Doorway Writing Group May 2019

We had another good session at our writing group this month. The crossword we were doing in a little group had some nice old-fashioned words in it which were pretty fun to talk about:
What on earth is a rumpus? Is it a problem if you make one?
Who ever says “that’s a nice frock you’re wearing”? And what do they mean?
Word searches on dog breeds and flower types worked well. With so many beautiful flowers popping up all around us, in gardens and parks and fields, there was plenty to chat about.
S excelled himself this month by doing both word searches, L took one home to finish off, N took the crossword home, and J – after patiently helping out with our group crossword – wrote us a brilliant poem (see below) and promised to send on a short story later.

Talkin Trojan Horse Blues (a poem by J)

I don’t care how much you feel
that Trojan horse well, it ain’t real
I couldn’t believe what he said to me
and just expected me to agree
so I replied…
Well, if it is all just a mirage
could I leave it in your garage?
so we hauled it down the road apiece
and didn’t encounter no police
Pretty tiring though…
And then, relieved the giant horse
was now safely behind the doors
we shook hands and the poor old chap
went upstairs and took a little nap.
That old horse was pleased
with his overnight pass,
And a bellyful of iron and brass,
and inside a bristling bearded multitude
of soldiers, waiting to intrude
pulling on Spartacus T-shirts
splashing on the Old Spice

… And then early the next day
He opened the bedroom windows wide
and saw ten thousand Greeks outside
that Trojan Horse brought me bad luck
Looks like the whole town is running amok…
He phoned the boss, said I’ll be late
The whole town is heading for a grisly fate
I’ve got to stay and hold my ground
or we will lose the whole town
Hello, are you still there?
The boss replied: well, you told me
The Trojan Horse is a fantasy
and now that you just changed your mind
how do I know you’re not just throwing me a line?
Come round next week
and explain yourself
I’m not happy!

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Doorway Writing Group March/April 2019

Doorway Writing Group March/April 2019

We’ve had a good few contented word searchers these last couple of sessions – especially popular was the combined gapfill and wordsearch on different types of fish. There’s clearly no plaice that warms the sole like Doorway…
We’ve been working with a slightly easier crossword these last months (from the free Metro paper) which has proved more accessible though there are still just enough obscure clues to challenge our regular crossword fans. We experimented with putting the whole crossword out round the tables with the easiest clues circled as a suggested way in. D, who is (in his words) ‘not normally a crossword kind of guy’ worked at it really solidly one session, teaming up with some others and even deciding to take it home to finish it off. We can always rely on N to help out with the trickier clues. So hop-drying kilns are ‘oasts’ and mother-of-pearl is ‘nacre’ then. Thanks, N! And you can even live in a disused oast apparently. Sounds cool! Not that anyone here would be particularly choosy: after all, any roof is better than no roof!
We rounded one of our sessions off with a nice chat about English lessons at school – not the easiest subject, D reckoned, (probably about the hardest language there is, in fact, in terms of spelling) but he remembered his English teacher as the one teacher he’d particularly respected.

Finally, read on for another poetic treat from our wonderful J:

Under the Prow (a poem by J)

When the ship docked
in Copenhagen
We set off immediately in search
of the little mermaid

Behind the pastel coloured houses
on the harbour front
pacing the cobbled lanes
and the fish markets

She was nowhere to be seen
from the beach to the horizon
not even a glimpse!

Time was running out
we had to run back to the ship
We had just made it
but we had to ask.
The old fisherman
pushed back the peak of his cap
and pointed a weathered finger
and there was the mermaid
motionless, serene, almost directly beneath
the ship’s prow

Our search ended where we left it,
the tale ends where the tale begins.
On the quay!

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Doorway Writing Group January/February 2019

Doorway Writing Group January/February 2019
Our last two sessions have seen a good number of guests keen to engage with the crossword and our chosen wordsearches – most recently on the themes of wild animals and dances – and we had a few nice chats as a result: comparing our awful dance skills and thinking about when we last saw/whether we have ever seen an otter, a water vole or a dormouse. Discussing animals soon took us on to literature. Who remembered Wind in the Willows or the dormouse in the teapot in Alice in Wonderland? Who had read the book (or seen the film of) Tarka the Otter?
None of these books is currently in our Doorway library but there have been some great additions to it recently: a lovely selection of pocket-sized versions of some of the classics and – for those happier with a larger font size – a number of large-print romantic stories, found lurking (with amorous intent?) on the Wilko’s charity bookshelf. There’s certainly plenty of choice now including some poetry, a collection of which was recently enjoyed by our resident poet, artist, lyricist, the multi-talented J. It’s heartwarming to be able to report that J himself has just been videoed reading one of his own (brilliant) poems ‘Winter’ for St Petroc’s in Cornwall as part of their public awareness campaign to end street homelessness. Incidentally ‘Winter’ also features in Doorway’s 2017 publication Come on Through, an anthology of poems and lyrics penned by the Writing Group.
Read on for yet another example of J’s wonderful poetic touch, his evocative and poignant poem Home-Time.

Home-Time (a poem by J)
How did we make it through
that dreadful wait for home time?
Staring out of the window
as the minutes blur into hours.
How did we survive the crush
and the jostling at the bus stop?
Chattering like starlings,
past the bullies lurking behind the school gates
The smell of fish paste sandwiches,
petrol fumes and dust.
Returning:
to a responsible adult,
family pet,
or children’s TV.
Hobbies, fashions and passions
pass the time until tea
Even now:
after the passage of years
and home time is over
without a blink of an eye
the child is wishing
in a world without wings
waiting to be free
at home time.

