10 April 2014

Poets: Fleur Adcock and Julian Stannard at HWS

HWS Event Report 8th April, 2014

Report by David Eadsforth

Barbara Large opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and reminding us that the purpose of the HWS was for all of us to learn to write to ‘industry standard’.  Our membership was growing and now included many people from outside Hampshire, in fact from West Sussex to Dorset.

Barbara welcomed Fleur Adcock and Julian Stannard, the speakers for the evening, and then introduced Dr Stephen Wilson, Trustee of the Poetry Society, and Brian Evans-Jones, who was to be the competition adjudicator for the evening.  Barbara then invited Judith Heneghan to talk for a few moments about the upcoming Writers’ Festival.  Judith outlined the main schedule, which would comprise a series of workshops, talks, and courses over the period of the festival: Friday to Sunday, 20-22 June, 2014.  There would be opportunities for one-to-ones with literary agents and publishers, and Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, would be the keynote speaker.  Free events would include two book launches on the Friday, and there would be an “Open Mike” session where new work could be introduced.  On the Friday, poet Rhian Edwards would be present, as would Sathnam Sanghera.  There would be many other literary figures attending, including Julian Stannard on the Sunday.  She reminded everyone that full information could be obtained from the festival website: www.writersfestival.co.uk.

Barbara then announced two very sad events, the deaths of Keith Bennett and Hazel Donnelly. 

Keith had been a great champion of young writer’s poetry, and had managed the Tesco-sponsored National Poetry Day competition, which had resulted in 850 entries from the three age groups: 6-11, 12-15, and 16-18.  Keith had written comments to the entrants on all 850 entries, which had indicated his enthusiasm and commitment to the event.  Keith, a probation officer by profession, had passed away at his desk.  All contributions will go to the British Heart Foundation.

Hazel had been a great supporter of the HWS and sadly had passed away after suffering an asthma attack.  Hazel had won several of the monthly competitions and, as a tribute, Brian would read her entry for April.

Dr Stephen Boyce then spoke about the Winchester Poetry Festival.  Stephen explained that he came to poetry late in life, but had now edited two collections of poetry which were being published by Arrowhead Press.  The Winchester Poetry Festival had been the brainchild of a group of poetry enthusiasts who had noted that while there were a number of poetry festivals in Britain; St. Andrews, Ledbury, Aldburgh, the “south coast” was not represented.  Thus the Winchester Poetry Festival had been born, and would take place 12-14th September, 2014 at the Discovery Centre.  The group of trustees had raised £40k.  There would be three strands: WWI, Poets with a Hampshire connection, and contemporary poetry.  Stephen gave examples of some of the activities; Patience Agbabi, author of a modern rewrite of the Canterbury Tales would be present on the Friday, and there would be a poetry slam.  On the Sunday there would be a commemorative reading of WWI poetry, with poems from Britain, France, Germany, and Russia.  On the 14th of May, there would be a big preview event at the Discovery Centre, and the band “Epic” would perform three thousand years of poetry in sixty minutes.  The aim is to make the festival a biennial event.  Full details are to be found at www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org.

Fleur and Julian were then introduced, and in turn read a number of their works, which were under the heading of “Travels in Poetry”.  Fleur, bravely continuing despite being afflicted by a bit of a cough, read a number of poems which reflected her personal experiences. “The Saucer” was a poem about sighting a flying saucer which she had started and then returned to some years later. “Alumni Notes” was a poem addressed to a friend, and “Charon” asked where the ferryman was when he was most needed. Fleur took a well-earned break and Julian took over.

Julian Stannard and Fleur Adcock
Julian began with a poem to his first father-in-law, Bruno, “Bruno Cuts My Hair In A Place Called Ether” which recalled Bruno’s talent as a barber. “Horizontal” made the remarkable link between the French poet Rimbaud and a green wheelie bin. “September 1939” about the day war broke out, “I’m Homesick for Being Homesick”, about dressing up in an assortment of hand-me-downs before taking the dogs for a walk.  “The Blessing of the Octopus at Lerici” recalled Julian’s time spent on Genoa. There were also poems about lunch: “Lunch with Margot and Tinker”, “Lunch with Alex and Mildred”, and even “Lunch with Fleur”.

