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over in the UK and here in Lanzarote

By Norman Warwick

When Lanzarote Creative Writing Group (LCWG) facilitator Sue Almond, (left) retired a couple of years or so ago and returned to the UK several of her members decided to continue meeting and working in a slightly less formal manner.

Author Jim Loughrill, radio presenter Aileen Hendry, Jenny Graham and Rebecca all regularly meet to continue discussing and supporting each other´s writing projects, and have even been joined by new members.

When Sue left, Rebecca and her friends felt it would be a shame to let the group close as they would all miss the social aspect as well as the writing. They still meet and were together most recently at The Ohana Café in Costa Teguise.

Ohana Cafe Bar was launched last year in a busy space, adjacent to Hotel Coronas Playa, Av. del Mar, 35508 Costa Teguise, Las Palmas, Spain. The venue currently offers a very successful, authentic tapas-based menu, popular with both tourists and residents of all nationalities. Unusual for a new business, the cafe has already attracted a near perfect catalogue of reviews including more than 50 on Google and TripAdvisor, driven by fabulous feedback. The building consists of a large zone for tables both inside and out, making good use of a sheltered terrace, plus bar, kitchen and modern bathrooms. The cafe is established within the most exclusive area of Costa Teguise, Playa Bastian. The current business owners have created a space that has grown in popularity incredibility quickly, supported by a professional brand, clever advertising and absolute attention to detail. An international consultant was used for social media success, resulting in 5 star, 100% positive feedback on Facebook, so important to all new businesses in our tourist resorts. The website and digital resources are included in the package. Unfortunately, with everything going so well Ohana Cafe Bar has had to be placed onm the property market due to family reasons, but Lanzarote Writing Group has already proved its durability, and I am sure it will survive if it has to move on.  

Lanzarote Creative Writing Group, meanwhile, continues to fulfil exercises in genres such as flash fiction and generally create pieces of 500 to 1,500 words.  I remember from my time with the group, too, that there was nothing to frighten the horses. Prospective members can be frightened off by technical literary terms but the remit of the group is to, first and foremost, simply enjoy putting pen to paper.

Long-time member Aileen Hendry confirms that and often says that ´putting pen to paper is what is important. Once you start, you trigger and release memories.´

Aileen´s colleague Jenny Graham concurs with her, by revealing recently to Gazette Lanzarote Life that, ´as a motivation to writing, the group are planning to publish something in May 2021.´

I remember Jenny Graham as a fine writer, creating characters each with their own recognisable voices, and I loved how Jenny created subtle tensions that would creep up on her reader. She enjoys the meetings still because members pass constructive comment on the work of their colleagues and that has helped in her creating a new horror story recently. Jenny´s writing was always clearly distinctive but when I was attending each member certainly had their own particular forte.

Now, I hear from friends, newcomer Fiona Kershaw is an accomplished poet who actually wrote a poem about Lanzarote Writing Group, under the friendly title of Our Bunch, that was published to accompany their recent press coverage.

Another new name to me, Ann, I´m works in the classic mystery genre.

I have also met Jimmy Dobro, a great musician who enjoyed a successful stage and recording career and is now writing a children´s book.

I was delighted to make friends with those Lanzarote Writing Group members I worked alongside, such as Aileen Hendry, (shown far right on group photo) who continues to create hilarious pieces. She is a well-travelled lady with a keen eye for incident and, from Scotland to South Africa to Spain, she remembers them all with a clarity that brings them to vivid life for her readers. She is also a well-loved presenter on Monster fm radio where she sometimes gives verbal tellings of these tales.

Rebecca writes reflective poetry and, in Joycean style, also explores swift-running streams of consciousness in her writing,.

Jim Loughrill (left) has published a book, My Silent Voices, in the last couple of years, which would reward your search engine´s exploration. Jim is sure to produce more work, I feel, perhaps in audio formats, in the years to come.

Sue Almond has contacted the group from her boat house in the UK to say that she is ´really happy to know that a version of my writing group continues to exist on the island. The fact that it has continued to thrive for so long, already fifteen years by the time I left, suggests that people enjoy being members and get something worthwhile out of it, which is very gratifying.´

Sue referred to ´the swallows who regularly joined us when they landed on the island who will be delighted to know the group is still there when travel restrictions end and they are able to flock back.´

´With a bit of luck,´ she hinted intriguingly, ´she might be one of them´

Sadly I can no longer commit to a regular attendance at the group because writing for Lanzarote information and publishing my own daily Sidetracks & Detours blog takes up all my spare time, but I was thrilled to hear this positive news and will certainly make time to attend a meeting when the promised work is published, and see if we can secure an interview with those who are writing of these times we are living in.

Apart from on Lanzarote we are hearing of arts calendars looking full in Scotland, London, Manchester, Rochdale, Seoul, and we can see for ourselves just what a vibrant return the arts have enjoyed since locked-down doors were re-opened. We can see for ourselves here on Lanzarote that music, visual art and dance have stepped out in sprightly manner in search of normality.

