Welcome to the blogsite for the Spire writing group

We are a friendly bunch of individuals who enjoy writing stories, poems, essays and plays, in fact any form of written expression that involves the use of the English language.
We meet every Monday morning between 10am and 12pm at the Salvation Army Hall Church Street Louth (opposite the bus station), we would be pleased for you to join us. Generally the mornings develop along these lines:
Firstly we read out the work that we have written in the previous week, we then offer constructive opinions on the work. At this point the discussion may veer spontaneously into all manner of topics!
Secondly we have a short tea break at 11.00am and then continue on with readings and observations on the work and the meaning of life (not necessarily in that order).
Thirdly, if time allows, we might do a short writing exercise before we jointly agree the homework for the following week.
We should point out here that there are no penalties for being unable to write a thing in the previous week. We consider all excuses as valid, if fact we treasure those that are truly original.

Cathy's page

Lucky new shoes?  (a drabble)

"Don’t put new shoes on the table", her Mum said, raising the offending articles above her head, as though distance from the table would right the wrong, "it’s bad luck".   There wasn’t an inch of spare space on the worktops, but as Sharon needed to get the sticky labels off (she really hated it when people left the labels on their shoes), she made room by sliding plates of sausage-rolls and quiche, to the left. There was a loud crash and the christening cake lay in pieces on the floor.  Maybe the better luck had been on the table after all.


Beginning of a story, untitled

There was no breeze, yet the empty swing creaked and swayed with the memories of a hundred children’s bottoms sitting on it. The seat was smooth and shiny, a fine piece of oak, cut and carved by a craftsman "Daddy" over 20 years ago. It must be that long, she thought, as she couldn’t remember the swing not ever being there, at the edge of the village green.

Theresa edged her own, now much broader bottom, in between the chains and waited for the swing to collapse under her, but it didn’t. She put her feet in the long oval divot under the swing, where children’s shoes had applied the brakes and gently rocked backwards and forwards. Not too much, she really didn’t want to push her luck. Looking up at the swing and the chains, she could see it was still in pretty good condition, very little signs of rust and there were shiny traces of black grease around the top links. Mr Gantry, she assumed.

Robin Gantry always kept the village "things", the swing, the signposts, red letterbox, bench, phone-box (when there was one), in tip-top condition. Robin had been born in the village and apart from two years National Service, had never left it. He would know the truth, if anyone would, Theresa thought, but dare she ask.

She’d barely begun to register the idea herself and yet the images remained. Had she seen a murder? A young man, strangled in the middle of some trees, by someone wearing a green and yellow woollen scarf and with music playing in the background. And that was all she could remember, or see in her mind, or imagine, or any number of things and it was driving her mad. These thoughts had just appeared in her head, out of the blue, two weeks ago. The day had been uneventful, although she had taken a tumble outside the office, but she was sure she hadn’t banged her head or anything. She’d literally walked round a corner and suddenly she’d been assailed by these images and by the time she’d pulled herself together, she was at her front door. Of course, she should have looked around her immediately, clearly something had triggered these images, but who has that calmness of mind, when all you can see is some young man gasping for breath and dying. She’d tried to dismiss it as something she’d seen at the cinema or read in the paper, and which had suddenly rushed to the front of her brain, but when these images kept playing and replaying, that was hard to do.

So she’d jumped in the car and driven back to her old village, her old life and one she’d thought she’d left for good. She really didn’t want to be here.

Jack's trousers (a drabble)

Standing in front of the mirror, Jack knew they’d succumbed to the passage of time. His favourite green corduroy trousers, his constant companion throughout the winter months, were at the end of their life. The shiny patches on the knees and his bum, were beyond him trying to comb a bit of life back in to the cord. They were threadbare, but how he loved these trousers. They matched his plaid shirts and brown leather jacket and now they were gone. But just to throw them out, in a bin liner with the remnants of last night’s dinner, yoghurt cartons and the fluff from the tumble-dryer, no, they deserved better than that. At the weekend, he would light a bonfire and give them a send-off worthy of their servitude in his life.


Excerpt from a short story
(titled "I'm only the writer")

Climbing up the tree was a test of Rob Hanson’s character, so why am I climbing this blasted tree when I’m the writer and Rob Hanson is a character in one of my stories, I asked myself again, as I perch precariously on a branch thirty feet above the ground.

I had done the internal monologue, how a writer needs to experience the reality as closely as possible, so that his words carry weight and power. What utter crap! Surely the writer’s imagination can be allowed to triumph, when it comes to a slightly arthritic 52 year-old having to climb a 40-foot tree to experience the reality of climbing said tree.

My wife, Gill, is going to kill me if I get stuck up here, I think, as I brace my right foot against the trunk and raise myself into a kneeling position on the branch. Searching for the next handhold, I catch a glimpse of the town through a gap in the branches. The town nestles in a valley and I bought this house, because it was up the valley sides. I love looking out of the bedroom window down on to the red-tiled rooftops, a patchwork of differing shades as the houses stand north-south, east-west and every compass-point in between. I love the myriad chimneys, some tall and elegant, some stumpy, some that are design icons in their own right.