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Doorway Writing Group November/December 2018

Doorway Writing Group November/December 2018

Here’s just a super-quick post to round off our year with the Doorway Writing Group. The last couple of sessions have been characterised by some lovely teamwork and solidarity, guests and volunteers grouping together to complete wordsearches and puzzle over crossword clues. This month’s wordsearch, based on familiar pantomimes, got us all remembering some fun anecdotes from the past. We’ve had some nice chats about reading and innovative ways to go about writing. And, of course, please read on for some poetic brilliance from our star writer J and a thought-provoking response to the Writing Group “leave your comment on a post-it” challenge from another of our guests (anon).
Merry Christmas from all of us at Doorway! See you in the New Year!

Making Waves (poem by J)

God made waves to teach the angels how to fly.
And then the homeless taught them how to land.
History breaks like waves
on the hillsides
Brain waves
and waves of music
and we are dancing
Swirling like autumn leaves
In a mysterious motion of waves.

Universal Credit
Is Universal Chaos
(lines by anon)

Doorway Drives Away the Blues (poem by J)

Al, Tom and Ray
Came to save the day
The people clapped and yelled hooray
We sat down and they taught us to play
Driving the blues away

Miriam, the bongo queen
She was not mean
Just lean and keen
At driving the blues away

As if the day could
not be gloomier
There’s warmth and humour with a tune
in the roomiere

And I would give a host of angel choirs
For another of those Doorway hours

Free-falling, London calling
Mustang Sally, Gasoline Alley

And sitting on the dock of the bay
Sitting on the dock of the bay

So if your dreams aren’t what you planned
You betcha they will understand
Pop some music on the stand
And we’re driving the blues away

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Doorway Writing Group July/August 2018

Doorway Writing Group July/August 2018

Where does an English children’s author share letters with a mapmaker or a venomous snake cross paths with a river nymph? Well, where else but in the monthly Doorway Writing Group crossword? Alongside word searches on types of cake and wild birds, guests were challenged to list the months of the year in alphabetical order or encouraged to borrow a book from our little library. All to exercise the brain, stimulate our creativity or simply take our minds off the oppressive heat or the pressures of daily life.
We’ll be taking a little break for September but back with gusto in October. In the meantime, it’s a delight, as ever, to share one of J’s stunning poems – this one on a suitably summary theme.

Cockleshells and Bluebells (a poem by J)

Aurora wafts the summer’s plume
And the suburbs are again in bloom
Vibrant hues and fragrance sublime
Hip hip hoorah it’s summer-time.
It’s alright in blooming Westbury
Where the white horse prances light and fairy
Things are grey on the estuary
Our lives here are sedimentary
Sitting here we hide beneath the tides
And keep our beauty deep inside
Overlooked but not forlorn
We shimmer with colours of nacreous dawn
For in halcyon days and heavy weather
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”

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Doorway Writing Group June 2018

Doorway Writing Group June 2018

This month’s session was comparatively busy. A grand total of seven guests engaged with the word searches and a selection of the crossword clues. At the writing table, the topic of adult literacy classes came up and we discussed how fiendishly difficult the spelling system is in English. Three of us then went on to have an interesting conversation about languages which use different scripts e.g. Russian, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese.
To round off our session, J finished off a poem for us: read on and enjoy!
Till next time!

Blakehill Nature Reserve*(a poem by J)
The war is over
The wildlife returns,
Barrage balloons untethered
To the tune of a lark.
Sentry posts deserted
The fence post only
For the short-eared owl
And the gathering dark.
Amongst the criss-cross traces
of the old runways
hares sport, klaxons fade to corncrakes
and curlew
The war is over,
But the battle
for the survival of the species
goes on.

*Blakehill Farm is a nature reserve near Cricklade on land which was used as an airfield during WWII.

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Doorway Writing Group May 2018

Doorway Writing Group May 2018

The wordsearches on the sights of London and different types of sports were fairly popular this month and our crossword served to challenge and baffle a number of our guests and volunteers in customary fashion. Most of us could name – and speak about – the ‘breed of dog with short legs and a long body’ (dachshund) and the ‘game in which one player vaults over the back of another’ (leapfrog) but none of us – shame on us! – knew the name of the first African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. We do now though: Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright and poet. I’ve just looked him up, in fact, and the Wiki entry mentioned a recurrent theme of his: ‘the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it.’ That sounds profound and thought-provoking; maybe I should look up one or two of his poems to bring along to the next writing group. Watch this space!
We had some intriguing little discussions at the writing table including the significance of different colours. Is green or yellow the colour of hope? Does blue represent faith? We spoke about whether we prefer to write on plain or lined paper and if the latter, do we write on or across the lines? Do we conform or rebel? Should we sometimes write backwards or upside down even, in order to challenge our brains? Plenty of food for thought!
We wound up by speaking about spring and other seasons, at which point J set to writing us another of his wonderful poems: enjoy!

Spring (a poem by J)

It starts on the ground, somewhere
two weeks, continual rain,
the morning the sun returns
green appears in tufts and splashes
and the verges explode with blossom
and the springtime mantle
of leafy splendour.
Life is exuberant, bustling
the sky full of birds
the bushes full of birdsong.
The earth is singing
hope is flourishing
the sun is shining
warmth and light returning
the seasons’ prime.

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