Online Shorelink Week Six

This week’s theme, which most of the group followed, was Winner Takes All, and, as you might expect the contributions ranged from the comic to the heart-wrenching. The beautiful weather and the flowering of this glorious spring obviously inspired some of the pieces, proving once again that it takes more than an outbreak of plague to dampen the Shorelink spirit.

I think I shall begin by mentioning some of the stories that were rooted in nature. Who could resist the tale of the nearly tame hedgehog, trotting (do hedgehops trot?) up to a back door every night for her supper, not only un-phased by a thieving fox but eventually bringing her offspring to the garden café? And this was illustrated by a charming photograph of Mrs Tiggywinkle and her progeny. Wonderful stuff!

One of our members treated us to eleven Haiku’s, and another impressive picture, this time of a seagull. Yet another gave us a fable on the nature of evil, sadly attributed to mortals and their affinity with killing. To balance this was a delightful, true account of a carer making a game out of self isolating for  her charges with learning difficulties, which led the writer into a paean of praise for the way the majority of people have reacted to the present difficulties, a convergence that perhaps our country badly needed.

One more true story was about the coming together of special needs children at a sports day, and their instinctive bonding with the loser, waiting, helping, and then crossing the finishing line together with linked arms. An essay in the power of love and empathy. Not sure the same could be said about the poem where two naughty sisters tricked their brother into an embarrassing outing – but even there the mutual love shone through.

There were some splendid stories, a delightfully sinister one of an embryo gambler not quite losing his circus of animals, a highly amusing one of a failed matricide and the unexpected consequences, and totally off-the-wall (so Shorelink!) set in the land of Agogagog about (wait for it) the Leather Workers Best Dressed Goblin Competition. Is there no end to your imaginative talents? Well, obviously not, as this was followed by one set in the land of Zimzim-Zamador peopled by angels and devils conjured up by their bored prince.

Then Chapter 11 of our favourite Moose story left us wondering who is watching our hero, Ryan? And, indeed, why?  I am sure we will be enlightened soon. And we had another chapter in the ongoing novel set at the turn of the century – always a good read. We had our more serious side. I loved the poetic musing on the workers on the Bayeux Tapestry, and the somewhat less poetic musing on mortality from a member of the group facing a very minor operation

I had just sat down to do this blog when we had a domestic catastrophe, and it was 90 minutes before I resumed, so forgive me if this is a bit patchy, but to sum up the week’s work, as always, you did good! Thank you.

Looking forward already to receiving next weeks, and Dan has chosen the theme, which is: What’s that sound? I can almost hear those little grey cells gearing up!

Sally

Online Shorelink Week Five

I can hardly believe we are in the fifth week of this lockdown, in fact I had to look back at our web site to check. I think I probably speak for the whole group when I say that Shorelinkers have definitely brightened our days with all the submissions for this week’s theme, The Music of my Life.

The theme lends itself to reminiscence and one of the bonuses has been learning new things about each other. Two of our members wrote about parents involved in Am Dram and music hall and the legacy of musical memory’s that this left their offspring. Also another two of you belonged to groups in the 60’s and 70’s, happily both successful enough to look back on with affection.

We had a variety of poems, a charming piece about a schoolgirl using phantom music lessons to avoid the hated physics ones, and a bitter sweet one of a waiting for the right partner.  Also a short piece describing a musical farewell to a lost love. And on this theme, our moose story diverted into new territory with a thoughtful  look at relationships, both romance and bromance

Spring played a huge part in our writing this week. Somewhat ironically, as so many people are restricted and having to stay indoors, we are having a glorious spring. We are lucky enough to have artists in our group and we were gifted from one of them with two wonderful drawings of bluebells this week, as well as a riveting fantasy poem about a thousand antlered deer. And there was another song of spring beautifully summing up the annual unfolding of nature.

There was fun as well, of course.  A story of the chiming of music and nature which was also full of hidden musical references – clever stuff, that! And another that held us to the very end before revealing that the chief protagonist was only six years old! Yet another took us to a virtual pub quiz – a popular way of meeting friends at the moment – and the quizzers Eurovision experience of null point!  A splendid black comedy about Physcho-killer was finally revealed to be a dream, phew!

A couple of you were enthusiastic enough to send me two pieces, one pair, in their different ways, thanking everyone who is helping us through these daunting times, and the other pair, a much more cynical poem on the origins of Covid 19 and a pastiche on the music of Status Quo.  All human life (and opinions) are welcome, at Shorelink!

