lurning & REdukashun








If you have any comments, observations, or reviews to post regarding any or all of the nine stories that made up the February competition, please post them here below.
Thank you.

19 thoughts on “Time for your February 2018 tcwg story reviews.

  1. I think this month’s stories demonstrate unequivocally the life-long impact of our schooldays!
    Firstly, a really huge thanks to expatangie whose generosity of time and comment never fails to make me ashamed of my own shortcomings when it comes to reviews.
    So, by way of a not-so-new year’s resolution:

    LESSONS by ChristopheTrier
    Not for the first time, I think your strength lies in évocation of place, and here we were given a subtle yet vivid (if that’s not too much of a contradiction!) sense of Canary: “A Gullah calls, a budgie flies past. The scent of eucalyptus hangs in the air”.
    In this story, a return to the old school prompts a philosophical reflection upon the elegantly expressed “cruelty and caprice of youth.” Enjoyable and heart warming reading.

    I think it’s interesting/tricky when two or more stories offer similar scenarios – and with this topic, in these times, the idea of an allegedly predatory teacher was bound to inform our writing. Alas, Gaz, I found that the inconsistency of tense really intruded throughout the story, and – perhaps because already thus less engaged than I should have been – I really was not convinced that John’s rancour towards the HT was justified.

    JAMIE & THE TIGER by Araminta
    I do remember the earlier story, Ara, but it remains a heartwarmer, written with sensitivity and nuance.

    OUT OF THE MOUTHS…by Atiller
    The teacher as alleged predator was presented in this story with a characteristically clever Atiller twist. It was just that, for me, the writing lacked variety of rhythm/pace/subtlety.

    Your writing very often gives the reader the “feel good” factor, and this month runs true to form. I found your characterisation of Ellie totally convincing, and sympathetic; and I was genuinely surprised by the twist, as well as uplifted by the tantalising possibility of Mr J post-cruise! This story had, for me, the same effect as a cosy blanket and an open fire, by which I mean the “aaaah” factor.

    MR G GOES TO SCHOOL by Chester
    This felt to me – self-doubting “pushover” finds success as temp teacher and resolves to return the following year – like an outline for a greater story. I wondered if you were just too pressed for time to develop the idea and characters -??

    MRS WINSTON by Americanmum
    This was my clear winner this month, encapsulating as it does the economy of the short story.
    The story line is simple and pared down, and the use of varying fonts to distinguish Mrs W’s thoughts, the speech of the other characters, and the internal refrain of the central character was so cleverly economical. I also loved the variation in the description of the loss of articulation: words for Mrs W had with increasing intensity “run away…escaped…scattered….galloped”.
    This was a subtle, rich, sad and poignant story – my only regret being that it felt a little too short.

    THE ODD COUPLE by Bleda
    Initially, I was drawn to the scenario : Polly, aged 53 and well-intentioned, doing the soup round in Rochester. However, the odd couple struck me as just TOO odd – the uneducated, toothless Eddie and the posh law grad Gerald. My inability to believe in this relationship. (of whatever sort it be) meant that I couldn’t quite go with the story . Sorry, Bleda – probably more a flaw in this reader than in the writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your review, Seadams, and for the time and effort that you have put into the compilation of your appraisal of the stories.
      With regards to your comments on my own story, and with particular reference to your perceived lack of ‘rhythm/pace/and subtlety’., this is a perfectly fair comment to make and is what ‘reviews and opinions’ are all about
      The story as it appeared in the competition was a re-work of something that was written a few years ago, and in it’s original form was in excess of four thousand words. To bring it to within the competition limit of 3000 words the story required some severe pruning …hence my reference elsewhere to it being ‘the ‘Readers Digest’ version of the original.
      This is the only excuse that I can offer, other than to agree wholeheartedly with your opinion, so I am sticking with it. 🙂

      p.s. I shall now trawl through the clippings in my re-cycle bin in the hope that I might find some rhythm/pace etc. for use in future entries.
      I may be gone for some time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Seadams. I’ve read a lot of Japanese and Victorian through mid-20th century Commonwealth literature. One thing that I always appreciated about that type of literature is the centrality of place to the story, especially in Australian literature. Sometimes the place is the most important character of all in a story, even if it never says anything.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for your review of “The Odd Couple”, Seadams.
      My entry was supposed to be a ‘stocking filler’, and as such I had in mind 15 denier sheer black nylon stockings (with seams and figured heels)… that it came out as wrinkly old lisle supports (a la Nora Batty) is naturally a disappointment.
      The problem might well be that I could never properly decide which of the two odd-ball vagrants I could best identify with. My sympathy lay mostly with Gerald, but i also found Eddie’s irrepressible rascalities difficult to ignore (despite the fact that his character was very much inspired by my sibling, Atiller).
      You also found them to be ‘too’ odd.
      Now, to adopt the role of the pedant, is that possible?
      Surely oddity has no bounds, it is unconstrained and one persons ‘weird’ is simply another persons ‘unusual’.
      Take for example the characters Jekyll and Hyde.
      Dr Jekyll was unusual, and Hyde was definitely weird … some might have been prompted to say that they were ‘too odd, but they still added up to a best seller!
      And as for the ‘relationship’ between Gerald and Eddie, did it not occur to you that they might simply be two facets of one and the same person?
      Well that’s odd, neither did I … so on that (plus the joyous fun of reviews) we can both agree on. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Thanks very much for the reviews, Seadams, naturally not only for my own story, but it is just as rewarding to compare your views with my own for the remaining stories.
      I am fully with you on the inconsistency of tense. This is probably party due to the fact that I am such a lazy so and so, that I wrote the whole thing in two hours on the last day. It was quite a coincidence that Bleda and I selected an almost identical storyline.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done everyone on your February stories which were all enjoyable and interesting and congratulations to the winners. I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds it difficult to choose, here are my short reflections on the February stories