But looking from here, a further thirty feet above my house, the view fair took my breath away. I could now see in between the houses, the streets, the gardens, the little back-alleys, the rat-runs that only the locals knew. OK, perhaps that was a slight exaggeration, I couldn’t see every street and every garden, but I could certainly see more than I’d ever seen before. I was pretty certain I could see people and cars moving too, but they were like ants on the back patio. I wish I had some binoculars with me. I wish I had my notebook with me. Shouldn’t every good writer carry a notebook, so he can record such a moment? Oh well, I shall just have to try and commit it to memory, I think, except my knees are beginning to feel a bit sore in this position. And really should I stay up here any longer? The longer I stay, the more tired I’ll become and then I’ll really be in trouble trying to get down. Sighing, I take one more peek through the branches, trying to burn the images into my brain, there was too much good potential here to waste.

A couple of twists and turns later and I am ten foot nearer the ground, when barking rings through the air. Mitzy, my Jack Russell terrier, has finally realised I’ve gone missing. Impressive, since I must have been out of the house for over half-an-hour now, but she is getting on in years and needs a lot more sleep then she used to. Still, her bark is as strong as ever and she’s not about to stop from her position at the bottom of the tree looking up. Oh god, Gill will hear her soon and come out to investigate. If she catches me up this tree, I’ll never hear the last of it. I try shushing sounds to no avail. I try my best, strong commands of "stop", "inside" and "kennel", all with authoritive finger-pointing, but, let’s be honest, when has Mitzy ever taken any notice of my commands. Gill has told me off on more than one occasion, saying I let the dog get away with far too much and now it’s coming back to me in spades, as I watch the patio doors open and Gill step outside.


Coffee and Blues

Listen to that growl in his voice. Lovely Blues singer, this guy. I wriggle further into the sofa as the vinyl record plays loud across the room. I’m old enough to appreciate vinyl records and for the Blues, it’s an amazing sound. I clasp my hands round the mug and inhale deeply of the aroma of freshly made coffee. It’s a smell that transcends all others, I think, as I take my first sip. Strong and black, no sugar, just pure coffee, that’s how I like it.  I have opened the window, a nod to the bright summer day outside and part of me thinks that’s where I ought to be, in the garden, on a sun lounger, with a cold glass of something, but I am here, on the sofa, listening to the Blues with a cup of strong black coffee and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.


Extract from a potential crime story (unfinished)

Closing the cottage gate behind him, DI Mike Jones walked towards his car.  He was right, all his senses told him so, but that wasn't going to be enough for the CPS.  He knew Grant McDaid was guilty, but Grant's mother wasn't going to give him the evidence he needed, she was going to stand by the alibi she'd given her son.

Martha McDaid had lived in the cottage for over 30 years, bring up two sons and two daughters on her own, except for the few brief sojourns of freedom Doug McDaid had enjoyed from "Her Majesty's Pleasure, before he committed another crime and was locked up again.  Martha had done a good job with the kids, they'd all come good, which is why the idea that Grant McDaid had strayed off the path, was something his colleagues at the Station were finding hard to believe, but Mike believed it.  He knew it, he just didn't know why (or, if truth be told, the complete how), Grant had perpetrated such an audacious crime and gotten away with it.  But he was going to find out.

Opening his car door, Mike looked at the road-sign at the crossroads outside Martha's cottage - "62 miles to London" - that's where the answer lay, he was sure of it.  This was too big a crime for this quiet corner of Kent, this was a big city crime and the answers lay there.  He couldn't get his Chief Superintendant to agree though.  His transfer request to one of the London police forces, had been denied.  "I know what you're trying to do Mike, you think once you get to London, you'll do a bit of investigating on the side.  That's not how it works and you know it.  Keep digging here and when you've got something to go on, we'll talk again, but not before."

Mike kicked the grass verge in frustration.  He was so near and yet so far away from one of the biggest cases of his career.


Extract from a short story
(titled Seeing is un-believing)

She liked to do this when she visited a gallery, she thought it gave her an air of sophistication. She would wander round the paintings and, when she found one she liked and knew to be a good, she’d sit down and look at it.  She would study it, admire it, try to think about its composition and the such-like. Not that she would ever admit to it to her flat-mate, who would laugh at her attempt at sophistication, but it was just a harmless bit of fun really, made her feel glamorous for an hour on a wet November afternoon.

The particular painting she was admiring this time, was of a vase of white flowers. It was a small painting, only about 12 inches square, but it was as if someone had put a light bulb behind the flowers. The brightness was extraordinary and very, very exquisite. Ellen couldn’t take her eyes off the picture. She didn’t know what particular flower it was, not having a horticultural bone in her body, but she admired each and every petal, the lush green stems and the fullness of the blooms. As well as being no gardener, she was also no artist, but the light the painter had somehow introduced into the picture was breathtaking and she wondered how the artist had achieved that effect, of light shimmering through and around the flowers. She sighed with admiration.

"You too", came a voice from the other end of the bench.

"Pardon", Ellen replied, startled from her reverie.

"You too, you can’t take your eyes of that painting", he continued, pointing at the white flowers. "It’s wonderful, isn’t it?"

Ellen turned to have a good look at the man. He was maybe 10 years older than her with brown curly hair just this side of red, although flecked with coppery hues. He wore glasses, those nice modern small-framed ones, but she couldn’t make out the colour of his eyes. He was comfortably dressed in good-quality, casual, clothes, not too showy. He looked nice, she thought, as she suddenly remembered to answer his question.

"Yes, yes, it's beautitful".