Exercises

SUMMER EXERCISE

TRAVEL PIECE

As we have had two events this year about condensed writing, the journalist and travel writing, your summer exercise will be to write a piece about TRAVEL. You have a free rein but please think about the length of your writing as we will all read our work out during the meeting.

We will be reading them out on the 7th September after the summer break then they will go on the website.

Exercises

NOTEBOOKS

We had an interesting discussion about what goes in a notebook at our last meeting, I liked the hangman and maths……a few grandparents were present. Eventually, we all came up with many ideas and how we remember things, glad it’s not only me that forgets just about everything. I thought separating your notebook into sections was a good idea as it often takes me a while to find what I am looking for.

write by the sea website here.

write by the sea Pinterest page

Exercises, Meetings

THURSDAY 5th MAY AT THE HIDEAWAY – GROUP MEETING

Please give The Hideaway or Karen your orders, please.

Our task for this week is to write down words you associate with Spring, then using some of them write a story in 300 or fewer words about SPRING.

These are optional tasks so if you want to share some of your own work with the group for critique or advice then please bring it along.

Exercises

HOLIDAY EXERCISE

I know sometimes the holidays can get a bit boring if you are on your own or not seeing many visitors or even just missing doing what you love…….writing!

I have an exercise for the ones that would like to do something creative, this is, as always, a choice so stay calm and just write. Even if you don’t have time to edit, that’s ok as you are writing and that’s what you love to do.

These three photos are the prompts so pick one of them and write something, this can be a story, poem or prose but no more than roughly 2,000 words.  If you are a planner of any sort could we see your planning when you read the story to us, this is optional but might give someone a helping hand or ideas of how they could plan a story. Or do you want to try planning? This is a good place to have a go, as I am sure we will have a good Q&A when we read the stories, which will be on the 13th January 2022.

For the illustrator’s, would you combine these photos for a book cover or just use one? Describe how you would go about doing a front cover using these pictures, you will have to make up the genre or title so we know how the cover goes with the story. 

Have fun, we look forward to reading some in the new year.

Stories

A FEW STEPS TO HEAVEN BY JANA CHATTERS

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A FEW STEPS TO HEAVEN

 

Late Spring 2002 didn’t make any impression, though Summer was almost on the doorstep. Breezy, changeable, not especially warm, typical English weather. To properly wake up, I walked in to my garden and looked around. In every corner of that green, I could see plenty of work and duties; too much for two pairs of hands.

As newly arrived Senior Citizens to Folkestone, we adore our house and garden and our plan for renovation and change of design was endless! After my breakfast, when I started to enhance a flower border I could feel a pricking pain in my spine. Took several minutes to get relief with the help of deep breathing and slowly walked to the chair. Sadly looked on the number of tools which I had prepared. I knew that my husband would be surprised at what still needed to be done. As a spiteful act, the sun appeared and with it I got a new idea. Walk for health! While tidying up the tools in the garden shed, there looking at me was my best friend – my purple bicycle. No, no, today not, my friend… but I couldn’t break away from it!

Later on, walking gently by our road, leading my bicycle, I created a new plan. Remembering a saying of my Physio Teacher at High School, Active Rest is The Best, I decided to obey him!
Aiming in the direction of the Leas, crossing Sandgate Road, I noticed two cyclists – seniors enjoying easy, of gentle speed, riding down to Sandgate. Great! With silent thanks for this gentle hint, I followed them, full of joy. Without any effort, after a few minutes got the end of Sandgate. I slipped to the coastal path for a stop, to decide on the next part of my journey. Sat on the beach and with amazement, adored the turquoise sea and the tranquillity of the seaside, only several walkers passed by.

Although only the first time at that spot I recognized that I had to turn left to get home. Taking the coastal path, just after Sandgate Castle, I could see a male-cyclist who has stopped for a chat with friends.
”Excuse me Sir!” I addressed him, ”Could you help me? I don’t know this area and need to take an easy way to get to Folkestone!”

”I could! Maybe a few ways!” Answered that chap with cheeky smile. ”The road you probably don’t like, but after about hundred metres, by that coastal way, you can find three paths to the Leas, but only one is easy! Or down to the Harbour. It would be best for you!” With a glimpse he recognized, he was speaking with a senior.

With thanks I waved at him and within a few minutes I passed the first exit with stairs. That is a bad one! I deduced. Next one smooth exit near the Mermaid restaurant, was closed for building work. I could learn from one worker that I should continue to the Harbour or go back to the previous exit, where there is the zig-zag path with several steps only.

