Coup, to Susan Scott

John Elliott was for drawing a line under the writers group on Langton’s closing down. We were after all published. It had served its purpose. I wanted to see, though, if it couldn’t be continued. One member, Kevin, solved the problem where, by suggesting Parkshot, and the college itself recommended use of its canteen. There Kevin asked if his group might join ours. I enrolled them in The Writers’ Group which was used to meeting once a month. Kevin’s group continued to have its separate fortnightly meetings and I attended the next.

I asked Kevin if the college was open for the December meeting of the whole group and he said it was. He was also thinking of a pre-Xmas do.

I’m not sure it would’ve helped had I read my emails from the earliest to the latest instead of first to last. There was an unwonted plethora that seemed to be concluding with a choice by most of the group for a coming together on the 18th rather than the 13th when the December meeting was for the 11th. I hadn’t been told that I was misinformed, that the college was closed on the 11th. Assuming the 18th was for some pre-Xmas do that’d be discussed at the meeting at the alternate venue Kevin had found in the Waterman’s and since the 13th was near the 11th, I plumped for that and Kevin agreed. He subsequently retracted.

He’d misinformed me, they’d sidelined me and then he’d broken his word, apologising for going back on it yet asking me to be there, on the 18th, for them! I resisted the temptation to tell him to fuck off.

My plan had been, as well as continuing the group, to confer its leadership on Kevin who’s younger and obviously more able to find alternate venues than me who might no longer be able to be at every meeting, should some contingency arise from the publishing of my book like book launches, action plannings, talks etc. It’s fairly obvious I can’t – in the circumstances of how this end was brought about – go to the meeting on the 18th. Question is, in the circumstances of other members’ easy and exuberant compliance with my being sidelined etc, do I want to go to the next or any other meeting with these people. Having continued the group, am I withdrawing from it?

My convict friend says I must go or they’ve won. It’s a coup!

I went. John Elliott, Catherine and Linda were in the pub already. Players came in to enact in verse with humorous ad-libbing the story of St George and the Turk who was revived by the Doctor and which ended with a morris dance by the Cuddly Fool with much adroit leaping and turning in a small space. I gave all my loose change. Catherine wasn’t giving them £5. Kevin missed this highlight. I let him by buy me a half cider as we were being shown into a much quieter back room.

There, John peddled his latest ware at a discount to Kevin and Linda. I looked at the cover of the book, quietly pushing it back across the table. Serving food had stopped, so Kevin went out for fish and chips I couldn’t eat, being coeliac, as one of the two newcomers, Samara, realised. I gave Kevin the keys to Langton’s in symbolic transference of power. Catherine, seated by me, wouldn’t go so far as to say I had been deposed. I would.

I asked John if he’d liked her slow, faltering reading of an extract from his writing she’d given once, since he’d said mine was wrong. I added that Quentin had blogged John’s books were things in themselves without reverb. I was trying to establish if that meant he liked them because they were lifeless and John himself liked them kept inanimate if he had said my reading, which injected animation into what was easy to read, was wrong and Catherine’s excruciatingly torturous one preferable. Catherine blushed. John wasn’t about to let me reach a conclusion on the evidence and, ignorant of the use of ‘wrong’ as an adverb, mistakenly corrected my usage of it by projecting “wrongly” across the table, though he himself had originally used the word, ‘wrong’, rightly to describe my reading of his work. He has to put me down to put himself up. He consistently, carpingly criticises my writing because if it’s valid his is redundant. It is.

He had brought in stuff to read as had I but none was read. Kevin didn’t call a halt to the socialising. I got bored and said so, describing to Catherine a psychological group test I’d once volunteered for that sought to prove human beings will always lapse into socialising but that I’d disproved by taking the restrictions against vocal communication seriously and organising the partaking others into bringing about the ostensibly desired end result if not that which the undivulging psycholgist had wanted proved. Kevin had failed to give direction to the group.

Catherine was leaving and I left with her, finding out from Samara her name and that of Rob for my diary. Kevin queried, “Are you leaving, John?” Yes I was. At the door out I remarked to Catherine, “It wasn’t an entire waste of time, because of the mummers.”

After we’d gone, they read, as I found out next meeting of six. The next again nobody was there and I left after ten minutes. Kevin’s told me it’s next Tuesday because it was too cold for somebody nameless to read. “He can’t read anyway,” I said, because of his cataracts.


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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6 Responses to Coup, to Susan Scott

  1. susanscottsa says:

    tricky one – mull over it for a while – draft a note (email) to them telling them of your dilemna but mull and ponder for a while before sending it off. I would be as mad as anything to be so side-lined, but would give the benefit of the doubt for a while (they wld not want you to feel badly about this) – silly season etc …
    Good luck.


  2. susanscottsa says:

    that’s a pretty good thought … what have you decided to do … sorry so late in responding but I am curious and just hope that you are not still feeling side-lined.
    All the best to you and family over this festive season.


  3. Thanks, Susan. I’ve updated the blog and dedicated it to you. (I abdicated.)


  4. susanscottsa says:

    You did the right thing! Directionless and this is what happens when ‘socializing’ takes to the fore … a not unknown defense or avoidance mechanism. Childish, for many not to see it for what it was. It is sad that some, sometimes, have the need or unconscious desire to put another down so that the protagonist feels bolstered. Sad also to get embroiled in that …
    Thank you for the coup to me! I am not sure why I am so honoured!? But it was a lovely piece of writing thank you .. Wry amongst other qualities.
    All best,


    • Thanks, Susan. There was no point, as convict John would’ve done, starting up a new group when I’d been combining the two into one under a new leader that I might be just a member who did or didn’t attend at my own convenience. I should think Kevin will give it direction enough in the new year. John Elliott denies the unconscious. It might be interesting to bait him with his psychological need that can only betoken a sense of inferiority, don’t you think?


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