Gordon Nightingale

The four of us sat at the big table, Jude and Millie on one side and Maggie and I on the other. The table is situated under a carport converted into a pleasant garden room by the addition of see-through blinds to keep out the weather and curtains that can be drawn to keep out the heat and glare of the sun. Not that they were needed. Surrounded by garden greenery, the sun filtered through to light the area with dappled, subdued brightness. It was the perfect place to review and edit Millie’s most excellent poem.

Millie had taken four sheets of red paper and written a long, soulful poem that needed to be typed into a word document. Because hand written words can be misread too easily it was decided to print off a draft for editing, have a meeting to review and iron out the kinks. That’s why the four friends were seated around the table.

The session began with Gordon reading the poem as he saw it while the others listened intently. Mistakes such as a word being in the wrong line, the wrong word usage, punctuation changes, lines that needed to run on into the next and lines that should be separated from the one before or after were identified. Four or five readings later, punctuated by cups of tea, coffee and biscuits, the poem was ready for amendment on the laptop. The success of the session was celebrated in an appropriate fashion over a glass of wine.

Jude and Millie had been the organisers of the U3A Writing Circle up until the first pandemic lockdowns forced restrictions upon us. It was decided to continue the Writing Circle by fortnightly Zoom meetings. At that point they decided to step out of the lead role of the group to concentrate on the Singing Group, the Warbling Wombats. Jude didn’t think she had the technical ability to run Zoom meetings and handed the organising role to me.

Though the Zoom meetings were attended by a small proportion of the membership, they became an excellent platform for developing new ideas. It was Maggie who came up with the concept of a written record of the effects of the restrictions and lockdowns on the members of the Writing Circle. The idea was greeted with some degree of enthusiasm by the members and we decided to go ahead with it. Local writers outside the group were also invited.

It wasn’t intended to be an accurate historical record but rather how it made members feel. Were they happy, sad, inspired, discouraged, lonely? Did they have nothing to do or did they have plenty to do? Other suggestions included the effects on family, grandchildren, work, play, shopping, walking, entertainment, hobbies, projects and, of course, writing. The pieces could be fact, fiction or fantasy, poems or stories. Anything from a paragraph to several pages were be allowed.

It was decided to give the book compilation a catchy title. After brainstorming several ideas we settled on ‘Face Masks and Sanitiser’ with a sub-title of ‘Pandemic ponderings from Hepburn Shire’. The book is now in print and available for purchase. Many local writers contributed to this literary work. They have all been acknowledged in the first few pages of the book.

In all, there are 17 contributors and a total of 64 stories and poems. The book of 74 pages has been self-published by U3A. Though efforts were made to minimise printing cost, it is a quality presentation at the reasonable price of $10 plus postage for out of area purchasers.

Copies can be ordered from Gordon Nightingale by phone 0407 293 311 and email: knighttime.drafting@bigpond.com


Gordon Nightingale is a local author and poet and Convenor of the U3A Writing Circle.