Online Shorelink Week 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sally

Online Shorelink Week 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Shorelink Week 18

This week’s theme was The Fortune Teller, and if I had to sum up the week’s contributions I would think the overriding description would be a entertaining cynicism regarding prophecy! Though having said that, there were also some quite lovely and introspective pieces. But I think I will start with the doubters, whose work caused me much amusement

Who could not love the bridegroom in Ancient Rome who used his granddad to extricate him from an unwanted wedding by means of some timeless trickery? Deception featured large in the stories, one poor woman was robbed of her jewellery whilst believing she had found romance, and another two girls were persuaded of their seer’s authenticity when she gave them information she could not possibly known. Unless, of course, she had sat behind them on the bus earlier, listening to their conversation!

Not all our writers were so sceptical. One lady, who prided herself on having tricked a clairvoyant, found the prophesy had come true after all, and yet another seeker, in a delightful twist, married his soothsayer. And yet another, fed up with having that job with his travelling fair, suddenly found he did indeed ‘have the gift’ and was able to enrich himself and his customers.

A young American girl, disillusioned by the awareness that the medium she was consulting was actually her teacher, eventually came to realise through the encounter, that you are in charge of your own life. A good lesson to learn early, I reckon. Another fairground visit ended more enigmatically but optimistically. Only one of our stories figured a male physic, which I found interesting.

We read about an elderly lady on a visit to Gretna Green who accidentally finds she has fulfilled one prophecy, and waits with bated breath to see if another will come true. And a very creepy tale of a brother and sister confronted by an ancient mystic in the dark graveyard. Another piece from the moose hunter’s novel told us more about one of the characters past and how she became involved in the battle.

Another piece paid lip service to the theme with some wonderful puns, but was essential a serious factual piece concerning the history and construction of the Mount Rushmore carvings, and the incredible new ones that are currently being worked on. Illustrated for us, it was interesting and relevant in this time of so much racial controversy about monuments and statues.

As always, we have received some wonderful poems – I am still reeling from the extraordinary Fortune Teller’s AGM, the haunting and lyrical depiction of the power of flowers (both good and bad) and the beautiful and mystical poem with its exploration of the term Seer. And how could you not love, and remember,  A gift from me is always a gift for me, a phrase to cherish, surely? Then there was the school girl mulling on whether wrong can occasionally be right, and a storming one on the destruction of our local habitat. I feel the urge to quote again from that one: All done in the name of mendacious cataclysmic cupidity. Couldn’t resist that!

I wish I could do justice to all your work. But I can say thank you,  Shorelinkers, one and all, your imaginations and talent certainly light up our locked down world. Next week, again from Alan’s list, I have picked A dream come true for our theme. I hope you will be inspired by it.

Sally

 

Online Shorelink Week 17

I often find myself searching for new adjectives when doing this blog, and the one that comes into my head today is not one I ever expected to use but seems to describe better than anything else my reaction to this week’s submissions. I was, and am, totally gobsmacked! The standard and the range of the subjects and the expertise of the writing left me reeling.

Quite a few of us burst into verse; nine out of the twenty three pieces were poems. Our theme this week was Thanks for the memory, and perhaps the very phrase has poetic connotations. The verses took many forms and subjects. The first contribution was a Haiku scrawled on the back of an envelope; I loved the immediacy of this as well as the subject, in praise of ever changing nature. Nature figured largely in several of the works, possibly because one of few benefits the lockdown is that we have had more time to admire the beauty in our world.

Some of the poems were wonderfully nostalgic, celebrating childhood memories in their different but immensely comforting ways. There were others conjuring memories of a love, not lost, but still joyfully cherished in the heart and mind even thought the object of it was no longer with us. And there were some darker ones, one foreseeing a barren world bereft of wildlife and greenery, and another pondering on the hold abusers have over their victims. And another wickedly chilling one, taking us into an underworld of treachery and deceit.

Which brings me to another black and brilliant piece, this one based on real and current happenings. Not often talked or written about, this was a vivid and disturbing portrayal of female genital mutilation, still rife among so many cultures in our world today. I am pleased we have our serious side and are never afraid to share it.

We do have a lighter side, of course, after all this is Shorelink, our motto Laughter is an essential part of the creative process! To illustrate this, delightful fantasy around the Loch Ness monster, a childhood treasure found long ago and unexpectedly restored, and a glorious trip to the Albert Hall – by limousine, no less!– and a playlist of wonderful music that is ringing in my ears as I read it.

Two skits of mother/daughter relationships, one hilariously ending in matricide, the other a somewhat more thoughtful and sensitive reflection as a 100th birthday is celebrated with mixed feelings. There was a very funny rant about mask wearing by some bank robbers about to be forced into retirement by this now virtually mandatory face covering, and, without going into too many details, another about the lack of toilet facilities nowadays at the sea side. As the writer asks plaintively, what is a swimmer to do…?! One piece managed to combine a local history lesson with some terrible puns, and yet another took us up a mountain and through a heart transplant before delivering the punch line! Great stuff, everyone.

