Wight Fair Writers & Artists Circle

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Members Musings June 2017

June1

By Val Jones

ValA funny thing happened this week which I would like to share with you – a seagull crashed landed in our garden. You might not think that was funny but it was raining cats and dogs at the time and my brave cat ran as though her life depended on it straight in the house and hide behind my chair.

When the weather had abated a bit, my brave hubby sallied forth to deal with the situation. It turned out that the poor thing was wrapped in fishing line. Lola (the cat) will usually take on anything which lands in our garden, but I think that she found a fully grown herring gull a bit above her pay grade as household cat.

My hubby emerged from the garden soaking wet with a bedraggled gull held at arm’s length and not in a very good mood (both the hubby and the gull had battle scars). The gull was deposited in the greenhouse with food, and I was told abruptly to phone the RSPB. By this time it was well into the evening.

Did you know we don’t have a branch of RSPB on the island?  I had to phone the out of hours one in Hampshire. They were very helpful and took the details and then they dropped the bombshell and said they could not come out that evening as it was not a life threatening emergency.  They would pass it on to RSPCA in Rookley who would attend the following morning.

This left us with an irate lodger trying to peck his way out of the greenhouse, a cat scared to death and an unhappy hubby nursing his cuts and bruises. What an evening!

The following morning, a man from the RSPCA arrived at our door.  He expected to find a dead bird – but no – our guest was alive and in a very bad mood. You think that he would grateful for a free nights B&B!

Because the fishing line was severely cutting off the blood supply to both legs, he was obliged to remove it while still here.   I take my hat off to him, that bird put up one hell of a fight! But eventually he cut the last piece off. So the RSPCA man decided that the gull needed a check-up (good luck with that) and duly took him to Rookley.

This is where I get on my high horse. How can people be so thoughtless as to leave fishing lines just lying about? Many birds and animals become wrapped in it and die as a result. Our wildlife is precious to this island and we should try and preserve as much of it as possible.  That’s it! Rant over! Well now, I feel a lot better.

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Members Musings May 2017

May1

By Karen Haverson

We are all guilty of the busy excuse; I say it all the time.  I must text the word busy as many times as I text apologies to friends and family for not meeting up with them earlier teamed with belated Birthday/ Christmas greetings and promises to organise a day out soon.  And I run everywhere, not out of choice I hasten to add but simply to claw back some of the time I’m usually running late by.  You see the reason I’m always rushing or running late or stressed in a seemingly disorganised state most days of the week is that I have a large family.  Five children and a significant other (man I very much love but run round after) in total.  I have four children still at home on a full time basis.  Currently I have two children at Primary School, one at High School, One at Sixth Form and my eldest is currently studying Engineering at Uni.  This is a typical day for me.

5:45am Alarm sounds, I jump out of bed swearing to switch it off allowing myself until 6am as I have managed to iron some of the clothes for the day the previous evening.  I lull myself into this false sense of security that two hours and fifteen minutes is indeed enough time to get ready and leave the house by, I close my eyes and …

6.00am Alarm Sounds, this time my partner (significant other) swears and asks me as he does every other morning why I need two alarms to wake me up fifteen minutes apart.  I inform him that I prefer it that way then I can trick myself into believing that I’ve had a lie in!  I groan and switch it off whilst fighting off the hoard of cats that I’ve collected since becoming a parent as its simply not enough to stretch yourself to the limit with a houseful of children but it is essential to surround yourself with at least four needy attention seeking cats who wish to live under every step that you take!  I relent and force myself out of bed continuing to river dance down to the back door to shovel kitten kibble into their bowls but not before I have put the plug in the bath and set the hot tap running.

6.04am I tackle the laundry, folding and piling clean clothes into the individual baskets dedicated to each child, and another pile for me to iron for the day.  Mondays is swimming lessons and so that bag needs packing.  Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays is football and various other sports related clubs so this needs washing and packing into another rucksack. Thursdays is Cubs, a whole other source of frustration as they change the night and/or times last minute and somehow never manage to let me know!  I load the laundry from the washing machine into the tumble dryer for the first of sometimes five that day and reload the washing machine.  I live in hope that one day soon I might actually see what the bottom of the laundry basket looks like!

6.25am I suddenly remember that the bath is still running and dash back along the hallway narrowing missing more cats before catching the bath at near brimming point.  More quiet swearing ensues as I allow the overflow pipe to take care of the excess and I dash through to the kitchen to make a start on lunchboxes.  Lunchboxes are one of my least favourite jobs.  I hate them.  With all the five a day healthy eating and nut ban it’s a complete minefield.  Don’t get me wrong I completely understand it must be awful for any parent or child who is affected by nut allergy, it’s a very serious concern with sometimes fatal consequences and this shouldn’t be ignored but I blame the supermarket packaging.  I ask you, I picked up a seemingly harmless looking, low sugar and salt biscuit alternative the other day and turned the pack over to be informed that it “may contain nuts” and that’s not all, I picked up another only to be informed that it was “made in a factory that also makes other products containing nuts.”  Seriously I do not want to be the one who sends their kids in with the “Nut Grenade” and has their child and its lunch diffused by the food police aka lunchtime monitors (the politically correct name for the more commonly known archetypal Dinner Lady!)  Anyway I make the sandwiches and add the various other items along with the accepted and expected piece of fruit that makes it way out and then returns every day for almost the week until it becomes squidgy and is chucked away but I’ve done my duty and made sure at least one of their five a day is present!

