I have, over the last ten years, attended a number of night classes and creative writers' groups. They have, almost without exception, been worthwhile. There was an introduction to comedy writing in Coventry which was very funny but probably not for the reasons intended by the tutor. We spent two weeks trying to recreate Hancock's Half-Hour before dissolving due to insufficient numbers and none of us being called Tony.
It was a writers' group that polished the short story A Day at the Cemetry for me to get it to broadcast standard and I've always been grateful for that.
Yesterday I joined the local group which meets at Clevedon. Bit light on the old chairing front which meant I had to stand back from filling a leadership vacuum at a very early stage. 'Get back from the edge, I said get back from the edge you don't want to run this group...' There were ten of us round the table and during the two hours there were between one and five conversations going on at any one time despite no instructions ever being issued to 'talk to your neighbour for a minute'.
And for 40p I had a cup of something loosely based on the idea of coffee but obviously not put together by anyone who had come across the original recipe. I did finish it but the residue at the bottom of the plastic cup stuck to plastic a little like a free CD adheres to a magazine. I think it may have been liquified Post-it notes.
But I met some fine people, several of whom come from over my side of the M5 so it even counts as making pastoral contacts. One guy has a column in Psychic News. Never saw that coming.
I provided useful information on matters of theology (stop sniggering) as there were questions about rainbows, Wesley hymns and the confession. Sample dialogue:
'It's in Genesis 9.'
'I never got that far.'
We read to each other and there was good, bad and the Queen. This one could run and run.