On to those of us who are writing longer pieces, Alice’s continental adventure seems to me to be getting creepier by the minute (run girl, run!) while our Moose adventure has reached Chapter 13, and characters we thought we could trust have become rather enigmatic. And in another, Lucy is reunited with her brother, but the trail of bloodstained bodies grows. Eat your heart out, 007!

And we had a charming piece marking 72 years of our NHS. Quite right, too.  So where next as we have finally come to the end of the summer programme? Well. Alan sent me a list of themes and I have picked   The Fortune Teller from them. I hope you approve and find it inspiring.

And so, on to Week 18!  Sally.

 

Online Shorelink Week 16

Week 16 and onward we go, with the likelihood of resuming physical meetings still somewhere in the shrouded future. What strange times. But we have already gathered together a body of writing as varied and excellent as in any time in our 25 year history, and no doubt will continue to do so. Which brings me quite neatly to this week’s submissions. Our interpretations of the theme of A Pinch of Salt were typically wide ranging.

I began by reading a brilliant skit on life in Ancient Brittania,as an occupying Tribune describes in a letter to Caesar his reasons for being unable to civilise such a moronic outpost– great stuff! And, staying in the distant past, I then moved on to poem relating the reasons for some of our ‘first of the month’ chants. Who knew that Pinch, punch, first of the month, was all about chucking salt at witches to banish them? I certainly didn’t and was fascinated.

Several of the stories wandered into the dark side, though there was a fun take on a would-be 007, but more seriously another which had a serial wife beater and adulterer caught with some impressively modern technology, and a very creepy one involving a magician and some ants. And I haven’t mentioned the jumble sale murder yet, or the extremely unsettling piece set in a mental hospital featuring a newly qualified psychologist. To say nothing of the copper looking for the grave of his murdered sister.

It wasn’t all blood and thunder, in spite of a duologue that projected a scenario where happiness died with the halcyon days of the 70’s and 80’s (thereby proving some of our writers are very young!). There was a hilarious tragicomedy concerning a conversation between pigs and bacon, and a delightful story of two young pen friends meeting for the first time. Also a sortie back to the Battle of Britain with a thought provoking twist in the tale, and another which gave a nod to the supernatural. And not to forget  the salt hunt with multiple animals in the woods – sadly unresolved!

And the poems! Oh, yes, they deserve their own accolade. So many, so uplifting, so beautiful. the haunting mermaid on the beach, the delightful and optimistic reflection ending whatever you reap, you already sowed, and the succinct advice to take life with a pinch of salt and a swig of your favourite alcohol! The words to describe the poetic protest of the reincarnated duck escape me, I’m afraid, but I look forward to hearing our resident performance poet declaiming it at some future date.

There was a charming reminiscence into childhood cooking (and eating!) which conjured us back to a post-war family kitchen. And a clever and funny piece on ACDC  – no, not the band, but  the Association of Culinary Detectives Convention. You heard it here first!

And, of course, there were others that were continuing pieces. The moose battle introduced a couple of new characters and we are yet to find out if they are what they seem. And the continental adventure continues apace.

We were also treated to a very erudite essay on the work of Richard Williams, the animator, and, in particular, on his film The Thief and the Cobbler. As someone who is fascinated by the growth and influence of cinema on our culture I was really engrossed by this, as I had never made the connection with the old silent movies and so much of animation. I shall definitely be exploring that a lot more.

So, once again, thank you all. It is a privilege to be part of the group. You have decided to continue through July, and next week’s theme is Thanks for the Memory.  And so off we go again!     Sally

 

 

 

 

 

Online Shorelink Week 15

This week’s theme was It changed my Life, and, as always, it inspired some inventive writing. Some of it, inevitably, was autobiographical, for example the beautiful elegy from a widower to his partner of 33 years. It would be impossible for anyone who has suffered a similar loss not to relate to this, both in its sadness and its final acceptance.

Not all life changing experiences are so huge or so sad, of course, and many of our contributions were, as always, very funny.  I was highly amused by the lament for greater techie skills –the phrase acrimonious acronyms seemed a glorious summing up of many techie terms. To balance this, we had a really uplifting celebration from a member who has just been given a laptop. Makes you realise just how life changing this techie stuff actually is!

There was terrific story concerning  an  overconfident soul counsellor who inadvertently ruptures one of two parallel lives,  and in this other worldly context I must mention the return of Alvin Adonis, still out there stirring things up in the Universe, I’m afraid.  Another short story took us on a vigorous foray into the New World Order, not in the future, this one, but in imagined past times.