Fleur then returned to read “The Royal Visit” about the royal visit to New Zealand she witnessed in 1953, and “Slaters”: an interesting species of arthropod.  At this point, Gary took over to handle questions from the attendees.  There was, naturally, interest in how Fleur started her career in poetry, and she replied that she had always been fascinated by poetry from a young age, and had started writing in earnest by the time she reached adolescence.  The more she read, the more she wrote.  The question was also asked as to what time of day was the most productive for her, to which the answer was early morning or late at night; being half asleep seemed to trigger the creative process.  In answer to the same question, Julian remarked that inspiration always occurred at a time when he was not carrying a notebook.  However, sparks often began to strike when in conversation.

The question came up as to what would poetry be like in two thousand years, to which Fleur replied you could also ask what it would be like in ten years. In answer to the question “Do you follow a theme?” Fleur’s reply was yes; the years her father spent running a farm in New Zealand. This had inspired a recent collection which was now with the publisher. And if Fleur was “inspired by places she had lived in” what did she think of modern Britain? Fleur replied that some thoughts were not publishable! Julian also responded to the question, and said that living in Southampton provided most inspiration; especially Shirley High Street, where gems such as a goat butcher and 1970s pubs were to be found, with the distinct possibility that, at one end, the end of the world was likely to be encountered.  Brian asked Julian if place names meant something just to him or were they also intended to affect the reader.  Julian replied that it was always nice to mention place names; very self-satisfying, and the readers seemed to like it.

Fleur was asked if writing poetry was natural, or did she have to work at it.  Fleur replied that the more she did the more easily it came; one was always thinking and refining.  To finish the session, Julian read Fleur’s “Smokers for Celibacy”, an Ogden Nash’ish appraisal of sex which pretty well brought the house down.

Barbara closed with some comments about the next two meetings; James Wills, literary agent, in May; and would people please email their questions for James in advance so that as much material could be made available for him prior to the event?  Lady Carnarvon would be the speaker in June, where the venue would be Chawton House, and the usual strawberries and cream would be available, as would an area for people to bring their own picnics.  Finally, Brian mentioned that he had a workshop in plan for Saturday the 26th of April, 10.00 to 16.00, for which there were still places.

Funeral of Hazel Sara Donnelly

Family flowers only please, but donations in Hazel’s memory to ‘Asthma UK’ would be gratefully accepted. 
Links to a gift aid form and to Asthma UK can be found below:

If donating cash or by cheque, please consider including a Gift Aid form available on this link: 

Alternatively, if you wish to do this online and therefore make the Gift Aid element slightly easier, please visit this link:  

09 April 2014

April Poetry Competition Report


Competition Report 8 April 2014
Report by Celia Livesey

‘Write a Maximum of 20 Lines – Blank Verse

Brian Evans-Jones works as a full-time lecturer of creative writing, teaching both for Winchester University and the Open University, and has held many writing workshops at the Discovery Centres in Winchester and Gosport.

Brian of course is no stranger to the HWS. He was a guest speaker in April 2012 when he described his work as the Hampshire Poet Laureate for 2012. During his term of office he developed the popular ‘Writing Hampshire’ website, mapping the county through poetry.   

Brian’s Adjudication:

Before Brian gave his adjudication, he read aloud Hazel Donnelly’s entry for April as a tribute to a very talented writer who will be greatly missed. Those members and friends who wish to give donations to Asthma UK can find details on this blog page.

The first criterion Brian used to judge the entries was whether they were true blank verse. Blank verse is poetry written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines, almost always iambic pentameters. Unfortunately, most of the entrants didn’t follow the brief. Brian said that he had to put those that did follow the guidelines ahead of the rest.

1st Prize: Sue Spiers, Wiping the Slate Blank
This poem builds steadily to a really excellent ending - a final stanza that rises and rises in quality to a knock-out image in the last line. The impression left by just that stanza was easily enough to make it a strong contender, but it also does the technical side of blank verse well, and has plenty of memorable lines along the way.

2nd Prize: Sue Spiers, (pseudonym Lillian White) The Everywhere Woman
Although the iambic metre sometimes wobbles in this poem, the quality of the observation and the images are very good. The experience the woman is sketched out with precision and moving understatement.

3rd Prize: Clive Johnson, The Dancing Floor
This was the best entry in terms of getting the blank verse technically right. It presents a nightmare dance with images that are fun to decode.

Highly Commended: Jenny McRobert, Quill
This poem is a sensitive interpretation of Jane Austen’s craft. Its best images, such as the ‘corseted words’, are surprising at first but then come to feel ‘right’.

