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
appeal.
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
superior.
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.

Scraped Hands

WotH Writers Writing

by Elaine Martini

She had lost count of how many times she washed her hands today. It was difficult to know if it was all the anxiety or justified. She checked the time again. It was difficult to get used to this new routine. Time passed by quickly and slowly. Last month felt like last year. She heard somewhere that was natural, there were so many changes. She looked up the stairs to check if she could see or hear her husband. Nothing. She sat at the bottom of the stairs, waiting, gathering her thoughts and feelings. It had been a long week, she missed his hug and kiss before her shifts. But doing that now was too much of a risk. Although the risk for her at work was unavoidable.

She would have never imagined her home one day being like this, divided in two. She could only use certain parts of the house. Yet through this, her husband cared for her in every possible way. They talked through closed doors, he cooked and put it outside her door. Always her favourite meals with a flower on the tray and a note under the cup saying I love you.

Sitting at the bottom of the stairs was breaking the rules. But all she knew lately were rules, worries and procedures. Before all this started they were trying to start a family. She remembered the heartache every time she got her period and realised this wasn’t the month. Now that was a relief and a blessing, she wouldn’t have wanted their precious family to start at a time like this. People said it was a war. She didn’t see it that way. For her, it was a tragedy that destroyed and swept through unforgivingly. In war, your main weapon is not love, care and compassion for others. For her, that’s what her role was in all this. She looked at the phone again, it was time to get ready for her duty. Once again she washed her hands and felt the sting from the soap on her scraped hands.

© Elaine Martini

Elaine is an architect, worktop designer, writer, jewellery maker, traveller, explorer and student. You can find other examples of her writing at her website www.elainemartini.com and blog elainemartini.blogspot.com

Fri 17th April 2020

Admin User Event, Uncategorized

This will be our first online meeting!

Looking forward to our on-screen meeting tomorrow, the 17th, at our usual time of 7:30 … here’s the link to zoom, courtesy of Fabrizio who is our host and inviting you all … with a few pointers below for those less used to what happens: (It should just work in a web browser or you can download the free app first if you wish)

Join the Zoom Meeting by clicking on this link:
https://inscopix.zoom.us/j/795144248?pwd=T1pkYjkwaS9vVDB1YnlKeHlFeURtdz09

The app is available from https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting if you want to load it on your smartphone or PC – but this is optional!

  • Here are the login details if you need to enter them directly in the app or the login page
  • Meeting ID: 795 144 248
  • Password: 013187

+ You should explain to the people that are not familiar with Zoom that there is no need to download the Zoom app. They simply need to click the link and it should open their browser. Another thing to mention to people that might not be familiar with Zoom is that depending on their settings the camera and mic might come on when the Zoom conference starts so if they don’t want to be caught in their PJs they’d better be careful. 😉

  • So see you all tomorrow … ‘scraping palms‘ is the writing prompt for those inspired to read 200 words
  • And Gary will be taking us though his favourite writer!

Zoom – is so simple even the Cabinet have managed to use it!

Absent Friend

WotH Writers Writing

by Laura Paton

The rain falls like coins from a one-armed bandit. Jackpot, thinks Sam, as he watches the huge drops smacking onto the tarmac.

Sheltering under the hotel’s awning, he removes a cigarette from a brand-new packet, jams it between his lips and lights it, flicking the match out into the storm. Taking a long drag, he steps forward to get a better view of the folks coming down Fifth Avenue, searching for Vi in the crowd.

Office workers emerge from the subway, but before he can make out their faces, umbrellas are unfurled, hats donned and collars raised. Like an oil slick, they move along the sidewalk as one.

There’s laughter behind him. He turns to see a young couple leaving the hotel. Nodding their heads as they pass, they step out into the downpour and walk slowly away, love-blind to their already soaked clothes.

Sam checks his watch. She should’ve been here half an hour ago. He prays that it’ll still be raining when she finally arrives. He can picture it now. Her face flushed from exertion, she’ll make a hurried excuse about a last-minute task she had to finish before the weekend. He’ll listen, watching her blue-green eyes dart around, as she avoids looking directly into his.

It’s no day for admiring birds and flowers in the park, he’ll say, when she stops to take a breath. A downtown diner with steamed-up windows, coffee and slices of pie is what this weather calls for.

She’ll laugh, but won’t resist as he leads her to a shabby establishment on the corner of Crosby and Grand. They’ll find an empty booth in the back, where they can sit close, shoulders pressed together, only cotton between them.

Five minutes pass, and then the doorman appears with a telephone message.

© Laura Paton

  • Laura Paton is a property magazine editor by day and a food blogger and restaurant reviewer by night. Find other examples of her work at scribblinginthekitchen.wordpress.com

Building New Worlds

WotH Writers Writing

by Fabrizio Sitzia

The moons were already up in the sky, red as they usually become during the eclipse. That Eclipse, the one that covers like a mantle the five kingdoms every month. This time, the kings didn’t gather together to watch it or to give their offerings to the gods they feared in front of the priests. This time they stayed in their towers with their loved ones, silently waiting. The gods descended from the sky and the moons cracked in half and fell with them.

© Fabrizio Sitzia