Online Shorelink Week 38

This week’s theme was, of course, smells which I thought was delightfully summed up in the first line of one our submissions, A smelly smell that smells smelly! Says it all really, doesn’t it? We have had some fascinating stuff, loads of nostalgia, of course, but also some inventive ways of both lauding and lamenting various odours.

Who could not love the calendar of smells that marked each month by its burgeoning scent? Or the pleasure of the member who has sadly lost the gift of being able to smell anything, but treasures the memory of a grandson delighting in her own ‘granny’ aroma? Or the recognition that past smells can act as a talisman against present pain? And the swimmer happily lured from the sea by the smell of Cardamom coffee, once such an exotic experience for a more sensually deprived generation.

This generational gap in olfactory experiences was reflected in several of the pieces, and probably summed up best by the article on Smelly Museums, which took us on an inspiring trip round the York Viking Museum, which actually bottles smells, (both ravishing and revolting) from leather to candle wax and many more. Sounds like a must sniff experience to me!

Boyhood memories of seeing a cow milked by hand also vividly conjured up that far away virtually traffic-less world of the 1940’s. I could almost hear the clip of the hooves as the horse pulled the cart along those deserted roads. Several of you expanded the theme from smell to memories revived by touch or sound, and an especially touching one took us to a pregnancy scan and the overwhelming memory of the sound of  that first heart beat.

 Another piece took us through several ‘smelly’ experiences before climaxing with a gut wrenching lost dog story – oh, the relief when Houdini returned! And yet another conjured everything from Guy Fawkes Night bonfires and rockets to grandparent houses lit by gas mantles – and if you are too young to know what they are, do look them up. I enjoyed the depiction of the brain as an infinite library where smells could whisk you to the next book.  Johnson’s Baby Powder figured in several memories including one which catalogued an entire life in  smells, including reminding me of the smell of Vick Rub!.

A rather blood thirsty, but entertaining, epic seemed to be suggesting that all soldiers develop a blood lust. Well, it was fiction. As was the equally engaging further escapades of Anthony Bond, another of this writer’s heroes who seems destined for a watery grave. There was a fun piece set rather flexibly in past times as it leapt from Arthurian legend to Roman occupation and even gave a nod to the Tudors along the way – an appropriation of puns, perhaps? And there was a nod to the animal loving grandmother who helped to establish the PDSA.

Before I reach our continuing stories, I have two more pieces to mention. One was a beautiful poem by Kate, written especially for our American friends, and illustrating our nation’s horror and sympathy for what took place so recently in their country, and emphasising our empathy with them and our hope for them.  The other, a quite extraordinarily insightful poem, pictured both the, often linked, heroism and tragedy of war. All the more haunting in that it poses neither questions nor answers, it leaves us reflecting on a world still full of children orphaned by conflict.

    Now on to Alice – who is really not herself, I fear. Oh dear. Where next, I wonder for this poor girl. And still no knickers in sight. And Ryan is back in action, finally in deadly conquering combat with the Supreme Moose and raring for more action. Go, man, go.

What can I say but thank you once more? You have lit up my lockdown week with your creativity.

 Debbie has suggested next week’s theme, and it is A Desert Island.

Keyboards at the ready and  – go!       Sally

Online Shorelink Week 37

I admit that that setting the theme for each week is something I do with trepidation. It has become more of a task during lockdown as it is now a weekly, rather than a fortnightly, requirement, but also because, in normal times, a new theme will often be triggered or suggested during conversational interchanges. Nowadays, I know almost immediately if we have hit the thematic jackpot as your contributions come in almost before I have finished pressing ‘send’ on the blog, and that was the case this week. The theme was The Mirror and what a fascinating pot pourri of writing it inspired.

I’d like to start with the poem described by one reader as honey to the heart, a moving plea for compassion on many levels – be all that each of us is not. Indeed. Then there was the beautiful tribute to a departed love, catalogued in domestic mirrors but carried eternally in the mind and heart. Another intriguingly mused on the many funeral customs which involve mirrors and the superstitions behind them.

