We do not call a register at our workshops, nor do we tut with a disapproving glance over our spectacles when a regular reappears after a week or two’s absence. We fully realise how Dame Poetry will lead her adherents on ever stranger quests in search of her muse, or indeed how Real Life has a habit of interfering with even the best-laid plans of mice and men.
Our numbers fluctuate from one session to the next, but rarely do we have too few to reach a corum and the meeting to proceed. (And to those who insist that it should infact be quorum, feel free to drop in and tell us about it. We’re very pedant-friendly.)
This week’s assembly was opened by Clare Chitan’s recent experiences in her namesake County Clare, complete wheat of gold and silver sand, while Owen Gallagher returned with memories of his late father’s shoes being worn by the wrong feet. Marilyn Keenan brought us some summer passion and the coolness and stones, and Martin Choules enjoyed the couplings of ants on the wing. Meanwhile, Daphne Gloag opened her door onto a darkness punctuated by comets – but for how much longer ?
Grounded wood doves and flies in rented cages greeted us in David Hovatter’s poem, all dedicated to a noted painter of landscapes, and Alan Chambers became equally aware of his surroundings as he navigated a dusky watercourse.
This being summer, we can expect more absences in the coming weeks, not least those of our regular diarist. The archives reveal that it was ever thus. Members would disappear for months at a time only to resurface with some blistering verses inspired by their sabbatical. For instance, John Betjeman was always popping off to visit some out-of-the-way lady-chapel or oast-house, only to wax lyrical on its charms upon his return, and the Mary Shelley who returned from her grand tour of 1816 was certainly not the wide-eyed ingénue who had frequented Sir John’s gatherings just a few months earlier.