There was a spine tingling, brilliant, poem around domestic abuse, and another declaring that what changes your life is how you deal with that change. There an interesting essay musing on the truth that everything we experience, big or small, changes us, which then paid tribute the lasting legacy of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull in the writer’s life. And I simply do not know how to describe the fantastic illustrated globe of anodyne headlines which brilliantly summed up so much of our world today – and always, I suspect.

There was a bitter sweet rumination on the pro and cons of being uprooted from the country of your birth, and a fascinating account of the importance of Buddhism and trying to follow the Buddhist path in life. And a story of a demobbed soldier coming home to a changed and impoverished world- I was so relieved it had a happy ending. There was also a highly enigmatic contribution from America (yes, Shorelink has gone international!) concerning a film that changed the writer’s life – tantalisingly not naming the film!

A couple of us had music on our minds, there was a tribute to the group’s tendency to break into song on festive occasions, unfortunate as we are largely tone deaf, and a delightful take on the lock down to the tune of Dusty’s I just don’t know what to do with myself. (If you don’t know it, shame on you – look it up!)

We were treated to a hilarious reinvention of the biography of Atilla the Hun (don’t ask!), and another episode in the battle with the moose – our heroine lives! And Alice, our continental traveller, seems to be getting more and more out of her depth, I fear for her safety in the next instalment.

We also had a lyrical tribute midsummer’s day, beautifully illustrated. And I have left until last the lovely tribute to Shorelink and all our members, because I was so moved by it. Thank you. And indeed, once again, thank you all.

Kate has chosen our theme for next week and it is: A Pinch of Salt.  That should make for some tasty submissions. (Sorry, couldn’t resist it!)      Sally.

 

Online Shorelink Week 14

I knew when I saw that Debbie’s theme for the week was ‘What if’,  that we would have some fun with that, and I was not disappointed.  Reading through the week’s contributions, I have been amused, educated, enlightened and thoroughly entertained. Where to begin among so much excellence – and without running out of adjectives?!

Perhaps with the reworking of history. Following a reflection on how much the country would have changed if the Battle of 1066 had been won by Harold, there was a splendidly heroic reimagining of that battle, embodying a considerable amount of research. And who knew that the site was once called The Grey Apple Tree? Certainly not me.

A couple of longer pieces left us on cliff hangers, the whereabouts of the heroine of the Moose saga unknown, and the baby dragon in the elegiac forest facing… well, hopefully we shall find out in the next instalment. Our continental traveller was given a brief break while we visited a very strange village, and another writer took us on a bear hunt.

We Shorelinkers have a running joke concerning one member’s obsession with nuns (the result of a Catholic education?) and this was poetically parodied hilariously. There were two poems envisaging a world reborn, one saw perfection and the other was a retrospective on wishes made and the possibility or desirability of changing them. Food for thought?  There was also an amusing and thought provoking poem on the Witness Protection Programme. And illustrating the range and capability of our members, one submission was a dark, gripping story of abuse and fear, which was so brilliant it was hard to shake off.

There was charming article on the received behaviour of humans and the sometimes inbuilt restrictions that stop us achieving our true potential, and oh yes, yet another story from our favourite punster involving nuns ( OK . it was very funny).  And a rather clever 2 line summing up of the causes of the pandemic.

The student with the maths problem was an autobiographical tale and I loved the equation it finished with: 20mt+i=story. A brilliant and affectionate summing up of the Shorelink workshops! Another true story was the delightful journey through early romances to a long and happy marriage. And yet another which I suspect of being factual was not only an interesting wander though the writer’s earlier experiences but a fascinating take on gender and privilege.

It is quite impossible in these brief blogs to sum up the versatility and talent that comes in every week. In some ways, it has been even more highlighted by our online efforts than ever. Though I shall be SO pleased to see you all again eventually!

But for now, on to next week, when the theme will be: It changed my life.

And off we go again! Sally

 

Online Shorelink Week 13

At the time of the New Moon, this week’s theme, provoked an even greater mix of facts and fiction than usual. Reading though the pieces this afternoon I found myself reflecting, not for the first time, on the diversity of our group.

Several of us were fascinated by the different names for the moon, though there was one lament that our English moon is nameless, if you discount Luna, which is Roman. We were invited to put this right, and I am still running through various possible options, from Boadicea onward. I think that thought leads me seamlessly (almost!) to the fantasy about Queen Nicola of a subjugated England, though that has implanted the image of the writer in a tartan kilt which I could do without. Och aye!

Among the various facts and figures I was interested to hear about a piece of homework, once set in a primary school, which involved drawing 30 squares and then looking at the shape of the moon every night for next month and sketching it in the boxes. What a brilliantly simple idea for learning about the moon – and why didn’t I have teachers like that?!

