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Ayr Writers’ S.A.W. Success Night – 12th April 2023

The SAW (Scottish Association of Writers) night is the annual opportunity to celebrate the club’s success at the national level and enjoy some friendly inter-club rivalry (especially when we win). Ayr Writers’ talented members proudly represented the club again this year and it was a genuine pleasure to listen to the winning, commended and highly commended entries.

In the book, ‘Broken Memoir’, Linda Brown tells the story of a reunion of a group of school friends. A sinister secret lurks like a shadow in their shared past, threatening to darken the events of the present. Linda shared the prequel which describes two of the group as schoolchildren on a day out to the beach where they encounter a mysterious figure, watching them from a distance. Her story made my skin prickle.

Kirsty Hammond read Greta Yorke’s winning entry to the children’s competition, ‘Ickle Prickle’. It is the delightful story of a hedgehog hibernating for the winter. All the other animals speculate about the purpose of his prickles. Being inherently childish I was most entertained by the notion that they are good for removing bogies. Greta’s tale wove together humour, an introduction to a plethora of woodland animals and charm in equal measure.

Susan McVey shared her dark young adult fiction novel which revolves around the apparent murder of a boy called Billy. But Billy is back! How? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I loved the last line of the piece Susan read. When the children are summoned to the Headmistress’s office, one warns her companion felons, “Be careful what you say…”

Nigel ambushed me this evening with a request to read Ann Burnett’s excellent article, Lobsters and Corrugated Bottoms. In it, she recounted her experiences on a holiday in Japan where she first encountered onsens – Japanese spas. Her humorous and self-deprecating style made for a fun read and conjured vivid images of a naked middle-aged woman on a rooftop onsen which overlooked a busy harbour. Ann’s acute sense of self-consciousness, discomfiture and unfamiliarity with the rituals associated with onsens was palpable. So too was her delight in succumbing to their relaxing embrace; sufficient to overcome her British sensibilities.

Nigel’s short story, Into a Different Country, was highly commended for its strong female protagonist. The story tracks the career path of Melissa, a young political activist, who eventually becomes an elected local councillor. Pregnant, and an advocate of breastfeeding in public, her new role demands that she navigate the choppy waters of local politics. She must chart a path of integrity while avoiding or weathering the storm which is the indisputable matriarch of the chamber, Councillor Whittingham.

Club members will be familiar with Marion Husband’s piece, ‘View of the Firth of Clyde’. It recounts the seasons of the famous firth and the stories of those who visit the promenade that overlooks it. The story is told with a wistful air and is as much about the seasons of life. It ends with a clever twist that made me reflect on all the clues Marion had scattered along the way and reminded me of my many trips to Largs.

Nigel was delighted to introduce Chris Palmer’s book review, ‘The Moth and the Mountain’. Ayr Writers has a history of doing well in this competition but as the results were announced, there was no mention of the club until first place. Well done Chris on upholding the honour of the group. Chris’s review reflected his admiration for an astonishing man, Ed Ceaser, who flew a Gypsy Moth plane from London to the foothills of Everest and then climbed the famous mountain. The feat is all the more remarkable as he had neither experience in flying nor mountaineering. That might be an appropriate metaphor for the task of writing!

Linda Brown shared a short story hewn from her own childhood experiences. It told the story of Christmas (at a time when Chatty Cathy was the most coveted toy for girls). Grandad John revels in the innocence and joy of his Granddaughter Katie as she anticipates the arrival of Santa. The moment is precious to him because he missed Katie’s mum’s childhood. He was absent as a consequence of serving in the armed forces during World War II. Unable to contain himself, he stages a premature visit from Santa so that he can enjoy Katie opening her first present. The moment is tinged with his daughter’s disapproval and perhaps his and her sadness that they missed out on such moments.

Nigel wrapped up the evening with his flash fiction entry which, through a clever chronology of events, reviews and commentaries chart the growth of a young actor. Nigel noted that his feedback included notes to the effect there was no beginning, middle or end. We all agreed that Nigel’s innovative piece had all of these elements and it just goes to show, what do adjudicators know anyway?

The evening ended with a note from Nigel on another upcoming celebration – the Annual Awards Dinner which takes place at the Carlton Hotel on the 10th of May. Places can now be secured by sending your dinner fee to John Eden, Treasurer.


John Eden

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