Online Shorelink Week 47

Some classy and fascinating stuff this week, though, of course I could say that with truth about every week.  Our theme was A Sporting Chance and I was especially fascinated by a couple of true stories, which not only followed that theme but also reached back to last week’s theme of Dangerous Waters.

A very gripping one described an evening boat trip off the Devon Coast which turned into a desperate struggle for the three people and young child who were sitting in the prow of the vessel, when it unexpectedly hit rough seas. The writer captured perfectly that initial feeling of disbelief that the danger was real and present, and a peaceful trip had turned so rapidly into a nightmare. Then, after the event, came the inevitable soul searching, coupled with a lifelong admiration for the friend who had made the child’s safety her priority. An unforgettable piece.

Another article recalled the loss of the Darlwynne in 1965, a cabin cruiser licensed for twelve people and carrying thirty one, on an unlicensed ‘jolly’– amazingly it reached its initial destination but then decided to make the return trip in spite of extremely dire weather forecasts.  Neither the cruiser not the passengers were ever seen again.

Moving on from this dreadful tragedy, I was vastly entertained by a gruesome fairy story, full of trolls and lizards and the like, but with a happy ending. And also one which cleverly concealed the ages of the participants until the very end, though I do hope the four year old finally got the better of her bullying elder brother.  There was a creepy story of the man obsessed by women called Caroline, who was trying to outdo Henry V111 both in the number of wives and the methods of dispatching them. Happily, he got his come-uppance in the final paragraph! There was more misogyny in a clever astral-nodding  poem which took a satirical bite out of our civilisation.

A very disturbing contribution from across the pond outlined the misadventures of five friends trying to recreate their boyhood with a camping trip. We are not given a description of what happens to the four who venture into forbidden waters, we just watch how it leads to their early deaths. Sinister, or what?

To cheer us up, and it did, came a story about Henny and Penny, the hungry but competitive hens, and a tongue in the cheek tale of murder at the circus. A short piece exhorted us to bow to our better natures and give the underdog a sporting chance, and another illustrated one romanticised the finding of a tree which bore the resemblance to a boar (see what I did there?  OK – sorry) And we had another chapter in or Moose story, entitled The Hall of Knowledge, it promises to expand Ryan’s knowledge of this other world.

A beautiful poem paid tribute not only to sporty women but to diversity everywhere and whatever the opposite is to misogyny – this was it. I loved it.

I have left until last a fascinating piece on the gorgeous Topiary Garden in Kent, which reads like a joy for anyone who loves gardens, animals and/or art. As that is probably most of us, I am putting the link on here:   www.artgardenthree/weebly.com,    and let us hope, as the writer suggests, we might be able to meet up there sometime.

Thank you all, your writing makes lockdown bearable. We are going to take a couple of weeks off now over the Easter period, and will restart on 12th April with a 500 word week and I will post the new theme on Sunday 11th

The hope of an indoor meeting is still on the far horizon, but possibly we might grace the bandstand in the park again soon? Fingers crossed.  Happy Easter to you all.

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 46

And so, with  a whole year behind us, on we go. Most of us are vaccinated now but, even though hopefully lockdown restriction will soon be easing, the expectation of any indoor meeting remains on a distant horizon. However, my spirits were lifted this week by a wonderful tribute to the group by one of our most prolific novelists: the friendliest, most supportive writers group you’ll ever come across. I think we would all agree with that, but it was good to see it in print.  And I would add that I think the camaraderie has been even more important to us all during this last year.

This week’s theme was Dangerous Waters and, as always, it has been fascinating seeing how differently it was interpreted in the submissions. One of the stories named its psychopathic anti-hero Bengi Walters, a neat twist, and I have a feeling he may be only just beginning his anti-social career. We shall brace ourselves for further revelations. There was a sad tale of the proud owner of some gorgeous Koi Carp who had not known that he needed to protect his pond from marauding herons. Another, rather creepy one,  took us into the Bermuda Triangle – dangerous waters indeed.

At the other end of the literary spectrum was a delightful true story of the rescue of a lamb, fallen into a steep-sided stream, and another heart warming tale described the rescue of a young fisherman and his brother at sea, illustrating vividly the goodwill that exists so often between mariners. And a charmingly descriptive one described the teeming life in a pond, and the many difficulties various species overcome to survive. Ponds figured in several of the pieces. A beautiful but heart wrenching poem used one as a storehouse of memory, touching on several lifetimes of expectations and tragedies.