    Lessons by Christophertrier,
    a neat and compact story about reflecting on schooldays and going back to a place which was so important to the growing up years. very evocative and full of feeling, very easy to relate to.

    A Teacher’s nightmare by Gazoopi
    This really was a nightmare and one that is too often in the news. Emma accusing her teacher while being abused by her own father, horrible and too awful for words, but you got it across with style. Emma accusing her teacher of molesting her in a cupboard makes us realize that a teacher should never, ever put themselves in a position to be alone with a pupil. Well written as always and a reminder of the dangers for a teacher.

    Jamie and the Tiger by Araminta
    A very endearing, sweet story about seven year old Jamie who goes to boarding school and is put in the san where he has nightmares about a tiger. A slightly nostalgic feel to the story was made even more so by the references to Winnie the Pooh, ovaltine and honey. Enchanting and full of your usual charm

    Out of the Mouths of Babes by Atiler
    Another unjust accusation and again an unwise teacher who puts himself in an ambiguous situation by being alone with a pupil in his car. Luckily his daughter, Fiona, saves the day by recording the true account on her phone. Told with your usual aplomb, the story romps along and was a well deserved winner.

    Mr.G Goes to school by Chester Goode
    A likeable story about the challenges of teaching with helpful advice and a successful result. A very enjoyable insight into teaching experience.

    Mrs. Winston by Americanmum
    A moving and believable tale of an old lady in a home who used o be a teacher and now has lost her memory, her ex student comes to thank her for her influence and the wonderful outcome of her life becoming a prize winning author and giving credit to her old teacher, beautiful and sensitive writing.

    The OddCouple by Bleda
    The lives of Eddie and Gerald had very different paths but they have ended up together. Gerald went to Cambridge but Eddie never learned to read and yet their destinies have become entwined. Polly regrets having asked them questions and decides she must keep her distance from those she is trying to help. A thought-provoking and sensitive tale.

    Till Birnam Wood Remove to Dunsinane by Seadams
    Another beautifully written story from Seadams, with great title and lots of lively lines using Scottish dialect, thoroughly enjoyabel and stimulating writing.we always know we have a treat in store with your stories.

    Hope you all have a great Spring and looking forward to your March stories


    1. Hello Angie, apologies for the delay but I’ve only just spotted your review of the February stories.

      Your reviews are always thoughtfully written and generous. Thank you for your very kind words about my story. x

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for your reviews, Angie, and especially for your kind appreciation of my short story “The Odd Couple”.
      Vagrancy has always fascinated me (unlike today’s ‘homelessness’), as in many ways it is an ‘opting out’ and a path one chooses when ‘normal’ life (for whatever reason) loses it’s attraction.
      The Polly’s of this world are necessary and well meaning, but I believe that if they are to retain their own sanity, and in fairness to their own immediate family, a degree of detachment is essential.
      Charity is admirable, but as the old saying goes, it begins at home.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother always used to say be careful to be detached but not disinterested from other people’s dilemmas, but it is difficult, a great story and very believable


    3. Thank you for your comprehensive reviews of February’s entries, Angie, and for your kind words.
      We live in an awful world today, and lives can easily be destroyed by allowing oneself to become involved in an everyday, but ill advised, situation. But this is nothing new, which is why the door to my office was always firmly wedged open.
      The difference today is that society has become all too ready to believe the ‘poor disadvantaged victim’ at the expense of the ‘privileged (i.e.powerful), oppressor’.
      And as long as the emphasis is continually put on ‘rights’ at the expense of ‘responsibilities’, nothing is ever likely to change.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe that’s why offices are open plan, to avoid any inappropriate intimacy,
        It’s a very delicate but important topic


    4. Many thanks for the reviews Angie. They put most of us to shame.
      I actually find doing reviews much more difficult than writing stories.
      I wrote my February story on the last day and promised myself this month would be different. Three days to go and I haven’t put pen to paper yet. ( Finger to keyboard)

      Liked by 1 person

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