The Little Penguin

WotH Writers Writing

by Paul D.

Dressed in a puffa jacket that had seen better days the explorer watched the wildlife at the edge of the ice sheet.

A waddling mass of penguins formed a colony near the rock face, with birds squawking, flapping or swarming together in organised chaos of feathers and maturing chicks. Between the nesting area and the sea they trailed to and fro, some beaks fetching small fish or squid to feed chicks, some were taking small rocks or pebble as courtship gifts.

A little penguin waddling across the ice within the apparent chaos of the colony caught his eye.

This one had something special about it; its path or its gait, or the way that it seemed to pass on a slight diagonal to the directions that the main body of birds moved in.  Then he saw that it was meandering, following its own path, hopping up onto a small outcrop, or weaving in and out of a set of snow dunes and ice that were largely ignored by other webbed feet.

Standing aloof from most of the others, it seemed to catch his eye, the look of two common strangers in a strange land. The explorer smiled with pleasure at its own joy even before he realised that the bird was cutting a new path across that would intersect with him and his dwelling.

Standing still and hoping not to spook it, he watched his new friend cock its head as it stopped a few feet away. Hopping closer to his snow shelter, it dropped something from its beak before waddling off back on its own way.  He picked up the stone, a quartz that glinted pinkly in the midnight sun. Pressing it into the ice behind him, he felt it set off and finished the words that were pressed into his sparkly igloo.

© Paul D.

Extra Session

Admin User Event, News

But at 7:30pm on Thursday 7th, we’re having an extra (online) session to support some updates on the website and specifically to gather more for the tips section, we’d like to feature what you think really matters.

The Zoom Meeting Details

Here is the meeting link

So could you bring along your favourite quote and your favourite tip on writing?
With a brief explanation of what each of the two means to you. 
We can then use them on the website … with a link to you and your writing.

Alternatively, you could just send them to me by email … tho it’d be great to hear what you all have to say!

Look after yourselves, keep writing, talk soon

The next regular online meeting will be 7:30pm on May 15th … the writing cue for your 200 words is ‘gutter beatle’. Then Sue George is going to take us through what we can learn from her favourite author. Really looking forward it.


Absent Friends

WotH Writers Writing

by Alex Jones

To the sound of a couple of tea cups clinking: “To absent friends!”

“Indeed. How very thoughtful of you”

“It is so long since we last saw Toni, I just thought we’d reminisce”

“Good idea old chap”

“Do you remember when she used to play with us? She was so….”


“Yes. Delightful”

“So warm. So loving”

“Yes. Warm and loving”

“Oh how we used to enjoy our time together, sitting us all down for a lovely cup of tea, with her tins of baked beans. The loaf of bread. The plastic chairs. The table”

“Oh the table. The table”

“It’s such a shame she had to get all grown up”

“All grown up. All grown up, yes”

“Latest I heard she was gallavanting around the world as an air hostess. She’s way too old for the likes of us now teddie, isn’t she?”

“Way too old. Way too old”

“But wait. That sounds like footsteps coming up the stairs!”

“It’s her. It’s her!”

“She’s here everyone. She’s here everyone! She’s back home. Get ready for a tea party everyone!”

The door opens, to some very sad faces

“Not the bloody cleaner again!” said Ted. “I miss Toni. I so miss her….”

© Alex Jones, for Writers on the Heath

Just Deserts

WotH Writers Writing

by Sherree Cummings

He shifted, sliding the cardboard further under his buttocks, a bit of grit poking him in the backside. The ground was freezing. He blew on his fingers trying to warm them but they were stubbornly refusing to thaw out.

He had lost everything.  His home, his family, even the bloody flea ridden cat with its doses of worming tablets.

All gone.

If only he hadn’t taken it all for granted; been so greedy.

Now, looking back it had all been so perfect. Or was it? Had she noticed?

Playing around had seemed so much fun. ‘Variety is the spice of Life’ they say.  Spending money like there was no tomorrow, flashing the cash with his mistresses, leaving the wife to pick up after him. He… had…taken…it…all – for granted.

Now, as he looked up at the sky with its crisp, clear night-he- remembering cosy evenings at home.  Sitting round the fire eating crumpets with Brucie making them (all) laugh with his jutting out chin and comic retorts.  He recalled her last words to him as puce with rage she spat ‘I’ve had it, I’ve had enough! I’ve told you time and again, I’d let something go once, I’d let it go twice, but NEVER for a third time.’

‘It WAS your turn…to put the bloody bins out!’  **or ‘change the bloody litter tray’

He turned on his side. A sniffing stray dog cocked its leg and sprayed as furiously as the Trevi fountain.

© Sherree Cummings

WotH Member wins Silver Medal!

Admin User News

We were all delighted to hear at our last Zoom meeting that Sue Wickstead had two of her children’s books shortlisted as finalists for the The Wishing Shelf Book Awards for 2019 and that ‘A Spooky Tale’ was awarded the silver medal in the the pre-school category.

Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’ came out in print in 2014 and she followed it with a several more children’s books including more Playbus tales all based on real vehicles featuring not only Jay-Jay, but Daisy Daydream and Sparky the Dragon Bus (who offered play opportunities to disabled children and their families).