After a few minutes I found it, but it was again the one, I had seen before! Grabbed my bike and managed those forty steps to get to the Parking on the Lower Sandgate Road. I stopped, breathing with relief and looked around. In front of me I could see stairs again, on the right a small road to the Harbour or left to Sandgate. No way!? After a short hesitation, I took my bike again under my arm and with that idea, proceeded onwards and upwards, hoping, that I could see a landing. Soon I started puffing and had to have a rest.
”Wow, that is training for Tour de France?” Mid aged couple, descending stairs, were wondering and watching me with a light smile.
”Not at all, that’s a mistake only!”, I answered and continued. After several steps , I finally could see a landing! What a relief! Stopping for breath, I noticed a beautiful view – the

water of the English Channel! At that moment I was approached by a group of walkers. ”Do you really go in the right direction? The easier way is to go down, not up!” They were joking and laughing.
”I know, but I want to try the next way, for a change, what will happen?” I answered and moved on.

Then I could spot the roof of the Grand and Metropole on the Leas. It was as a dose of energising drink!
The last part of 140 stairs I made so easily, I couldn’t believe it. Standing with amazement and adoring the Panorama of Folkestone’s Victorian pride. The flower bed in front of the Hotel, as a colourful lace, always to attract everybody who passed by. At this moment I had the feeling of being twice amazed, with my achievement and …

”Hello my Neighbour!” The senior lady, of about my age, who I knew from our street, pushing a baby buggy with a grandchild. Waving and smiling at me.
”Oh, you are sporty!” She added as a compliment.
”Thank you, I do cycling occasionally only, but I like it!”, still visibly out of breath.
”Just fancy, what I saw last week?!” With widened yes, Lady: ” Three lads, with racing bikes, suddenly appeared just at this spot, where we are standing now. Sweat dripping from their faces, puffing and from their speech I knew, they had climbed by these steps from Lower Sandgate Road!” Turning her head in disbelief. ”Maybe, they have climbed from the coastal path, with another 40 steps?! This is hazardous, isn’t it? In my opinion they are mad!?” Waiting for my response.

”I agree … there are enough areas to choose for that sport!” I answered with a little stammering.

”I am glad, you use the advantage that lovely Leas! That is really a gorgeous area! Mainly for relaxation!”
With smiley face and bye, she left.

Only now, I come to realize, why I am here? Where did I leave my backache?

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Jana is a new member of the writing group so it is a pleasure to have her story on our site, including Jana’s photographs which go so well.

When Jana was recoverring from an illness she did some mosaic work which I would like to show you. I think it is wonderful.

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A very talented lady who will be a lovely addition to our group.

Please send any of your work that you would like to see on our site to myself, Karen at karensworld.writer@yahoo.co.uk

 

Stories

MONOPOLY BY PAT JOHANN ELINOR

Monopoly:
The exclusive possession or control by a few over much and over many.

The possibility for monopoly comes in many guises. For example a famous board game with the aim of becoming the richest player, or monopolising a conversation, or a child attempting to keep all the toys for itself, or one person making a slave of somebody else. Another quite insidious form of monopoly was once found among those claiming to help others.

The following information represents a heavily edited version taken from a chapter titled ‘The Charities’ found in my book ‘Alex: The Considered History of a Childs Survival’.

During the Victorian era, there were hundreds of charities each helping groups of people with real demanding needs and almost all of these charities could boast of doing a great deal of good. But there was as you might expect some duplication of giving and dishonesty among recipients taking place.

In wanting to monopolise Christian thinking, the inveigling religious sect with its feast of ever failing dates for the Supreme Being’s day of retribution still manages to heap scorn of ‘false prophet’ on other would-be prognosticators.

The ‘Charity Organisation Society’, from here on known as ‘COS’, was another self- appointed guardian who saw its opportunity to control the mindset of all Victorian charities with legislation designed to restrict charitable giving whilst claiming to use a more scientific approach in helping the destitute. Octavia Hill a founder member aided the formation of ‘COS’ in London in 1869 through the aggregation of personalities with potent affiliations, who essentially represented the interests of the privileged upper classes, and who at that time attempted to dominate with the moralizing of the Anglican Church.

Having taken the moral high ground for itself, ‘COS’ displayed a perverse approach to helping the underprivileged in wanting to maintain the status-quo between givers and recipients. Only when an applicant passed its stringent investigation did COS recommend they be directed to a charity for assistance or sent to the workhouse. ‘COS’ believed that restricting assistance from the state was the correct way to help the impoverished while focusing on the poor’s own responsibility for their plight, rather than on the uneven handed manner that Britain’s industrialized economy was being run. ‘COS’ refused to recognise that wages kept catastrophically low by wealthy industrialist and landowners without government interference or a meaningful moral compass was the real cause of much of the poverty seen during the Victorian era. And yet in order to acquire exorbitant profits, a class of poorly paid adults and children were cynically trapped into a lifetime of abject poverty.

