Dec 132017
 

Not the official Twelve Days of Christmas, of course, but a nice festive run up to the big day itself (you’re welcome!). Today’s seasonal offering is a short story by Sue Marlow, getting our annual project off to a fine start…  

Ringing the Changes

Everything starts somewhere although many physicists disagree. For James it all began as the clock struck eleven one Christmas morning. It was the ninth year on his own, caught in the expanse of solitude that arcs between Christmas and New Year. James’ friends all had family and were collected by their fractious and overworked sons or daughters, whisked away to an unfamiliar location and placed in an armchair in the corner of the room with a cracker, mince pie and the TV. They accepted it all with good humour and gratitude, not wishing to upset anyone but secretly longing to return to their homes and independence. But for those without family this seasonal paradox of good will often abandons people at their loneliest.

James and Mary had not been blessed with children and neither of them had siblings. They had been everything to each other and it was at Christmas that James felt his loss most deeply. He knew it was time for action and as the clock chimed eleven on that grey Christmas morning he decided that he was going to ‘hit the bottle’. It was Mary who had discovered Whitstable Bay beer when they had popped into the local Co-Op together for a cream slice to accompany their Sunday afternoon tea. She had liked the design on the label and the beer itself had become James’ favourite.  But a pint at home in the evening or an occasional cream slice at tea time were no longer pleasures without Mary to share in them.

James spent that Christmas afternoon calculating how much beer he would need to consume to achieve his objective and when the local Co-Op opened for a few hours on Boxing Day he picked up the first two pints. As the New Year progressed and spring opened its doors to summer James’ purchases continued at an unfaltering pace.

The next Christmas was causing the bookie’s last minute concern due to an unaccustomed threat of significant snow. Dressed in a thick coat James opened his front door at half past ten on Christmas morning but quickly closed it again and went in search of another jumper. The terraced house had a small front garden with a low brick wall and throughout the summer James had been pruning and transplanting. Hence the trestle table, with which he returned, fitted perfectly and allowed him just the right amount of space to stand behind. The table top was marked out with rows of neatly drawn circles, each with a number and letter. He then brought out trays of bottles all labelled and filled with liquid to different levels. He placed them within the circles. At precisely eleven o’clock James lifted an old school bell and rang out the hour. In the cold crispness of the waiting morning the chimes reverberated in the air with a beautiful clarity. James then took two small beaters in his gloved hands and began to gently hit the bottles. The notes leapt from the glass and danced along the street, piquing and pirouetting in the stillness. By the time James reached the ninth bar of ‘The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ people had gathered on the pavement. The little girl from the house opposite watched every motion of the beaters, her eyes full of wonderment. On the final bar the first snowflakes began to fall, elegantly skating down the necks of the bottles in a finale flourish.

That afternoon James joined the little girl and her family for tea, mince pies and the Queen’s speech although he didn’t hear much of it over the chatter. He was easily persuaded to promise to teach Jingle Bells to the little girl and her friend for next year’s performance! On Boxing Day James was invited to help Mrs Green and her visiting brother finish the turkey. Mrs Green told him she had a fondness for Whitstable Bay. It was where she and her late husband had honeymooned. James admitted he hadn’t been there for years but would very much like to see it again. ‘Why don’t we go together in the spring?’ asked Mrs Green and James agreed that was a lovely idea.

Dec 082017
 

Well here we are again on the cusp of another seasonal break, with just our annual DO to go before we put Tunbridge Wells Writers 2017 out to stud and throw ourselves into the saddle of Tunbridge Wells Writers 2018. And what a magnificent steed it will undoubtedly prove to be! But let’s not gallop too far ahead, for we still have all the joy and wonder of that annual DO to look forward to, as well as the Twelve Days of […insert favoured seasonal holiday here…] Project to unveil from December 13th until Christmas Eve. For details of the project click HERE, but if you’ve not got in already you’re going to have to get your act together pretty sharpish.

Talking of the 13th, that’s also the date of this year’s Word Up slam final at the Forum, so if you fancy airing your poems or just listening to others air theirs then that’s the place to head for on Wednesday night, assuming, that is, that you’ve fully recovered from aforementioned DO.

The event calendar in the sidebar on the right has now been primed, so dates of our first and all subsequent 2018 meets can be found there. Have lovely ones all, and don’t forget to check in daily from the 13th onward for twelve days of festive fun. May your holidays, whatever their flavour, be full of joy and love, and if Santa does feature in them don’t forget to leave his mince pie and brandy out, together with a dirty big carrot for Rudolph.

