Five good things about 2024 – so far

First prize in SWWJ  – Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Flash Story competition – 500 words.  Judge: Celia Anderson
Thrilled to hear that I won the competition, having decided to enter a humorous story which seems to be one of the reasons why my story was chosen. I know I enjoyed writing it and reading it many times – because it made me laugh. Writing something that is unusual, entertaining and can be packed into 500 words is a challenge. Every word counts.
                   My entry Passer-by with Dog 2, is about a dog and his master who become extras on a film set. Based on my experience – not with dogs, but being an extra myself for an episode of the Agatha Raisin TV series.
It was good to have feedback in the Judge’s critique. Rather flattering, and a morale booster to be  praised for one’s work. So much of being a writer (with books certainly) is being rejected. You have to keep faith with yourself, keep writing, knowing that you have  expertise and understanding of the English language and how much you can play about with it for effect.
               ‘There were many entries worthy of being winners, but on reflection, I have chosen Passer-by with Dog Two for the prize, partly because even after reading it several times, it still made me giggle. The economical use of language and the masterly way the writer uses the viewpoint of the canine narrator, Chips, are both vital keys to the humour. It’s so easy for a story written from an animal’s viewpoint to become twee, but this writer never falls into that trap…I particularly loved the elegant sentence structure throughout. The author demonstrates great skill in varying the length of sentences to create maximum impact and knows exactly when to stop writing – a rare talent!’  Judge.
Joining the PG Wodehouse Society. Nothing better than a hearty laugh during these difficult times. Wodehouse certainly knew how to write elegant sentences and construct complex, hilarious plots.
I paid the annual sub of £22 – very reasonable, which includes a quarterly magazine Wooster Sauce and occasional newsletter By the Way. Apart from a lot of Jeeves and Wooster on BBC Radio 4 over the years, and TV versions with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, I do not know much about his other books.
I have read three non-Jeeves/Wooster novels this month to prepare me for the ‘Wodehouse in the Springtime’ Conference in Bath in March.  So many famous names on the membership list. Will I bump into  Stephen Fry,  Alexander Armstrong, Victoria  Coren Mitchell, perhaps.? Not sure what I’d say if I did, except ‘What ho!’
Discovering Ben Maton,  The Salisbury Organist on YouTube. Delightful and uplifting. The current vlog  No 16, is about the electric organ at St Leonard’s Church, Bulford.  He is a breath of fresh air.  A talented musician, excellent communicator – charming, knowledgeable and always with interesting historical information about the church and the organ.  He currently has over 20k subscribers, and growing. He has acquired a lot of overseas subscribers including people who play or have played the organ or remember the wonderful sound of it at their church.  Where are today’s organists? Who plays now when the bride and groom walk down the aisle?
 Perhaps Ben will inspire youngsters to come forward to learn to play the organ.
       CHRISTMAS PRESENT 1– Gone crazy.
A lovely blast of colour on the window sill. An Amaryllis bulb in a pot has gone bonkers after only three weeks of planting and watering. How high will it grow?
      CHRISTMAS PRESENT 2  –  Addictive
No, not booze or Booja Booja champagne truffles  (yes, a very yummy present). It was a box set of Homicide Life on the Street – 123 episodes. Such a fan when it first came out in January 1993, until it ended in May 1999. Its creator David Simon whose book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Street (1991) was the inspiration for the series. He went on to write and direct The Wire – 2002-2008.
Homicide was a ground-breaking show from the start with its black and white opening  sequence with the startling music, and alarming shots and angle. A good set up for what was to come.  Bloodshed on the streets of Baltimore.
            Still brilliant. It hasn’t dated much apart from the lack of mobile phones. The complex characters of the detectives and their relationships. The dialogue, the black humour are as fresh today. The soundtrack was so much part of the drama – creating the gritty atmosphere, as well as matching the storylines with the music and lyrics chosen which ranged from Miles Davies, Tom Waits The Kinks, ELO, Jimi Hendrick, Leonard Cohen, PJ Harvey, Ravel, Metallica, James Brown  to Carole King. And more.
Devizes Books annual literary quiz held at Wiltshire Museum.  Although some tricky questions, it was great fun, especially the final Connections round which our team completed correctly – nine names of characters in The Canterbury Tales. We didn’t receive wooden spoons as last or book vouchers as first. We were middling and went away having had a good laugh as well as a good bit of brain exercise, a few pats on the back for digging up obscure names of authors and titles of books.
       I tried to prepare for the quiz. Usually I mug up on the Booker Prize winners but this time I thought I’d learn a few of the first names of  authors who are known by their initials:
John Boynton Priestley, Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, Robert Cedric Sheriff, Clive Staples Lewis, Jerome David  Salinger,  John Ronald Reuel Tolkein, Wystan Hugh Auden, Jerome Klapka Jerome, Alan Alexander Milne, Edward Estin Cummings – the poet who avoids punctuation and capital letters.
All I need to do now is,  to have a go at Mastermind,  armed with my specialist subject –  before I forget the lot. 

Sad News

Thomas Holland Priestley
22.04.1932   –  25.12.2024
Message to J B Priestley Society members regarding the passing of Society President Tom Priestley, son of JB Priestley,

the acclaimed film editor, recently passed away  peacefully in his 91st year.