I waited twenty minutes before anybody turned up, recognising it must be Graham from his greeting me. Linda came next and finally Kevin. We took to a quieter area where I read out prison John’s four poems. The first two, on more general subjects, were better appreciated than the erotic third I hadn’t infused with any sexual tone. His internal rhyming was liked and other such varying of expression. Structure was queried and suggested. I didn’t want to touch the bloom of his depressive inspiration but he might be set say a sonnet form to match it with in the future as an exercise. He has something.
Linda read next two short chapters: the first in which the boy hero annoys his father by persisting with trying to enlist his help in unlocking a box. Wouldn’t a child with a key already have opened the box? Anyway the father clouts the boy, a box on the ear. Her second chapter was more interesting. An old woman sees things and wonders if this is death, reminiscent of a Strauss last song. It is. The things are insects who choke her and re-emerge without laying eggs because they’re manifestations of two spirits, one of whom is animating the corpse. They’re out to get the boy before he turns into somebody a lot more formidable.
Kevin read out a jolly chapter from his Irish saga in which the English and German internees during the war fight over that black hole of an Irish heroine who’s absent and who is pretty well absent when she’s present as is the nature of black holes, nonetheless having a catalytic effect on all about her, drawing them in. A third character stubs his cigar out on the pate of one of the two homosexually sublimating contestants. He wants her dead in order to inherit the estate that being at once girl and bastard she won’t in any case inherit whatever the will of her father’s wife, and what’s the likelihood a father’s wife would will that? I ask you!
Graham likes talking. I’ve no time to analyse how he talks. It’s a writing group.
I read out the end of ‘the book’ in which Johnny’s Mum manipulates her husband into showing Johnny what he wants to see to satisfy his intellectual curiosity safely, because she knows what he’s like. He won’t stop until he does and that’d put him in danger except Johnny has his protecting guardian spirit who’s devised the book in life in order to give his child what he wants safely as well as passing the time creating what, that life written out, is a consummate work of art as well as joke. Little wonder then I’m losing interest in other people, their writing and in life generally. Is this the end?
All this took less than an hour. We then spent more than an hour in a pub talking about anything but writing. I made the odd conversational gesture. On the way I’d told Linda I was fed up with third person past writing when the convention is accepted by reader and writer without any justification for it in the writing itself. No wonder I’m losing interest. Afterwards I thanked them for having made my writing group viable when, apart from Kevin, no other member of it had come.