Highly Commended: Rebecca Lyon, Fossils
I like the understatement and restraint in this poem. It gives the feeling that beneath the apparently simple statements of each line, something of much greater significance in hidden, like the fossils themselves.

Prizes, Awards and Readings:
The prizes were copies of Fleur Adcock’s poetry, together with a signed Certificate of Adjudication. The winning entries are shown below:

Clive Johnson and Sue Spiers
 1st Prize: Wiping the Slate Blank - Copyright © Sue Spiers, 2014
So can you tell me what went through your mind
about the crash that crushed your cranium
at eighty miles per hour into a wall?
What made you risk your life and loss of limb?

A surgeon drilled the holes to make some space
for swollen tissue, limbic gland damage
that makes remembering the time too hard
and leads to rage or disruptive changes.

Medulla responses keep heart and lungs
in rhythm.  Motor skills; finger to thumb,
some words to name your wife and basic needs.
The slow recovery of smile and frown

at appropriate times as you discern
correct responses.  Wonder how you look
to other patients, do the scars stand out?
The ones you hold inside and can’t recall.

In dreams you grasp what consciousness restrains.
The man who hovers in the corridor;
that want-of-death was stronger than her love,
than frontal lobe perception of her faith.

2nd Prize: The Everywhere WomanCopyright © Sue Spiers, 2014
She’s seen and unseen, an old crumble-sac
who everyone thinks they know but never
saw before.  Her face is familiar
and easily forgotten.  The white hair –
a trademark nobody recognises.
More passive to bland into the background
behind the loud and strident women who
demand attention, she sits in her skin,
occasionally smiling and nodding,
listening intently to the voices
rising above her own mouse-beige whisper.
She remains mute for her own amusement,
content not to contend ‘don’t I know you?’
One minute here then gone like a shadow
at midday whose shape you’re sure you recall
but can’t bring to mind, an outline that’s made
of mist.  She will never be missed or mourned
for long but thought of as a dear old kind
you often met but can’t remember when;
the everywhere woman without a name.

3rd Prize: The Dancing FloorCopyright © Clive Johnson, 2014
Before a conflict that would scar me and
Destroy so many lives, I dreamed each year
I entered different rooms until I reached
The last, a fearful place of sacrifice
As yet unknown to me, inside a hall,
A dancing floor where flappers and their beaux,
The damaged of the first war and their friends
Unheedful of the next, tripped to a beat
That might have been a devil’s dance, the make-
Up on the women’s faces devils’ masks
That stirred in some a superstitious awe.
The partnering - a frantic sport to vie
For men among the suitors that were left -
Might be a satyr’s ritual to them.
It would enrage their forebears and provoke
A band of witchfinders to prick our skins.
Instead, a new and heartless creed beset
Us with its notions of normality.
We caught a fever in that long weekend
That spread from age to age to addle us.

In Conclusion:
The competition secretary, Jim Livesey thanked Brian for the splendid job he did in adjudicating the April entries and presented him with a small token of our thanks.

The main speaker and adjudicator for May will be James Wills, a literary agent at Watson Little. Members were asked to submit questions for James in advance by email by the 1st of May.  

The Competition for Tuesday13 May 2014 – The Stripe Auditorium:

Write a letter to a literary agent in 300 words.

The adjudicator will be James Wills. 
Please email to the Competitions Secretary, Jim Livesey competitions.hwsAThotmail.com
by noon (BST)1st May 2014. (please replace AT with @)

Please read HWS Competition rules

13 March 2014

The Asquith Report March 2014


Report by Gill Hollands.

Bobbie Neate’s new book is called Conspiracy of Secrets which is about a family tragedy and serendipity. The book took nine years to write and research, five of which were full time. When it was published, it was classified as a biography on Asquith which she was most unhappy about, but the classification has remained.

Bobbie was one of four children.  Her reason for writing this book is because of her stepfather, Louis Thomas Stanley.  She describes him as a psychopath; he had no sense of guilt, he was persuasive, used his power, was attractive and a wonderful liar.  He took in everyone around her mother. Louis had always been very secretive about his birth, his upbringing and his parents; even about what he did in the war.  If questioned by the children, they were beaten and sent to bed. It was not until her mother became ill that he poured her money into her care, with a team of thirty nurses plus carers. Her mother had had a stroke and he had not called for any medical assistance. The family had to fight him for access to their mother; it ended in involving the Police and the matter was taken to Court.

