Times’ is a book put together to celebrate the decade-long existence of the Phoenix
Writers group, from Horwich Lancashire, and the contributors should be highly
proud of what they’ve achieved.
thing you notice is that it is a very attractive book with a simple but
well-designed and effective cover. This really does the contents justice, which
is something not achieved by all small press and writing group books.
As a member
of three/four writing groups, I really do identify with the sentiments
expressed in the book’s foreword – ‘What moves you, gets you out of bed in the
morning, drives you to action? For us on a Thursday, it’s Phoenix Writers. We
meet as friends, share ideas and get support and inspiration’. Yes, that’s what
a strong and healthy writing group does for the usually lone creative. Such a
group provides a stable and caring home for people who, by the nature of their
pastime, can feel rootless and isolated. Phoenix is clearly a great base for
many thoughtful and interesting writers.
contains just over 100 pages of stories, poetry and thoughts, and
style/content-wise, there really is something for everyone. When reading a book
of this type, I always begin with the poetry.
Lawson’s ‘Iambic Tetrameter Rules, Okay?’ is a clever and amusing poem about
the frustrations of forcing your creativity into a restrictive art form, and am
sure the sentiments expressed will resonate with most poets. With a completely different feel, ‘S is for
Sharing’ is a short and life-affirming verse by Tony Nolan about all the positives
in the world. This joy in living can be in short supply at times, so it’s
pleasant to read regular reminders. In a similar vein, Joy Pope’s poem titled
‘Horwich Times’ made me proud to have connections with the town, and even more
keen to produce my own book about Horwich – ‘a town of bustling resilience’. Kathleen
Proctor’s poem, ‘Alexander, My Grandson’ is the most beautiful recollection of
love for a grandchild who is ‘snuggling, nuzzling’ and ‘Chubby, chunky,
comfortable’. Jeanne Waddington’s poem ‘The Contrariness of Young Love’ is
about insurmountable contrasts between a young couple. It’s a regular enough
subject, but the style lends it originality – ‘She’s a summer’s evening, he’s a
are also lovely to read and insightful. Bernie Jordan’s story ‘Time Moves’
begins this collection with a vivid recollection of a moment in the life of a
crane and a railway bridge at Lostock station.
Left,’ Janet Lewison’s unpretentiously written tale, immediately drew me in
with its endearing dialogue about a woman who ends up in a hired home that
comes with its own snazzy car. She is changing her life, and the Cobra she now
drives provides its own form of liberation.
by Elaine Hamilton is a short but lovely tale of boats, and it really conjured
up a misty and weird atmosphere.
Waste’ (by Dotty Snelson) is one of the longer pieces in the book, about
recycling, hoarding, skip-diving and the make-do-and-mend ideology of a man,
Gordon, his wife Sheila, and their personal tragedy. I really enjoyed this
Oldham’s story ‘Stolen Bikes’ was about that very subject – or was it? Reading
it, you really get a feel for the woman behind this very witty monologue.
Park’s story ‘Wild Mouse’ tells the story of Mags and Rebecca on a day out at
Blackpool Pleasure Beach. They take in all the pleasures and try to defer their
ride on the ‘Wild Mouse’. The characters leapt from the page, especially their
Spider Said’ by Phil Chrimes is an insightful tale of a conversation between
Boris, a spider, and Humphrey. Their conversation is simple and so endearing. Pam
Hunter provides another spider-related piece of writing as she relates the tale
of ‘Little Miss Muffet’ and gives the reader the story behind it. There’s a lot
to learn from how fairy tales and nursery rhymes come about.
piece ‘It Started Well and Just Got Better’ is about a campervan trip to Mull
to view white-tailed eagles. This gorgeous personal recollection was good to
read and really encourages the reader to visit this area of the world.
Halliday’s piece, ‘My Home is in India’ did bring a tear to my eye. Margaret
passed away in March 2019, and also attending ‘Write You Are’ – another
Horwich-based writing group of which I am a member. I knew Margaret’s writings
well, and this appreciation of her life in India was Margaret to the core, and
a lovely, though unintentional tribute to her.
Phoenix, for this book. Greatly enjoyed!