Precious Moments – Summer Readaround – 14th July 2021

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These were plentiful in our 4th summer read around. Precious moments?? Explanations later. Fiona hosted a well-attended get together with a great variety of work. (My word, aren’t Ayr Writers a talented lot!)

Suzy started us off with a period piece set in 1870’s Glasgow. She captures the driech and somewhat sinister world of street entertainers. The down-at-heel woman with her barrel organ and equally down-at-heel monkey, is approached by Jack – conjurer and all round threatening and suspicious character (his glass eye keeping a watch on her). Does this character come across as one who could hold your interest throughout a novel? Suzy asked. You betcha!

I was up next with more of my children’s novel (8 -10 years) ‘The Rising of the
Dragons.’ Set in Wales, it involves Welsh legend, family feuds and, of course, dragons. This extract features a meeting between the two main child characters and their friend’s granny, who seems to know, not only all about them, but dragons too. The rapport between the children and the old lady was appreciated – both are disbelieved and their lives controlled by others.

Greta’s short story ‘Half-way House’ features and old property due for demolition and characters reluctant to leave. I think Greta was hoping the fact that they are all ghosts would not be realised until nearer the end. Suggestions were offered as to how the deception might be maintained. We shall hear more of this I think.

Jean’s short story, ‘Comings and Goings’ features a clash of life-style expectations when a city couple visit their newly-acquired holiday cottage. A meeting with a neighbour persuades them that too much ‘nature’ is probably not for them.

Carolyn’s monologue ‘Serendipity’ shows a woman waiting, alone in a bar. Has
she been stood up by her date? No, it turns out she is hoping to meet an, until recently, unknown sibling. I’m glad it didn’t turn out to be the sleeze-ball who was trying to chat her up! Good one Carolyn.

Matthew’s ‘Camping at Loch Leven’ gives a beautiful and evocative sense of place with well observed descriptions. We particularly liked the encroaching mist that deadens voices and the ‘skeins of sound undulating through the air.’

Linda’s memoir ‘Going Off at a Tangent’ is a confession of a past misdemeanour.
Having failed Higher Maths at school, she goes for a second attempt at an evening class. However, she is easily persuaded to ditch that plan in favour of romance (‘our eyes met over algebraic fractions.’) We appreciated the porky humour and the liberally scattered mathematical references throughout!

Patricia gave us a short story featuring a Finnish girl seeking fairy, mountain voices on Schiehallion. What these voices are is left to our imagination. A lovely idea, but we thought the ending a little too abrupt. Nigel suggested that auditory rather than visual descriptions would be more in keeping with the theme.

Nigel gave us the beginning of a short story, where an unpleasant editor (with his ‘obese backside’ and ‘fingers like dancing sausages on the keyboard’) gives a newbie reporter an investigation to pursue. She may turn out to be more astute than he thought. We felt this could be the beginning of a novel rather than a short story.

Maggie M gave a tongue in cheek account of the reasons for the Mediterranean blue appearance of the sea around the Ayrshire coast. It’s not algae, she says, but blue Scottish people (like Billy Connelly) swimming in the sea. Love the idea Maggie!

Now we come to the explanation of those ‘Precious Moments.’ Gail suggested we should all take time out of hurried, busy lives, to savour precious moments – time spent with family, beautiful scenery or events with a high ‘feel good factor,’ and bank them to recall in times of stress or unhappiness. Definitely a good idea Gail.

Damaris rounded off the evening with one of her Umbrian Tales, ‘An Olive Branch’. A seasonal worker stays on to try and put to rights a neglected olive grove belonging to an elderly owner. Initially resented by his neighbours and mocked for his lack of knowledge, they eventually come to help. Damaris gives us a delightful glimpse of the Italian environment.

So there we are, with our precious moments banked, and plenty to savour until our next readaround in a fortnight’s time.

Cheers all
Maggie Bolton

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