6.35am Oh No!  Litter tray has been utilised and the almost a teenage son is sauntering past it commentating with every possible rude toilet expression he can summon whilst chuckling to himself as this age group cannot resist when it comes to bodily functions!  I thank him as I do most mornings not to be quite so disgusting and asked him how he would like it if I were to make such comments when he came out of the loo.  His reply was just more chuckling; he wanders towards the direction of the telly to watch an episode of Spongebob Square Pants for the hundredth time.

6.45am After cleaning the offending litter tray and washing my hands I go in search of clean towels for the bath and make the mistake of passing my bedroom door whereupon his Lordship (significant other) as I refer to him when I’m trying not to call him a nasty name in front of the children is sat up in bed watching the news.  “Karen, can you get me some breakfast please” He asks in his sweetest voice, I’m all ready to retrieve the contents of the litter tray to serve him whilst he lavishes in bed simultaneously watching the news and scrolling on facebook!  I take the opportunity to turn on my laptop as I must check the Homework App again and the dreaded emails.  Ingenious that now I can check my entire son’s homework with a log in on the internet but alas another thing to remember as well as checking all the newsletters from all the relevant schools to make sure it’s not mufti day today!

6.50am I gather the clothes for the day and switch on the iron whilst begging almost teenage son to find himself some clean underwear and eat his breakfast without slurping and finally belching as loud as he can.  He rewards me by congratulating himself on the loudest yet!  I firmly reiterate the disgusting nature of his behaviour and insist he finds his clean underwear immediately.

7.05am I am still ironing and more of my cherished offspring are awake.  My already teenage daughter has her first meltdown of the morning because her white jeans aren’t clean.  Aaarrrggghh I calmly invite her to take some responsibility for the washing herself but my comments only seem to light a fire under her already irritated state and so I choose to make a very parent choice and “pick my battles wisely.”  This is Mummy language for a total shocking cop out and is a choice motivated solely by fear!  Anyone with a teenage daughter will know that she is either building up to, during or getting over her monthly cycle and there is no good time to tackle a difficult moment because they are all mostly difficult and unavoidably it will blow up in your face spectacularly!

7.15am Ironing for the day is complete and another bed headed sleepy child has emerged demanding weetabix with milk!  Our youngest child is just five and started school last September.  Being my fifth child I thought I had this education thing licked and couldn’t wait for him to be bringing home his first reading books from school with the same word on every page.  This was until last month when he started bring home a homework book on Mondays that is to be completed by Friday each week.  Every week we get tasks such as “read these words with your child and then stick them into the book on the learning wall when your child is secure in reading them.”  We had a whole sandwich bag full of words!  Our son has come home and told us that the other boy in his class has learnt them all and so we have to stick in all the words too.  Except that our son is not secure in reading them, he is still sounding out his words “Cer Aaah Ter errrrrm I know Mummy Tock!”  The other day I mislaid the words and was still swearing and cursing the other clever reader child and his smug mother at nine o’ clock the other evening until I found them in his bag wedged in his oversized library book all about the in and outs of the Millennium Falcon!

7.25am Weetabix prepared with milk and another child emerges and manages to be in the way of Teenage Daughter still swearing under her breath, I know she is, and manages to step on the toe of newly emerged sleepyhead who then makes Oscar worthy performance due to the pain of his swashed toe.  Teenage Daughter leaden with bags of cosmetics and deodorant and hopefully coursework hastily apologises whilst she flies out of front door claiming she is late for the bus and they all should get out of her way!  As she slams front door and other son is still wincing and complaining I sigh.

7.40am I have lost fifteen minutes somewhere and I cannot find them much to my distress as I’ve not yet got into the bath and almost teenage son has decided to try to engage me in a conversation about a video on Youtube that his friend showed him all about Coconuts.  He still isn’t in anyway dressed and has forgotten to find clean underwear; I am concerned over the content of said video and ask him to show me.  Fortunately it is just a harmless random video all about coconuts and I am left wondering who on Earth has the time to spend making these mindless videos complete with theme song all about coconuts and the morons didn’t even check the spelling of the word coconuts before they made the video live spelling it with a “K”.  I am bemused.

7.50am I am coaxing my youngest three children to get their clothes on and clean their teeth if they’ve finished their breakfast.

