed – ie buried (get it?!). The reminiscences of the six actors who have played JB was also priceless, though I was startled to find Sean drinking beer – a reaction to all those Martinis, perhaps? Another encompassed the newest necessity in our lives, a Zoom call, to torture poor old JB. And who knew that he had a brother called Brooke, not a ‘tea leaf’ but a fisherman in a plot which involved yet another poor damsel being thrown overboard.  One had already hit the water in an ongoing story that is definitely looking to be the next 50 Shades of Grey! Really, Alice, you’ll catch your death, put some clothes on!

There was a short but witty word play inspired by Miss Moneypenny, if I tell you that the lead character was Mick Turition, you’ll get the idea. And a hilarious true life incident about a Zoom meeting (yes, again) between the PCC of a .local church and the Dean, where the red faced author indulged in some colourful language before realising his fellow Zoomers were enjoying every word. We had a ghost story, and a reflection by a would-be novelist on writing a book which involved Lesbians in the London Blitz – he did mention Sarah Walters so I guess that keeps us safe from plagiarism charges. And a story featuring a crazy plane journey over the Australian desert (Anthony Bond this time) and yes, it ends in tears.

Some were more thoughtful. A musing on the inequalities of life underlined how helpless most of us feel in the face of rough sleepers and starving people all over the world. And another imagined a memory stick which contained information which would spread and indemnify these conditions everywhere. A sort of Pandora’s Box for the 21st century.

There was a delightful and life affirming true story of a disabled girl heroically determined to keep up with her play mates, and succeeding. Lovely. And of course, the poems, raindrops viewed as diamonds (forever, of course), and the hare with golden eyes – I especially loved this, having seen my first ever hare in our garden recently, a great moment. There was a quite beautiful poem on coming back from loss and grief, and another meditating on that same fight and the gift of belief and trust.

Our moose story is really accelerating along, dwarves in the image of Disney are mining on the moon a new, and possibly world changing metal, and  Ryan and his friends continue to defend them while exploring the their history. Great stuff.

And I have left until last the story that moved me most. One of our members used the Bond images to describe his upcoming radiotherapy treatment and it managed to be funny, relevant, scary, entertaining and incredibly brave. It will stay with me for a very long time, and I know all our thoughts will be with the writer.

So, another incredible week. We had some apologies this week but still 20 contributions, every one of them splendid, and thank you all. As always, I have run the full gamut of emotions reading them this afternoon.

For next week’s theme, several related choices again, as we used to do in our workshops. You may spot a slight trend here, but how about: Every dog has his day, or Pulling the Rabbit out of the hat, or  The 9 lives of cats, or The eyes of the Tiger or finally, There’s more fish in the sea…

  Or anything else you fancy, of course. Sally

Online Shorelink Week 26

This week’s theme was The Good Old Days and I guess it was inevitable that it led several of the group to lament our continued inability to meet in person. But I continue to hope that things will go back to normal in the not-too-distant future and refuse to be pessimistic, greatly encouraged by the work that comes in every week. It is of such a high standard we should all be confident that our collective writing skills are certainly not suffering.

Where to start with the huge variety of this week’s submissions? Well, we had two pieces of rather hilarious sado-masochistic fiction, which is relatively unusual, and I cannot resist kicking off (excuse the pun) with those, one set in an unrecognisable Conquest hospital, and the other – oh, poor Alice!  What will become of her? Our breath remains bated…

Another continuing story has also left us with a sense of menace hanging over a seemingly idyllic Christmas feast, and another imperilled heroine to worry about, while our Moose hunters have a literally rocky landing when they visit the Mine Colony. Death and destruction featured in several stories, the reluctant artist, scarred by both hippy parents and his unfortunate initials, barely pauses before disposing of his long lost, avaricious, trans, sister. Destruction certainly featured again with a group of elderly cave men mourning the climate change which ended their world.

Which leads me neatly to a timely and heartfelt plea for a green revolution, urging us to choose between unnecessary and careless affluence, or a simpler but possibly far more rewarding life style. Another tale, in the form of a diary entry, joyfully describes the wonderfully eccentric behaviour of a wife, freed from a controlling husband by his death. It was a vivid illustration of how seemingly idyllic marriages can often be hiding the unhappiness of one of the partners from the outside world.

We had a page of quotes on the theme; the phrase has obviously inspired some amusing interpretations, and there was a lovely nostalgic trip down memory lane from someone, who, like me, remembers the good old days.  Yes, all those freezing houses and boring meals, I also remember it well!