The rap, which went quite suddenly from gloom to hope, enraptured me and I read it out loud to the amusement of my feline and canine audience. Then a more sober reflection on the perverseness of self was followed by another, much longer submission, bravely questioning the very meaning of sanity. A good question at this moment in history, I reckon. And a bittersweet pastiche on the evil queen of fairy tale fame was tinged with a sadness which gave her unexpected depths.

The stories were as varied as the poems, one centred on a cave dwelling hermit, climaxed with a re-writing of the biblical story of creation, and another depicted a civilisation falling to pieces with the death of a King and the subsequent loss of the mirror – a magical relic. A charming fairy tale used a hall of mirrors to highlight the absurdity of some attitudes to physical differences, and yet another described a literally murderous ascent to fame and fortune.

There were several ghost stories, of course- one evoking a boyhood memory of a continuing spectral presence on a stairway, taking us neatly back to another period of time, and another of a woman realising too late that she had been gifted an unwanted glimpse into the future. In yet another, the rituals of death proved to have more substance than one of the murderous protagonists had realised.

Not all the stories were eerie, there was a wonderfully happy reminiscence describing a group of schoolgirls bonded as they journeyed together into the adult world. However, I shall finish with the very first one to arrive this week, the letter from Milo the dog, who sent us a photo of his refection in a mirror along with his thoughts on the strange behaviour of his mistress when near this same mirror.

No – wait– I nearly forgot to mention that Alice is alive and, if not well, only bleeding slightly as she lurks in a darkened cave, waiting for…well, who knows? Hopefully, we shall find out next week.

Again, thank you all. There has been some magical, brilliant writing from everyone. I hope you will like next week’s theme. Hold your breath, of not your nose, the theme is Smells.

Sally

(Oh dear, I have just remembered that one of our group suffers from anosmia, so my apologies – but I am sure you will think of something, even if it just writing about that!)

Online Shorelink Week 36

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.    

Sally.

Online Shorelink Week 35

Well, Shorelinkers, you really honed in on the suggestion that we finished the term with a bang! Mandy’s theme of How many Oranges really fired up our collective imaginations, and, in spite of just being plunged into Tier 4 and waving goodbye to any idea of a traditional Christmas, you have definitely made  it clear that  we shall all be making the most of whatever seasonal festivities we are allowed to indulge in. The spirit of Christmas certainly shone undimmed through this week’s pieces.

Where to start? Where, two straight-forward Christmas messages, I think. A particularly beautiful one that charged us with using the orange as a tool for meditating on the essence of being human, and another which used a chocolate orange to remind us of how comparatively fortunate most of us are in this unequal world.   

Many of the pieces reminisced – well, that’s a sort of seasonal inevitability, isn’t it? –  adding charm and depth to the mix. Memories of compulsive orange eating while pregnant or being dosed with orange juice in the war conjured up somewhat wry smiles, and another member listed some delightful boyhood orange coloured nostalgia.

We had some wonderful stories, a lovely re-working of Scrooges’ three ghosts and a splendid spoof on Dick ‘Turtle’ whose black horse is getting above himself since having been borrowed for a certain commercial. (And this one contained a deliberate mistake to spot, as well- treat after treat!) . Then there was the injured giant, restored by Christmas magic and seasonal goodwill. Not so very different from the one about the rock group who had made misanthropy their modus vivendi, until converted to all things good – a different and delightful path to the same uplifting conclusion.

There was an amusing 007 satire, complete with nubile girl rising from the waves, and then a wicked –illustrated, of course- send-up of the shades of orange favoured by the out-going American president to illuminate his complexion and /or hair. And I so admired the practicality of the lady who, when mistakenly presented with 350 oranges, proceeded to make marmalade to bestow it as Christmas gifts.

There were a few which bucked the trend and were all the more readable for that. A chilling one reminded of us of the persecution of the Jews in Europe not so very long ago, even more pertinent at this time when our own, taken for granted, expectations can be shattered so quickly. And there was a quite charming eulogy to the apple (and why not?) and the goodness of givers, everywhere.

