Peak Performances at Readaround – 19 August 2020

Apologies firstly because, although I endeavoured to record the evening, I should have written the blog on Thursday before life took over. (Note to self, procrastination is usually no use!)

As seems to be the norm at this year’s Readaround sessions, there was a theme to the organisation of the evening. With Nigel hosting it wouldn’t be too big a stretch of the imagination to guess that members were each given the name of a mountain.

So, we were labelled as follows:

Maggie B. – Snowdonia, Linda – Ingleborough, Maggie M. – Scafell, Ajay – Goat Fell, Nigel – Arthur’s Seat, Me – Ben Lomond, Joanne – Ben Nevis, Damaris – Cairn Gorm, Kirsty – Suilven, Susan – The Merrick

Poor Susan was having technical problems and eventually had to concede defeat so there were eight attending. Nigel suggested that prior to reading, whatever feedback sought should be identified.

Maggie B. started off the evening with a chapter book, The Monster’s Baby: pace and content was for feedback.

Mr Monster is left to entertain a ‘greetie’ Baby Monster. This tot has some appetite that’s all I’ll say. It was a humorous story to be submitted to a competition, good luck Maggie.

Linda was next with part 3 of her ‘epic short story’ Ima Nutter. (I’m sorry I missed part 2) Linda wanted to know if we thought the pace was right and if Georgie’s ‘voice’ was consistent.

Ima and Georgie were now at the ‘Frolic in the Fields’ music festival where Georgie hoped to identify his/her grandfather. The whole festival atmosphere was well captured with Ima ‘like a Duracell bunny’ when ‘BC/AD’ performed. This is a most engaging hilarious story and, with its cliff-hanger ending, I hope I don’t miss part 4. Pace and voice were perfect Linda.

Maggie M. read her poem The Love Bake and wanted feedback regarding identification of the layers within the piece.

As we listened, different varieties of baking were introduced and personified with their qualities. The vanilla cheesecake with its ‘smooth top’ and ‘crunch base’ led us on a mouth-watering journey which could be interpreted in many ways, exposing many layers.

Ajay also had a poem, All Lives Matter a short, punchy response to the current focus ‘Black lives matter’ and he wondered how his black friends would react to it.

As the first two lines rhymed it was suggested that perhaps this should continue in some form throughout. A poignant piece, powerfully delivered, which hit the spot.

Nigel was next with a short story and he wanted feedback on whether this piece should perhaps be lengthened or shortened to a flash fiction.

A Table Turned cleverly portrayed a family where elderly parents were ‘decluttering’ due to moving house. Siblings were less than enthusiastic about the various pieces offered to them. The one item, a refectory table which was highly desired by both children, was not on offer. Family dynamic was well represented in this piece as was the select members of the new neighbours invited for Sunday lunch. With its dramatic ending I’m not sure what conclusion we came to as both options would work.

I was next with my short memoire and I wanted to know where this piece might find publication.

In The Pictures I tried to capture the experience of going to the cinema back in the 60s with mums, four boisterous boys and a strange lady who lived next door. Magazine suggestions were given.

Joanne read more from her novel Coal Dust and Fisty Cuffs and she wanted to know if we ‘got’ the change in mood. The story saw Cathy at the end of her tether and selection an appropriate place to end it all. The scene was well set and emotion well represented in its finality. This piece was serious and dark and yes, the change was definitely identified.

Damaris’s tale was set in the aftermath of an earthquake with a fine balance of humour and pathos, people sleeping in cars and rummaging through donations for totally inappropriate goods. Paulo’s taking of the huge cheese for example, and what would he do with it? A great moral told in this story and another escape to a sunnier place.

Kirsty’s flash fiction finished off the evening.

Devil’s Whore told of the victimisation of women branded as witches in a very dark period of history. It started with the trauma of men dragging a woman away as her child slept nearby. Told in first person, there is empathy for the woman from the start till her ultimate drowning. The whole injustice of the situation was well captured in a most harrowing piece. Well done.

Greta Yorke

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