One of the pieces informed us that the saying always  preceded a great tale- well, we certainly did received two wonderfully mad stories, Sherlock Holmes solving the case of the trans gender bingo caller, and Tall Tale Teller confusing himself (and us) with his inability to tell fact from fiction. And a long, clever and very entertaining poem on Lord Smaug with vaguely political overtones – I think Tolkein would have been amused!

Which brings me finally to two memorable poems. Migrants is an inspiring and compellingly compassionate  take on an ongoing problem, and The Bed, is an extraordinary, moving, quite beautiful and ultimately optimistic work.

So thank you all once again for such inspired work.  And so, on to next week. Helen suggested the theme, which is The Bond Films. I will send round a list of all the titles, hoping one will inspire you. I was going to post them on here but didn’t realise there were so many to choose from- they will need a page to themselves. Have fun with them!

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 25

We were plunged into autumn this week, going from almost tropical heat and wilting greenery to torrential rain and howling winds. No wonder we British get so obsessed with our weather, it is impossible not to let it, probably disproportionately, influence us. We certainly had some quite chilly pieces inspired by this week’s theme, which was A Moment in Time.

However, I shall begin with the more upbeat ones. Who could not love the story of the (nearly) domesticated squirrel, especially as it arrived with coloured photos, and included a paean of praise for the way such pictures capture moments in time? We are indeed lucky with our easy access to such technology.

A beautiful and philosophical poem underlined the randomness of our special moments in time, and another evocatively catches the leap from panic to joy of a lost child when found. We were treated to a perfectly delightful memory of being on site when a Roman shoe was uncovered at Hadrian’s Wall and being allowed to be the first person to hold it for many centuries. What a privilege! And another one of us was present at the very first English performance of Waiting for Godot.

A story about a copper, who suffered from vertigo, braving a roof top to (successfully) talk down a would be suicide was riveting, as was the one which had two tourists in Spain go through a time warp into two quite different experiences. And while we are in the realm sci-fi the Zombie Moose, spotted in silhouette by the light of the moon, engage once more in bitter battle. There was also an enigmatic poem on aliens visiting earth for…? Yes, their reasons are shrouded in secrecy and known only to the poet!

Dee’s foray into her commune becomes creepier and creepier (more of this, soon please!) and Alice’s adventures continue apace. We had the second part of the story of the badly burned WW2 pilot, which was very moving, but were then cheered up with news of a jolly animal picnic. There were some unsettling suggestions of a MacDonald’s operating in our woodland, however – more of a nightmare, than a dream, I reckon. The piece which so cleverly punned on serving ‘an omelette in thyme’ made me laugh out loud, and a short and thoughtful submission ordered us to seize and relish small moments. A brilliant reworking of The Seven Ages of Man captured the eternal questions of our mortality, as did the strange but haunting poem searching for an affirmation of self in the face of pain and despair. And another disturbing poem prophesied chaos when global warning finally plunges the planet into darkness.  

And now to the last two quite extraordinary poems. A long and vividly imagined exposition of the myth of Pandora was chilling and picturesque simultaneously, and another, which referenced a 19th century wassailing custom, originating in South Wales, was intriguing. Happily the writer sent me a link to the history of this and I was fascinated to learn that it involved a hooded hobby horse being carried from house to house by singers, asking for entry and reward in much the same way as do carol singers. I shall do some more homework on this!

My goodness, your stories and poems are an education as well as a joy – once again, thank you all. Hopefully we shall eventually emerge from this lockdown even more erudite than before. Next week’s theme is from Alan’s list again and it is: The Good Old Days. Enjoy!  

 Sally

Online Shorelink Week 24

This week’s theme was A Silent Lie, and inspired some really thought provoking and fascinating writing. Several of the poems were searing condemnations of the government’s handling of the Covid crisis and their bland assumption that we will not recognise their lies. We usually have an embargo on all things political, but given our present circumstances, and also as there was an overwhelming uniformity of thought, I felt these poems, some of which were quite brilliant, transcended our usual strictures. Yet another poem lamented the fate of the many dead, and the impossibility of even bidding them farewell in our brave new world..

. There were three short but telling verses commenting on the recent television play, Des, about the murderer whose whole life and personality had been a lie. Happily, another short poem ran contrary to the downward trend by celebrating life through the delicacy and fragility of a bird. Thank you, Helen, for the avian elegy; I was beginning to feel quite depressed!

Our two novelists were in fine form, with Alice’s adventures in Euroland becoming increasingly eccentric (she really must learn some French!), and our Moose hunters mix of medieval strategy in a sci-fi context gathering strength. Roll on the next instalments. These were not the only two to submit part of a story, one of our writers submitted part one of his narrative about an injured WW2 pilot, to be continued next week.

