While waiting at the new starting time of 7:30, I asked the closing staff of Parkshot for a bit of bluetac for my notice advertising The Writers’ Group.
Jan Hall came first and we went into the canteen but, because of the noise from a jazz duet, onto the adjacent screened eating area around a courtyard where we talked of Sandie Bradshaw who’s banned from the college for an Asian racist incident. Jan thought her self-published book, No Place to Call Home, under the pseudonym, Stella Nye, was some time ago. Sandie, Jan and John Elliott, who joined us, were, with me, founding members of the original group.
When Catherine Steele arrived, I made a start with reading out John Murch’s ekphrasis of my writing in a letter from prison where he’d read my short story Instance from a copy of Dadaoism (An Anthology) I’d lent him. (I blogged this in Rave Reviews.) I then read out two poems of John’s, the first about Sherlock baffled by a mouse which mystified us what it was about. John Elliott wondered was Sherlock a cat. (Retrospectively I’d say the mouse was John and Sherlock the investigating officer of some unspecified crime John had got away with.) His second poem was a surprising encomium of the police. I explained: when the Richmond police desk sergeant had asked him, on his being arrested, had he anything to say and he’d said, yes, he had, the police inhaled with the expectation of an ensuing diatribe only to hear he had never been treated so nicely as by the Richmond police, who subsequently locked up everybody else but left John’s door open and provided him with conversation and tea.
Kevin Kelly came late. We call it Kevin late. Jan hadn’t anything to read. She procrastinates though I think I used the word, ‘prevaricates’, by mistake. Everybody agreed. Jan, keeping to the topic, explained spiritualism, which in all its multifarious branches focuses on mediums, some of whom aren’t also psychics, depending whether their information is coming from the person on whom they’re focusing or from another source they’re conduits for to that person. I’m interested in the use of Jan’s imagination in life without believing the dead have spirits but the others’ disbelief was making them lose interest without also losing politeness. Kevin moved us into the hall farther away from noise where we took our chairs since the ones there were immobile and all facing the one way.
Catherine read out an amusing story about an appropriating landlady tracking down the tenant thief of her Fray Bentos pie, only to find out it was herself. Catherine denied this was self-projection, and has the idea of all her stories ending at the point they start from.
John was worried Jacqui Knowles, coming Kevin late, wouldn’t find us and I did a check but reassured she’d find us and that something had probably turned up to detain her. Kevin read out a version of his Irish saga, edited by somebody who didn’t know what was going on, who was saying what, etc and sent it back to Kevin to edit before it could be edited. What was going on was a lot clearer but I was concerned Kevin shouldn’t spoil the rhythm of the style that is of overriding importance by omitting prepositions that give the Irish cadence. He has the habit of not reading what’s printed but dropping words out and putting words in.
John had Jan read out his wistful reminiscences, interesting because bitty and not being subject to applique form while more concrete memories were interspersed rudimentarily with reflexions on god knows what that it is not necessary to understand.
With an eye on a clock because we had to finish by quarter to ten, I read out the passage from ‘the book’ where Mum and Johnny explain it from the common perspective of their being in it but from their two different viewpoints. Kevin needed to know more where he was as a reader from presumably imagined background that I suspect Johnny is eschewing giving as part of his turning the screw on Mum. The only reference to background is his asking should he say which green – he imagines – he’s standing on. His man tells him, but not Mum, that the reader won’t know. This one, Johnny says. No reader would know which green ‘this’ is. Catherine said the two voices were in the writer’s head ie mine, when I was writing, and this is true, as I conscientiously and without interfering wrote what they were saying down, believing I was realising the unconscious memory of when Johnny stopped time to trap his Mum in what she believes will never end in order to get what was wanted out of her. He says incredulously she believes he can stop time. His man says he can. Johnny asks how. The man says to leave it to him. It’s the man has stopped time.
Not however on this occasion. The caretaker said we’d ten minutes left. Kevin shepherded us, except for Catherine, to The Orange Tree where Jan and I had halfpints of cider while we discussed beer and being governed by people who banged the chancellor’s head on the floor until he admitted he was a cunt for not going to Eton before Oxford.