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Annual General Meeting Night at Ayr Writers

Arsenic and the AGM

Filibusters, objections, abstentions, private members’ motions, last-minute amendments, backbench manoeuvring…

The Ayr Writers 2022/23 Annual General Meeting was mercifully short on such drama, which allowed us to get down to some – you’ve guessed it – writing, once the business of the AGM was complete.

Nigel kicked us off with his President’s Report for the year. We had emerged blinking into a post-lockdown September 2022. A programme including Ben Oliver, Patrick Laurie, Em Strang, Linda Cracknell, Michael Meighan, and Tracy Harvey kept our writing cogs turning throughout the year, with workshops delivered by club members helping us to produce a formidable amount of work. It was also noted that former member Ellie Hamilton had kindly bequeathed the club a gift. The year had been a successful one at the Scottish Association of Writers conference, with AWC punching above our weight yet again.

Following on were John with his Treasurer’s Report, me with the Membership Report, Fiona with the Competitions Report, and Carolyn with an update on the group’s media and archive activity.

There were several committee members stepping down from their roles. Nigel as President, John as Treasurer, me as Membership Secretary, and Fiona A as Competitions Secretary. Fear not, though. With capes billowing behind them, but with underpants still underneath their trousers, our new committee members stepped forwards for the 2023/24 session. Maggie M will be taking on the role of Competitions Secretary, Maggie B will be stepping into my shoes as Membership Secretary, Chris will be treasurer for the forthcoming session, whilst Kirsty, Marion, and Gavin will be joining the committee as general members. Our new joint presidents are Linda B and Carrie W.

With debate exhausted and with paperwork signed and filed away safely, it was time to get down to the serious business of writing. Nigel had brought his trusty bag of writing prompt items. Set with the task of weaving narratives around digital thermometers, kingfishers, and toothpaste, the stories did not disappoint. Pen darting across the page desperately, this blogger did not manage to capture them all!

Amidst much hilarity, Maggie and Greta gave us a drama between a kingfisher, a thrush, and a goldcrest. There was an Alice in Wonderland feel to the misadventure, with some very verbose avian characters!

Marion and Carrie had to link a tie and a digital thermometer – not necessarily an easy task. Nonetheless, the two items featured in the same story, via a trip to a tailor, a Covent Garden opera house, and a crushed windpipe.

Also wrestling with props and setting were Linda and Kirsty. They took us back to Victorian times, where a confidence trickster went to dinner at a politician’s house. Those of us who hadn’t considered the use of strychnine or arsenic in toothpowder were no doubt looking askance at our tubes of Colgate before going to bed.

Nigel gave us a story with an aura of aromatherapy around us. A Jo Malone box and a pair of scissors gave birth to a story about a campaign against townscape smells, tragically thwarted by the now-ubiquitous Lush stores on our highstreets.

Carolyn’s tale was one of office skulduggery, and the incendiary contents of a floppy disc. Beware the disgruntled employee with a grudge against HR!

There were many more props, and tales to go along with them, which my pen wasn’t fast enough to capture. If the creativity and skill which a few carefully-selected knickknacks from Nigel could engender are anything to go by, our summer readarounds should be events to look forward to!


Matt Richardson


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