The evocation of teenage years came through during Annie’s reading despite her having to speak over the increasingly raucous deliberations of the Bewdley Footpaths Association which was meeting in the other half of the upstairs bar at Arches because of a double booking. (I assume that any footpath marked out towards the end of one of their meetings is a meandering affair.)
The ensuing discussion (in our half of the room) identified a number of instances of excellent prose work. For example, instead of simply telling the reader that the narrator was too young to remember where she was when President Kennedy was shot, Annie informs us that the girl was, ‘perhaps … eating parsnip puree from a plastic spoon’. Or how about the same girl, recovering from a faint recalling that, ‘the cool tiles of the science prep-room stuck to my calf muscles’? Details ‘were no longer sketchy, they were stark’. There was much to admire.
Of course an SVA meeting would not be an SVA meeting without its members contributing advice regarding comma splicing or hyphenation. But on this occasion we were also able to indulge in some interesting speculation on how to wring the best comic effect from a schoolgirl fainting and falling onto her knees in front of a teacher in such a way that her head nudges into his groin leaving a lipstick smear on his trouser fly. (Annie assured us that this was a true-life story.) Robert’s miming of the scene from the teacher’s viewpoint generated gasps of horror rather than the serious debate about the mechanics of humour that he had intended.
For a few minutes, the footpathers were silent as they eavesdropped our authorly discussion.