Bobbie stated that the start of a book is always crucial. Hers begins ‘Names have always fascinated me’.  Louis did in fact mix with many famous people, e.g. Bonham-Carter, the Aga Khan, and she was intrigued by his social connections.

The book Thirty-seven Days refers to Herbert Henry Asquith but it is very dry. However, in it she found a picture of Asquith and compared it to one of her stepfather. (These were passed around at the meeting.) The likeness is striking.  Digging deeper, she found that Asquith, who became Prime Minister in 1912, despite having seven legitimate children already, had a girlfriend, Venetia Stanley who was twenty one at the time. Venetia came from a wealthy family, who owned Alderley Hall which had forty bedrooms. She was fond of animals and kept a penguin, monkeys and even a bear. She was his eldest daughter Violet’s (who later became a Bonham-Carter) best friend. Venetia and Violet went on hustings with Asquith for two elections that took place in 1911.

Infidelity was rife amongst politicians. Even Lloyd George was known to have an affair with his secretary in the same year.

However, despite a double page spread in the Daily Mail no family came forward to deny it. As now, when something is to be hushed up, people keep quiet. It emerged that Asquith wrote five hundred letters which are held in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, but Bobbie discovered that the scandalous letters had been omitted.  Bobbie found several however, that made it clear Asquith turned to Venetia for advice during the war and he trusted her judgement.  Her letters were kept under his pillow. Churchill often became irate with Asquith as he would write these letters in cabinet meetings.

In summary, Bobbie learned that Asquith was a bragger as was her stepfather and she feels the characters fit, to confirm that indeed her stepfather was the illegitimate son of Herbert Henry Asquith.

12 March 2014

Elizabeth Buchan Evening March 2014


Report by Gill Hollands.

Bobbie Neate was introduced as an ex senior lecturer at the University of Winchester.  She left to work in educational publishing and has now set up her own non-fiction business. Her new book is called Conspiracy of Secrets which is about a family tragedy and serendipity. The book took nine years to write and research, five of which were full time.

Bobbie's reason for writing this book is because of her stepfather, Louis Thomas Stanley. He had always been very secretive about his birth and when she found a picture of Asquith and compared it to one of her stepfather, the likeness was striking. Digging deeper. she found that Asquith, who became Prime Minister in 1912, despite having seven legitimate children already, had a girl friend, Venetia Stanley, who was twenty-one at the time. Bobbie found several letters that made it clear that Asquith turned to Venetia for advice during the war. Further investigation confirmed that indeed her stepfather was the illegitimate son of Herbert Henry Asquith. For full details, see The Asquith Report.

Bobbie Neate and Elizabeth Buchan

Elizabeth Buchan was introduced as a historical writer with a double degree in history and English.  She began as a blurb writer for Penguin, even writing the introduction to Peter Rabbit, and was the Fiction Editor for Random House.  She writes critical reviews, is the patron of the Guildford Book Fair and the ex-chair of the Romantic Novelists Association, as well as being an RNA prize-winner with 16 titles to date.  Her book Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman is now a TV movie and New York Times Bestseller. Her new book ‘I can’t begin to tell you’ comes out on 1 August.

Elizabeth started by saying what a great community, writers are. She quoted Red Smith ‘There is nothing to writing – all you do is sit at a desk and open a vein.’ She feels this is correct. However, the bald sentence leaves out the fact that you begin on a rich and fascinating journey, both physically, as she has now been all around the World, and internally, as you discover a new internal landscape; a surprising adventure.

She found being a blurb writer for Penguin, a great job; feet on the desk, reading the whole catalogue. She became a dinner party bore with all the facts she took in. Basically, she said blurb writers were pond-life who get kicked by sales, editors, marketing and authors. They took their revenge in words; e.g. if the blurb said ‘enchanting’ there was a dog in it; if it was ‘heart-warming’ there was a dog and a child; if it said ‘heart-wrenching’ they died; if it said ‘thoughtful’ it was boring; if it said ‘provocative’ it was irritating, etc.  She considered blurb writing a mini art form.  She did get into trouble once due to a misunderstanding and received a ‘To Whom It May Concern’ letter from a disgruntled reader whose name she had used by mistake for a dog. Even Dirk Bogarde in his writing days was upset by praise asking, ‘If I’m a writer on top form, where else do I have to go?’

 The lesson to learn is that each word has to earn its place and be genuine, apt and fresh. With writing novels it helps to be disciplined. Search for the essence of the book before you start. Empathise with the material and be economical with the truth. Each word has to count.

