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

Online Shorelink Week 10

I sat in the garden this afternoon reading through this week’s contributions and found myself ruminating on what a gifted bunch of writers you Shorelinkers are. Well, OK, I knew that anyway, but sitting in the sun reading through 18 pieces, one after the other, I was metaphorically blown away by the sheer variety of this week’s work. The theme was Waking up in a cave with no memory, and nearly everyone chose to do that.

It inspired an unusual amount of poetry, nearly half of the submissions, and much of that was quite beautiful as well as deeply thoughtful. There was an eerie, expressively illustrated, reflection on our presently invisible cities, but the same writer also sent an uplifting elegy to a gorgeous rose. And perhaps that rather sums up the breadth of our feelings at the moment.

We received a heart wrenching threnody describing the plunge into blackness caused by the death of the person you love the most, and the slow reaching for the light, which reached deep into the emotions of many of us.

We mused on at a delightfully abstract fantasy of a purple haired girl in a veil, pondered on the spirit of the Shaman working through the cave painter, and were caught up in a long poem which turned the theme on its head by speaking of the memories of caves, which led to an essay on the meaning of suffering, whilst questioning if there actually was any meaning.

Of course, we had the lighter stuff as well. A great comedic look at the Beatles and Cilla’s first gigs at the Cavern, an ironic take on the advent of Covid 20 followed by Armageddon, and a perfect terrible (but funny!) pun combining cheese and bears in caves. (Work it out for yourself!) And a great skit of the current recreational cult of Escape Rooms.

Our moose hero was in great action man form, but happily still surviving, and we left another male protagonist with a naked lady in a cave (did I imagine something fishy going on here?!). Both of these stories are to be continued, we are told…

Our newest member gave us a nice melding of fact and fiction, set in WW2, and we left yet another cavorting in a cave with a friendly dragon named Basil – what else, indeed? And yet another used the caveman theme to send up some of his fellow members – hopefully they enjoyed it! In fact, we were treated to our usual agreeably eccentric miscellany of offerings.

As you know, this Monday is a Bank holiday, which has little meaning at the moment, but in normal times would have meant we were not meeting. So I thought perhaps a short break might still be good for us all, and am not setting a theme for this coming week. I will, however, ask Alan, whose workshop it would have been the week after, to choose the new theme for the following week , beginning June 1st.

I hope that is OK with everyone. Thank you all for your writing, your support for me and each other, and your wonderful continuing friendship and constant encouragement. You and your writing help to make this lockdown bearable.

See you next Sunday, when I will send out Alan’s theme.    Sally

Online Shorelink Week Nine

Jacquie set this week’s theme, and she chose: I have seen something very strange in the local woods.  As most of you know, Ro and I walk our dogs every day in our huge local woods so I was delighted and intrigued by this, and it certainly did fire up our collective imaginations. The stories and poems ranged from the horrific to the humorous, and reading through them this afternoon was a hugely pleasurable task.

I began with Jacquie’s own brilliantly written woodland sightings, both actual and illusory, deliberately very unsettling stuff. Then I was plunged into a romantic poetic fantasy, which like so much of the work this week, whisked me from classical mythology to traditional fairy tales. Beautiful.

There were several references to the Teddy Bears Picnic, including a hilarious updating of the song, and a wonderfully ironic take on traditional fairy tales which finished with a bald Rapunzel – I can’t get that image out of my head, poor woman!

Another journey through folklore was also a contemplation of the gifts of solitude which choosing a rural existence can bestow. And the dogs! Oh, yes, dogs featured largely in these contributions. I guess they are so much a part of wood-walking, but who knew what a Chug was until today? Apparently it is a cross between a Chihuahua and a Pug, and in one charming story it disappeared briefly, with its owner some weeks later discovering it had used the time to father a litter of .look-alikes. I think there is a pun in there somewhere but I can’t quite get to it!

Quite a few of the contributions were poems, which ranged from thoughtful musings to   seeing the woods through children’s eyes and also contemplating their more primal aspects. And one paid tribute to Hastings Jack in the Green festival, made world famous this year by going virtual, an unexpected lockdown bonus.

Our resident comedians really found their stride here , from the wood-living would-be super-hero (with a somewhat risqué name) planning a sky dive without a parachute while relying on flapping his long artificial arms, to another claiming aristocratic descent from King Erwig the Average. And I have only just realised, as the moose fighters prepare the technology to decamp to the moon, that the moose are addicted to chocolate!

And inevitably some very creepy stories – there be monsters in them thar’ woods…

Thank you all, such fun! And for so much really luminous writing.

Next week’s theme is Waking in a cave with no memory. And as the following week is theoretically another Bank Holiday I was going to suggest we take a week’s break and restart on June 1st when I will ask Alan to choose the theme. Let me know if that is OK with you all. In the meantime, I look forward to next week’s contributions.

