To Deal tonight for a meeting of Deal Writers. Despite the wet and windy weather a dozen writers made it, with six giving a reading. I had set the group a challenge inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Exercise in Style. Here is the scenario, suitably adapted and Anglicised:
The narrator bumps into a long-necked man on a bus and later sees him in a train station in the company of a friend who pins a badge on his coat.
The challenge was to recount the above incident as a brief chapter in a romantic novel, a spy story, a detective story, a western, a Greek tragedy. The writers could choose one or more of these styles, all of them or none.
The six writers who shared their efforts with us took the same scenario in remarkably different directions. We had a crime story, a romance, a comic-thriller, a poem featuring Madonna, and a spy story that morphed into a vampire tale. The winner on the night was a tremendously creative east-meets-west tale set in 19th Century London and featuring Sherlock Holmes and haiku! The odd thing about the six readings was that, although we are based on the south east coast, every one of the writers set their stories in London. Perhaps that’s because Deal is such a quiet and charming place. A peaceful seaside haven would be an unlikely setting for tales of murder and Madonna and vampires and spies.
But not ghosts. If you don’t believe me then I recommend the latest issue of Deal Today, the lifestyle magazine for the east Kent town of Deal. Deal Today is available for the bargain price of £2.00 in all good newsagents and bookshops in and around Deal. Why am I hyping this august publication? Why, because the Christmas ghost story was written by yours truly. Okay, it may not be Dickens, but it’s worth two quid of anyone’s money!