XX

Nov 252017
 

Well I never – another year almost done and dusted! Next week’s meetup (Tues 28th) will be the last before our Christmas don’t on December 12th, and the last for 2017. If you’re coming to the don’t (do) get your name, order, deposit etc to Katrina Ray ASAP, and if you plan on contributing to our Christmas Project you’ll need to contact Sue Marlow post haste.

IN OTHER NEWS: There’s a Word Up slam final at the Forum on December 13th. I’ll add details on performers etc as I get them, but the date’s been added to the event calendar as a reminder in the interim.

End of transmission…

Nov 102017
 

Well, that’s Fright Night done, and what a corker it was! A fine collection of horror-themed writing and one hell of a tasty mort cake (as per) courtesy of Katrina Ray. Thank you, m’dear – Mr Kipling would give his right arm… While a long way off, it’s always a good idea to strike while the iron is hot, so if those contributing readings start firing their stories across to me on Facebook messaging I’ll start collating them ready for next year’s Fright Night Volume 4 e-book.

So, as the title of this blog highlights, time marches on, and it will seem but the blink of an eye before The Season of Goodwill is upon us. Very much time, then, to put pen to paper and get this year’s Christmas Countdown contributions sorted. While Christmas itself is still some… (starts counting on fingers)… six weeks away we’ve only got half that time to get the first pieces ready to roll out at the beginning of December. The remit for this year’s project can be found HERE, where a contact form connecting you directly to Sue Marlow (editor-in-chief this year) can also be found. So get weaving!

Sticking with Christmas, the other biggy on the agenda is our annual “do” scheduled for December 12th, which will also be our last (official) meetup of 2017. The “do” tradition started in the very earliest days of TWWs when there was just a handful of people in a local curry shop, and has continued, at various wonderful venues, to go from strength to strength. This will be our third at St John’s Yard, and we feel sure that this year’s offering will be every bit as special as the previous events, so don’t miss out. Katrina Ray is organising this year and would like your RSVPs, food orders and deposits (£10.00) ASAP so she can get her spreadsheet organised. Tuesday’s meetup would be perfect for getting that done and dusted, but details of the menu can also be found HERE and on the group’s Facebook page.

Finally, but in no way leastly (?), we have an extra event this week in the wonderful form of READ YOUR WORDS at Javabean Cafe on Wednesday night. These reading nights, hosted by Carolyn Gray, are always great fun, and an excellent opportunity for new members to cut their reading-in-public teeth while networking with other writers, poets and performers in the TW area. Full details HERE.

The devilishly clever Katrina Ray guarding her cake from Mr Kipling’s spies… 

 

Kat & Cake courtesy of Peppy Scott. Background courtesy of FreeImages.com

Oct 272017
 

 

A quick but timely reminder that this Tuesday’s meetup is FRIGHT NIGHT, when we’ll be reading ALL NEW stories and poems for Halloween and eating mort cake. There will be the-putting-up-of-willies to the extreme with around a baker’s dozen (how apt!) readers, but plenty of breaks for replenishing poisoned chalices and goblets. All comers are bid welcome, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of coming along to a meetup this would be a good one to get a feel for what we’re about. Carved pumpkins, fancy dress and trick-or-treat treats optional but greatly encouraged.

      Oh… PS: If you fancy free books – three volumes of Fright Night plus a clutch of others – click HERE

Original illustrations courtesy of FREEPIK

Oct 142017
 

Well here we are, two weeks into October with a definite nip in the air. How depressing. Ho hum…

On the plus side, we Tunbridge Wells Writers have several rather lovely things on the horizon, what with our Halloween Fright Night at the end of the month, another Read Your Words in November and our Seasonal Project and annual “do” in December. That’s us sorted then!

If you fancy joining us you would be made very welcome. Fright Night and/or Read Your Words would ease you in very gently and entertainingly, but if you would like to get involved as a reader for Fright Night it would probably be worthwhile to come along and introduce yourself this Tuesday (17th) to get a bit more info. We’ll be in St John’s Yard from 8:00pm, and would love to have you onboard.

Sep 292017
 

Another FREE e-book for Halloween, with spooky stuff penned by a dozen of our writers for last year’s FRIGHT NIGHT evening. We’ll have bags of new stories for this year’s celebration, which is a biggy, given that it falls on Halloween itself and is our FIFTH such event. Feel free to join us to hear live readings and enjoy a slice (or two) of Katrina Ray’s legendary mort cake! Fancy dress optional, but given the date you might find yourself the only square in the village if you don’t…

In addition to Fright Night we will also be getting up to speed on all things Christmassy at this week’s meet, with news of our annual CHRISTMAS “DO” (don’t!) and our seasonal online ADVENT CALENDAR, so if you’ve toyed with the idea of joining us but haven’t got round to it now would be a good time to get involved.

