Thursday, 24 May 2012

Men only

Our meeting on Tuesday, May 22nd, at Tony’s house, was, if nothing else, innovative: (comma to word ratio 1 : 2.8 so far) alfresco, all male, half the membership absent and over by nine o’clock.
Rob read ‘Great-uncle Hymie’s bequest’, telling the story of Jonathon, whose father has recently died. Jonathon is shocked by his lack of feelings towards his father and later, lying awake in bed, is reminded of Great-uncle Hymie’s death and his strange bequest to all the family – a clothes hanger. Jonathon, disturbed by his memories, gets up, finds the hanger and imagines Hymie’s presence. A conversation ensues between them about the quality of the hanger, attention to detail, and duty. Jonathon falls asleep and when he awakes to return to his bed, experiences a sense of despair.
Tony was spell-bound by the story, finding it resonant, compact and a carefully-crafted description of grief, with the clothes hanger playing a totemic role. Clive was at a bit of a loss, feeling that the story comprised two stories melded into one, and unsure as to its message. Was it, perhaps, about grief, or was it about Jonathon’s feelings of guilt at his loss of Jewishness? Both enjoyed the language – “…could pick a snag from such a finish…”, “…despair rising into my mouth like heartburn…” and suggested some punctuation changes.
Rob felt that he had failed to convey sufficiently strongly the idea behind the piece, which was Jonathon’s guilt at his loss of the culture of his forbears, and confirmed that the story comprised an extract from his novel to which he had added and moulded new material.
News was swiftly put aside after Clive confirmed he had none, Tony was awaiting the BBC et al., and Rob had entered four competitions, three in Winchester and the Bridport. He had done more work on his novel, five hours that very day, though complained at having been obliged to eschew the sunshine for his ‘foetid’ office because his laptop screen is illegible in bright light: is there an answer to this problem?
On behalf of Annie (who was quilting), we jointly presented the news that her Malvern escapade had gone extremely well. Tony remarked that ‘As you read it’ was a rubbish name and wondered why Malvern Theatres didn’t publish the stories in a small booklet and give the proceeds to charity. Rob and Clive agreed and recommended he suggest that to them, which he said he would. 
As the evening hurtled towards its close, Clive suggested we need an AOB as the last item of our meetings and Rob and Tony agreed that a set closing time of 9:45 p m would be desirable. It was still light when we left.
Next meeting at Rob’s house on June 12th, story by Chris, blog by Annie.


  1. A neat and concise bit of blogging, Clive, and a great story by Rob, in my view. I found myself reflecting on the meeting long afterwards. It's interesting that, as writers, we may feel we've failed in some way if the reader doesn't take from our work the meaning intended. We probably can't predict what sense a given reader will make of it but, so long as it has an impact and some meaning for that reader, perhaps we should be satisfied. Maybe it's presumptious for us to try to predict the meanings readers will assign to our work and there is surely room for multiple meanings and serendipity in the relationship between artist and audience. Oh, get me! I've come over all postmodern!

  2. Clive has kindly pointed out that I mis-spelt presumptuous, a correction I acknowledge graciously. That will teach me to be so gratuitously loquacious.