I confess to saving until last the two that made me laugh the most. The member who, lacking time to write, sent an illustration of a huge orange with the title Only One, and underneath But it is very big – oh, I wish I had thought of that! And last, but by no means least, the Joyce Grenfell-like teacher theoretically teaching an infant’s class about oranges but actually sending up a range of Shorelinkers (by name – yes, we were identified!) and illuminating our foibles- wicked, but SO funny.

So once again, thank you all. What a year it has been – we’ve taken a few breaks, were able to meet briefly out of doors in the summer, but, for the record, I think you have submitted somewhere around 600 pieces of writing during this 35 weeks online, and should all be very, very pleased with yourselves. I am so proud to be your Chair.

We have, of course, no idea when we shall get back to anything like normal. So have a wonderful, restful and possibly inventive holiday – we are planning a Zoom family Christmas which I imagine will be even more chaotic than usual, but thank heavens for Wifi. And then be ready to sharpen up the little grey cells because your Committee and I have agreed that we will kick off again on the weekend of January 10th with the first theme of 2021.

So, see you then. Happy Christmas, and hopefully, a Happy New Year from Ro and me.    

And God Bless Us Everyone!    Sally

Online Shorelink Week 34

Sian’s suggested theme of 37 really got the little grey cells humming this week; there has been a positive deluge of inventiveness. And quite a bit of nostalgia, which I guess is sort of inevitable with Christmas looming. But more of that later.

There was a delightful trip into Christmas past from across the pond, a cheerful referencing of many festive family reunions in order to imagine a 2021 when the world returned to normal. We all hope it is an accurate prophecy. Another piece regretted the lack of all our usual Shorelink parties this year, and brought back some bitter-sweet memories with an old photo of our beloved Tony B.  And yet another used the clever device of moving us well into the future to poignantly examine the historical impact of this year.

I should hasten to add that it was not all gloom and doom, though – quite the opposite. A short poem declared that memory was worth more than riches, and then there was a quite charming piece describing a child watching the murmuration of the starlings, inspired by some glorious photos another writer had sent us. And yet another about a Bird Girl Statue, ransacked and removed, but eventually restored to beauty. Uplifting stuff this! As was the story of the chap with the terminal diagnosis, who determines to make other lives better with his final time on earth.

We read some definitely out-of-this- world stories this week, and I don’t just mean the Galactic Ambassador who begins, with good reason, to think perhaps he would rather stay at home. No, there was the elderly lady in the residential (?) home – a great twist in the tail here– and a lively and ingenious tale of ‘Shirley’ Holmes taking us on a trip through Wonderland while he investigates the possible murder of one Humpty Dumpty. Oh, and what about the collector with the fiendish dragon, or the ghoulish vampire story? Creepy or what?.

There was some more down to earth writing, a diary entry outlining the 37 days that led to WW1, and a reminiscence of a Catering Course attended in Devon which transported us back to what felt like a sunny, saner world. I was gripped by a list of TV programmes and events 37 years ago which gracefully morphed into a meditation on aging and the surprises life often holds. And a man still yearning for his lost girl friend 37 years on was really touching.

We are, as always, so lucky with our poets. We were gifted with an extraordinarily beautiful musing on the passing of time, and the shifts in our viewpoints it brings, and another took us with the writer on a bike ride to – well, we knew not where, and nor did he, but that mattered not at all. It managed to be evocative, yearning and invigorating all at the same time, no mean feat.

Our continuing stories are keeping us in thrall – poor Alice, rescued more times than I can count, has once again been left starving and unconscious. Has ever a heroine suffered more?, I hear you cry. But on a more positive note, Ryan has finally found the power to wield the Stick and is hopefully on the way to saving his friends and the Dwarves from the rampaging Moose.