Sally

 

 

Online Shorelink Week Eight

As most of you know, I save your submissions as they come in during the week, and sit down to read them all before embarking on this blog. I have just read all seventeen pieces, and I have laughed a lot, admired a great deal, and been left with the definite feeling that Shorelink is even more collectively bonkers after eight weeks of lock-down than before. In the best possible way, of course! The given theme of We’ll meet again, which had a certain inevitability on this 75th anniversary of VE Day, proved to be inspirational in unexpected ways.

Now where to begin, having been somewhat overwhelmed with your inventiveness? There were definitely more poems than usual.  A profound musing on the infinity of love was very moving, as was the ode to the long awaited returning soldier father. We had a quite delightful ballad to young love, telling of both the yearning and the fulfilment.

This was counter-balanced with a shadowy, rather creepy rumination on the unstable nature of life. But I was cheered by the nicely prosaic recitation of a love lost but happily then substituted with another, and also the glorious play on words by the same writer beguiling us with a loose moose in the hoose. Which brings me to our long running moose story, of course, and this week saw the blossoming of romance between the two main characters, a respite from the warfare. But we were plunged back into violence by another piece was an essay in betrayed friendships and revenge, with only a tiny spark of hope illuminating it.

However, never let it be said we are not versatile in our group. The kebab shop owner was hilariously and horribly brought to life (whale meat again indeed!), and another was definitely Shorelink’s answer to 50 Shades of Grey – or perhaps, pink, in this case? A nostalgic ramble down memory lane ended with an unexpectedly surreal flourish, and then there was  that dubiously handsome Count hanging around a young lady in a casino. Possibly to be (gruesomely?) continued, this one?

There was a suspicious-looking preacher who led us, and his target, down an unexpected alleyway, and a totally off the wall sketch involving an unnamed royal (who just might have borne some slight resemblance to the heir to the throne), who runs over his mother’s corgi and then tries to get an illegally immigrated genii to resurrect it. I do hope I have done it justice!

One of our members could not disguise his irrepressible life-long optimism (we are definitely all doomed) and gave us an essay on how the Covid plague was all our own fault and would undoubtedly finish us off. Just to cheer us up, in this time of revelry, I guess! But, to prove that some of us are still cheerful , a charming story of a chance meeting of four young people on a train conjured up the courage and the hope of the war years. Much of which has been revived in this present crisis, I think. But then, like Anne Frank, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

And that feeling is emphasised and embellished for me every week as your incredible and often outlandish contributions come in. Keep them coming. Jacquie was going to do this week’s workshop (swapping with me) so I have asked her to choose next week’s theme, and she has suggested: I’ve seen some very strange things in the local woods.

I reckon that one should get you going! Sally

 

 

Online Shorelink Week Seven

This week’s theme was What’s that Sound? and unsurprisingly several of the poems mentioned the Thursday night clap, when most of the country goes outside to clap and shout and generally raise a cheer for our beleaguered but heroic NHS workers. One of the hardest parts of this lockdown is giving the week some structure, and that national celebration is welcome landmark on our somewhat bland horizons. This week was special indeed as those of us who stood in the rain applauding were rewarded with the sight of a wonderful, vivid rainbow – the sign of hope from ancient times.

Hope was reflected, not only directly in some of the pieces, but happily also in the humour and downright absurdity of much of the work. The father trying and failing to shut out his children’s voices on a long car journey and the wonderfully eccentric brother, who when not blowing up the garage was filling it with hungry reptiles, were two examples of this. A wonderful, humorous, duologue, set presumably somewhere in the 50’s, on the merits (or otherwise) of the radio programme Housewives Choice, took daftness to new levels, as did the tragic-comic poem of the amputated toe.  And hard not to love our favourite fantasy character, Tac, slowly learning to read and too shy to ask his young wife where babies come from. A treat indeed.

We had plenty of action, as well. Terrorists in the desert foiled by a drone, the moose hunters practicing martial arts, as well as the animal population fighting off a black bear. Of course, we had our serious side as well. An enigmatic reflection on the quality of silence, golden or otherwise, and a beautiful poem on the loneliness of bereavement, as well as another poignant but hopeful one on a similar theme. And a quite brilliant scream on the inherent anguish of being born female.

I am, as so often, blown away by the variety and quality of your work. Thank you all. Tomorrow is theoretically a Bank Holiday, only relevant because we would not have been meeting, so, ergo – no set theme. So Ro and I decided that, in view of the upcoming 75th anniversary of VE day, and the inevitably somewhat muted commemoration, there was only one possible theme.

Yes, you’ve guessed it: We’ll meet again.   What else could we possibly come up with?

Until we actually can, and do – I am looking forward to reading all your contributions, which are helping to make the lockdown bearable! Thank you all. Sally