‘COS’ accepted the political indifference toward the poorest in society, and convinced itself that they could starve the effects of impoverishment by making its outcome as unpleasant as possible for its victims. Interestingly, the Anglican Church was reluctant to give up slavery until forced by the Colonies Abolition Act of 1833 demanded by the anti-slavery movement, first begun among the British public when led by Quakers. The Anglican Church did not, however, recompense any of its freed plantation workers with its £8,823 of compensation granted to it by the English government for relinquishing its 411 slaves on the Codrington Caribbean sugar plantation.

 

No matter how desperate the need was, ‘COS’ refused to give help to destitute children of parents with a dubious disposition, instead offered a modicum of help only to families that showed it reverential deference and fully complied with its ethos. ‘COS’ took Thomas Barnardo the founder and director of homes for poor children to task for apparently ‘squandering money on guttersnipes’, and for not checking first if the child’s parents were of a good moral character before offering such help. Basing its actions entirely on false rumours, ‘COS’ also attempted to close the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s charity, instructing its own members and even appealing to the public to withhold all financial support.

‘COS’ was pertinacious in its objections to government furthering assistance and even lobbied Parliament against improving the state’s ‘Poor Law’ relief, complaining that the provision of free school dinners and free healthcare for the low paid, would debase the poor and make them lazy. Octavia Hill dismissed the idea of a universal old-age state pension on the assumption that it made the recipient “less self-reliant”, whilst turning a blind eye to those who were no less self-reliant when deriving their income from dividends with no real effort.

Mr Honeythunder’s ‘Haven of Philanthropy’ from Charles Dickens novel ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, is described as a bullying London charity; it was understood by Charles’ readers to be a caricature of ‘COS’, which, with its harsh and paternalistic view became known as the ‘Cringe or Starve’ charity by its frequent critics of the day.

The good news is that despite the efforts of ‘COS’ and the Catholic Church to discredit him in the courts, Thomas Barnardo did not hesitate in continuing to offer help to children. He established over 50 orphanages in London and at the time of his death in 1905, at the age of 60, the charity was running 96 homes. He transformed the lives of nearly 60,000 boys and girls, who may so easily have vanished into the blackness of prisons and the abhorrent workhouse. In testimony to his work, thousands of people lined the streets in the East End of London to pay their respects at his funeral. In ‘The London Times’ newspaper is written: ‘It is impossible to take a general view of Dr Barnardo’s life work without being astonished alike by its magnitude and by its diversity and by the enormous amount of otherwise hopeless misery against which he has contended single-handed with success.’

In the final analysis of attempting to monopolise others, the ‘Charity Organisation Society’ failed in its parsimoniousness to reduce pauperism or establish meaningful trust among both poor communities and other charities, primarily because of its intrusive and patronising investigation of family circumstances. And as the Vice-Chairman of the Newcastle Board of Guardians, William Todd stated, “the moment you add organisation to [charity] … its lustre … light and life are gone.” Its middle-class volunteer base started to decline as early as the 1890s and with the establishment of a full welfare state during the 1940s ‘COS’ went further into decline. In 1946 ‘COS’ renamed the charity ‘Family Welfare Association’.

 

In September 2008, ‘FWA’ also changed its name in an attempt to improve its image. *After the charity spent £25,000 on rebranding itself, Helen Dent the organisation’s chief executive said, “Service users hated the ‘welfare’ stigma and the name gave an old- fashioned impression. We replaced the word ‘welfare’ with the word ‘action’ because it’s more positive and dynamic.”

*https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/family-welfare-association.

I have no doubt that ‘Family Action’, the current name for the ‘Charity Organisation Society’, who now run parenting programmes and offer small education grants to disadvantaged families would see Octavia’s version of charity spinning in its grave. Today ‘Family Action’s financial support comes almost entirely from UK government contracts and the State’s franchised lottery; a form of gambling that has paradoxically led lots of families further into a glutinous swamp of entrenched debt.

‘COS’ might be described as having failed in its personal quest for control, and yet it did do some good things that we still benefit from today. But on insisting that it knew best, it attempted to destroy in others a natural inclination of offering real hope along with practical help to those with nothing, but the prospect of early death in the most miserable of circumstances.