So that’s Tuesday 3rd at St John’s Yard from eight, then, and you would be made most welcome.

Sep 032017
 

Well technically the ‘busy’ comes later, but at our next meeting on Tuesday September 5th the Tunbridge Wells Writers will be contemplating the things that will be be keeping them harmlessly occupied over the next few months. This will include plans for our FIFTH Halloween FRIGHT NIGHT and our third Fright Night story collection, which we’ll be launching very soon, as well as our annual ADVENT CALENDAR coming in December.

The bits and bobs mentioned are, of course, only the tip of a much larger battenberg iceberg, so if you’ve clicked on the links and feel these are the kinds of thing you would like to be involved in we’ll be at St John’s Yard from 8:00 onwards. Feel free to just rock up and say hi, or if you prefer you can let us know in advance using the comments or contact boxes provided and we’ll keep an eye out for you.

Aug 182017
 

August almost done? Gosh – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?! Yes, it does, but with our last meetup before we slip into September only days away the Tunbridge Wells Writers are already starting to think about the nights drawing in and the lovely autumn / winter projects that lie ahead…

FRIGHT NIGHT – our annual celebration of Halloween – looks set to be an extra extra special one this year, given that our regular Tuesday meetup falls on the very night itself. Not only that, but a quick shufti at the back catalogue informs us that this will be our FIFTH YEAR of communing with the ghosties and ghoulies, so we’ll be pulling out all the stops on this one. I haven’t got round to creating a dedicated page for this year’s Fright Night yet (darn it, I been awfu’ busy for the past few weeks and time just seems to have gotten away from me…), but in a nutshell we’re talking about a wonderfully spooky evening of ghost and horror stories by candlelight to which we bid all a very vampy velcome. There’s cake too (magnificent marvelous mort cake, courtesy of Mistress of the Macabre, Katrina Ray), and pumpkins, and fancy dress, and cobwebs and… and… Well, let’s just say it’s an extremely entertaining evening whether taking the plunge and reading or just coming along to listen. More details soon, with an e-book of last year’s stories uploaded to our Smashwords page just beforehand to whet your appetites.

Though horrifyingly early to be mentioning the dreaded “C” word the simple truth is that CHRISTMAS (in whatever guise you take or eschew it) will soon be upon us too. We took a wee break last year from our usual twenty-four day advent offering, but truth be told we missed it. This year’s theme, proposed by Sue Marlow, is a prompt taken from the opening line of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather:  Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree…  We invite all Tunbridge Wells Writers (and would be Tunbridge Wells Writers) to take inspiration from Mr Pratchett’s words and pen a tale or poem or play or monologue or whatever else takes their fancy for us to share with the world over the festive season.

So there you have it. We’ll be discussing these projects and much more besides from 8:00 on Tuesday evening. We’d love to have you join us: for full details of venue and ground rules (first rule of TWWs – there are no ground rules!) just click on the highlighted date in the event calendar on the right.

IN OTHER NEWS: If you happen to be in Tonbridge on Sunday afternoon several of the group’s poets will be doing their thing in the open air between four and five as part of the community event Invite a Tree to Tea – a ‘family picnic with Music, Arts & Crafts, Spoken Word, and Games’ taking place on the banks of the beautiful Med at River Lawn. It would be lovely to see you…

Aug 042017
 

As our last meeting was our Flash Fiction reading night our next meeting (Tuesday 8th) will be a nice, relaxed affair with nowt on the agenda but networking and social. Lovely! As the short story collection is now well into the editing phase Justin has suggested that those interested could have a chat about marketing strategies, so there will be a bit of that going on too!

For those who couldn’t make the Flash Fiction night Kat has produced a pdf file containing contributions, which is available for GROUP MEMBERS from our facebook page. We’ve restricted access to this particular collaboration because some members felt they might want to submit their stories elsewhere and didn’t want to fall foul of any copyright requirements, but for non-members who might be interested there is a wealth of FREE material available from Smashwords. Aren’t we generous?

IN OTHER NEWS: Mentioned briefly at the last meet but with only sketchy details available, a WORD UP poetry slam has been announced for Wednesday August 16th at Tunbridge Wells Forum. The headliner is three time world champion slam poet Buddy Wakefield, with support from some local poet you’ve probably never heard of…

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