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Stimulating Spring Evening

Easter holidays or a lingering SAW hangover, whatever the reason, the gathering was less substantial than usual. For the hard core who attended it proved to be a stimulating evening split into two events. In the first instance, Cathie Devitt of the Scottish Association of Writers made a personal appearance. Not only had she agreed to adjudicate the Women’s Short Story Competition, she had travelled some distance to announce and present prizes.
How do you determine a winner from a batch of stories with disparate styles, themes and narratives? Well, possibly it is like judging the best teapot. Cathie challenged a group of adults to go back to play school and in five minutes make a teapot from a wee dod of plasticine. Everyone produced something familiar in shape, but with its own quirks and individual style. Which was the best? It is very difficult to select the winner of course and that was Cathie’s point.
The winner was our esteemed President. Linda Brown was runner-up and your correspondent was third, also winning the Novice prize. Do not be misled by anyone claiming that it is not winning that matters, just taking part. Driving home £15 richer with a permanent smile, I remembered that I had won the first prize for my writing in 1964, when I was awarded 5 house points for a rip-off of the Secret Seven in my last year at primary school. I hadn’t heard of plagiarism then.
A Read-Around night is an opportunity to be both critic and victim. Having a critique of your work by your peers is nerve-racking, revealing and stimulating. The breadth of the writing within AWC was illustrated by the pieces chosen by those willing to put their work forward. They included a short story with a gruesome murder scheme, a first chapter of a potential crime novel, a touching poem about the connection between an evocative place and the loss of a former love, an intriguing science fiction short story and a first chapter of young adult/ teenage psychological thriller.
The most intriguing piece however was not fiction, but a factual article that began with the sentence, ‘Alex Paton knew a good gusset’. It proceeded to describe a working life in which the workers would have been familiar with words like ‘ticklers’ and ‘shogging’. If only Kenneth Williams had been present during the evening to read this. ‘ Stitches in Time’, an article on the knitwear industry in Scotland, sounded like a potential contender for the final competition of the season, The Scottish Article Competition. Good luck to all those who submit an entry.
Chris Palmer

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