We had a story of young love frustrated, and another about skiving schoolboys. There was a delightfully upbeat one concerning a rich family caught in the spiral of ever increasing avarice, who are brought down to earth by a daughter who realises that happiness need not rely on luxurious possessions. And a delightful tale illustrating the calming effects of allowing oneself to be enveloped by the beauty of nature. Also a nod to the often forgotten truth that many people in this country may be unknowingly descended from our, largely erased until recently, years of slave trading.

Another of us successfully used fiction as a way of exploring the difficulty of hanging on to your essential ‘you-ness’ in the face of extreme illness. Anyone who has ever had to endure their body turning against them in these circumstances would immediately join in the writer’s plea to her heroine – don’t give in, be all that you can be. The same theme was reflected in an extraordinary poem illustrating the frustration and fear involved in seeking an affirmation of self. The psychiatrist Ronnie Laing  (mentioned in one of the stories) once said:  Insanity — a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world – something for us all to ponder, perhaps as our world gets madder and madder?!

To finish, we had a perfectly charming story concerning a cat who was much too busy to walk with the household dog. Now there’s sanity for you!

Thank you all for keeping up such an astonishingly high standard. Next week’s theme is A moment in time.  Hope it inspires you.

Sally.

Online Shorelink Week 23

The weather has been so gruellingly hot again this week I wondered if some of our group might fall by the wayside, pleading heat exhaustion. But no, you are made of sterner stuff and in came the submissions, as lively and original as ever. The theme was 2 o’clock in the city and most of you chose to do it.

Once more I think shall start with the poems An all too recognisable exposition on time wasting spurred me on to start writing this blog, and then a eulogy on the beauty of roses made me stop to admire the plants growing in the small courtyard where I was sitting reading your submissions.. Next, in complete contrast, came a condemnation of the greed and obsession with money making that we so often equate with the city. And from a totally different perspective, a mesmerising and thought provoking soliloquy by the city itself.

Several of our stories had twists in the tale, almost literally in the one where the antics of a group of cat burglars turned out to be literally cats! Then there was the paper chase that led to tea at the Ritz, and the revelation that a mole had tipped off the participants by revealing the answers to the last clue. There was also the poor woman who was revelling in having been gifted a credit card, only to find it led to her being charged with murder. Another portrayed the archetypal get-rich-quick attitude of so many city workers, and delighted us with his downfall.

And what about another unfortunate, who achieved unexpected success with a photographic record of life in her city, and was gradually forced to realise that her photographs were the kiss of death for the subjects, a curse that continued down generations? Wow!  Another story gave a sympathetic nod to the many migrants crossing the channel in fragile dinghies.

We had a vividly illustrated and fun account of past Shorelink parties, and we finally had the ending of the tale set in Venice, which was worth the wait. One of our group sent us two stories, the first a late offering on last week’s theme, which mused on the price that can be paid for truth, and the other a gruesome, and possibly timely, foretelling of the apocalypse. Which leads me nicely to Ryan and Zoe’s continuing adventures on the moon and their gathering skill and courage for the eventual moose battle.

And last but definitely not least, a splendid imagining of an entire film script, set in four acts to Bartok’s music, and leading us through the seasons and the natural world with all its magnificence and contradictions. It is a piece de resistance, and I hope that one day we shall all be boasting that you saw it here first.

Next week’s theme, another from Alan’s list, is A Silent Lie.

Happy writing. Sally  

Online Shorelink Week 22

Not quite so many submissions this week, as several of our group were away on holiday, possibly just in time as it looks as if more lockdown measures are being introduced. Our theme was Why it matters. However, we also had a another theme, as we managed to meet up in Alexandra Park just ahead of the new regulations, and that was a 500 word challenge on The Bandstand. Some of us who were able to come to the (real) bandstand meeting were unable to do both themes so submitted them here, giving us an even more varied batch of contributions than usual.

I laughed out loud at the delightful skit on the importance of names, set in an American Indian Reservation. Great twist in the tail! And also the hilarious poem about Gordon, the would-be football star, who pursues fitness to escape the crowd’s jibes, only to be tortured by their alternative chant. We were treated to a drier wit with Meticulously, a timely and cynical glance at Covid restrictions. And the frustrated superman – that phone booth was always occupied!–was an eccentric joy.