Another poem was a cry for compassions for those taking to dangerous waters in an often futile effort to find safety on our shores, and yet another remembers the dreadful tsunami at Tohuku while making a plea for the great human gift of positivity. At the other end of the scale, there is was a threnody for the disappearance of the archetypical sights of Hastings, especially, of course, the pier. Or half of it! Only one piece celebrated the sea and swimming joyfully, perhaps surprising in this coastal area.

A gloriously enjoyable poem somewhat reinvented Pandora’s story. Poor girl, no hope there! Another off-piste one outlined the thoughts and ambitions of a gregarious actor during lockdown. We were moved by a subtle and reflective fable about learning, loving and living life to the full while acknowledging all its contradictions.

And yes, just to bring the tone down, once more I have to finish on the hilarious gender swopping essay on the American Old West.  Who could resist the telling of how Wild Jill Hickock and Millie the Kid were gunned down by Sherriff Patricia Garrett? Obviously, not me!

Thank you all once again, you have surfed Dangerous Waters triumphantly. The coming week will be our last until after Easter as we will then be taking a break for a couple of weeks.  For this coming week the theme is one suggested by Sian, A Sporting Chance.

As always, looking forward to reading them.  Sally

Online Shorelink Week 45

Well, yes, that actually did come round quickly as I am doing the blog a day earlier than usual so I can enjoy Mother’s Day tomorrow. I hope everyone saw my advance notice of this temporary change in procedure but if you send in a late piece on Kate’s suggested theme of Hearth and Home, fear not, it will be sent round and filed with the others.

We had such a nicely nostalgic piece sent in involving a childhood escapade with a gang of young boys smoking furtively in a tumbledown cottage in woodland – definitely Enid Blyton stuff (if you don’t know who she was, shame on you). Another warm-hearted one had Nan and her granddaughter resolutely waiting for Grandad’s return from the trenches while holding to a firm belief that love is stronger than war. And yet another had happy memories surpassing even death, although in a rather grumpy way, as the ghost of the previous owner of a house watched the present owner destroying everything she had loved while ‘modernising’ her beloved home.

One tale was more about mother-hate than mother-love, though, a hair-raising story of a woman taking her abhorrence of her absconded husband out on her son, this was chilling indeed, right through to the ghoulish ending.  But I was then cheered up by two great stories  arriving soon after, one concerning an amusing misunderstanding on the subject of garden gnomes and another reminding us older members of the Man from the Pru  though in this case, it was a woman collecting the weekly dibs and meeting sundry eccentrics along the way..

Two other pieces had a riotous time envisaging the fantasised career of one member as a successful Shakespearean thespian, much fun for us all as they outdid each other in non-iambic puns. Which brings me neatly to our brilliant poets. There was a splendid, long and positively Byronesque, epic about lust and love, full of colourful, swirling images. Another mused on the comfort of renting ones hearth and home, as opposed to buying, and one more was a deeply thoughtful reflection on the infinity of ancestry.

Two of us were inspired to write about birds, there was a charming story told by Joey the Blue Budgie as he teased the household cat, and another by a jackdaw who was feeling slightly misunderstood. And a fascinating piece on Arundella, once the historic home of Edward Heath and now (though post-lockdown, I imagine) opened to the public with its magnificent memorabilia and treasures from all over the world. This was illustrated for us and made me want to scoot up to Salisbury for a visit immediately.

So the usual captivating variety. Now I should say at this point that we have one more which came in earlier today from a conscientious member writing on a train whilst keeping her two dogs under control – who needs fiction? But sadly, I haven’t quite managed to interpret it all yet, though I have emailed it round. I shall have a go later, as such a heroic attempt deserves our attention and applause, I reckon!

Once more, thank you all, and especially Kate for providing the theme. Many thanks also to those of you who have sent me more themes – I have a list compiled now which should see us through for a while, which is quite a relief to me. I have chosen another of Kate’s for this week, and it is Dangerous Waters.