7.59am Weetabix with milk is finished but youngest child has informed me that he has spilt a bit on the floor and one of the cats is now helping himself.  I try and tackle the task of getting him into his school uniform.  I have a set of underwear for him that sports a different day of the week.  This was a big mistake because now I am dashing round the house trying to track the correct pair of pants as he has worked out that today’s pants should have a picture of a fire engine on them.  I am still very aware that I have not yet got into the bath.

8.05am My youngest child is now dressed in correct underwear and full uniform and is sat watching the news with his father in bed whilst I run the cold tap in the bath.  I remember that I still need a towel having been distracted earlier and dash off whilst the tap runs unchecked for the second time this morning.

8.07am I plunge into the bath and start washing my hair at record breaking speed whilst now barking one word commands at the children still bumbling about in various states of undress.  “Shoes, Coats, Homework, PE Kit!”

8.10am Shivering in a towel, looking like Alice Cooper sporting yesterdays mascara smudged around my eyes I hastily apply the cleanse, tone and moisturising routine.  It looks so refreshing and glamorous on TV but I am against the clock now very aware of the fact that almost teenage son has to catch his bus at 8.25am and I still need to drive him out of Narnia where we live to his pick up point.

8.15am “Pack your bags into the car, please come here so I can fix your tie” I have the hairdryer blasting in one hand whilst helping my youngest son to get his shoes on.  My other children are oblivious to what I have asked and are still checking out the internet for other videos about coconuts!

8.18am With fresh Mascara in hand and wiggling my feet into a pair of shoes I check the mirror to see if they match my outfit when almost teenage son stumbles in claiming that he has forgotten to make the invention he created in his lesson last week.  I sigh loudly and ask him as calmly as I can whilst grabbing my coat and leading him to the front door simultaneously checking the windows are shut and the straighteners have been switched off in teenage daughter’s room, turning lights off as I go.  Almost teenage son informs me that he invented an electric Taser pen to help combat bullying and he had to mock up a prototype of it for today.  I pass my laptop inwardly groaning that I should have checked the Homework App earlier.  He has a pen in his hand and fortunately at the last second finds a hairclip and a roll of electric tape to construct his invention in the car.

8.20am The car is sailing up the road packed with children, homework and various sports kits as I pass all the neighbours bins neatly wheeled to the kerb and shake my head that it will be another month before the already putrid black bins will be removed, I must write myself a note for next week’s recycling!

8.25am Almost teenage son has been successfully dropped with his newly fashioned Taser pen at the bus stop just as the school bus is emerging, a small but very valid triumph for me and I cheer much to the bemusement of my remaining children.  I turn up the radio and sing like only mothers do to Tiffany; “I think we’re alone now” as ironic as this sounds.

8.40am Park up at the school, the nearest parking space at this time in the morning is miles away and so upon vaguely hearing the bell ringing in the playground I jump out of the car, unload the two youngest children with all relevant equipment for the day and start to trot with them towards the school gate.  My youngest son is intrigued by the recently cut grass on the verges and kicks this at his brother on his way.  My other son is annoyed with my younger son and so grabs him and tells him in no uncertain terms to stop it.  I intervene pulling them apart whilst still jogging towards the school gate aware that it will be shut any minute and I will have to do the walk of shame around to the office where I will be asked to explain to a rather aggressive Rottweiler in a skirt who has never been late for anything why it is that I am late.

8.50am With the two youngest safely deployed to their classes just before the gate is closed I am back in the car and on my way to a mummies gathering that I have been invited to.  This is one of the major perks to being a mummy with children of school age, your social circle widens and occasionally you are invited to go along and indulge in cake with a hot mug of tea and a catch up with other women who share your pain.

10am Time to leave the mummy gathering as the conversation has progressed to swopping birth stories and other fanny anecdotes.

10.10am On the way to the supermarket to purchase more of the five a day goodies and nut free offerings that may be on the BOGOF deals of the week.  Also to find interesting and new ideas to cook for tea, they will of course only be met with “I don’t like that” by my children.

11.50am Finally back on the drive to unload the shopping and not quite sure how I managed to spend so much time doing it but now for the task of getting it to fit in the fridge and freezer.

12.25pm Sat in the front room with another cup of tea politely ignoring the ironing board as it nags me to get ahead of myself for tomorrows onslaught.  I also notice the dust on the telly and the Lego scattered on the floor.  A list starts to form in my mind as I remember that it’s another family birthday tomorrow and I’ve forgotten to buy a card or present for the proceedings.  I hastily write a list down and remember that I’ve still not checked my emails.  With that the door bell goes and as I open it I see my rather tasty window cleaner is standing there, “I’m doing your area today shall I make a start?”  He has no idea!