So a truly fascinating week, my thanks to Sian and you all for your amazing imaginations. Now, as you know, this coming week is the last before our Christmas break, and I was wondering how to follow Sian’s idea when this came in from Mandy:

Well, it’s strange how our minds work sometimes. I’ve been thinking about story ideas just like Sian and I had to smile when she came up with 37 and then a unit of time.  My title is, ‘How many Oranges?’
Preferably not 37.  I can think of 3 different stories so I’m hoping that other Shorelinkers can think of a story or poem.

I thought that was a great theme, and somehow very Christmassy -I can’t explain that feeling unless it is something to do with the traditional orange in the toe of the stocking. Either way, thanks, Mandy, and I hope you all like it. Let’s finish this term with a bang! 

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 33

So here we are, out of lockdown again, but now in Tier 2 and with most of us totally confused as to what we are, or are not, supposed to be doing. The good news is that Shorelink soldiers on regardless. This week’s optional theme was Beatles songs, and one clever and funny story – loved the twist in the end – managed to encompass eleven titles. Impressive, or what?!

I was captivated by a glorious poem which immortalised Mr Walker, a teacher in the 70’s (?) who was preparing his pupils for a possible war by allowing them to load and unload his revolver. No health and safety worries then, I guess! Then I had an email from another of his pupils from an earlier era whose family began to baulk at his descriptions of how he won the war, and I was overcome with regret that I had never known this wonderful, very British, eccentric.  

We had a deliciously spine chilling story of an attempted murder by spider, which went disastrously wrong, and a philosophical musing on being able to read peoples true, rather than declared, opinions, which reached a sad but wise conclusion. And a somewhat downbeat, but highly dramatic offering, declaring that the coming vaccine is designed to turn us into a nation of vampires. HELP, indeed!

Who could not sympathise with the frustrated lottery addict, waiting in vain for a huge windfall, or fail to be engaged by the revenge of Gaia in a rather ingenious allegory. The plea of the lonely suitor seeking a new love gave us an extremely moving poem, while by way of contrast the true description of an increasingly chaotic journey to a wedding on the Isle of Wight was hilarious. Another story tackled the emotional difficulties of moving on from a violent and unhappy childhood, and yet another effectively described being trapped in a recurring nightmare.

The second half of the WW2 story of the assassination attempt on the Duke and duchess of Windsor managed to provoke almost more questions than it answered but what a fascinating slice of history. And no week would be complete without an update on poor, besieged Alice, still surviving, though half drowned, parched and confused. But at least she is wearing her life jacket, though we are assured the benighted damsel is still naked underneath. I would so love to send her some knickers at very least…!

Great stuff, everyone, and thank you all. Next week is the penultimate one before our Christmas break, and Sian sent me this idea for a theme. I was intrigued by it, and hope you will be too. So see below:

 I was thinking about themes randomly in the middle of the night a couple of days (or nights) ago. If you’re looking for any new ideas, here’s one that came to me: 37 [then pick any unit of time you like – such as nanoseconds, hours, years, decades etc – and add it after 37 to form your title]. No idea why 37, it just popped into my head and seems as good a number as any other. It also occurred to me that lightyears wouldn’t count because a lightyear is a distance, not a unit of time (perhaps a little oddly, unless you’re a scientist or nerdy like me).

So my thanks to Sian – though I reckon if you fancy a light year, go, man, go!     Sally.   

Online Shorelink Week 32

At last it seems we have some light at the end of this dark Covid tunnel with news of not just one, but several, possibly viable vaccines. And, as we cross our fingers tightly and brace for a long winter, I find myself also immensely cheered by the many comic submissions on this week’s theme. It was Do not try this at home, and hit both factual and fictional funny bones with many Shorelinkers.

There were several hilarious memories of cooking catastrophes, with pizza definitely out there leading the array of culinary disasters. But who could not sympathise with the bride who assumed the egg poacher would fulfil its job description with the mere addition of a couple of eggs, or the hostess who decided to host a supper party with her first attempt at making a pizza? Well, possibly a trifle rash, that, but it gave rise to a splendid new word, pizzamoeba, for the resultant burnt offering. As someone who only has to pass near a cooker for everything to burst into malevolent flames (well, that’s what it feels like) I sympathised greatly with this.  And oh, that beautiful pizza oven in Umbria, which was concealing a colony of bugs – yuk!