 

Stories

‘MONOPOLY’

The word was MONOPOLY and this is what some of the group members came up with.

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Bored Games

I returned home as Hungry as a Hippo,

Wondering what to eat that night.

Guess Who Was cooking again?

Battling over these choices as we

Move like ships in the night.

Battleships some might say.

 

When we met it was like a connection.

‘Connect for life,’ He said.

He had a monopoly on my time.

My heart.

Ripped out

Cut it out in an Operation.

 

Sometimes we Scrabble for words.

Sometimes I wonder if he has a Clue.

All I know is that this love is not a trivial pursuit.

Samantha Stevens

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I remember rainy weekends when as a child,  I would play Monopoly with my mum.  To start the game,  we had to throw a double six. Sometimes this would take ages, this would infuriate us both. Finally, we began to play. My favourite counter was the car,  although sometimes I used the ship.  Mum usually had the boot. Round and round the board we went.  My car was like those on formula one tracks,  each go round the board was like going around a track circuit.  I enjoyed being the banker and deciding which properties to buy. I usually bought the green,  blue and dark blue properties and left mum the rest.  When I played I was usually unlucky and spent lots of time going to and in jail,  (what for I really don’t know).  I had to throw a double to get out and sometimes it took ages.  Mum, however,  seemed to sail around the board.  Sometimes she’d land on my properties but didn’t have to pay rent as I was in jail once again.  Eventually, I threw a double and was released from jail.  This concerned me,  I’d spent most of my money and had less than £500 left. I threw a double,  then another,  but on my next go I landed on the pay income tax £200 square. With bated breath,  I apprehensively made my way around the board.  Unfortunately,  I landed on a couple of mum’s properties and had to pay rent.  By this time mum had bought houses on her properties.  Mum had an uncanny knack of avoiding mine,  (she definitely had luck on her side).  I landed on the take a chance square and read the card,  it said ‘Advance too  Trafalgar Square, do not pass Go and do not collect £200’. Mum grinned, she had a house on Trafalgar Square.  I screamed in frustration,  my eight-year-old self indignant at this. Grudgingly I paid out the money. Now I was flat broke, the game was over, mum had beat me at Monopoly yet again.

Suzannah Gisby

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Monopoly 

Manasseh had timed his arrival at the Strand Bridge to perfection. He prided himself on punctuality; always had done. He was a proud man. His agent (the phrase still gave him a thrill) would be along soon.  A chill wind was blowing – autumn was on its way.  Something about it, and the choppiness and greyness of the river, reminded him of his youth, when he and his brother would ride into those little towns on the Baltic with a cart so full of bearskins from the Carpathians that they could hardly drive it.  He smiled at the memory but it felt like a lifetime ago. He had come a long way since then.

Along the river, to the east, lay his home, between the Jolly Jack Tar and the shop that sold chronometers and sextants.  A little cramped with seven children, but, he would like to think, a happy home and it would do for now. More appropriate accommodation might be in the offing, if things continued with this plan, so audacious that nobody else would ever dare put it into action and yet so simple.   His “competition” – if one could describe it thus – was right now on a prison hulk in Portsmouth, awaiting the boat that would take them to Van Diemens Land.  He had seen to that; had made sure his name was not associated with theirs, had learnt never to put all his eggs in one basket, if that was the right English phrase.

A woman leading a black cow brushed past him roughly and disappeared into the crowd. He rubbed his coat fastidiously with a large handkerchief and slipped his hand into his capacious pocket.  All present and correct; two hundred Prussian banknote; notes that he had had printed himself, but who would ever know the difference – ready to be exchanged for coins of the British realm, of the same value. His attention was caught momentarily by a black carriage parked in the street nearby, its windows closed.

Halfway across the bridge – just as arranged – was his man, a hand raised in greeting.  He walked slowly over to him – he never rushed anywhere, not his style.  Out of nowhere, a bony hand grasped him by his shoulder and a voice hissed “Gotcha,” accompanied by a strong smell of onions and beer.  Worse odours were to assail him when, after a struggle, he was pushed unceremoniously and headfirst into the black carriage.

With as much dignity as he could muster, he asked the officious, grinning oaf sitting opposite where they were going.

“Newgate, mate. “

“Not for long,” thought Manasseh. “Not if I can help it.”

Debby Jones

 

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Monopoly: US or UK?

A Piece of Nonsense

St Charles Place or posh Pall Mall,

Vermont Avenue or Euston Road?

Pancakes and waffles or Eggs Royale?

Depends I guess on your own postcode.

Kentucky Avenue or The Strand,

Park Place apartments or Park Lane?