As I retreat from the door I suddenly remember in horror the complete devastation left after this morning’s school run.  We live in a bungalow and so it’s now a race against time to get each room clean before he cleans that window.  Fortunately he starts with the front room and I resign to the fact that he couldn’t possibly see the dust on the telly from the window so I dash into the dining room.  The sewing machine is out and the off cuts of fabric left over from my daughters latest sewing project are piled high on the table, the sun is shining through the window and one of the many cats is lounging on top of it all turning to look at me as he stretches and yawns.  He has a rude awakening as I hastily shoo him off and launch the fabric mess into the bin in the kitchen.  The sink is piled with breakfast dishes stuck fast with Weetabix!  I rush on to the boy’s room rushing to make beds tidy and place their colossal pile of teddies neatly on them.  I open the wardrobe and hoof the pile of recent dress up outfits’ strewn over the floor from a previous playing session into the abyss along with anything else littering the floor.  After jamming the door shut I rush into my room grateful I got there before him to remove the dirty washing left on the floor by his Lordships side of the bed, tugging the duvet over the bed and smoothing it just as I hear him clatter round with his bucket and squeegee.

I open the door to teenage daughter’s room; it looks like a crime scene!  I resolve to tiptoe carefully across the ransacked space only to shut the curtains of this room, it cannot be rescued so quickly!

On to the kitchen now to empty the sink and fill it with fresh water in the hope of at least submerging the concreted Weetabix bowls, I leave the tap to run over the ample squirt of Fairy liquid.  I grab the recycling and whisk it out to the green bins.  On my way back in the house I dive down to the utility room to swap the washing. I spot the cat bowls with more kibble on the floor now than in the bowls and swoop for the hoover to remedy this.

1.05pm Suddenly remember tap is running and dash back to kitchen only to be greeted with puddle forming on the floor and the window cleaner pointing through the window stating the obvious as I make polite smile and try not to swear.

1.20pm Window cleaner is paid and on his way still chuckling at my expense, washing up still not achieved and Weetabix still firmly attached.  I am rescued by a nice lady from a Cancer charity who has called on the phone to see if I will be holding another coffee morning this September, it’s only April.

1.50pm Phone rings again but this time it’s my youngest son’s teacher just to inform me that my son has been a bit silly with one of the other boys in the toilets and now he is dressed in his PE Shorts as the other boy had weed on him.  I am not really sure what to say except to reassure her that I would talk to him about his behaviour when he got home.  I wonder how he came to become weed on but this train of thought will get me nowhere!

2.10pm I remember whilst polishing the dust from the telly that has annoyed me so much that I’ve forgotten to have lunch.  I will do it in a minute after I’ve checked those emails.

2.30pm Managed to iron clothes for tomorrow, this is a major break though and should be celebrated with a cup of tea.

2.35pm Kettle is on and a couple of bits of toast to inhale before the school run.

2.45pm Back in the car to pick the two youngest up from school.

3pm I’ve managed to bump into the mother of the child who has weed on mine earlier and managed an embarrassed smile as I collect my youngest donned in a full winter coat and a pair of shorts sporting his skinny pale legs black socks and shoes; he looks like he lives in a shopping trolley under a bridge somewhere especially since he now sports what looks like a large yoghurt stain down his jumper. My older son eyes him suspiciously and asks me why he is in his shorts.  I begin to reply when my youngest son announces to the entire playground that he got weed on today.  I escape by the quickest route.

3.15pm we park in town to purchase the present and card I had forgotten earlier.  We are in hurry and so rush into the local card shop only to see the most obvious transvestite stood looking at the card display.  I snatch a look at the boys to see if they had noticed and both were eyes wide and mouth agape.  I could hear my older son’s mind ticking over as he was about to ask the most awkward question whilst this poor person was in ear shot and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to answer it without dying of shame, not to mention the person whom the question would be about.  I just knew as my younger son’s face broke into a cheeky grin that I needed to leave quickly to bat the questions in a more controlled place.  Without thinking and as if in slow motion I swooped down and grasped their hands in each of mine and informed them that we must get some sweets and as I rose again I managed to knock a card stand sending it sailing towards the floor I grab it with master precision and leave before any further issue much to the stares of the counter staff.

4.20pm With present purchased and a promise to make a card with the boys we are driving to pick up almost teenage son from the bus stop.  As he jumps in the car both younger boys chime “We saw a man dressed like a lady!” and they fell about laughing.

5pm Swimming lessons.

6pm Home again to start making tea.

6.30pm I suddenly remember that it’s the Easter Garden on a Plate competition for the Primary school and all entries must be entered tomorrow.

7pm Tea is served, teenage daughter is scrolling on phone whilst my two younger boys are colouring in paper plates in preparation for sticking on fluffy chicks and almost teenage son is completing some homework that I finally managed to print off the App.

7.05pm Eldest son video calls to catch up with the family whilst we are shovelling our tea down.  The bath is running again, the washing machine is spinning and the tumble dryer still going strong whilst the washing up is still soaking in the sink.

7.30pm Two boys are in the bath, water all over the floor.  Teenage daughter is still laughing as the boys regale their eldest brother with the story of the Man dressed as a lady and that the youngest got weed on.  Eldest son shares his news of the week, another great grade on his coursework and he has been to work the past two evenings at the pizza place.  He then proceeds to tell us how one of the lads who lives on his floor in halls has gotten into the habit of washing his face in my son’s sink whenever he comes into the room, my son thinks this is most odd behaviour and explains how uncomfortable he finds it but his face suddenly forms a grin much like my youngest son had earlier when he tells us that he then dries his face on my son’s towel.  My son tells us that the funniest thing is all he can think of is “I wiped my arse dry on that towel this morning!”