I suppose the story of the apple pie rescued during an air raid was a sort of cooking one, but that ended happily. It wasn’t all cooking, however, we had some DIY going on as well. There was the teenage experiment of throwing a giant lego ball off a roof (happily, no-one was killed) and the older brother whose passion for reptiles, rocketry and explosives created mayhem in his household. And the delightful morality tale of the DIY- er who was also a cheat, running his electricity off the National Grid via a handy lamp post. As he was \making his poor wife’s life hell, his subsequent jail sentence and her restoration to a decent life was very satisfactory.

An apocalyptic poem described with some accuracy the confusion of current policies, and yet another laid out with wonderful wit and perception the idea of Lockdown Olympics – I guess it is almost certainly a generational thing but I was hysterical at the idea of the gazunder on the head as protection when engaging in certain sports ie jumping of the bed. Yet another poem played cleverly with collective nouns before taking us to a sceptical conclusion.

It wasn’t all cynicism. The Wizard Shazzam managed to right the chaos caused by an errant pupil in a charming fairy story, and thankfully Miriam managed to survive the ministrations of Vota Torquent in the last part of her story, become comfortable in her own body, and subsequently to prosper.  Though Amy, the trainee clairvoyant, was less lucky, discovering that her new found ability was a double edged sword.

We had an intriguing bit of history around Edward V111 and his wife’s relationship with both Churchill and Hitler, looking forward to Part 2 of this, and a tale of one man and his dog. This really moved me, as I remember Jasper well (we had a cat of the same name at the time) but also because the story touched on something never really spoken of, but all animal lovers understand. That is the fact that though we love all our animals excessively, every now and again, there is one special one. For no particular reason, one that grabs your heart in a vice. A sort all encompassing a falling in love. A unique and magnificent gift. So thanks for that story, Paul.

Our moose hero is battling on in spite of his regenerating foe, and we leave him wounded but finally about to use the Stick. Go, man, go! And Alice – oh, this poor girl, her rescuer is now caught and bound to the raft as well – the tension mounts…

So, well, what a week! I have been amused, educated and thoroughly charmed by your work. Thank you all. Please keep them coming.

And for next week’s theme? Well, in the 1980’s the Beatles Albums were re-catalogued into these 14 titles.  I thought you might have fun with one or all of them. Use them to inspire, reminisce – whatever you fancy.  Sally


         Please Please Me
 (1963)        

        With the Beatles (1963)

        A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

        Beatles for Sale (1964)

        Help! (1965)

       Rubber Soul (1965)

        Revolver (1966)

       Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

       Magical Mystery Tour (1967)[              The Beatles (“The White Album”, 1968)

       Yellow Submarine (1969)

       Abbey Road (1969)

 Let It Be (1970)                 The Beatles (“The White Album”, 1968)

Online Shorelink Week 31

Oh, my goodness – I have some explaining to do before beginning today’s blog. As you may remember I took a break last week, and before I do anything else, I must thank you all again for the wonderful and encouraging messages (and the beautiful azalea) you sent me. To know that Shorelink is so important to so many people meant a huge amount to both Ro and I.

Putting on my efficient hat, I made sure that the themes for this week were sent out last weekend, and they were all the titles of Dickens short stories:  Hunted Down, The Lamplighter, The Queer Chair (couldn’t resist that one) and One Thousand and One  Humbugs. All was going well and the stories were arriving in my inbox when– OH NO!

Our router packed up. No Wifi. The rest, to misquote poor Hamlet, was silence. Somewhat panicky silence, to be honest. How to let everyone know that we were incommunicado? The promise by our provider that our new router might arrive the next day rang hollowly in our ears. Quite rightly, as there is certainly no sign of it yet.

