So 2019 is grinding towards an end, and what a complex, mangled year it has been for us, here in the UK.
On our small island with its natural water barrier between us and the world, a civil war of words has raged since 2016, over whether we should pull up the drawbridge to our sea moat and withdraw into our brittle little shell or continue to relate with our nearest neighbours in the same convivial way we’ve enjoyed for 50 years.
I’m disconsolate to say to my overseas readers, not only that the drawbridge fans have won the war of words, but that all of we ordinary citizens, those of us who don’t have huge investments squirrelled away or are not hedge fund managers, who are not the fabulously rich elite and right wing newspaper owners, we have all lost.
I can’t dwell for too long on an issue which has been divisive enough to make me sick at heart. Instead I turn for comfort to my own community and to the groups which provide solace, friendship and distraction in these gloomy times.
While I have only been a member of my current book club for about a year, the members feel like old friends already, with their lively, cheerful discussions and their enthusiasm for reading and sharing views. During the evening we spent enjoying a Christmas meal I discovered I am the oldest in the group [by 4 days!], although I’ve never felt myself to be a different generation. I love the range of ages and stages of life. Members relate to the books differently depending on these stages, which provides a wealth of varied insights. The group has grown so much that numbers have had to be regulated!
In contrast, my writing group, the wonderful Spokes, has kept going for years with fluctuating numbers, on occasions dipping to three of us, the original three. We’ve moved venue several times and seen writers come and go, some getting published, some moving to new areas, others giving up their writing journey. But new members always turn up, currently a disparate but interesting set of characters with very different levels of expertise to bring to our group. People have different reasons for attending a group; perhaps writing is an outlet for them, perhaps they are serious about pursuing writing as a career, or perhaps the feeling of belonging and being valued is all they need.
We are fortunate, these days to be housed in our wonderful, local library, a facility denied to many since austerity crept around the country pruning services to the ground. If you are still lucky enough to live near a functioning library, please use it! There are few greater treasures than books, even in this digital age.
So at this point, I wish you-readers from all around the world, all faiths or none, all nationalities, a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
These are grim times. Writing to acknowledge that is never enough but it’s a start and I appreciate that you’ve done it here.
Thank you Ellen. It’s good to keep hoping!
Oops, I neglected to realize this was from blogging and writer friend, Grace. It’s a wonderful post.
Thank you. Much appreciated.
I loved your post, Janet. I am new to this gig (writing) in the last year, but as a teacher, I’ve always seen and appreciated the power of collaboration. I joined a critique group a year ago, and they are incredibly supportive. Not only do I enjoy spending time with them, they are helping me become a better writer.
Thanks Pete, glad you enjoyed Grace’s blog. Yes I have been in two very different writing groups ( one of them Spokes ) for years and find them energising, very helpful and the source of good friendships.
Reblogged this on Times and Tides of a Beachwriter and commented:
My fellow Remainer and local blogger Grace sums up well what the past year has meant for many of us and also pays tribute to those people we meet in real life. Lots of us belong to groups of all sorts and they are an important part of our lives.
What an ending to the year, we can no longer pretend that most Leavers really wanted to Remain, but the result probably reflects that most people don’t trust most politicians or we’re confused as to who stood for what. Hopefully we will all try and get on and make the best of it.