|The frozen River Severn at Bewdley - December 2010|
The start of the coldest cold snap in the history of the UK gave us an excuse to start our final formal meeting of the year with a glass of mulled wine. Suitably lubricated, we bounded into our customary discussion of the Bewdley and Kidderminster literary scene and the vagaries of the publishing industry at large. Soon the conversation was in full flow - in contrast to the nearby turgid River Severn which was already showing signs of the first freeze across its width in living memory.
Under 'membership news' (we adhere to a strict agenda in the SVA) Tony reported that he has been given support from his employer to do research into the role of creativity in mental health care. He is keen to develop this into a proposal for a non-fiction book and is very excited about this project. Annie has written the first 1000 words of her novel which is based on a fictional island which has a history similar to that of St Kilda. Both successes were greeted warmly by the other members.
Tony read the first half of an eerie tale called A Game of Chance. We have come to recognise Tony’s writing style which closely follows his speaking patterns. I have come across only three writers who have the ability to make me hear their voices when I read their works: Garrison Keillor, Clive James and our Tony. Not bad company to be in.
We all have our suggestions for smoothing Tony’s prose or using ‘better’ words but then we ask ourselves, would ‘improvements’ ruin his colloquial style? This was the question we discussed at the end of the meeting.
Before then we all agreed that A Game of Chance, in which the narrator meets a dead person who is reading a yet-to-be-published copy of magazine in a railway carriage, had us all on the edges of our seats. We voted that Tony should end the suspense by sending us the second half of the story.
So the formalities for the SVA year ended. But seven days later the members met again to enjoy a festive dinner at The Old Pack Horse in Bewdley. Wine and good cheer were in abundance and there were none of Tony's ghosts to disrupt the fun ... as far as we know.