Homework for 23 March

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homework for 23 march | an invisible woman? (100 words)

Wow! The pens of eighteen inspired writers all but set fire to their papers in Mungrisdale this morning. Some of their work will be posted here over the next couple of weeks.

A huge welcome for those who have taken the big – and important – step of joining us for the first time. You thought you were looking for something from Mungrisdale Writers. Everyone else gained a huge amount from you! Welcome aboard.

Thanks, as ever, to those who kindly sent apologies. You were missed.

Heartfelt thanks, of course, for the inspirational Angela Locke, whose timely meditations call forth works from us that are nothing short of miracles at times. We’ve had such fun today (who could forget Trevor’s ‘Lily’?) – and been deeply moved, too.

And thanks to our chair Cathy Johnson who set us an interesting piece of homework for presentation at our next meeting on the 23rd March. Cathy proposed

In 100 words write a short scene in which a woman becomes invisible, briefly, for no explained reason … no one can see or hear her … she is not a ghost (prose or poetry)

Durhamhill Courses

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Cathy Johnson recommends the Durhamhill courses – 2017 details hereunder

We are running another 3-day residential writing course at Durhamhill in South West Scotland, on 7-9 March 2017, and have few places left (also places left on the 14-16 November course).

I would be very grateful if you would pass on the information to your writing group members.

The tutors are Margaret Elphinstone (margaretelphinstone.co.uk) and Mary Smith (marysmith.co.uk), widely published writers and very experienced and enthusiastic teachers. They both attend for the whole three days and participant numbers are limited to allow plenty of individual attention. The courses are great fun as well as being very informative.

We would be happy to arrange transport to and from Dumfries railway station, and people are welcome to arrive on the evening preceding the course (Monday 6th March or Monday 13th November). We offer discounts for two or more bookings together.

Some testimonials from participants

‘a beautiful location, very welcoming hosts and just the right amount of challenge and reassurance’ Kate M

‘neither intimidating nor too formal, instantly absorbing’ Frances H

‘superb tuition, lovely group with widely divergent experience, beautiful and comfortable surroundings’ Una C

The course fee is £350 (includes food and 4 star accommodation). We offer discounts for multiple bookings and non-participating partners are welcome (coast, hill and woodland walks and plenty golf courses).

Further information is available on durhamhillcourses.co.uk

Rites of passage (Departures)

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Photo at Pixabay

School bus
The stone bus shelter smelling of urine, a punctured football under the bench
A laminated timetable and Man United graffiti on the noticeboard
Echoes of insults and taunts bounce around its walls
Like billiard balls looking for their targets

Transit lounge in Dubai airport during the Haj
Men in white robes sleep curled round their bags next to a clacking moving walkway
Trim bearded young men who ooze wealth from their pores
Fuss over wheezing wizened companions
Whilst prayers and announcements boom from a tannoy above their heads

Packing the car for university
A sandwich toaster perches on top of a printer still in its John Lewis delivery box
A clarinet case with its indecipherable grimy name tape rests on a sticker covered laptop
A camera captures teeth clenched in a fixed grin in front of the open car boot
While a Harry Potter duvet spills towards the damp gravel driveway

Cathy Johnson

H is for handle, or hot

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Photo at Wikimedia

H is for handle, which is OK to touch as we leave, but screamingly hot on our return. It belongs to the white Renault 4, parked beneath the house between concrete stilts.

We check under the car before getting in, making sure there’s no cat, dog, or sleeping snake to be run over. The curved chrome handle on the door is smooth and slightly cool to my hand. I put my towel on the seat, flap some mosquitoes out and slide a window open.

The road leaves town and heads across open country. Mum parks on waste ground next to a sign with large red Chinese letters. Andrew and I hurry on wooden boarding across a stretch of oily black water dotted with water lilies. When we are safe on the other side we argue.

‘Nothing is bottomless, how can there be no bottom to the water?’
‘The bottom is the rocks on fire in the middle of the earth!’
‘What would happen if I fell in Mum? Would I go down and down forever?’
‘You could swim. That’s why we’re here.’
‘But there might be some horrible monster with great big tentacles that lives in there that would pull my legs down and down forever!’

We run to the pool, Olympic sized, with concrete diving boards that stretch high into the blue sky. I push through the turnstile while Mum pays. My dress comes off the minute Mum is at the side of the pool and I am instantly ready to hunt for treasure.

The water suffocates with its warmth. It’s as if there is nowhere for my body’s heat and sweat to go but back inside me. Water presses against my eyes while I search for pieces of eight, it gets up my nose when I do racing turns at the side of the pool. When I get bored of swimming widths and collecting coins I walk daringly round to the diving boards and bounce gently on a low board a few times. I jumped off it once, honest.

Some days families sit on the grass around the edge and the ice cream kiosk opens to sell the only choc ices in town. The chocolate cracks and breaks between my teeth and cold cream floods my mouth.

The sun dries me and I pop my dress back over my swimming costume. This time the car handle burns my palm. I snatch at it as quickly as possible. The damp skin on my bottom sticks and slides on the hot vinyl seat. We lean out of the windows for air until Mum parks in a shady place beside a bakery. We follow her in to watch while she orders three white loaves to be sliced and bagged. The blades come down like guillotines, leaving perfect even slices. She hands us a loaf as we leave and we tear into it, pushing slice after slice of the warm bread into our bottomless stomachs.

So H is for Hot really, the car handle, the water in the swimming pool, and the bread.

Cathy Johnson