Theatre on Broadway or West End?

Luxury living or fancy hotel chain?

Reading Road or Kings Cross Station,

Ventnor Avenue or Coventry Street?

Which is the pride of their home nation?

I’d wager they both smell just as sweet.

Atlantic Avenue or Leicester Square,

Marvin Gardens or Piccadilly?

Would you wish to shop here or there?

Or am I being just plain silly?

The game’s the same either side of the pond

Full of guile and cunning, and just plain greed,

Which is why I am hopeless and cannot respond,

I much prefer Scrabble I have to concede.

Tony Quarrington

Stories

The Four Umbrella Sketch (with thanks /apologies to Monty Python)

Behind the clean, efficient counter of the lost property department at Euston Station lurks a dense jungle of paraphernalia left by passengers, including mobile phones, sunglasses and purses.

And a vast and assorted collection of umbrellas.

The office has been closed for hours, and the last train has long left the station.

All is quiet – until four of the department’s, hopefully temporary, residents break away to the furthest corner and engage in earnest conversation.

The first umbrella, a Liberty print ladies version, opened the debate by stating that “you won’t believe how I ended up here. My owner brought me from North Wales on a shopping trip. By early afternoon she had accumulated designer bags from Harrod’s, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and many other high-end stores. She turned down the offer of a bag to put me in, as it was raining steadily outside at the time, and I was called into immediate action.

I had a premonition even then that, in the panic and confusion that was bound to accompany the train’s arrival at Crewe for her connection, I might be left behind. And so I was, though I did get an extra trip back to London.

I suspect the half bottle of Prosecco she drank on the journey didn’t help”.

A foldable child’s Peppa Pig design replied “mine was a young mother with two kids, both with their own umbrellas. I “belonged” to her five-year-old daughter, and the six-year old boy carried one in the shape of a particularly ugly frog. Their mum had brought them to London for the day from Hemel Hempstead to visit the Natural History and Science Museums.

The day was going well until it was time to catch the train home. As they gathered their belongings for the return journey, mum discovered that one of the umbrellas was missing and harangued her daughter for leaving it somewhere, the precise location and timing being a total mystery at the time.

Well, I can exclusively reveal now that I was left in the ladies’ loo opposite Platforms 1 and 2.

Oh, and by the way, that blasted frog survived the ordeal”.

At that point, a multi-coloured beach brolly interrupted, insisting that “they’re both conventional ways of being left behind. My abandonment was much more interesting. They brought me, along with their two teenage boys, from Watford Junction on a day trip to the seaside. I spent five hours on Viking Bay Beach at Broadstairs, shielding them from the whistling wind and intermittent drizzle, I blew inside out at least twenty times (fortunately my spokes are strong and I didn’t suffer any lasting damage), and how did they repay me?

Left me to go round the entire Circle Line three times, being pushed from seat to seat (I nearly gone thrown onto the platform at Shepherd’s Bush Market), before a kind commuter picked me up and brought me here”.

A large, black, Ministry of Defence affair with hand-carved ash handle had been listening to these laments with increasing irritation. He could not restrain himself any longer and haughtily exclaimed “that’s all very interesting but incredibly boring. My owner is a senior civil servant currently employed on top-secret government business. It is as highly stressful as it is well remunerated and requires high intelligence and discretion. He needs to relieve himself – literally – on occasions or it would all become too much.

So, his Tuesday afternoons are set aside for visits to a professional lady along the road from here at King’s Cross. To cover his tracks he always walks from his office in Whitehall and, due to today’s inclement weather, I was recruited to join him. We arrived at the appointed time and he promptly disappeared to carry out his business. At least he had the good grace to prop me by the door to the flat rather than condemn me to witness the proceedings from the inner sanctum.

At the customary time of four in the afternoon, the door opened and, as immaculately attired as he had been when he arrived, he took his leave. However, with the sun strenuously trying to penetrate the tattered curtain in the lady’s bedroom, thus restricting his vision, he omitted to collect me on his way out.

So how did I get here, I hear you ask?

It transpired that, rather than, as I would have expected, she resided in the hovel that hosted the afternoon’s divertissement, the lady in question actually commuted to her place of work on a daily basis, just like the office workers and retail staff that frequent the concourse here from the early morning until midnight.

After attending to three more gentleman callers, she duly took the 18:57 to Birmingham New Street, but not without making a short detour to this establishment to place me in its safe custody.

I must say I was surprised but equally gratified, to learn that the entertainment industry is as subject to gentrification as any other these days.

It makes one proud to be British”.

By Tony Quarrington