This is a link to a story I shared a couple of days ago, and which I had subsequently shared with my writing group. It is an imagining of my grandfather, Reg, reflecting on his life at a rather lonely and sad time when his wife had died and he had fallen on very hard times. I was trying to tell some of his story, he was a complex, gifted man, but had faults and failings which impacted on his family.
Following the writing group zoom-meet, several of my writing friends very kindly messaged me with detailed comments which are extremely helpful, and will make editing much easier, and I hope make a much better piece of writing. Here are their comments:
A couple of comments on Passing Clouds.
Firstly, I liked the conflation of the western novels with their flowing descriptions of the deserts and mountains of the Wild West with the genteel strolls in Regents Park – very Victorian!
The stilted, formulaic conversation was well realised and the references to the bandstand and gloves set the story in time.
I love the mention of the opera house in Manaus and the coming of electric light.
I wasn’t sure whether Reg had travelled to all these places or whether it was just his imagination buoyed up by the books.
I realise that you use “Chums” a lot but I am never sure at what age it was in common use.
The penultimate paragraph listed many of Reg’s failures and I wanted to read more about the causes – was it his involvement in two wars that disrupted his life?
The end was nicely returned and anchored to his beloved western stories of Zane Grey et al.
I enjoyed the story but I wanted to read more about Ida and Reg.
PS I always think of Kipling whenever anyone mentions the Negro river (The great grey green greasy Limpopo river!) perhaps you could have called it the Rio Negro and described the wonderful confluence of the two rivers Negro and Amazon of two different colours
With reference to the opera house in Manaus, the Teatro Amazonas, Reg was in that city and did see street lighting arrive! He also did travel to the Cape Verde Islands, and was one of those people who could pick up other languages with facility. I looked up ‘chums’ but I knew it would have been in use when Reg met Ida, whenever that was exactly. I know this, having recently read the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes and it is used several times. And, it was Reg’s personality and choices he made which led to various failures and disappointments in life.
Passing Clouds indeed. That is a great title to have chosen for this reverie. I used to smoke them myself.
This is a very well depicted saga of a rather sad life. An elderly Reg is reading a book that appears to chime with his world adventures in S. America and the Cape Verde He has had a full and adventurous life but now lives alone in sad and poor straights, which you paint so well against the contrast with his younger adventures, later described.
He muses on his meeting with Ida and her brother in Regent Park. A perfect, obviously memorable day, and a meeting conducted with a charm we have regrettably lost in this modern age. It must contrast sharply with the failures that occurring before he married her. Perhaps a note about the joy that union occasioned would balance well here.
Another useful commentary on my story – and he is right, there needs to be a note of joy!
Hello Lois, Yes, your story came through to me, safely, yesterday actually and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The title, Passing Clouds, took me back to my schoolboy days. In the early 1940’s my parents inherited, through my mother’s side, a hotel in Gloucestershire. It had a small bar, which my father ran. He always kept a small stock of Passing Clouds, an up market brand of cigarette, for the satisfaction of the more well-heeled regular customers. Dad was a great ‘un for keeping on the right side of the more well off customers. He smoked Kensitas himself but business is business. I never smoked either myself. Never have smoked, but what has that got to do with the price of fish! Back to your story… I wonder if I got the wrong end of the stick when I was reading about the 4 children. Surely, Reg and Ida only had 2 daughters, each married, to Don and Ken, one or other of which must be your father? 4 grandchildren, yes, one of which must be you?
You might be thinking this is nit-picking, and you would be quite right. Anyway, a lovely story emphasising that Reg really adored Ida. I felt sad for Reg , of an unfortunate age that he was called into the Army in both WW1 and WW2. My Dad was young enough for WW1 but too old for WW2.
Do keep writing, it’s great!
I realise now, in an effort to be concise for the writing group, I didn’t make the family situation quite clear. Reg and Ida had four children, a son and then three daughters, the youngest of which was my mother.
I’m so grateful to my writing chums for their thoughts, and will share again here when I have rewritten and adjusted my story of Passing Clouds.