As always, we had some amazing poetry. How lucky we are to have such poets in our midst. The inherent warmth and optimism of Possibilities charmed me, as did the enchanting wonder through September, a catalogue of memories both heart warming and heart breaking. There was another amusing one from the same poet on recent experiences of getting lost in country lanes – talk about the right road being less travelled! Another two arrived in my inbox, both lyrically outlining the loneliness of lockdown and the fundamental comfort of the sea and the weather changes. And then, today, a quite extraordinarily beautiful poem, outlining the simplicity of the gifts of love and loving. Totally captivating.

Two of the stories concentrated on the importance of respecting what is important to other people, whether family or foreigners, however bizarre that might seem to someone else. And we had a very nice surprise, one of our group who has been ill with the virus, now recovered, sent us a story about a lost wallet and an engagement ring, penned while she was still in hospital.

The Bandstand inspired some great stories, especially a fascinating history (written in the first person!) of the 19th century bandstand in Woodstock, Illinois. Also one to tug the heart strings about a dog and his trumpet playing master. And there was a stirring one of a local prom with audience and band closing the evening with our traditionally patriotic songs. You all know the two songs I mean! Although definitely no longer politically correct (if they ever were) as they are almost the only ones we all know the words to, woe betide anyone who tries to do away with them!

And Ryan is struggling to handle the Stick, his main weapon of defence against the moose. I warned you it was a somewhat eclectic, if quite excellent, mix, even by Shorelink standards.

So onwards we go. The new theme: Two o’clock in the city, is from Alan’s list which has been invaluable. Thanks, Alan, and thank you all for such great writing. Keep them coming! Sally

Online Shorelink Week 21

A tender and touching poem arrived at the start of the week, entitled Thanks for the memory and I was so enraptured by it I suggested that as our theme. I was immediately reminded that we had already done that – sorry, everyone!–and rapidly changed it to Things I would rather forget, a theme which seemed especially relevant to this  rather embarrassed blogger.

But impromptu or otherwise, it produced some sparkling work from the group.I hope my mind-slip did not inspire the poem on dementia, but even if it did, the poem was so truthful in its simplicity that several of us who have seen the illness at first hand wrote saying how much it had moved us. There was also a lovely and poignant poem on the relief of being able to share memories of a departed loved one and looking with hope to the future..And just to stop us becoming too introverted was a wickedly humourous skit on the perils of short term memory loss in marriage!

Several of the stories described somehat apocalyptic futures, though the love story between two robots shone an optimistic light on an emotionless, mechanical world. Another feared the end of democracy was imminent, and our moose hunters continue to explore life on the moon. And I thought the Bengal warrior was taking place in another time and another place until I got to the twist in the tail- superb! Another enigmatic ending left us hoping the story set in Venice, will, as promised, be continued.

We had an extremely creepy and quite brilliant horror story haunting a post lockdown holiday, and a disturbing but fascinating story centred on an old photo and examining the significance and selectiveness of memory. Martin and Sarah’s love story was an exploration of  a developing relationship and the acceptance that everyone has things they hope to forget in their lives. Memory again – and this time where it is not wanted! The remembrance of tbe aftermath of an oyster feast was all too unsettling– another horror story that sounded all too facrual!

Who could not enjoy the tale of the somewhat uptight lady at the over-sixties club who finally gets to live a little? And unusually, we had two stories which centred on a religious faith. One told of a woman’s decision to leave her life and partner and enter a cult which seems to offer her a saner world. And another describing an upbringing dominated by a very  evangelical gran.

For the usual mixed bag from a group of extraordinarily talented and imaginative writers, thank you all. It is great that everyone has come back with such enthusiasm and diligence.

Next week’s theme was suggested by our American member, Jeanne, and is Why it matters. Happy writing!  Sally.

Online Shorelink Week 20

Well, we did it.  We have written our way through 20 weeks of lockdown, proving irrefutably that it takes more than a world pandemic to silence Shorelinkers. And we finish term with the rather apt theme of Don’t Panic!, and inspired by both the theme and the pandemic, one of us decided to explore the origins of the prefix pan, which was interesting and informative. 925 English words beginning with pan – who knew? Certainly not me.

There was a wonderfully imagined a story that plunged us into the fully automated world of 2040 where robots and robotics had replaced free will with frustration and covert misery. Another, designated, Existential Horror, plunged us into the increasing panic of the world’s last surviving human as realisation hit home.

We had an unusual amount of SciFi, Ryan and Zoe were teleported to the moon to continue their battle with the zombie moose, and there was a glorious take on Disney World viewed by a visiting galactic reporter. Others were more directly concerned with present events– I was wryly amused by an excellent and ironic poem on the way some people seem to think lockdown rules don’t apply to them (inspired by a certain adviser to the PM, perhaps?).