So, onward and upwards we go. Next week’s theme is Winner takes all, and the following week I will ask Dan, whose workshop it should have been, to set the theme.

As always, thank you all. Your commitment to the group means more than I can say.  Sally

Online Shorelink Week Four

I guess this is the strangest Easter Day that most of us, or possibly all of us, have ever had. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we have almost all managed to wish each other  A Happy Easter, and reading through this week’s submissions today, with thanks to the same technology,  certainly provided me with a special celebratory lift. So thank you, Shorelinkers! Which brings me neatly to the week’s theme, set for us by Ana.  It was simple and inspiring. Write a thank you letter to someone, anyone, and be creative. And my goodness, you were.

One of us decided to thank every member the group for being there –with a single sentence outlining their virtues (and quirks!). It was a delight, funny but also truthful and heart warming. Another was a tribute to the vivid imagination of a member who entertains us weekly with his animal stories, and their somewhat over-enthusiastic feasts! And there was a  very clever alphabetical piece praising the glories of nature.

As nearly always, the humorous contributions outweighed the more serious, which rather reflects our real-life meetings, I think. After all, our motto is Laughter is an essential part of the creative process, and whether or not you agree, it works for us! Three letters from outrageous and mercifully fictional firms dealing (or not!) with some positively surrealistic complaints made me quite literally cry with laughter, brilliant stuff. And the paean of praise for the architect-designed pyramid which was to incarcerate the Egyptian mother-in-law from hell was hilarious. As was the forced naivety of the gruesomely murderous wife, to say nothing of the sacrificial offer to the ‘Holy Pope ‘. Probably best to gloss over that one in these politically correct times

Some were more serious. A beautiful unfinished fable, (looking forward to reading the rest of that),  an existential look at endangered species and creativity,  and two separate tributes to the  person in the writer’s life who had inspired them both to read and to write. And a beautiful and thought provoking ode to the ocean and the human abuse of it.

Our moose story continues, with a very apposite argument between the Chicken – I wondered if that was just coincidence? Either way, it worked well. I must also mention the funny and highly inventive thank you to the English language – and so say all of us!

I hardly like to add yet another vote of thanks, but I shall anyway – to Ana for coming up with the theme and for all of you for rising to the challenge of it.  Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday, of course, but you need not think I am letting off the hook. No chance. Ro and I have set next week’s theme: The music of my life. Interpret it in any way you like – a favourite piece of music, a piece that changed your life, or the music that reflects various periods of your life – oh, come on, you know what I am saying. Heads down, enjoy- I look forward to reading them all.    Sally.

 

Online Shorelink Week Three

This week’s theme was Once I was 7 years old, though on my advance notice I accidentally put weeks instead of years which, as it turned out, suited a couple of us better. It is always optional anyway, but our present incarceration seems to be encouraging nearly everyone to write on subject, and this week was almost a social document in its diverse depictions of 20th century childhoods.  Many were obviously truthful reminiscences, and just to add to the mix, this was also our 500 word challenge so brevity was the order of the day, as well.

An early memory of moving from the bomb sites of Woolwich to greener Eltham was fascinating in its description of kids playing among the rubble and the half destroyed houses of post war London. They were fascinated by what was left of the houses, sometimes just one remaining ghostly wall with a picture on it. Too young to understand the tragedy of war, it was just a great playground. Riveting stuff, this.

Then came a memory of being a child in a 50’s school playground. Bit too much information here, as the writer vividly remembers falling on that horrid gavel that was compulsory in those days and inflicted nasty injured knees. The description of the removal of the torturous plasters, nearly more painful than the original wound, made my toes curl up as well as making me laugh out loud.

An early longing for a bike led us through the writer’s life in seven year bites – and she still hasn’t got one! There were several references to the 60’s, mostly recalling them swinging, of course, perhaps especially the one set in 1964 which reminded me of some long forgotten stuff. And there was a wonderful, touching tribute to a much loved but recently lost grandmother.

So many happy childhoods, you could almost see the smile on the writers face.  Not all, of course. There were a couple of very poignant poems, a heart wrenching one of a family riven by the loss of all its men, another of the disillusion of the Windrush generation, by one who was part of it..

There was an intriguing and quite extraordinary piece imagining the musing of a six week old foetus. Then a poem, perhaps not as completely comic as you might think, on the nurturing parental responsibilities that are mostly impossible to achieve. Add in a reproduced article from1875 about child chimney sweeps and you begin to appreciate the diversity of this week’s writing. Oh- I must mention the cat called Murdoch who fought with a toad – no Shorelink week is complete without a cat reference, and a couple of nonsense poems for no purpose but to make the readers smile.