8pm The boys are all in their pyjamas and are getting into bed.  My Daughter has now hijacked the bathroom and we have all bid my eldest son a good night.  I read them a story and turn out the light.

Washing up and laundry is a work in progress and more ironing must occur either this evening or in the morning.  I reflect on the day and the job that I’ve done, I’m not always perfect but I love them all. One day they will all be grown with families of their own and if I am very fortunate I will still be a good part of their lives and hopefully they will look back on their childhood with fond memories and their children will give them as challenging a time as I have with them!

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Members Musings April 2017

April1

Fred CanavanBy Fred Canavan

Do you ever get them? The mid-novel blues, I mean. The feeling that it`s all out of control? Characters  refusing to behave as you ask? Sub-plots breeding like rabbits? That`s where I am at 61K words into `To the last Penny`, my novel of an Edwardian family`s fall from prosperity to poverty played out against the backdrop of genteel Bournemouth in the First World War.

I need to make my mind up – fast. Is Lily Jennings a silly young orphan girl unaware of her attraction for men?  Or is she a conniving little tart who`ll come to a bad end? Hmmm…`

And what about society surgeon, Simon Greaves? Is he simply a heartless ruling-class seducer  ( Boo! Rotter! Cad!).  or is he an honourable man who is helplessly trapped in Lily`s spell?

Also, minor characters are muscling onto the stage, demanding I tell their story. Where did they come from, and what do they want?  Trouble is these people seem to have a mind of their own. Take Victoria Durham. A demure, timid young woman on one page – a furious fighting feminist on the next. How did that happen? I don`t remember.  Is it a case of character development – as the experts recommend? – or is it all a contradictory jumble of  nonsense?  I suppose I must wait and see.

So, it`s  eleven o`clock. I`ve had the mid-morning munchies and coffee. Let`s open the computer and see what they`re doing now – bound to be up to something behind my back. I just wish they`d do as they`re told. Not much to ask, is it?

On a lighter note, I would like you to meet `Little Dennis` – a character from Manchester`s past – and mine. He actually existed. It all seems a long time ago. Anyway, here he is.

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Members Musings March 2017

March1

My Muse for Members’ Musings

By Tony Trowbridge

I cannot imagine what it’s like not to get a good night’s sleep.  As my head hits the pillow, I fall straight into a deep and very happy sleep and it has always been like that.  In fact when people say ‘at the drop of a hat’ – that’s me.   I’ve fallen asleep standing up, at the bus stop and I even once managed to fall asleep during a Queen concert at The Coliseum in London before they became famous; as Freddie strutted his stuff, I curled up under one of the tables.

A year or so ago, an old friend contacted me through Facebook; a friend who can never sleep, who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in years, one who has tried everything from yoga, meditation and  exercise to alcohol and every form or prescribed medication but nothing works.

On occasions, while she was awake during the night, she would take photographs of herself suffering.  She told me about these and I asked to see them.  The anguish in her face was inspirational and I used these images in several hundred of my pictures.  I still find her facial contortions of abject pain and misery great for my art.  She exists in many forms throughout my art and in a small way I am helping her.  She enjoys taking the pictures when she’s at her lowest and then seeing her image on a wall or canvas.

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Members Musings January 2017

January1

David WeatherspoonMusical Memories

By David Weatherston

I don`t know about you, but for me, looking back over the years, there are many tunes and songs that bring back memories! Most of them are happy, there are several sad and a few romantic ones that I could`nt possibly discuss in public!!

Back at College in the sixties I remember winning £5 in a jive competition with my partner Pam Smith.The tune we danced to was “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl and I can recall several of our “moves” which were made all the more difficult because Pam [bless her!] had very sweaty hands and almost slipped away on several occasions! Wherever you are now Pam I hope hope you are still rockin`girl! Also at college I remember the DJ always playing “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procul Harem as the last tune of the Saturday night disco and knowing that if you had failed to “pull” by then your evening was effectively over!

Another song that always makes me stop and think back is “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. About twelve years ago a young teenage girl in Bristol took her own life in her bedroom while her parents sat downstairs watching TV. She had been a victim of bullying at school and as I had also suffered in the same way when I was young I could fully understand her distress.She left a note for her friends thanking them for trying to help her and she left a letter for the bullies asking them not to hurt anyone else in the future. She asked for “Everybody Hurts” to be played at her funeral.I remember holding a very emotional Year 8 assembly with the children entering and leaving in silence and playing that song to them after I had spoken to them about the girl`s tragic death.

On a lighter note our band were recently singing a rousing sea shanty called “South Australia”. Our brilliant fiddler Andy, who does`nt usually sing had the verse….

