Monday, 28 November 2011

Gastronomie Française

Dancing 'widdershins'.
It seems appropriate that in our first meeting since we reversed the order of our unwritten table d'hôte we also enjoyed a digressive discussion on the word 'widdershins'*.  Annie, acting as maître d' led us through the hors d'oeuvres, in which we made the menu choices for our forthcoming  festive dinner.

Moving into the plat principal Linda read an extract from Chapter Ten of her novel A Headful of Budgerigars. This tickled our taste buds on so many levels – the humour, the tempo and the dazzling special effects in her prose . Linda's flair for descriptive writing was shown au bon effet in her filmic account of a Gallic Hunter's Feast where the gourmandise of the natives was contraposed against pithy observations from and between a small group of British parvenues.

Pour dessert, we moved into what has previously been our entrée (in the European more literal sense rather than the American) and shared news of our literary successes:

  • Linda is shortly to endure/enjoy (delete as appropriate) her first mentoring  session under the Gold Dust programme. 
  • Chris is reworking his article for inclusion in a New Zealand-based denunciation of flying as a sustainable means of travel and continuing his successful British tour of the Why don't you fly? talk. (I know this sounds contradictory but it isn't.) 
  • Clive has been a very busy bee, although he denies it. In addition to penning his regular  'Grumpy' columns he has written an article on hops, is working on a piece on the part music plays in memory and is writing for a start-up Internet radio station. 
  •  Tony has entered the BBC 'Opening Lines' story competition with The Idea of Marmalade and has had an article called Readers Turned Writers printed in the Malcolm Saville Society's magazine. 
  •  Rob has entered the same BBC competition as Tony and is not writing his novel as quickly as he should. 
  •  Annie under pressure of school commitments is working on the piece she is going to read in our first meeting in the New Year.
So SVA moves into la fin de l'année 2011. With only one more meeting in December, now is the time to wish Bon Chance and Joyeux Noël to all our readers.

*Widdershins: Moving in an anticlockwise direction, contrary to the apparent course of the sun (considered as unlucky or sinister); unlucky, ill-fated, relating to the occult.” (OED, see also withershins.)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Madness or Sanity

The Reader:
This week we met at Annie's house to critique Chris's 'Madness or Sanity', and we concluded that anyone who cycled 16,500 miles to China has got to be mad. However using a bicycle as your main method of transport surely displays a degree of sanity in an insane world where planes, trains and automobiles choke our planet with pollution and are contributing to the problems of climate change. Chris's article was intended for a book about long distance travel and reducing our dependence on flying. He certainly demonstrated the benefits of sustainable travel, but wouldn't argue that the bike could be a serious alternative to the plane.

I thought this was a well written and inspirational article, but probably not quite right for the book in question. Tony suggested submitting it to the 'slow travel' section of Resurgence magazine.We all agreed that he had made us think about our future travel options, and Annie said that she might consider a more fitness themed holiday next year such as walking or cycling. Rob suggested sending the article to a health and fitness/lifestyle publication for men.

The News:
Annie's delicious Victoria sponge took centre stage. She also submitted to a short story competition for children.
Tony had an article published in the British Journal of Wellbeing.
Clive has had an article printed in B: magazine and he has written another successful 'Mr Grumpy' column.
Both Rob and Tony gave very accomplished and enjoyable presentations about their work, at Bewdley library. Rob received 18 feedback cards from the audience saying that they would like to buy his book when it is published, and Tony sold 10 books, one to a little girl who took pity on him and helped him to spell her name: f,r,e,y,a.

I have just received my copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Although Strunk and White are Americans and have a few dodgy spellings, this is a fabulous book. I loved Dorothy Parker's (Esquire) comment: 'If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy.'
I was interested to see that White is the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.

Next Meeting:
Monday, November 21 at Tony's house.