I fell in love with a beautiful, lyrical story, told in the first person, of a seven hundred year old oak tree. I loved it and shall now look at the ancient oaks in our village with quite different eyes.

All this work and all in less than 500 words- you are a clever lot. Thank you – as always.

Ana, whose work shop it should have been, has chosen next week’s theme which is below:

‘Thank You Letter’: Write a letter to someone – past, present, or future – to thank them for their positive contribution to your life and the outcome (could be a family/friend, role model, invention, etc). Sarcastic/humorous versions also welcome! Fiction or non-fiction.

 Thanks, Ana – looks good to me. Keep them coming, everyone! Sally xxxxx

Online Shorelink Week 2

I confess that when I realized the subject for this reading week was The Stolen Corpse I was a bit thrown. It seemed all too apt for a world in grip of plague. But I do the programme many months ahead, of course, and whoever supplied the theme had no idea how much the world was about to be transformed. So to change or not to change was the question (sorry, bard) and on reflection I decided that Shorelinkers were a hardy lot and would deal with it, as with the virus, in their usual inimitable way. And, my goodness, you have proved me right.

We kicked off with the theft of a 95 year old man’s corpse from a funeral parlour which turned into a clever and funny pastiche on the art world. Who would have guessed this man was literally a walking Picasso? Well, only the body snatchers. And they did return the corpse, almost intact. The next stolen corpse sat next to a lady who was searching for her lost dog and was being helped by a kind stranger. Both she and we were relieved when it actually did turn out to be a kind stranger!

In fact, nearly everyone wrote on the theme. There was a fascinating true story of the grave robbers who tried to blackmail Charlie Chaplin’s widow – I vaguely remembered that; truth really can be stranger than fiction. And a wonderfully gruesome take on cannibalism from our most consistently blood-thirsty writer! This was followed by a missing corpse in a gloriously surrealistic tale –as the writer said, what do you make of that?!

There had to be an apocalyptic one, of course, and this had everything – fire, floods, pestilence and damnation but not a nun in sight (you have to be a Shorelinker to get that!) Bob’s Your Uncle apparently actually was someone’s uncle though not yet a corpse. Some of us reflected on the wildlife, a sympathetic one of a scavenging fox, an affectionate take on a marauding cat, and a play on the similarity of the words corpse and crops all added to the mix. A witty poem mused on the Frankenstein story and we were treated to some more mysterious magic in another chapter of the moose saga.

But there was some serious stuff as well. A splendid poem on the famous WW1 Christmas truce, and an extremely moving one in memoriam of the writer’s dad.  I thought one poem, was so relevant it seemed a pity not to share it on our web site so I have added it to the bottom of this blog, with thanks to Kate.

Once again, well done everyone. It will be lovely when we can all meet again, but I feel close to you all when I read your pieces. Next week’s theme (and they are always optional, of course) is Once I was 7 years old…It was to have been our Westfield week and the 500 word challenge, and I think we should try to stick to at least the 500 word challenge.

So- keep them coming! My love to you all. Sally

Kate’s poem below:

Britain’s fast becoming a nation

Of social distancing and isolation.

It goes against our natural grain

And puts us under quite a strain.

 

No cosy chats over cups of tea –

Cafes are closed and so are we –

Compelled to stay at home, we must

Be dutiful and place our trust

 

In health advisors, government chaps

And in police, for should we lapse

And venture out into the street

They’ll fine us heavily, tout de suite!

 

But wait! That may not be so bad,

Let’s not be absolutely sad,

For now we have the perfect chance

To learn a language, paint or dance –

 

Everything’s online out there,

So now we have long hours to spare

The world’s our oyster, it must be said

We might even learn to bake our own bread!

 

We might consider doing more

To help our neighbours, folk next door.

We’ll help preserve immunity

By helping the community.

 

If we have to stay at home

We can at least contact by phone

Those who are in isolation,

We could be their consolation.

 

It may well be when all is through

That planet earth begins anew.

With eyes wide open we may see

The world return to sanity

 

A world restored to life and health,

Where people matter  more than wealth.

And things that once we valued so

Like trips to sunny Mexico,

 

Foods flown half-way round the planet

To feed the greed of the human gannet

May soon be replaced with local fare

And there will be enough to share.

 

We can and must rescue this earth-

Our home – and recognize its worth.

Corona is a wake- up call

And should be heeded by us all.

 

Let’s stop the use of oil and gas

While we still can – if not, alas!

There’ll be no seasons, no night or day

Only famine, disease and decay.

