It seems that we are still playing hunt-the-room at the Questors, with the door to our usual Library being stoutly deadbolted. A query to the barstaff of the Grapevine just raised bequizzed expression that the door even possessed a lock, but they gamely fished around amongst the pens and paperclips for any keys they may have unwittenly keptsafe. Alas, only two were found, both looking far too old for such a new fixture, one showing its age through rust and the other through its lack of teeth.
Still, the assorted stools and poufs of the Lower Foyer were arranged about a bear-stained table and the show went on. First up was Caroline Am Bergris’s rapture to an iceskating triumph that likewise glided surefooted across the page, handing seamlessly on to Samir Hazlehurst who has been listening to his library books with his morning cup of rust. Anne Furneaux then brought back her piece on the land not reaching the sea soon enough, and a bolshy Martin Choules imagined the less-than-romantic peasants muttering about that there Lady of Shalott. Autumn is full of suicidal leaves for Doig Simmonds, while Pat Francis sees it as the season of pea-soupers and choking fruitfulness, and for Owen Gallagher it will always bring to mind the scent of the peat on the fire. Michael Harris has tweaked his poem about metaphysical mis-hearing, followed by John Hurley’s cogitating on loneliness, though at least he had all of us to share it with, and we wrapped up with Daphne Gloag presenting her research on the love particle.
Being barred from poetry is nothing new to the Pitshangers. There were times when eager wordifiers would roll up on a Tuesday evening only to find that Sir John was out of town and Mrs Conduitt attending her sewing circle. Undeterred, they held their workshop on the steps of the Manor, or if wet in the saloon bar of the Red Lion. One unfortunate evening, both happened when a threatening sky and a thirsty chairman lead the others off down Ealing Green, and then a rather late Johnny Keats showed up to the steps. He had, he later admitted, ‘emptied some dull opiate to the drains’, and was not entirely in his altogether, witwise. Finding the doors firmly in their frames, and the driveway wholly lacking in versesmiths, he landed on the bizarre notion that he was to conduct the workshop with the birds on the trees. After listening to a nightingale sing for a fully five minutes, he constructively critiqued her song in a rhyme of his own. Considering his state, we are fortunate that he was later able to recall his composition, though alas he says he could not recollect any of his other brilliant replies, and so his Ode to a Pigeon must remain lost.