So we rang our trusty treasurer, Stephen, who emailed round the group, asking you all to carry on sending your pieces. And at this point I must confess I do not know if I have all your contributions, but during a (very) brief resumption of connectivity I managed to download everything I could find, and I hope you will forgive me if, among the 150 emails piled in my inbox, I have overlooked yours.

Now, where to start with this week’s pieces? Well, as there was a strong leaning toward fantasy, and with Christmas on the horizon, a charming pastiche on Scrooge (rechristened Scrounge) and two benveloent mice should have put us in a good mood.   Another on the theme of 1001 Humbugs had hardy school children hoovering up sticky sweets from the school playground. I wondered, with some sympathy, if this was a reaction to the regime of extreme cleanliness that is currently in place? Oh, for some good old fashioned sticky kids! There was certainly much mud (of the more malodorous kind) in Quercus Enigma, and a nice twist in the tail. And, come to think of it, the brief history of a Victorian lamplighter featured mudlarks. It was also a feature of the ironical and funny poem on climate change, but happily not enough to distract us from its deeper meaning.

We read more of the beautiful and gripping story of the stag at bay, cornered by his larger rival, and a human adventure story of a hunter hunted. We also observed Doreen’s somewhat drastic conversion to veganism and from the same writer we witnessed Corrine’s plans to create bedlam in a dystopian world. However, in another tale, Vota’s answer to Miriam’s prayer seems to be having an unexpected downside – we await with interest

There was a tear jerking (in a happy way!) ending to Dickin’s medal winner Faith the cat’s story, and also a charming poem about the Brassey Hall in Hastings, both historically and locally relevant. There was a fun story concerning the antiques dealer who comes across The Queer Chair, and a clever but depressing poem by a writer convinced that our relief at the impending vaccine is misplaced; it is actually intended to cull us all. All other thoughts aside, I would greatly doubt whether this government had the ability, never mind the intent, to manage anything so difficult.

Once again, thank you all. I have no idea if I will be able to post this today or whether our WiFi will disappear as mysteriously as it re-appeared. But we shall be restored soon, either way. I asked our international member, Jeanne, to post the theme for next week, Don’t try this at home, as we Zoomed together last night (no, not from our house, from a friend whose WiFi was behaving!). So, thank you, especially to Jeanne, and to you all for your submissions. Please keep them coming.

I will post this as soon as I am able, and will be in touch again regularly soon.   Sally

Online Shorelink Week 30

So here we are, in lockdown once more. Not quite so many contributions as usual, but between the lockdown and the knife-edge tension of the American election, it has been a distracting week. The strangeness and the frustrations of our present world were beautifully summed up in the poem Blue Sky Thinking, and its final lines: And say this is not what it seemed –tomorrow will be a normal day – I’ll wake up and all will be well. How we all wish…

But no time to be maudlin. The Endorsement Lockdown Officer of the Law in particular was a hilarious sending up of current restrictions, starring a naked nun in pink hobnail boots – well, what’s not to like? The suggested themes this week were Fireworks, and/or A Favourite Teacher, and the first stimulated a lovely nostalgic poem that whisked us back to all those 5th November bonfire parties, you could almost smell the smoke! And another story on this topic had a boy spotting a distress flare at sea and thereby saving a life.

Two of the submissions outlined with warmth and gratitude how much can be owed to an inspirational teacher and I found myself hoping they were both true. And a very thoughtful poem charted the journey the older generation in this country have had to make from Empire to this (sometimes) brave new world. 

Yet another poem drew some sympathetic parallels with the luminosity of a visiting juggler and the drabness of many everyday lives. Our poets were, as so often, in splendid voice, and there was also a resounding call for ecological awareness. But we swerved into quite different territory with How Doreen became a vegan, and Doreen’s solution on how to rid herself of a controlling and unfaithful husband was highly original, and very effective. I see it has To be Continued on it and can only hold my breath for the next episode. The same must be said of Part One of The Misadventures of Vota Torquent, concerning a mystic who has the power to grant wishes. Where next, I wonder?

