Monday, March 13, 2017


I climbed on the scales at Scottish Slimmers earlier this evening.  It was a good loss. Two hours later I was eating my way through a bowl of Jaffa cakes! There was no sense of the restraint I had inflicted on myself all week.

Pol-UK should come with a warning – “Writing poetry can damage your health”.

It was my first time at Pol-UK, a writing group led by two Polish sisters which meets every Monday night in the Bike Shed on Grant Street. The Bike Shed isn’t a bike shed though it might have been one in a previous incarnation. It’s a community building for all sorts of groups. I had been in there once before for a Christmas carol singing event.

The group was small and friendly. There was tea, coffee and Jaffa cakes to see us through an evening of creative writing.

It turned out that I was expected. They had been warned I might come. A friend had been there last week and told them that I planned to come. It appears that I am a known entity in the creative writing circles of Inverness.

We talked books for a while. We all seemed to be published authors – although they had managed to break into the “Waterstones” market where despite many meetings with various shop managers, I never made it on to their shelves.

We got down to business.

The prompts were a series of random words – green, Thursday, sweet pea and steam train. What magic we chose to weave with the words was up to us. There was no word limit or apparent time limit – just the four words.

The steam train derailed me. I could work with the other words. I’d had a conversation earlier with my ex-next door neighbour about the conifers in my garden that were knocking down his ex-garden wall. Apparently they were a safety hazard and best taken down. Thursday was a good day for him. The conifers were green. Once the conifers were down I could plant sweet peas – but the steam train didn’t seem to fit into the narrative. Just in case you are curious as to why the ex-next door neighbour is worried about his ex-garden wall – his daughter and son-in-law are my new neighbours and he has a grandson he would rather not find under a pile of bricks.

I was more successful with the second set of words – fire, rowan, April and wardrobe. I wrote a poem.


New day dawning
Warm April morning
Sun fire burning
Pink sky turning
Winter’s grip fading
Spring wardrobe raiding
Green dress wearing
Round the garden tearing
Rowan tree waking
New leaves making
Light rain falling
Birds in trees calling
Blossom petals drifting
Dark mood lifting

It’s a first draft. The wardrobe is the awkward word. A poem about spring really doesn’t need a wardrobe in it. I didn’t have access to either which limited my creativity.

I was impressed with the quality of the writing the group produced. They had subtle nuances and imagery and layers – all the more impressive when English was not their first language. It amazed me how with an economy of words they had written such powerful pieces. There was enough of a narrative to capture the imagination, but enough absence of detail for the reader to fill in the blank spaces and reach their own conclusion. Very much “show not tell” stuff.

I really enjoyed the evening. I enjoyed the opportunity to write. I enjoyed the opportunity to critique the work produced. I really enjoyed the Jaffa cakes. My intention is to go back again. I shall arm myself with fresh fruit, or veggies and a savoury dip or something and sit as far away as possible from the biscuit bowl as I can.

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