The main requirement is to love what you are doing and do it with a passion, not as a grind or a chore.  Keep your love for it sparkling and alive. You don’t have to travel to experience great changes. Good stories can be created just as well in a domestic setting.  Be aware that you handle subjects differently as you age.

Elizabeth was recently inspired by a visit to Denmark which was invaded during the war in 6 hours and became a protectorate. When the Nazis wanted to round up all the Jews they disappeared, hidden in barns or rowed across the sound by sympathetic Danes. She was very interested in the coding and the mistakes that were made. She wondered how a psyche would cope with the violence and how you go back to normal when it’s over.  War is about lies.

Finally, she offered one last anecdote about a writer who read a factual account in a local newspaper about a woman who fell under a train and a custody battle.  This is what triggered Leo Tolstoy to write Anna Karenina. With that, she rested her case.

Catherine King with Barbara Large

 Competition Report 11 March 2014

‘Write a Scene Between a Mother and Daughter’ – 300 words.

Barbara Large introduced Catherine King – our adjudicator for March. Catherine said she very much enjoyed reading the entries which were of a very high standard.

It is very encouraging that we had 20 entries for this competition, many from ‘new’ members.

Catherine is a full time author, currently working on her 14th novel and 9th historical saga. Her second saga, Silk and Steel, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year in 2008. Her latest title is ‘The Secret Daughter’, published in November 2012 and is tonight’s prize for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd competition winners.

I asked Catherine to say a few words on the criteria that she used to assess the entries.

Catherine’s Adjudication:
‘The standard of entries was high and I was impressed by the variety of themes that members used for this piece. However, several needed more than 300 words to do justice to their selected ideas. I believe it is more difficult to write a well-rounded piece in 300 words than it is to write a novel! The novel, of course, takes much longer.

To decide on the winners I looked for a rounded piece of writing with a beginning, middle and satisfying end. In one or two, the ending was rushed or contrived, indicating that the idea was more suitable for a longer piece. The writing, also, had to communicate something to the reader in the form of a premise or message. Many did this very well but, again, needed more words to round off in a satisfactory way. Finally, I wanted to see a clear distinction between the mother and daughter voices.’

Linda Welch, Hazel Donnelly and Rosie Travers

1st Prize: Rosie Travers, The Gremlin
A sharp observation of the barriers between a mother and her anorexic daughter. This was an original interpretation of the difficulties of communication; well rounded, beautifully written, and delivered within the requisite limitations.

2nd Prize: Hazel Donnelly, A Chink of Light
An exploration of a mother/daughter relationship focusing on the contrariness of a teenager. This was a light-hearted bitter sweet piece that raised a smile and was delivered almost wholly in dialogue.

3rd Prize: Linda Welch, Mother of the Bride
A ghost story that takes place as a bride is about to leave for the ceremony. This was a well-crafted emotional short story that tugged at the heartstrings. It was a clever idea that was delivered skillfully within the word limit.

Highly Commended: Dorothy Collard (pseudonym E C Grace), Nolene
A role reversal short story comprising dialogue between a school age girl and her mother, one of whom is possibly pregnant. This was fun to read but I found the clarity was reduced because the voices were occasionally too similar.

Highly Commended: Tristan Warner-Smith, Untitled
A role reversal piece where an elderly mother becomes the child. This writing had a refreshingly light touch which I enjoyed. The story was delivered in an imaginative yet concise way.

Prizes, Awards and Readings:
The prizes were Catherine King’s The Secret Daughter, together with a signed Certificate of Adjudication. The winning entries are shown below:

1st Prize: The Gremlin - Copyright © Rosie Travers, 2014
Half a Weetabix has gone from the packet.  It’s a token effort, meant to appease me.
She is watching Breakfast TV, wrapped in a baggy sweatshirt. The Gremlin sits benignly on her shoulder. He nestles there, quite comfortably.
‘We need to talk,’ I say.
I have tried broaching this subject before. Now I recognise the softly, softly approach will not work with the Gremlin.
‘I have to go to school,’ my daughter says. She flicks off the TV. ‘Can’t it wait?’
‘No. I’ve had enough of hoping this is just a passing fad. I think you need to seek professional help.’
A scared, haunted look fleetingly appears on Becki’s face and I feel of glimmer of hope.  This is the Becki I want to reach; rational, sensible Becki, who knows her behaviour is spiralling out of control.
In an instant the Gremlin responds to the threat. He hunches his back and bares his ugly, jagged teeth. He is greedy, grasping, grotesque and very clever.
Together he and Becki have calculated the minimum amount of calories she needs to get through the day.  Half a Weetabix is a token gesture because the Gremlin knows I’m on his case. This evening he will sit at the table, egging Becki on to another Oscar worthy performance of pretending to eat, while chopping, slicing and manoeuvring her dinner around on her plate without actually consuming anything.
I want to reach out and reassure my daughter that we can, we will, work this out.  Instead the shutters come down.
‘I’m fine, mum,’ Becki says. Her face is set in a stubborn glare. ‘Don’t fuss.’
She tugs at the hem of her sweatshirt and pulls it down to conceal her ever-decreasing frame.
The Gremlin settles back down upon her shoulder, grinning at me triumphantly.