“There ain`t but one thing grieves my mind…Heave away, Haul Away,
To leave Miss Nancy Blair behind…We`re bound for South Australia”

Unfortunately Andy got the words slightly wrong and sang:-

” There ain`t but one thing grieves my mind…Heave away, Haul Away,
To leave Miss Nancy`s bare behind…We`re bound for South Australia”

At which point the whole band collapsed into helpless giggles!!!

So next time you hear a song that brings back memories stop for a moment and think. I hope your thoughts will be happy ones!!

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Members Musings December 2016

December1

To Plot, or Not to Plot, That is the Question

By Jonathan Dodd

Jonathan DoddI love writing groups. I’ve been in a few, I’ve started them and joined them and left them as my career has taken me from place to place, and now here I am very happily part of Wight Fair Writers and Artists Circle. The first thing I like about it is that we meet in a very comfortable coffee bar and there’s good coffee available. The second thing is that in common with most of my previous group experience, everyone is very friendly, sincere, and welcoming.

I’m not going to go into any details about the circle I briefly belonged to East of London where everyone’s sole desire was to write a book that would be published by Mills and Boon, while someone tried to steal my car from outside. I won’t mention the group with about fifty members that was riven by jealousy and in-fighting. I suppose writers can be just like everyone else in that way.

What I particularly like about us is that we’re all engaged in such different projects, and we’re all so different, but none of that matters because we’re all passionate about writing in general, and our own writing in particular. We talk about our triumphs and blockages and the day-to-day grind, and everybody listens and offers any advice or similar experiences, with great patience and respect. Thank you all for welcoming me.

From my own point of view, the most interesting discussion so far has been about the age old question – ‘To plot, or not to plot?’ I went to creative writing evening classes when the writing bug started to bite, as I suspect many of you did too, and I mourn their passing along with so many other subjects.

My first teacher was a poet called Sue Stewart. She had never done anything but write, and was as poor as a church mouse, but she was passionate about each of us finding our voice. I have an enormous amount to thank her for.

My second teacher wasn’t a writer, but he was very interested in the subject. He used to photocopy his lecture about the subject, then distribute it, and spend most of the weekly session reading it out aloud to us. I’m afraid I wasn’t his most ruly student, but I was bolshy enough to persuade most of my fellow members to start a writers circle of our own, thus proving that all experience is valuable to an aspiring writer.

I found out during those years that I’m not a ‘plotter’. Like Stephen King, in his great book ‘On Writing’, I start writing and the story more or less unfolds in front of my very eyes, constantly surprising me with what the characters get up to. I’ve tried to plot, but my imagination turns out to be far duller than the imagination of my characters. I’m just there to write down the words that they put in my head, like a glorified touch-typist.

I’ve known other writers like myself, many of them more or less happy about this situation. I just shrug, because that’s the way it works for me, and I get on with it fine. I have no idea how good a writer I am, but essentially I love to read, and I read my own work as if someone else wrote it, full of wonder and amazement. And no, I don’t have a genre.

I also know several writers who do plot. I knew one who put everything in a timeline and wrote bullet points on post-it notes all along their walls. They were able to pick any chapter and write it, completely out of order. I was in awe of him, as I am in awe of all other writers, and I certainly wouldn’t try to suggest one way is better or worse than another. To write is sublime, and I’m proud to count myself as one.

May we all continue to write and create and share and support each other. See you next month.

pMembers Musings | Comments Off on Members Musings December 2016

Members Musings November 2016

November1

Maggie JonesCan Dreams Come True?

By Maggie Jones

Can dreams come true, and should you pursue them to make them happen? This is something I’ve asked myself for a long time. And if you think they can’t come true when you are looking at acheiving them, should you let go of your dream and always be thinking, what if for the rest of your life?

When I was younger and at school chosing my options which would allow me to achieve my dream job at the time, I was convinced I wanted to be an air hostess or a vet.

However, my mum soon put paid to those dreams, saying I would be a glorified waitress on a plane and also telling me that there was no way I should work at a vets, she knew that any animal that came in because it/they had been abandoned, would no doubt end up being taken home by me. 😉

However, sometimes it’s so incredibly hard to let go of your dreams, especially when it is something you’ve always yearned for.

Not always can you follow your dreams, due to circumstances being out of your control.

Take my daughter who has diabetes and because of her health has found that there are a lot of dream jobs she can never do. Saying that, it has never swayed her with her choices, and who knows perhaps in the future a cure can be found for diabetes. She just adjusted to what she could and couldn’t be or have.

Many people believe their dreams are out of reach, and when I was younger, there was no way I would have thought my dream of becoming an author and getting published would ever come true.

But, I stuck with my dreams and pursued it until it did become a reality. It was hard work, and there was disappointment and tears on the way, but it was all worth it in the end, especially to see my book published and people buying it.

So should you give up your dreams?

