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Fun and Games – Almost a Heptathlon – Summer Readaround – 10 August 2022

A hot summer’s night – but seven members resisted the temptations of sun-loungers in the garden or ice-creams down the beach and, instead, eagerly logged on to Zoom for our penultimate summer readaround.

First things first – Matt, our host, showed us a list of Commonwealth Games events (very topical, as the Games’ spectacular closing ceremony was only two days earlier) and asked each of us to choose a sport. Then with magical on-screen jiggery pokery, he organised the evening’s ‘running order’ based on the order each sport appeared during the Games. Matt opted not to read which left six competitors in six very different sports – almost a heptathlon, with our host in charge of the starting pistol.

The Triathlon was first out the starting blocks – Nigel reading from his ‘work in progress’ novel Will Power. He explained chapter six’s purpose is to reveal his main protagonist Sarah’s observations about other characters and her life, giving background to her journalistic career, and to sew in clues. making the reader question how reliable a narrator she really is. We enjoyed Sarah’s cynical voice and wry comments and look forward to hearing the next instalment.

Next up, Weight-lifting and Maggie M snatched and grabbed a 250-word Flash Fiction. Maggie’s story Golden, placed in last year’s club competition with the theme of ‘Fifty’, celebrated a special anniversary and had a neat twist in the tail. Maggie asked advice on where she could submit her flash fiction and the consensus of opinion was, she should aim for Bath Flash Fiction competition. Good luck, Maggie, here’s hoping you can lift a prize!

Serving from the Isle of Coll, the ball was in Jean’s Squash court. She shared her children’s story A Playful Pig, an entertaining tale of a little pig looking for playmates and finding three colourful and competitive witches who end up causing a bit of a racquet…sorry…racket.  We enjoyed the rhythm of the story, loved the witch who spoke in rhyme and felt this story would work well with illustrations for younger readers.

Taking the plunge next – Diving. Damaris read an extract from her memoir (recently placed in the Scottish Association of Writers non-fiction book competition). The chapter Building Work in Valtopina told of the trials and tribulations of renovating and improving Damaris and Clive’s Italian home and garden. We enjoyed her description of quirky characters; the local builder Daniele and the house-hunting friars, and agreed her anecdotes like the windows with masking tape and gabion baskets brought the piece to life,

Pedalling in fifth position, Cycling. Marion’s article transported us to Glasgow’s Blythswood Square. Packed with history, this well researched piece, tells us the origins of this affluent Georgian area with ‘sought after addresses’ and covers everything from the radical Glasgow Society of Lady Artists, to the Royal Scottish Automobile Club (now the Blythswood Hotel), to an infamous Victorian arsenic murder. We felt the story of Marion’s connection to the Square injected a unique and amusing personal element to the article.

The ball passed to me, last on the court – Netball – a game I last played over 40 years ago (WD/Wing Defence, all 5ft 1in of me!). Quite apt I picked a predominately women’s sport as I was reading the beginning of my Women’s Magazine Short Story, which won AWC’s competition last session – Trouble with Bonnie and Clive.  Yes, the second Clive of the evening! Tensions are high as Lena seethes about Clive’s plans to spend their special wedding anniversary weekend on a trip with Bonnie and reflects on their courtship and married life together? Does Lena really want Clive to pack his bags and leave? These conflicts will be resolved at the next readaround when I’ll read the second half of the story.

With all six pieces read, Matt blew the whistle early on a very enjoyable and productive evening. Plenty of good advice and helpful comments were passed around the group.

Many thanks to Matt, for keeping us on track, and to all who participated.

Looking forward to hearing the next selection at the final readaround on 24 August. See you there?

Linda Brown

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