There is also, in fact, a group of creative writers and performing poets in Rochdale in the UK which, in the past few weeks have changed venue, and therefore the name of their group, from Those Bard From The Baum to Pegasus at The Flying Horse, and have already held their second meeting under that new identity. So, come follow your art along sidetracks & detours that lead to poetry, song, ukulele and guitar in a pub near the tram terminal. (The new venue is shown in our cover picture at the top of this article) .

We reported last week in our article Concert Series Resumes, posted on 10th October, that Rochdale has recently seen not only the post-pandemic resumption of its much loved classical music concert series. Not only are classical music dates being scribbled on to calendars across the town, but so too are dates of the Borough´s Sunday evening poetry readings.

The second Pegasus session at The Flying Horse went very well indeed., we hear. Although there were only a dozen or so who were punctual for the new (brought forward half an hour) start time of 7pm. Time changes always cause an initial minor confusion of course and it should also be factored in that this was Bonfire weekend, with bangs and flames being stretched from the previous Thursday. Oldham fireworks etc on Oldham Edge with Shaw celebrating their event on Saturday and Royton commenced a Sunday evening event that coincided imperfectly with start time for this second meeting of Pegasus Poets at the ´Flyer´ in Rochdale. 

Nevertheless, by the time the late attendees arrived the audience were able to enjoy twelve performers plus sundry backers of Ukulele players and backing guitarists etc. 

The Ukulele band was re-named in each half as the New Crocks or New Ukes (Nukes) and asked Where Have All The Flowers Gone, suitably fitting a remembrance theme, and played ABBA music too. There were other Remembrance themed poems with a backward nod to Hallowe’en. But no Guy Fawkes efforts alas.

Michael Higgins (right), here in his performing role rather than as arts and culture correspondent here at Sidetracks And Detours, reminded us of National Poetry Day, which this year fell on the birthday of Michael´s distant ‘cousin’ Wulf Higgins which, on the day, Michael forgot. He nevertheless penned a poem that he explained was a pastiche of Skeltonics and 14th century alliterative revival verse, with a nod to the Anglo Saxon three-stress unrhymed line. Thus, Michael´s poem was the only one with bits that did not rhyme.

Don Parry (left) read a poem entitled Pegasus and in the second half distilled this into an introduction for his own song Gallipoli. With a nod to Academia he did ask if we all knew the Pegasus of the Classics. Everyone murmured yes. He also touched on the methodology of burgeoning a poem by making it into a song, which Michael alluded to when subsequently singing Masefield’s The West Wind. 

Robin Parker, (right), co-founder of these events many years ago and excellent permanent presenter ever since, had opened the evening with an ABBA pastiche medley of tunes for his poem on a curry-night-out.  Robin´s offering might well have drawn the ukulele players into their Winner Takes It All riposte !

Eileen Earnshaw was not well enough to come – or at least could not face the breath-taking stairs up to the performance room. So Robin compered on his own. 

Alas there was no John Leach or Val and Alfie. John has not been seen since the first Lockdown so we cannot say how he is or has coped when all his dancing venues and under-cover courting hideouts have been closed to him. How we missed his nostalgic tales of unrequited love behind the sights screens and his erroneous train jouney to Norwich when he should have gone to Horwich !

Ian Aitchison stole the limelight by circumventing an edict agreed upon at the previous meeting about the reading one poem per performance in each half by mischievously reading a set of limericks he had written into ´a poem´s length´ and even then introducing ´just another quick one´. Perhaps sensing the unease of his audience, though, Ian restrained himself from doing so and thus lived to play in the second half.

Dave Mckeuan (left) stole the show with his guitar driven Cannibal Cabaret. about the tastiness of missionaries and ‘the man eaters of the Barbary Coast’. But other themes from the gang of Pegasus Poets were Vincent Van Gogh, zombie drugs or ‘Devil’s Breath’, Women’s TV incontinence adverts and nose picking,

Maureen Harrison added some decorum by reading two poems on Remembrance.

Two new lady attendees read their own poems.

Ken Hall read a nice poem on camera snaps at Weymouth, Linda sang a song about retirement (to the tune of My Old Man’s A Dustman) called If Only Other People Wouldn’t Make You Feel Quite Old  and Gloria sang about a Wonderful Man while pointing to Robin. In fact, all audience members and players seemed to agree at the end that Robin Parker is indeed a Wonderful Man.

Further news reports from Rochdale inform us that a new creative writing group has been established in an MBC that already houses Touchstones Creative Writing Group, Weaving  and Langley Writers with an already significant sized shaded area on a diagram showing those members (and facilitators) common to them all.

Falinge Writers is that new group. The group will meet weekly on Thursday mornings from 10.00 am to 12 noon in the café in Falinge Park (a beautiful setting). Whether you are a poet, or a playwright, or just have a thing for words there is a place for you. Contact Eileen.earnshaw@yahoo.co.uk for further information.