I can’t answer that, because everyone is an individual. What I can say is, if you want something, like I did, go for it. I can honestly say I’m so pleased that I did. 😁

pMembers Musings | Comments Off on Members Musings November 2016

Members Musings October 2016

October2

The Apple I pad and me

By Val Jones

I first heard about the Carers IW free course when hubby mentioned that he would like to go. I wasn’t very enthusiastic having worked with computers almost all of my life. I thought that I was pretty clued up and didn’t need further instructions.

We went on a Thursday afternoon to the Riverside Centre and I sat there trying not to look bored. We were offered tea/coffee and biscuits – it was quite a homely atmosphere. Most of those attending were OAP’s although there is a younger element .  Carers come in all age groups and abilities. The main instructor is profoundly deaf but her lip reading is extremely good.

I learned how to use Ceri ( questions and answers given) and how to Facetime with my son in Scotland – this was a bit of a shock to him as he didn’t think since I had given up on other systems with face to face conferencing,  that I could manage it. I spent the next ten minutes convincing my ten year old granddaughter that it was a bit early to get out her Halloween costume.

I sat there this week working out my monthly budget, coming to the conclusion that there was still too much month at the end of the money! As always, a big sigh and off we go. When I got stuck, the computer asked politely if it could help. Such a nice little thing!

Meanwhile my hubby was learning how to save his pictures and how to use the camera. He is really into these I pads.

In conclusion, its never too late to learn new tricks. All I can say is Asus (The desktop) watch out ! there’s a new kid in town and he’s out to get you!

pMembers Musings | Comments Off on Members Musings October 2016

Members Musings September 2016

September1

My Summer Adventures With a Wheel Chair

By Michelle Angell

Michelle AngellAt the very beginning of July my daughter broke her leg. To be exact, her right tibia, in two places. We wont go into how this happened, let us just say it was misadventure at a kids playground. But this is also the part where I add that my daughter is seventeen years old, so shouldn’t really have been there in the first place.

With the bleak prospect of having an over knee cast on for the summer holidays, we were surprised to learn that she could have a waterproof cast. I thought that this meant that it was splash proof, but was informed by one of the nurses that it was fully submergible.

I couldn’t believe this until I saw it, but it actually was waterproof, and the half hour dripping of water from inside the cast was all it took to dry out.

Before leaving the plaster room we were given a form to pick up a wheel chair, on loan from the Red Cross. This was good news, at least life would be easier with a wheel chair…Or so I thought.

So after driving around to pick it up, I was wondering how I was going to fit it into the back of a Ford Fusion that already contained three people (one of which with a broken leg stuck out at an angle) and a very bored and full of sugar five year old in a car seat. The boot as always was full of random useless things that I might or might not ever need, with a carpet of large carrier bags which always get forgotten when I go shopping anyway and then I end up having to buy more. My plan was to rearrange things in such a way to wedge the wheel chair in there somehow. Or ‘car boot Tetris’ as I call it.

My other option of course was to drive home, empty the car and then come back alone, later that day to pick up the wheelchair. But, being the person who once managed to fit three adults, a baby seat and a dyson hoover (still boxed) into a mini, I did not want to be beaten on this.

Eventually with a lot of wedging, it squeezed in, until I tried to close the boot and the extending foot plate made a crunching sound. It was swiftly removed and wedged under someone’s armpit in the back.  Job done!

So of course, one of our first adventures the next day was to take the wheelchair for a spin up to the cemetery. Not that we are morbid or anything, we often walk the dogs up there and it’s also a pokestop apparently. I was feeling confident; I use wheelchairs frequently at work so this should be fine. Within minutes I started to learn some of the many lessons of the harsh reality of wheel chairs in the outdoors.

Of course on a carpet, up and down a hallway things are easy but when you are outside, things take a whole different turn. To start with, there was fun with kerbs. Now, on a few lucky occasions you will see dropped kerbs, adjacent to each other on both sides of the road, for example at a zebra crossing. The rest of the time, they very rarely match up. This meant that the whole procedure of crossing the road became a bit of a race. I was met with the choice of either moving as quickly down the road as possible to reach the nearest drop kerb to get back up, and in the process look like some kind of loony trying to race the approaching traffic. Or stopping, turning around and reverse bumping up the kerb.  All this without getting run over in the process. This evolved into me forward planning on where all the drop kerbs were ahead of each journey. Then promptly forgetting by the time I got there.

The cemetery itself is mostly uphill. It’s not a steep hill, until you are pushing a wheel chair up it on a hot summers day and then it seems to be practically vertical. With the added peril of the dog running dangerously close to the wheels in a zig zag fashion and all at once I begin wondering exactly how hard it would be to remove a squashed King Charles Cavalier spaniel from the rear wheels, and if the Red Cross would charge for damages.

The other interesting phenomena was ‘shrinking pavement’ which is common in Ventnor. As you walk along the pavement narrows more and more until you are balancing the wheel on the edge. At any moment there is the possibility that the pavement will run out, either that or the front wheels (which were clearly designed on supermarket trolley wheels) get jammed resulting in coming to a complete stand still.