Two of our writers decided to write about not being able to write and both overcame their writers block sufficiently to be able do so with humour and skill. And we had two hen parties – one quite literally, comically describing the accident and subsequent rescue in the coop, and the other a rather droll and perceptive take on the sisterhood partying together at the Hampstead Pond. Talking of droll, there was also, in another piece, a side swipe at the present leader of the USA, finishing with the kind of joke that makes your blood run cold!

There was a delightfully funny story about an inefficient local paper hack who mistook a film set for a real hold up with disastrous consequences, and a monologue from the exhausted and frustrated parent of an out of control toddler. And a tribute to a much admired cookery teacher whose by-line was Don’t Panic!  We also read a moving account of an embryo lawyer, trying to pluck up the courage to say Objection, my Lord, and were immensely relieved when she finally did!

As always, we had some memorable poems, some of which I have already mentioned. The Vanishing Beach conjured up many memories of tidal eccentricities for me, as a kid growing up by the sea, and I also loved the child cowering under the bedclothes, with only Teddy for protection.  I have deliberately left the poem by our Windrush member to the last because the scandal it narrates is as current as the plague in our minds at the moment and I thought it a quite splendidly relevant piece of work.

So once again, well done, everyone, and thank you, not only for this week’s submissions but for the entire term’s work.   We are going to take a four week break for August, though hopefully we shall all be seeing each other, and I will be in touch about our virtual AGM.  So the date for your diary is Sunday, 30th August, when I will set the new theme and off we go again.

Unless, of course, we get an unexpected miracle and life goes back to normal. But right now, that looks somewhat unlikely.

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 19

This was the penultimate week of our summer term, and I think everyone will most certainly deserve the upcoming August break.  This week’s submissions have continued to amuse, intrigue, and often confound me, by their sheer excellence. Once again, I hardly know where to start this blog. Our theme was A dream come true, and the work was unusually slow arriving in my inbox, so much so that I wondered if the topic was not inspiring enough. But I soon realised, as the inbox began to metaphorically swell, that it had actually stimulated some great, and quite lengthy stories, – but thank you for all observing the 1000 word rule!

To begin at the beginning, (as a certain Welsh poet once wrote) I laughed out loud at the long poem which outlined the adventures of Dorothy as a psychopathic murderess terrorising Oz, a different take indeed. Yet another psychopath disappeared into a ghost train in the company of an adolescent, spooky, or what? Then there was the abused child whose dream of dog owning was somewhat shattered when it dug up the skeleton of her murdered abuser.  (But fear not, the law treated her –the murderer, not the dog –lightly).Another dog featured in a moving story of a keeper of souls who found his own again through the trust in the pet’s eyes.

From across the pond came a delightful tale narrated alternately by Petulant Petula and Sebastian Sparrow, musing on the nature of reality in these Covid stricken times; especially given the rather surreal political situations on both sides of the Atlantic.  Which brings me to the two poems that coincidentally both reflected on the dream of Martin Luther King, one exploring its place in modern history via Lennon and George Floyd, and both ending on a note of hope. Another poem was a delightful eulogy on Fragonard’s wonderful painting The Swing, and there was yet another, which reminded me of Hamlet’s words, words, words, in that I loved it and read it several times but ultimately had no idea what it was actually about. But, oh, that vocabulary!

There was a moving piece on a worn out mother’s journey through respite to restoration, then a story of faith found through love, and a gorgeous, lyrical escape from a drab life with a glimpse of the subterranean colour of shoals of fishes, backed by the single note of a violin. And a superbly quirky story of a snail choosing the winning teams in a draw, and, while we are with quirky, how you could you not enjoy the series of couplets on journeys various?

There was a great story on the class prejudices of the last century that were finally overcome by a bright and frustrated student, and yet another poignant but ultimately optimistic one  looking even further  back to the days of boy chimney sweeps. Redemption and reward were recurring themes, one lucky chap, who had defended his bullied school friend through thick and thin, found himself repaid with riches beyond his wildest dreams.

Our Moose novel is delving more and more deeply into the motivations of the characters thereby filling out the background of the story intriguingly. And I have to finish on the sad but (nearly) true story of the writer, who almost married Jane Fonda – but sadly had to settle for second best. Hmm…..

So, once again, thank you all. Ro has chosen the theme for our last week of this term and it is Don’t Panic! I am quite sure you won’t and I shall very much look forward to reading them all.    Sally.