Meanwhile, The Edwin Waugh Dialect Society, also of Rochdale MBC, recently met for  Les and Alan Bond tribute neet. As for Off The Rails we learn the organisers have come down with Coronavirus reputedly caught at Les Bond’s funeral.

That´s all the news from Rochdale for now, but no doubt new stories will be blown our way, because George Meredith’s ‘back of the North Wind’ has changed round to Masefield’s balmier West.

Meanwhile, though, we have news just in from Jazz In Reading so we alert to what sounds like a great night coming up in their area. We carry many of the of the organisation´s listings and we hear that these concerts at The Progress are always excellent and well attended, so check out ticket details in their column below.

Clark Tracey
Clark Tracey (left) is an excellent, highly experienced, award-winning drummer, bandleader, composer and arranger. He grew up in a jazz environment as the son of the late Stan Tracey and from an early age took to the piano and vibraphones. At the age of 13 he started playing the drums and he turned professional at 17 in 1978 when his father Stan Tracey offered him the chair in his own band. He has now won Best Drums award on many occasions and is much in demand for his experienced and melodic drumming.

Clark has had 40 years’ experience playing alongside some of the most important artists in jazz at home and abroad. British artists include names such as Ronnie Scott, John Surman, Alan Skidmore, Kenny Wheeler, Alan Barnes, Don Weller and Tommy Smith. He has recorded over 100 albums (15 as a leader) and performed in over 50 countries.

“…one of the most impressive jazz drummers in Britain today”  – The Times
Clark has also had a long history of finding young talented musicians and presenting them in a professional environment. His most recently formed group includes three such younger players and the band has even been tipped as his best line up for several years.

On trumpet we have Mark Armstrong, on trombone James Wade-Sired, on reeds Tom Ridout, on piano Gareth Williams and on bass James Owston. The driving force behind the night’s entertainment, however, will of course be Clark Tracey himself bringing a rhythmic diversity, taste and sensitivity that has made him one of the most respected musicians.   The performance will take place at The Progress Theatre in Reading at 7.30 pm on Friday 26th November, presented in association with Jazz In Reading. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/reading/progress-theatre/clark-tracey-sextet/e-braoyq
Clark Tracey Sextet.
Progress Theatre, Reading, Friday 26th Nov. 7.30

presented in association with Jazz In Reading

The prime source for this article was a piece originally published in Lanzarote Gazette Life.

In our occasional re-postngs Sidetracks And Detours are confident that we are not only sharing with our readers excellent articles written by experts but are also pointing to informed and informative sites readers will re-visit time and again. Of course, we feel sure our readers will also return to our daily not-for-profit blog knowing that we seek to provide core original material whilst sometimes spotlighting the best pieces from elsewhere, as we engage with genres and practitioners along all the sidetracks & detours we take.

This article was collated by Norman Warwick, a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.

Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve, and his own show on Sherwood Community Radio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio 4.

As a published author and poet he was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (where he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.

From Monday to Friday, you will find a daily post here at Sidetracks And Detours and, should you be looking for good reading, over the weekend you can visit our massive but easy to navigate archives of over 500 articles.

The purpose of this daily not-for-profit blog is to deliver news, previews, interviews and reviews from all across the arts to die-hard fans and non- traditional audiences around the world. We are therefore always delighted to receive your own articles here at Sidetracks And Detours. So if you have a favourite artist, event, or venue that you would like to tell us more about just drop a Word document attachment to me at normanwarwick55@gmail.com with a couple of appropriate photographs in a zip folder if you wish. Beiung a not-for-profit organisation we unfortunately cannot pay you but we will always fully attribute any pieces we publish. You therefore might also. like to include a brief autobiography and photograph of yourself in your submission. We look forward to hearing from you.

Meanwhile we are grateful to our regular correspondent Michael Higgins and occasional reporter Steve Bewick and the sharing of information by such reliable sources such as

correspondents                                Michael Higgins

                                                            Steve Bewick

                                                            Gary Heywood Everett

                                                            Steve Cooke

                                                            Susana Fondon

                                                            Peter Pearson

                                                            Graham Marshall

Hot Biscuits Jazz Radio                      www.fc-radio.co.uk

AllMusic                                            https://www.allmusic.com

feedspot                                              https://www.feedspot.com/?_src=folder

Jazz In Reading                                  https://www.jazzinreading.com

Jazziz                                                 https://www.jazziz.com
Ribble Valley Jazz & Blues                https://rvjazzandblues.co.uk

Rob Adams                                         Music That´s Going Places

Lanzarote Information                        https://lanzaroteinformation.co.uk

all across the arts                                 www.allacrossthearts.co.uk

Rochdale Music Society                     rochdalemusicsociety.org

Lendanear                                           www.lendanearmusic

Agenda Cultura Lanzarote

Larry Yaskiel – writer

The Lanzarote Art Gallery                  https://lanzaroteartgallery.com

Goodreads                                        https://www.goodreads.

groundup music                                  HOME | GroundUP Music

Maverick                                             https://maverick-country.com

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