Sue works as a supply teacher (at least when schools are open) but has also worked with a Children’s Charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association, which led her to write a photographic history book about it.

She found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more, so she wrote a fictional tale about their first bus, and the number plate JJK261 gave him his name.

Sue spoke to us previously about her “blog tour” for ‘Sparky the Dragon Bus’ in February – where instead of travel an author and book is featured in online reviews. (We think those may be more popular at present for obvious reasons!)

TA Spooky Tale coverhis month Sue heard she’d been awarded the silver medal for the pre-school category for ‘A Spooky Tale‘. The book was written with her class many years ago and holds fond memories as well as spooky connections. The tag line is, ‘That’s why we didn’t feel well’ (But not due to the coronavirus)

Sue has a new book ready to go, ‘Gloria the Summer Fun Bus‘, and hopes we do actually get a summer of fun this year. Gloria is also inspired by reality, and a bus used to support children during the long summer holidays. Sue hopes that after the lockdown this kind of facility would be a good idea today for children and schools so restricted at the moment.

SJ Perelman – Favourite Author

WotH Writers Favourite Authors

An appreciation of SJ Perelman written by Gary Sutton 17.3.2020

Making a living as a writer is hard enough, but if you also want to be famous, you
should probably become a novelist or – at a stretch – a newspaper columnist. If
you happen to be a screenwriter or a magazine writer, fame will probably elude
you – or it will be confined to a small circle of admirers.
The fate of Sidney Joseph Perelman – SJ Perelman – is that these days he’s not so
much famous among a discerning coterie of readers, as pretty much forgotten.
Cynical and amused by life and its vicissitudes to the end, he probably wouldn’t
have minded too much.
Perelman was born in 1904 in New York and died in 1979. In his later years he
lived in the UK. Reportedly, his two great passions were his MG sports car and
his mynah bird. He married at 25, but although the relationship didn’t last, he
never got around to divorcing his first wife. He was not fond of children and his
son Adam led a troubled life – committing robbery, being accused of attempted
rape and ending up in a reformatory school.
During Perelman’s life he was best known as a screenwriter and magazine
writer. In the early 1930s he wrote two scripts for the Marx Brothers – “Monkey
Business” and “Horse Feathers”. He seems to have fallen out with Groucho, who
said of Perelman: “I hated the son of a bitch and he had a head as big as my desk”.
Much later – in 1956 – he won an Academy Award for the screenplay of “Around
the World in 80 Days”.
In the 30s and 40s he was a regular contributor to several US magazines that, in
those days, enabled writers to make a living – sometimes a very good living. The
best-known and still surviving of these is “The New Yorker”. Perelman also
wrote several plays that were produced on Broadway.
While I was researching this piece I googled Perelman’s name and found this
comment by Craig Brown – who owes quite a bit to Perelman. Reviewing a
collection of articles about Auberon Waugh he commented: “I have books of old
columns by SJ Perelman – in his day, considered the funniest writer of them all –
that would now strike most readers as unbelievably verbose. Fifty years on, the
world has become a lot speedier, and we no longer find it amusing to witness a
one-liner stretched to breaking point across two or three pages.”
As a summary of Perelman’s style that’s a little unfair. For me his undeniable
verbosity coupled to his knowledge, persona and sheer style is a huge part of his
Maybe it’s also an escape from current humorous writers, such as John Niven,
Craig Brown himself, Jonathan Coe – to a lesser extent – even people like Stuart
Maconie. I enjoy them all, but while I can see how they do what they do, with
Perelman it’s less obvious and – for me – more fun.

Perelman was – among many things – a master of the English language. He also
threw in slang, words and phrases from other languages and he had a skewed –
but perfectly reasonable – view of life and of people. One of his obvious techniques
or stratagems was to take a familiar form and push it, vary it and play with it.
One of the first pieces of Perelman that I remember reading parodies the hard-
boiled, Mickey Spillane school of pulp fiction. Not only does “Somewhere a Roscoe”
use this style to comic effect, it somehow encapsulates all you really need to know
about the genre. And it’s affectionate rather than merely condescending or
Perelman was just as effective with higher forms of literature. “A Farewell to
Omsk” parodies Dostoyevsky. “Waiting for Santy” uses Clifford Odets’ socialist
style for a Christmas story and so on. When he stretched out – in multi-part pieces
like “Cloudland Revisited” and “Westward Ha!” the effect is cumulative and almost
dangerously hilarious. He did write a novel, but that now languishes in hard-to-
find obscurity.
He also seemed to know everything – not just where it concerned writing, but
current trends in art, music, popular culture, fashion and so on. Wisely he avoided
writing about politics.
Perelman’s style and ingenuity ultimately creates a world unto itself – a world that
doesn’t take anything too seriously and where we might find fun in the author’s
own struggles, minor victories, his triumphs and disasters.
As his greatest critic Sidney Namlerep said: “they broke the mould before they
made Perelman”.
The best introductions to Perelman – “The Most of SJ Perelman” and “The World of
SJ Perelman” – are hefty volumes covering most of his writing career so they are
probably all that you need.