Susan’s Scribblings – 12th February 2020

Susan has provided us with a recap of our most recent meeting.

Present: Abby, David C, David F, Dele, Fraser, Gillian (Chair), Ian, Jürgen, Ray, Richard, Sandra, Susan B, Susan S (minutes)

Apologies: Aileen, Craig, Rupert


Fraser asked that anyone willing to help edit the Nethergate Volume contact him or Craig by email. Susan S stressed that she wasn’t copy editing the volume.


Memoir of Jimmy, A Transparent Wall Polisher by Sandra

This was the second draft of a very entertaining, vivid and warmly written text, one sure to rekindle memories for older readers and to delight all. There was some debate about whether the piece was memoir as such, given that Sandra wrote about her husband’s life rather than her own, but it was agreed that it was a very effective piece of narrative oral history. Matters discussed included the obvious enthusiasm for his work which the narrator displayed and the well-achieved transition between Dundonian and Standard English in the text. It was felt that the narrative worked better now in written form without speech marks and that maybe the use of the name Nethergate could be streamlined. The piece was considered an excellent addition to the variety of the volume.

The Rose of Nethergate by Dele

The group congratulated Dele on his viva and soon becoming Dr Dele! Dele told the company that, owing to his academic commitments, he hasn’t written prose for a while and that the submitted text was a preliminary draft only.

The story, one of love, ambition and encouragement was enjoyed, especially for the important and, for this part of the world, sometimes less-familiar topics it embraces and for its rich and distinctive voice.  

At 3,100 words it is, as it stands, too long for the Nethergate volume but might fit the word limit if some of the background information about the protagonists were removed and the lively dialogue left to carry more of the story. Other suggestions were to name speakers a little less often, to make sure some passages didn’t develop a promotional tone and to clarify the timing of parts the action. It was felt that more about how/why the central character Wolu had changed by the end of the story would be avidly received by readers and likewise the motivations behind Clara accepting his offer of marriage.

A Walk Down The Nethergate by Abby

This short but powerfully written story of a pregnant student on the verge of committing suicide was well received by the group. Abby was congratulated for the timelessness of the theme, the controlled drama, her skilful building of tension and very fine written style. There was some feeling that the time-setting, the 1980s, could be made more explicit and that the details of the built environment of the period should be verified. In addition description of the soundscape and general atmosphere of the Tay Road Bridge might be created/developed. The open ending successfully mirrored the protagonist’s confusion and several phrases and images in particular were praised. 

Getting Away From It All by Gillian

This is a radical re-working of  Gillian’s draft Nethergate volume piece and it was enjoyed and appreciated by the group. A contemporary story about loss and the theft of life by illness, its title plays with different ways of being separated from normal existence. Some members felt that the protagonist, though very convincing, came across more as a teenager rather than a woman in her twenties and that this was in conflict with the character’s dream of booking a foreign holiday for herself. There were suggestions also that she might be too young to have a mother with dementia and that another illness might better fit the story and there were questions about details such as the use of the goldfinch reference. 

Beeches by Susan S

The last five minutes of the meeting were spent looking at Susan S’s 300-word flash fiction about a grove of vengeful trees. Some felt the language had a poetic quality.  


Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to read a second draft of Susan B’s December at the Theatre Royal or Roddie’s No More Heroes and it was suggested that these pieces be prioritised at the next meeting.

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