Online Shorelink

As we are unable to hold physical meetings at the moment, Shorelinkers made the decision to continue our group activities online until the corona-virus is finally defeated. For this inaugural week, our theme was Guess who’s coming to dinner, though as always following the theme was optional. The contributions have been coming in thick and fast, and I have laughed and cried and been delighted with the sheer quality of the writing.

How to sum it up? Well, with great difficulty, but I shall do my best. Here goes.

Inevitably, several of the stories contained culinary references, some more bizarre than others. And there HAD to be a reference to a soggy bottom, didn‘t there? I would certainly have been disappointed otherwise but thankfully Mary Berry was only mentioned as an undesirable guest! The dinner parties described largely regarded the food as an afterthought, as you would expect, the guests were the core of the stories.

There was a heart breaking story of a family meal where a mother saw the ghost of her much loved and .long dead daughter, and a poem where the angry young son of a widowed mother tells us just how he feels about his mother’s suitor. And an unexpectedly poignant one about an aging hippy and his dog preparing for their last meal together. And, talking of last meals, there was of course, as a reflection of these strange times, a reprise of the biblical last supper. This one took place on Hastings Pier and for the assorted guests the end was definitely nigh.

This unexpected reading week replaced Mandy’s workshop which had been based on inspiring us through fairy tales, and that definitely resonated through a lot of the stories here, so your work was not totally wasted, Mandy. There was a very bloody take on Red Riding Hood, a foray into a heavily disguised but doomed Babes in the Wood, and even a party with some drunken mice! Makes you wonder a bit about our culture, doesn’t it?

There was a splendid sci fi skit on robotics, a hilarious poem about stock piling loo rolls, and a piece comparing the lack of manners by birds at the feeding tables with the current scrimmage in the supermarkets – funny but sadly all too true.

Dinner party guests included the Pope and Donald Trump – regretfully not together. Though there’s a scenario to think about! And a delightful satire on the misunderstandings caused by not letting someone finish their sentence.

Not everyone wrote on theme, the moose story revealed an unexpected expertise in boxing strategy, and there was a lovely philosophical poem. And another splendid poem on the story of Ambrogio and Siliene –if mythology is not your bag, google them!

I can only thank you all for your wonderful creativity, and for your determination not to be beaten. Onward and upwards, next week’s theme, as on the programme, is The Stolen Corpse. Agatha Christie, eat your heart out?!

Looking forward to reading them all. Sally xxxxx

 

 

Brian’s Workshop

Brian began by distributing a picture of a bridal couple, probably from the 50’s, which showed the groom holding the hand of a small child. He then gave us ten first lines from various young poets, and asked us to use one or more of these to prompt our creativity. With twenty minutes to write in, it was, as he meant it to be, challenging.

We began with a woodland tryst involving almost every animal that ever walked our woods and a few more beside and  it was an amusing and picturesque start. Then for something completely different, a poem on the nature of how we view our own image. Called The Mirror it was unsettling but deeply lyrical.

This was followed by a delightful essay consisting of a child’s memory of sitting on her father’s shoulders. The detailed description of the clothes he was wearing and the feeling of security he engendered in his daughter was poignant and endearing. To stop us becoming sentimental we were then treated to a portrait of the child in the wedding photo as a successful serial killer, having already seen off the first two wives she was already musing on despatching this third one. Great stuff – I had another peek at the picture and thought I could see a demonic gleam in the bridesmaid’s eye!

The next one suffered from being cut off as the author ran out of time (Brian was very fierce at ordering us to stop – none of this writing on through the break for him!) so we never did find out what happened to the family in the Morris Minor. So, onward and upward to a scary tale of aliens kidnapping humans and a race of half human half robots becoming a deadly combination after some creepy machinations.

There were more, of course. Memorably, the one involving a sort of Fifty Shades of Grey  scenario and a samurai sword – we are never boring at Shorelink. But we touched on ghosts, house moving, the origin of the Windsor Knot (look it up if you are that young!) and more memories, imagined or otherwise.

Thank you, Brian, that was a good evening. Next week, still at Tesco for a reading week the optional theme The Importance of Obedience.

See you there. Sally

Jenny’s Workshop

Jenny’s workshop was intriguingly entitled What really happened next? and was both challenging and great fun. She gave us some first lines from popular nursery rhymes and then asked us to choose one and rethink its usual story line. The titles ran from Old King Cole to Little Bo Peep, with Georgie Porgie and Pussy cat, Pussy cat and many others  stimulating our creative juices.

