Online Shorelink Week 42

It was Valentine’s Day last Sunday, so The Lover virtually chose itself as the new theme. It obviously hit the right note with many Shorelinkers as the submissions arrived with amazing alacrity. I had no idea we were harbouring so many romantics, though needless to say the interpretations were many and various.

We had some splendid poetry, of course. From the delightful ode to love and light, to the anguished admittance of an illusory amorous dream, through to the hilarious cannibalistic pairing of Maud and Sylvester, and the charming tribute to Old Rosie, a Gloucestershire cider. An anguished rejection of much academic theology on the subject of love rang many bells with me, along with its final plea to leave me alone! And who could not sympathise with the poetic narrative describing the unsuccessful search for the lost memory stick – we shall wait hopefully for news of its recovery.

Another poem purported, wrongfully, to be from our nun-preoccupied member, who then retaliated by sending in a psychiatrists report in the name of his plagiarist – by this time my head was whirling but both pieces were so funny I forgave them my confusion. It came as a relief to read about the unlikely but touching marriage of Dillan the cat and Henry the mouse, for as you can tell, for Shorelinkers all things are possible. But concentration was required for the clever morality tale of the six sisters with three different mothers all vying for, mostly material, ascendancy, and ruining their own lives while so doing.

There was a delightfully accurate look back at the mores of the 50’s and the perceived importance in those day of what the neighbours thought, but also a look at some necessarily hidden sadness embedded  in that buttoned up culture. Another story, set mainly at the funeral of a colleague, illustrated with a twist in the tail how little we really know about other people’s lives, the same theme that ran through the accidental meeting of a couple who were once lovers.  A gruelling take on the power of love to help a deeply disturbed, self-harming, woman led to an uplifting and optimistic conclusion, though the same could not be said about the imprisoned pyromaniac, whose fantasies about fire lighting were so exquisite they almost made it acceptable.

A shivery and gripping venture into magical realism took us to a horror story where dreamt of monsters were accidently conjured up – a classic example of be careful what you wish for! Humour prevailed again in the tale of Tom and Dollie, kept apart forever, and finally revealed as scarecrows, and in Robert’s story, with the revelation that his quiet companion was a ventriloquist’s dummy – no, I didn’t see that coming.

I loved the contribution set in Arizona of the misunderstanding by a couple of elderly tourists regarding a hotel’s name – and therefore the kind of hospitality it was offering! Another submission summed up the power of love in two sentences – so, eat your heart out, Shakespeare!  And in our continuing story, the Moose Lord has managed to evade Ryan once again, but we sense not for much longer. Just as well, as the carnage among the dwarf population is mounting up.

So once again, thank you all. My belief in the strength of love has definitely been confirmed by your wonderful interpretations of the theme. Now for something completely different – let’s see what you make of Fear of Flying as our new theme.

As always, I know you will surprise and delight both me and each other.  Sally

Online Shorelink Week 41

The theme this week was The Dancer, and Shorelinkers embraced it with enthusiasm, pirouetting their way into a chorus of charming submissions. Two of you put line dancing centre stage, both were hilarious, one featuring an unintended double entendre, and the other a colourful memory of a village hall class complete with six shooters and chaps in chaps.

One piece flew us to Honolulu, exotic in several ways – oh, I do so want to try a Portuguese Malasadas!  – and then subtly managed to change the mood and engage our sympathies with not only the retired holidaying couple but also an unknown dancer. Clever and compelling. As was the circus performer reliving the past, literally high flying, triumphs as she lay waiting for help, unable to move after falling on ice. I think our present somewhat icy climate influenced a few of the pieces, not least the one centred on Santa’s reindeers.

The Covent Garden dancer at the peak of fame had a surprise encounter, which led to a highly amusing twist in the tale. And the Scottish wedding which had kept the entire village agog, also kept us on tenterhooks before revealing the truth of the participants sexuality. There was also a Dancer (yes, with a capital letter) historically dancing for peace. I was relieved to know his ghost is still out there trying to help us. And I was reassured to hear that Glynis and her Prince lived happily ever after following their wedding in the woods.

Another story was so delightful and so convincing I found myself checking that the lead character was really only a figment of the author’s imagination. The narrative of the watch maker who was commissioned by Queen Victoria to make the first mechanical artefacts and who then went on to present  her with a clockwork dancer on a music box was brilliant, right down to the bitter sweet ending. And a sensual and romantic depiction of a couple meeting and dancing was so persuasive that I was saddened to find that it was just a dream. Not so the one set among the mud larks and guttersnipes of the London of George 1V, which was such a realistically drawn picture it made one grateful for the 21st century, plague and all!

The poems that arrived in my inbox were so collectively outstanding they took my breath away. A beautiful one describing winter coming out of his cottage at the beginning of each verse was irresistible and I indulged myself by reading it out loud several times. Another, accompanied by a picture taken in Hastings this week, rightly described the snow as a possibly welcome diversion from our Covid worries. And who could not be uplifted by the two poems which contrasted dancing in youth with dancing in later life – and applauding the joy that accompanies both? Lovely stuff which resonates with so many of us. (I can still do a nifty dance of the seven towels in the bathroom – but that’s between us!)

The couple who met and danced from the Jenny Lind to Lisbon will stay long in our memories, as well as in the poet’s. And there was an extraordinarily  perceptive poem that took us through the slough of despond until charting a release from deepest depression and finding the gift of music and dance. A highly original one taking us through the beat of the music was inventively sent on a black background, which my moody computer kept refusing to let me read, so I hope I have not misinterpreted it!

