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The Drongan Dramas – A Readaround Special

In the comfort of Richard and Irene’s living room with balalaikas on the wall and woven Thai silk table mats around, an unusually male dominated group met for last night’s readings and vigorous creative discussions. In a varied programme, Nigel delved into the back story of one of his characters; Martin and John continued their novels; James, Richard and Irene presented short stories; and Chris and Carolyn read poems.

We’d understood that Nigel’s shadowy female, who emerged from the underground station in the West End of Glasgow a few weeks ago, had a murky past and last night saw her incarcerated in a realistically portrayed female prison, but planning her escape. ‘How long were you inside?’ I asked trying for a joke. ‘Five years,’ said Nigel. As a visiting librarian. It’s that sort of personal experience which makes a piece authentic. More on her later, we hope.

Martin’s Mauchline serial killer thriller is now at Chapter 11 with guilty nightmares, clues that narrow the range of potential suspects, and the unforgettable simile that work place chairs were as ‘comfortable as a vibrating cactus.’

John’s Huntington’s disease family story is nearing its end and featured a funeral service in which a wayward organist initially threw the congregation into musical disorder before a convincing and heartfelt eulogy on the main character’s life.

James’s short story of sibling rivalry and family revelations produced several helpful pointers, which he will attend to almost immediately. Similarly, Irene’s story of the mysteriously rattling letterbox, which upsets the recently burgled woman, led to suggestions of how to make the story more immediate and lively. Richard’s librarian was not what she appeared and for others her the verb to silence had a permanent aspect. The group were, however, much taken by the fleeting appearance of an undercover cop on a mobility scooter. Possibly the first crime fighting wheelchair since Perry Mason.

The most memorable line of the night was from Chris: ‘An Angel’s kiss in the Devil’s hand,’ the title of a poem that in a few lines distilled the allure and deadly effect of drugs. Worth careful contemplation. Also carefully crafted and evocative were Carolyn’s poems, the first drawing parallels between the restoration of Dumfries House and the rebuilding of a life after a setback; the second seeing the changes in our lives from the point of view of the shoes we wear. A lighter note on which to end a successful evening.

James Rose

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