Our Zombie moose has finally been given his own voice in a pitched and bloody battle, and while it is interesting to see the point of view changed, the Supreme Moose, with his use of the phrase I say and the noun chaps, is now revealed as possibly Moose-Eton educated? Again, the story left us on a cliff hanger, as with all action heroes, Ryan is running for cover once more! And as for Alice, well each week sees this poor girl wetter and weaker, but surely her creator has not killed her off? The omens are not good. As they are not for Billy, I am afraid, not at all.

I have saved the story of Faith, the church cat until last, inspired as it was by the recent story of Doorkins Magniicat, the Cathedral cat.  Faith was one of the stars of the fundraising tour, One Dogs War, that Ro and I did some years ago, assisted by two of our dogs.  Faith, along with many other heroic and clever animals, helped to raise the money to erect the splendid Animals in War memorial in Hyde Park. The conclusion of her story is worth waiting for, I promise.

But not until the week after next. As most of you know, I am taking next week off to catch up on some of the things that have fallen by the wayside recently – none, I hasten to add, as much fun or as rewarding as our Online meetings, but necessary stuff. So forgive me. Though I suspect some of you will be glad of a break – this is our 10th week this term and, as you can see, our 30th overall. No-one can doubt our enthusiasm!

So – thank you all once more. I will email round the suggested theme next Saturday. Sally

Online Shorelink Week 29

This week’s theme was just a selection of some of my favourite words and a lot of you had fun with it and added in some favourites of your own. Reading through them all today I was immensely grateful for so much humour, as we learnt this morning that we are to be plunged into lockdown again. Hardly a huge surprise but enormously frustrating. Ah well. At least they can’t stop us writing.

As so often, I will start with the poems. I am delighted Shorelink has so many wonderful poets nowadays and every week brings such a splendidly eclectic mix of prose and poetry. The Somnambulist was a many layered blend of light and darkness, and Atop the East Hill an ambitious threnody to write in a buccaneering rhythm. And who could not love the Hyacinth Macaw, a glorious privateer? October Garden was beautiful and familiar, bedraggled indeed but not empty of life. And the hilarious decorticator, a word new to me, and the fate of the corset wearing lady. Definitely a poem to help us through lockdown blues.

Woodland featured quite prominently both in its autumnal glory and as a place of sanctuary and I had a strange feeling of déjà vu when reading about the somnambulist zombie couple in a country cottage, which cleverly used all the suggested words. Can’t think why it rang so many bells… Another somnambulist starred in a highly amusing tale of husband with unknown, and slightly salacious, kleptomaniac leanings.

. There was a fascinating story of a boy with aquaphobia, with an amusing twist in the tail. And, on the subject of water, a dystopian essay which managed to combine the Thames, Shakespeare and global warming, among a few other themes – mind-bending stuff! But not our only view of a dystopian near future, Dee’s journey into Utopian becomes creepier and creepier.

 Our resident satirist managed to send up Bexhill, 1066, Poldark and one of our committee members while seeming to hardly draw breath, quite an accomplishment. And while we are with satire, there was a fascinating and amusing take on the contradictions inherent in the way gender is often viewed.

We were rocketed to Bangkok for the conclusion of the tale of the search for the Eyes of Gah , and the same writer then updated us on Alice’s holiday of a lifetime. But just as she finally seems to be bonding with Carl, she is plunged into yet another potential disaster, poor girl. Will she never get into dry clothes again, we ask? (Probably not, is my guess.) And Ryan, the chosen one, is once more teleporting away from the herd of Moose in Chapter 15 of our Zombie Moose sage.

Shorelink, thank heavens, is never boring! Well done one and all. I sort of thought about Fireworks as the next theme as it is pleasantly ambiguous, (and topical) but then I thought how about A favourite teacher which seems to lend itself comfortably to fact or fiction. So you choose, or, of course, anything else you fancy.

Whatever, have fun doing it.

In spite of the dreaded lockdown. Sally