A most interesting submission which looked like a harmless reworking of the Pied Piper story proved on examination to have very much deeper, possibly sinister, undertones – as does the original story, of course. And I do have to love the short poem that is a tribute to the timelessness of the sea. I grew up within sight of the sea and I recognised every word – so thank you for that!

And it was great to have another instalment of our Moose adventure after a short break, I have missed Ryan and Zoe et all, and just hope they survive this week’s cliff hanger! Go, Ryan, go!

It may be cold outside, but you have warmed my week with the astonishing variety and standard of the contributions. Thank you ALL! And next week’s theme is The Lover. Well, it is Valentines Day. Have fun with it – but I am sure you will

Sally.

Online Shorelink Week 40

This week’s theme was Lost in Translation, and, as the snow is busy whitewashing the landscape outside, (beautiful but freezing!) I was grateful that many of your contributions were so uplifting and amusing. The very first one I read starred a talking cat, cleverly not revealed until the very end of the story, and made me laugh out loud. And the next one took me back to the brilliant wit of Gerard Hoffnung and his wonderful Bricklayer sketch, (on YouTube, look it up if you don’t know it), followed by the true story of a delightfully embarrassing  faux pas by an English woman in a French vineyard. Not on theme, but also very funny, was the final part of the account of the Misguided Tours of St Mary in the Castle earlier in the millennium.

Then there was the anagram that led to an unexpected bequest, and another that, very unexpectedly, concluded in a veterinary clinic in Mexico – all great stories with gloriously unexpected twists in the tail. Two more of the contributions were set in book shops, one finally clearing up the mystery of how unicorns lost their horns, and the other somewhat eerily channelling Dracula whilst working in some hilarious examples of mistranslations. But a story concerning the search for eternal truth concluded rather depressingly that it was probably lost forever. Let’s hope not.

Two of the pieces, in quite different ways, gave us a glimpse of another culture. We received a charming and humorous, but also informative, look at the Fillipino way of life, which  might turn out to be very useful if we are ever allowed to travel again. I was also very moved by the poem which charted the last moments of a dying man, and then concluded with a Buddhist (not Jewish, I think?)  Kaddish . I least I thought it was Buddhist, but if I am wrong, I am sure you will all let me know.

I was fascinated by the list of foreign words that have no equivalent in our own tongue and by realising how few of them we have appropriated, and there was also a reflection on the 7 different types of pronouns that are scattered through our own convoluted language.   

My heart goes out to the writer of the haunting and beautiful poem about love at first sight, unforgettable indeed. And thanks to the member who decided to write a tribute to Captain Tom, the valiant 100 year old who caught so many imaginations in this dark time. 

Well, sitting by the fire and reading your submissions was a great way to spend this cold afternoon so thank you all once again. Next week’s theme is The Dancer and I am already looking forward to seeing what you will do with it. Keep them coming.

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 39

Two pieces of good news this week, the first being that today is January 31st so we are finally at the end of what surely feels like the longest ever first month of the year. But even as we face lockdown being in place for weeks yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Several of us have had our vaccinations, and with them, a dose of hopefulness.

My week has been both entertained and invigorated once again by receiving and reading all your work. Debbie suggested the theme of A Desert Island, which nearly everyone seized on with enthusiasm, so many thanks, Debbie. Given our enforced isolation at the moment, I think this may have chimed with us in a way we could not have envisaged once upon a time. Certainly the poor lady, marooned on an island and no longer able to get to the mainland, voiced fears that sounded alarmingly contemporary.

 For once, almost all of the submissions were prose, but we had two poems, one pleasantly practical one outlining the pros and cons of surviving a shipwreck, with a few requests added into the mix, and the other an ode to the peace and simplicity of dwelling on an isolated island. Both quite delightful, as was the story of the shipwrecked lad ultimately revealed to be playing in his garden, and the hilarious one staring Gracie and George who had wandered into the film set of King Kong.

Twists in the tail were many, literally in the case of the two cats who found themselves on one of Japan’s cat islands. And I certainly did not realise that Merida was marooned in space until it was spelt out to me, and was quite disappointed when a luxurious cruise that belched up celebrity entertainers turned out to be a dream. But there again, was the castaway missing his dog dreaming or glimpsing his future?

 And what about the re-imagining of Treasure Island and Ben Gunn et al and the eventual decision that solitude, albeit shared with one other, might be a choice? Though it would perhaps be wise to first peruse the list of inherent island risks posted in another  submission, or the ponder the unintended results of trusting the message in the bottle which offered you one wish– a great example of be careful what you wish for!

I am always fascinated by the originality and diversity of your interpretations of the given theme, and a great example of this was the wily and witty depiction of Dave in Author Land which managed to channel both Dickens and Golding, and also the irresistible and quite deliberate misinterpretation which gave us the mouth watering Dessert Island. And I was truly delighted that one of us did her own version of Desert Island Discs, one of the things I would miss most if washed up on a desert island.

There was a colourful and slightly salacious romance which took us from Sidley (truly!) to fending off sharks in the ocean, before introducing  a beautiful girl who is about to be sacrificed to the Gods, but fear not, rescue and a happy ending prevail! And another tale, off piste but that is always a choice, took a nostalgic and droll journey back to 2013, involving one of our most missed members, which highlighted one of Hastings most remarkable buildings, St Mary in the Castle.

Thank you all so much, once again, for diverting me, and I hope, each other, so successfully.

Next week’s theme is Lost in Translation, inspired by an email sent to me, which I will send on to you as an attachment. I hope you enjoy both it and the theme.

Sally .

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.