I threatened to put up some examples of the homework people had done for the group – so here’s the first assignment: alphabet stories. 1 story, 26 sentences, each starting with a consecutive letter of the alphabet.

From G to F

‘Good grief,’ he exclaimed – slightly too dramatically, she thought –  ‘is it Tuesday already?’

‘Have you forgotten what day of the week it is?’ she said, not quite managing to disguise the patronising tone in her voice.

‘Is it Tuesday, though?’ he persisted, knee jiggling impatiently.

‘Just for you it is,’ she replied, not looking up from the email she was reading, ‘all day long, right the way through to midnight.’

Knee still trembling, he glared at her.  ‘Lucky I remembered,’ he said, ‘as I have a writing assignment due in on Thursday for that new Writing Group thingy.’

‘Maybe I should point out,’ she said, ‘that that group was on Thursday.  Now it’s on Wednesday.’

‘Oh, God,’ he sighed, ‘there’s no time at all to write a story! Perhaps I could with your help, though?!  Quick, you’ve got to act as my muse!’

Revolving her chair in his direction, she studied him with narrowed eyes.  ‘Sorry,’ she said slowly, ‘but I’m going to need a damned good reason why I should help you with your homework.’

‘To show how much you care about me?’ he ventured before quickly explaining what the assignment was before she could have a chance to retort.  ‘Usually, you see, short stories begin their sentences on any old letters of the alphabet, in a kind of crazy free-for-all with no rhyme, order, or reason, but in this case each sentence must begin with the next letter in alphabetical sequence, starting on G and ending on F, making it damned…oh, what’s that word?  Vexing, yes, damned vexing to write.’

‘What I want to know,’ she asked, after pondering all this for a few seconds, ‘is how you’re going to cope with beginning a sentence with X and Z.’

‘”Xylophone” begins with “x”,’ he retorted, ‘so I can probably just start a sentence with that somehow.’

‘You could give a character an unusual name,’ she continued, ‘and reveal it at the appropriate time?’

‘Zara, you’re a genius!’ he replied, flapping his arms around in the hope it would aid his search for a biro.

‘As long as you realise that to do so would seem ridiculously forced and be neither clever nor satisfying, thus demeaning the whole point of the exercise,’ she said, in slightly too cynical a tone, he thought.

‘But, but, but if I were to point that out,’ he exclaimed, eyes bulging, mad with power, ‘then it could be quite funny!’

‘Could be,’ she replied, not quite managing to disguise the scepticism in her voice.

‘Doubtless nobody else there will be sophisticated enough to appreciate really clever post-modernist humour,’ he said confidently.

‘Evidently true,’ she conceded, ‘so how about you entertain the plebs by ending on a swear?’

‘Fuck, that’s a good idea,’ he squawked, ‘and hopefully it’ll distract from the rather abrupt ending.’

 

Guerrillas in our midst

Hard to convey exactly why we do it. I get asked this a lot.

“Just what is the point? Knitting doesn’t change the world.”

Laughing at the small scale of my ambitions. Missing the point entirely, of course. Never seeing just how fun it can be, the positive difference you can make.

One time I put hats and scarves on the statues that stand at one corner of the square. Purple and red and blue; stripes and cables; pom poms and tassels – brightened it right up. Queues for the post office would have seen them the next day, assuming they’d stayed there all night and hadn’t been taken off. Removed by drunks or a street cleaner. Still, if a homeless person had got them that would’ve been ok.

That park on the corner of Howard Street was the most scared I’d ever been. Under cover of darkness is best because sometimes people think you’re committing a nuisance. Vicky wanted to cover some of the playground equipment, weave colours through climbing frame bars, that kind of thing. We snuck in through a side gate after getting some Dutch courage in the local pub. Xcited. (Yes, I cheated with that last sentence – you think that’s bad, wait for the next one.) Zounds! It was dark. Absolutely pitch black. But the stars looked beautiful; we stood and stared at them for ages. Crept into the play area and the gate clanged so loud behind us, it made me jump. Dogs barked somewhere across the darkness. Entwining the wool as fast as we could round the climbing ropes, slipping the covers onto the swing seats, hands shaking, suddenly scared out of our wits and then we ran out of there.

Friday afternoon I went back, to see if it was still there and it was! Giggling children pointed at it, touched and stroked it, their mums examined the stitches – it was all I could do not to shout – “I did that!”

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