I was gripped by the (I think) true story of a group of women praying by the light of the moon and some candles, this was powerful stuff. I was struck by how similar the supposedly primitive rites were to the Catholic Easter Vigil, also reliant on the phases of the moon, of course.

The moon’s super powers dominated several of the stories, we found ourselves back in Gensing Park with the lay lines, (I must go and explore!), had the perfectly delightful conclusion of William’s adventure, and watched fearfully with an 11 year old boy as the moon threatened to implode and shatter our planet.   We also had a story of young love which ended on a cliff hanger; I do hope there will be a Part 2? And Daphne continues her slightly salacious continental adventure while her friend Alice is on a more timorous path – also to be continued! And I must not forget the intervention of Rosie the moon fairy.

There were some quite beautiful poems, several which described exquisitely the glorious effect of the moon on the writer. Beautiful indeed. And a longer, quite stunning one, which visualised the moon as an infant reluctantly starting on an as yet unimagined journey.

Thank you all. Such really superb writing. And so to Week 14, and Debbie, whose workshop it should have been, has set the theme, below, in italics:

What if …’

Imagine an alternate reality for an event in your personal history, perhaps something you wish you’d done differently, a path not taken.

Or write an alternative reality for an event in history, or for the behaviour of a prominent historical character.

Or anything else…

Thanks, Debbie! I imagine we will have some fun with that. ! Looking  forward to reading them all.

Heads down and pens at the ready…    Sally xx

 

Online Shorelink Week 12

The contributions came in thick and fast this week, inspired by Alan’s theme – described in my previous blog. I think there were rather more aliens than murderers, though it was a close run thing, and a lot of rather amiable aliens which was a comfort.  And I would like to begin by saying what a pleasure it was to welcome back two of our number who have been absent for a while due to health reasons, and I am sure I speak on behalf of our whole group.

Where to start when trying to sum up the work? With some rather splendid poems I think. I loved the Gothic morality tale, and also the delicate musing on humanity’s state, and was deeply moved by threnody outlining the difficulty of adjusting to a new life, but was heartened by the glimmer of hope at the end. There was a delightful and uplifting take on the lock-down via Auden’s Stop all the clocks, and a sad meditation on the fall of a sparrow.

I enjoyed the time travelling grandson and the dry reaction of his relative, which was mirrored humorously in a couple of other pieces, and also the charming tale set in Gensing Park which had the added bonus of filling us in on some fascinating history. And who could not enjoy the suggestion of a pandemic virus spreading love around the world– bring it on! Or the deliberately laborious path of one member from imagining an alien invasion to a simply terrible pun?

It wasn’t all space invaders, we had some impressive murder stories as well, one with an excellent twist in the tale, and another presenting us with a conundrum, ie could the unseen witness to a gruesome killing simply pretend he had seen nothing, or report it and thereby  become inevitably involved.

Two of our writers, in engagingly different ways, envisaged an alien sent to save us from ourselves, interestingly one of these was the only female alien. Food for thought? There was a hilarious description of one huge extraterrestrial being crammed into a Morris Minor, and another about creatures from outer space kidnapping and then returning human women – this was surely a Chapter One to be continued?! (Sorry, that’s an in-joke’!) And we await the next instalment of the latest wonderful William stories that we all love so much.

In fact several of our group are going for the long haul, there was the second instalment of the story concerning the cult in the forest and the mannequin in the stream, the third chapter of the European mystery, and the latest update in the battle to defeat the moose – how’s that for diversity?!

Great stuff, everyone! Next week’s theme is At the time of the new moon. Did I just hear a wolf howling…?

Virtual hugs to all from Sally

 

Online Shorelink Week 11

As the group is aware, there was no Online Shorelink Week 11 as the administrator (OK, it’s me) decided to skive off for a few days. However, I am now returning to the fray, refreshed, energised and looking forward to reading this week’s contributions.

Alan has provided us with the theme for Online Shorelink Week 12:

ALAN’S WORKSHOP FOR  JUNE 1st, 2020:

With a busy working week it’s important to have a hobby that takes you to a different place and pace. Something relaxing, in the wilds of the country, so quiet even the wildlife do not know you’re there. A keen angler hidden in thick bushes, witnesses the murder of a man by two others in a small motorboat. What happens next? 

Or

In a Scottish forest, snugly hidden in your bird hide you’re in paradise. You have seen more rare owls, hawks, eagles in one week than you have seen in a lifetime. With dusk making things dim a pale green light grow brighter and brighter, hurting your eyes. Into the clearing, seemingly stepping out of the green radiance stands an alien. The size of a large human man, it slowly scans the landscape, it can’t see you can it? Tell me more. 

 Or

Your idea

  Thanks, Alan   Interesting!       Sally