2nd Prize: A Chink of LightCopyright © Hazel Donnelly, 2014
"That green eyeliner is lovely, darling."
She heaves a sigh, pushing the untouched toast around her plate, "It's turquoise."
I  had hoped today would be a better day.
 "Well, then your turquoise eyeliner is lovely. It matches your sage shirt."  I'm trying too hard.
"It's grunge green."
"It suits you."
"What? You mean grungy colours suit me?" Her dark eyes flash.
 "I mean, that sage suits your colouring."  Feel fraught, sound calm. I have learned to perfect the art.
We sit in silence. It chokes me. When did we lose that easy chatter?
"Are you doing anything after college, today?"
“Just making conversation.”
"So, you're not really interested.” Flat. A statement. Not a question.
"Of course I'm interested."
"You said, you were just making conversation. You don't need to." She turns the radio up.
We resume our silence.
"If you might possibly be interested, I have a netball match." She has actually volunteered the information.
"I didn't know you were in the team."
"Why would you?"
"I would if you told me."
She shuns  the temptation of an acid retort. I can see a chink of light.
"Can I have some money? The match fee is three pounds."
I open my purse.
"I'll have the brown note."
"Nice try. You'll have the green one." I hand her a blue five pound note. It's not lost on her and I cherish the hint of a smile.
"It should be a good match. They're a tough opposition."
"Worth watching?" I hold my breath.
 "Well the sun's out. Spectators won't get cold." She doesn’t look up. She is cautious. Uncertain.
"I'll be there.”
She stands up and hefts her sports bag over her shoulder. "It's gonna be a lovely day mum," she grins, "the sky is a beautiful bright green."

3rd Prize: Mother of the BrideCopyright © Linda Welch, 2014
This was a day I never thought I would see: my daughter Nicola’s wedding day.  I stood in the doorway to her bedroom and watched as she sat at her dressing table, surrounded by her bridesmaids, sipping champagne.  She looked radiant, although she had lost weight in the past few weeks, and her dress had been taken in twice.  There were shadows under her eyes.  She had hidden them well with make-up, but I knew they were there.
‘The cars will be here in a minute,’ my husband said from the doorway.  ‘Ladies, can you give me a few moments with the bride, please?’
He sat on the edge of the bed and watched as Nicola opened the jewellery box he and I had given her one Christmas and took out my gold charm bracelet.  She counted each charm as if counting rosary beads and my lips moved in time with hers.
“Tiny pram, tiny me inside, for the day I was born; little dog, for the puppy you gave Mum for the first Christmas you were married; Cornish pixie, because that’s where you went on your honeymoon; gold abacus with amethyst beads, that you gave Mum to congratulate her for passing her accountancy exams …”
I listened to her recital of each charm, each milestone in my life, some entwined with her own, some just for me.  Her father fastened the bracelet around her wrist and kissed her cheek. 
“I wish your Mum could have been here to see this day,” he said, and there was a quiver in his voice.  Nicola held his hand and gave it a squeeze.  She glanced towards the door and for a moment her eyes met mine. 
“She is here, Dad,” she whispered and she smiled, right at me.  “She is.”

In Conclusion:
Catherine King said she thoroughly enjoyed doing the adjudication and the events of the evening.

The Competition for Tuesday 8 April 2014 – St Alphege, Room 04, adjacent to The Stripe:

Write a maximum of 20 lines … Blank Verse.

The adjudicator will be Brian Evans-Jones, Poet Laureate 2012/13. 
Please email to the Competitions Secretary, Jim Livesey competitions.hwsAThotmail.com
by noon (BST)1st April 2014. (please replace AT with @)

Please read HWS Competition rules