Sunday, June 25, 2006

Post-Annual Writers Conference

Three days to catch up on here:

Friday 23 June 2006:

Excellent conference day. A day workshop on "The power of place" with Paul Baverstock. Quite a minimalist tutor, but it did mean you could interpret tasks in your own way. Managed to start what might be my next novel, after "The Gifting", and also drew plans of Simon's room in "TG", and wrote what might turn into a few sections of that novel - to do with the mythology of where he lives. I'm planning to do maps now of Simon's journey, his home and his destination - if there's one thing I've learnt today, it's that seeing the physical fact of what's in my head actually drawn down on paper makes everything stronger.

And in the evening, I did the first part of a poetry workshop, "From image to resolution" with Phil Carradice. Inspirational. There were only two of us, so the workshop was both informal and intense. And very worthwhile - managed to write three poems I'm pleased with and can work on them a little more.

We stopped at 10pm, ahead of the normal 10.30pm finishing time, so I had high hopes of getting home by 11pm. Famous last words. The car wouldn't start - the battery was completely flat, so I called the AA at 10.15pm, telling them I was a woman on my own and therefore a priority call. They promised me they'd get there in 90 minutes. Hmm, some priority. 90 minutes later, at 11.45pm, I rang again. They apologised, saying they couldn't get to me after all, so would put my call out to a sub-contractor (who shall remain nameless ...). This sub-contractor would get to me in an hour. At midnight, I got quite tearful and felt terribly lonely - really cut-off as if I'd be there forever, lost in the dark universe of the car park. At 12.15, I was desperate for the loo, so had to go across the campus grass, up the steps to the second level (the Winchester University car park is at the bottom of a hill), past the Stripe Theatre and into the loos in the Students' Union. No-one around, thank God. At 12.30, I gave up being sad and frightened, and got quite angry. If anyone from the bloody AA had turned up then, I might well have torn them limb from limb. At 12.45, I rang the AA again (with my mobile now virtually on its last legs ...), who said the sub-contractor had never received my details and they were now putting it out to another one. This second sub-contractor would be there in half an hour. To be fair, Emma from the AA did apologise and say she'd ring me at 1.10am to see if anyone had arrived.

At last, at 1.10am (so something the AA said was correct after all - result, eh?!), Matt from Ravenscroft Motors turned up. Never has a man been so welcome! While he was there, I tried to find a loo again, but gave up as the Students' Union was closed, and I didn't want to risk going any further into the campus. Lovely though Matt was, he didn't accompany me anywhere - which actually I think, in retrospect, he should have done. The RAC don't let women wander around on their own, apparently - so why should the AA? So, Matt recharged my battery and, at last, at 1.30pm I finally set off on the hour's drive home.

During all this, Lord H had been giving the AA hell - and rightly so, I think. It's really not good enough. We got to bed at 3am.

Saturday 24 June 2006:

Goodness, I was tired. Took Lord H's car back to the conference, as I didn't trust my own. Can you blame me? Not a bad writing day, however. The poetry sessions in the afternoon were particularly good. And I managed to sell 6 copies of "Pink Champagne and Apple Juice" at the Goldenford ( stall. Hurrah! I also bravely attempted to approach the author, Lorna Fergusson, to ask if she might consider doing a review of "A Dangerous Man" when it comes out from Flame ( later in the year, as she'd been so positive about it when I first came to the conference, and had even sought me out to tell me so. However, obviously, my sheen has faded, as she brushed me off almost before I'd finished talking. Hmm, can't say I was that impressed with her attitude. Or her memory. And I certainly won't be buying her book (not that I could actually get past the prologue anyway ... ah, bitchery, bitchery!...).

Rather disappointed with my competition results this year - only a shortlisting in the poetry, and a Highly Commended in the haibun section. Buggery. Still, I never really understand what the haibun/haiku man is saying and, in the past, each time I've won or been placed in that competition, the only prize is the books (written by him!) which I've read before and didn't enjoy then ... so it's no great loss. Ah, bitchery and bitterness - what a weekend I'm having!

When I got home, Lord H updated me on the ongoing disaster of the AA. He'd wanted to take my car out that morning to do some photography, but again the battery was flat. When he rang the AA, they got uppity that he doesn't have a Homestart facility (though I do), and eventually (bearing the circumstances in mind) agreed to do a courtesy repair in an hour and five minutes. When Lord H rang them an hour and five minutes later, they promised someone within another half hour and told him off for having a duff battery in the first place. Of course, they shut up when Lord H told them that in fact it was the AA who'd given us the battery six months ago. They turned up quickly enough after that and replaced it, and now - so far! - the thing appears to be working. Still, Lord H is demanding financial compensation, which is fair enough, in my opinion.

Sunday 25 June 2006:

Took my car back to the last morning of the conference - it's still working! A great morning on part two of the "From image to resolution" workshop. Wrote two more poems, one about Lord H. Ah, the muse, the muse ...

About to go home when the AA rang me. This time, it was someone from the complaints section. He apologised again, made me recite the whole thing once more, and then offered compensation of vouchers or a membership upgrade. Bloody chancers - who do they think we are? Idiots? And do they not think I talk to my husband??? Give me money, you losers - it's a damn sight better for you than the picture of a dead woman in the papers, murdered because the bloody AA failed to turn up ...

And if you think I'm not joining the RAC pretty damn quick, you're more fools than I thought you were.

So, in honour of the occasion, a haiku:

In my thin, metal case
I wait. Slow leaves darken
against midnight sky.

Anne Brooke

Just as

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