I confidently expect to be thrilled, chilled, and amused.   Sally

Online Shorelink Week 44

A delightfully mixed bag this week, the theme was A White Lie, and, as always, it was optional, but it did provoke a broad variety of reaction from those who chose to use it.   Among those, I was highly entertained by the werewolf, keeping his urges under control with daily medication in a Russian sanatorium, and the American Lieutenant with absolute disregard for the lives of his men, who gets his comeuppance in a totally unexpected twist at the end of his story.

The phantom snowman, as is his wont, melted much too quickly, I was sure he had more to tell us. Perhaps another time?  Two of the pieces were reflections on the pros and cons of the white lie, perhaps especially the universal Santa Claus one so often told to children. Some of the contributions were deeply thought provoking, perhaps especially the brilliantly imagined one recalling the transporting of Jews to Hitler’s death camps. And there was a clever and timely reminder that slavery can, and does, still take place – and often right under our noses.

Of the several off-theme submissions, the recent ICU experience of one of our members (happily now back with us!) is described in the sort of detail that could be a case of ‘too much information’ – except he managed to make it hilarious! Well done indeed. And we had a highly amusing skit on both the Hollywood view of ancient history and the current recalibration of our knowledge on who built them. There was also a really charming story, even if it was starring a dead duck, in which our resident punster excelled himself.

I know I have said it before, but we are so fortunate with our poets. I could hear all the sounds of the sea mentioned in one, and in another was fascinated by the beachcombers mystifying find. Back on theme, one poem explored the possibility of absolution for a lie told to spare another from heartbreak. And there was an incredible poem using The Lord of the Dance as a framework, taking us gloriously through the whole of the Christian theology.

Thank you again for sharing your talents so imaginatively. Lockdown has certainly not dimmed Shorelinker’s creativity. Three more weeks until our Easter break, and next week’s theme has been suggested by Kate and is Hearth and Home. Enjoy.

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 43

This week’s theme was Fear of Flying and inspired an unusual amount of autobiographical writing. One of our member’s career as a flight attendant was celebrated in a delightful true story describing how comforting a nervous passenger led to a lifelong friendship with an influential politician. Fascinating indeed, though I was relieved to know they were of the same political persuasion.

Politics are theoretically out of bounds as a Shorelink subject, but who could not forgive the description of the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un as of two obese dictators with bad haircuts? That crept into a wide ranging piece which also remembered farmers objecting to the low flying aircraft of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Apparently they frightened the cattle. Right. Truth, I guess, is often stranger than fiction.

WW2 was also the background for a story, way off theme, about the bombing of a Hastings hotel and one man’s heroism, and also of an affectionate memory of childhood holidays driving through Europe. These reminded one member of her father’s post-war fear of flying, happily not passed onto her as she is just waiting for lockdown to end before going gliding – good on you, Kate!

Unusually, we only had one poem this week, but it brilliantly took us into the realms of a scary Orwellian future.  And. talking of scary, as someone who hates flying, I was surprised to find how many others share that feeling. Certainly the frustrated spouse of the member who has resisted long years of efforts to get her airborne. I think the advice of one contributor to look fear in the eye will be wasted on her. Yet another describes the sheer anxiety and paraphernalia of travelling and the comparative joy of opting for a local resort. Of course, there might not be as many choices of venue in the foreseeable future anyway, given these strange times we are living through.

We had some splendid stories, of course. The Angel of Desire, forced to walk everywhere by a fear of flying and impregnated with a kiss, Sid the seagull who also harboured a fear of flying, and Julia, finally on her way to achieving her life’s ambition of becoming a witch – broomstick notwithstanding.  And what about the poor girl stuck between a truly obnoxious couple on a long flight, finally rescued and seated in Business Class – do hope she enjoyed the champagne, she deserved it.

And a final musing on how much would have been different if no-one and nothing ever flew – from planes, to birds, to insects, how different the world would have been. An interesting thought. Good old Leonardo da Vinci? Or…?

As always, thank you all. If you are all happy to do so, we will continue until the end of March, and then break for a couple of weeks over Easter. I think it is unlikely we will be able to meet indoors again until the autumn at the earliest, but here’s hoping we will manage some outdoor meetings before then.

In the meantime, keep writing. Next week’s theme is a white lie.

Sally.

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