We kicked off with gusto as little green men with ray guns landed on planet earth, and imprisoned the population. We left them desperately hoping for the appearance of an empowered resistance. Jack and Jill came next and this was a lighter tale involving boy scouts and toasted marshmallows, really Enid Blyton stuff. Then came a wonderful but heart breaking piece on loss and redemption   However, in true Shorelink fashion, the atmosphere conjured by this was resoundingly cancelled out when followed by a gruesome tale involving an overactive cat and many dead mice.

Moving swiftly on, we had an unlikely romance involving a fly fisherman and an elderly female. I would like to say this was charming but parts of it made my toes curl in a not good way! Then another fly story, which managed to be both more existential and even more revolting simultaneously.

Actually, it was quite an evening for exploring the more repellent side of human nature, though fortunately in an amusing and certainly highly original way. As always, I have skimmed over the evening’s contributions as there were far too many to detail. Armageddon, worms from outer space, a daring car chase, an MI5 agent, all these figured and more. And we finished in spectacular fashion with creepy drama involving the disappearance of Jack and Jill from the top of that hill…

Thank you, Jenny, a great workshop. And thank you everyone for your usual innovative input.

We are at Westfield next week for a reading week, the optional theme In the darkness

Looking forward to some spine chilling stuff, I reckon.

Sally

Ro’s Workshop

I think it would be fair to say that everyone looks forward to Ro’s workshops. He regularly manages a combination of quirkiness and simplicity that motivates us to produce good work, and last night was no exception. The premise was one word: Ghosts, ie write a ghost story, true or false, funny or sad, creepy or reassuring. And so, enthusiastically, we did.

We began with a true story. OK, it was mine, and I swear it really was true, of a haunting seen through the eyes of a child as a seemingly normal happening over a period of years. This was followed by a somewhat surreal one full of poetic nods (ghost and roast, for instance!), mysteriously changing shapes under bed clothes, clanging bed springs and failed torch batteries.

Then a more serious attempt. Remember those ceramic poppies round the Tower of London in 2014? And the rumour that they threw up shadows of the fallen soldiers they were representing on the walls of the tower? Well, this tale transferred those mysterious shades on to a family photo of long fallen warriors. It was quite a shock to find out that it hadn’t actually happened!

Then there was clever exploration of the nature of ghostliness and a fascinating  comparison with  ghost prints, this made by an artist, also a tale of ghostly love, lost and found, and another involving a church haunting and exorcism. Inventiveness erupted round the table, poems and prose, fables and fripperies, all vastly entertaining. And I must mention the wonderful duologue between Alf and Doris, life time socialists, horrified to hear news of a friend. What had she done ? ‘ Goes Tory’, exclaims Doris. Don’t get it? Come on, concentrate! I look forward to hearing more from Alf and Doris.

Big thanks to Ro, and to you all, what a fun evening again.

Next Monday Tesco again, a reading week, Optional theme The Bubble(s).

See you there. Sally

John’s Workshop

For the first time ever, due to so much illness in the group, we had to cancel our inaugural meeting this term. Happily, we are almost all restored to health and hopefully it is now back to business as usual. So John’s workshop was our first of 2020, and a thoroughly workmanlike and thoughtful job it was, too.

He had prepared numerous slips of paper, all with four different sentences or ideas on them. These were passed around the table and we picked the one that appealed to us most to write about. The subjects ranged from obdurate photo copiers to marauding vampires so it would be fair to say that there was something for everyone, I reckon. Heads down for twenty minutes while imaginations run riot.

John kicked off the read back with his own take on a miniaturised world, very small people and very large disasters were involved. It was followed by a wedding tale with unexpected guests, and soon after was a delightful pastiche on the world of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Then came a robust one on the housing situation in Battle and the difficulties suffered as the town is overrun with vampires, to the consternation of the writer. But he was somewhat compensated by being married to Esmeralda, an especially exotic vampire.

Another writer arrived home to find his house in darkness and ransacked by burglars. Except it wasn’t. He had mistakenly entered the house next door. The return of Robert the rat, who has appeared at Shorelink before, saw him still pleading his unlikely innocence from his prison cell, and the story involving a very large lady army driver of a mini caused some definitely politically incorrect giggles.

The narratives came thick and fast – a paean of praise for the The Great British Bake Off, oh, the themes were many and varied as John intended . Dragons, internet click-bait, aliens and yes, at least a couple more vampires.

Thank you to John for all the work you put in and to everyone for making it all so entertaining. It is good to be back. Next week is a reading week and the optional theme is Awestruck.

Should be fun! See you there. Sally.