Another skill I quickly acquired was judging whether or not we could fit through a gap. This is particularly useful when a car has parked half up on the pavement. I never realised what a difference that could make to a wheelchair user. Especially when halfway through you realise you have misjudged the situation and are now stuck fast, with a wing mirror in front of you and Car owner glaring out of the window in case the sides of the wheel have scratched their car.

And I haven’t yet mentioned the wasps! One thing you can’t do whilst pushing a wheelchair is run away from a wasp/stingy flying insect attack. You become a slow moving target, resulting in them repeatedly circling your head or dive bombing from all angles.

After all these fun and games, you would think that I would have been put off travelling far but I decided that it would be a good idea to take my daughter shopping, I soon learnt on that first day, that there were certain shops that would be future no go areas. Sports Direct being one of these, as an outstretched leg in plaster can quite easily take down a whole rack of jogging trousers in one go. Supermarkets were also perilous. The height of a basket in a hand is generally at wheelchair level, as my poor daughter found out many times.

Outside of the shops, there was the chance of nearby Phone zombies. Now, I know everyone looks at their phones a lot these days but not many would be unable to achieve what the phone zombies have. These are rare entities but travel alone at varying speeds, managing to walk along, looking at their phone, hand scrolling or typing on phone without any clue of their surroundings. They do not look up at all, and sometimes have headphones too for added reality avoidance.  I have seen them at times walk straight across roads, in front of oncoming traffic and survived unscathed. Of course, on one occasion we encountered one of these creatures approaching at great speed towards my daughter’s outstretched leg. Only to collide with the end of the extending footplate, which thankfully for them had a rubber cap for safety reasons. (I did at one point wonder how many phone zombies I could impale on a single trip to Newport if we removed that rubber cap). Of course, at the time of the event I gave the completely British reaction when they walked into it by saying ‘ooh sorry.” Repeatedly.  Even though it wasn’t my fault.

And so after all these weeks, and as September begins, we have moved onto the next phase of the broken leg saga, the cast is being changed today for a below the knee version. So it will be goodbye to the jousting foot plate and new adventures with crutches will begin.

I am just thankful that at the end of all this I can give the wheel chair back to the red cross, unlike some poor people who don’t have that to look forward to. I’ve learnt how difficult it must be for a disabled person, and their carers, getting around what seems like the simplest of places.

pMembers Musings | Comments Off on Members Musings September 2016

Members Musings August 2016

August1

Fiona TrowbridgeArmchair Adventures

By Fiona Trowbridge

I remember laughing at an advertisement in Cusco airport in Peru; it filled the entire billboard above the luggage carousel and was advertising bottles of oxygen.  While we waited for our luggage to be tossed from plane to trolley to conveyer belt and chute, I felt compelled to verbalise my thoughts about the advert to my fellow travellers.  “Look at that,” I said, “I thought we got ripped off in the UK where they try to sell us bottles of water, here they try to sell you bottles of air.”  Little did I realise that a few hours later, I would have paid any amount of money for a bottle of that oxygen as I found myself floored with altitude sickness and suffering from the mother of all headaches.  It was so bad, that if someone had offered me a guillotine at that time, I’d have volunteered to put my head in it.

Luckily I lived to mock another day and this time it was the turn of the armchair traveller.  Until recently, I’d never appreciated the joy of armchair travelling.  In fact, I had even, on occasion, been known to silently belittle the person who waxed lyrical about this place and that when they hadn’t even left their house let alone their city.

However, once again I have been obliged to eat humble pie and admit I was wrong, although fortunately without any medical repercussions this time, when I discovered the wealth of information to be gleaned while travelling around the world without leaving my house.

It started earlier this year when I was asked to do some ghost writing.  I was presented with a diary written by a guy who had travelled around Europe and Asia with his wife and young family and wanted his journal turned into a book.  The diary was well written with comical observations and interesting dialogue between family members, which contained personal stories of their experiences of natural disasters, from flooding and earthquakes to the man made problems of border crossings in Asia.  All this provided me with plenty of material but the real journey started when I had to research the places they had visited.  Like most personal diaries, little mention was made of the architecture, culture, history or atmosphere of the places they visited although my knowledge of individual hotel rooms and restaurant menus in cities from the likes of Prague to Krakow and Kyrgyzstan to China was greatly increased.

It was during my armchair travels that I came across the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic and the friendly and contented Nachi people of western China.  Closer to home, I was surprised to learn that the Thiepval War Memorial of the Somme was built using Accrington bricks from Lancashire and that despite being completely landlocked, Switzerland has a beach – La Plage, an idyllic lake with sandy beaches adjacent to a low wire activity course for children.  Perhaps the least surprising thing I discovered after all that, was that there is even an Armchair Travellers Club.

These are just a few of the gems I’ve discovered while sitting at my desk, so I’d like to applaud all you armchair adventurers out there.  I’ve learnt a great deal while eating my humble pie.

pMembers Musings | Comments Off on Members Musings August 2016
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