Sunday, June 28, 2009


CAA – West Coast – Social
All the usual suspects were there. Margaret (“Just Mary”) Hume, now working on her WW II Lancaster pilot father’s memoirs, did presidential duty keeping the writer rabble in check with tinkling glasses. I was all puckered up before I realized this was her ‘symbol’ for quiet, not kissing. Mumford tried to set me straight later knowing the confusion I and most writers have with ambiguous sexual metaphors.
Anthony Dalton of “Ghost Ship”, stepped up to present Frank Wade the Sangster Award for most CAA contribution. Frank admitted he probably deserved the award because he was the member who had been involved in the CAA for the most years. While the plaque was admirable, surviving decades of writers struck me as more fitting of a medal.
The White Spot food and service was as usual very good but the conversation was the best. When I asked the gentleman across from me which Navy he’d served in, he said,”the British, you know, the one with ships and guns and such.” He was with Poetess Kay who read a poem of confession of her Imelda addiction and frustration now that she was advised to wear ‘sensible shoes”. Jan from Bowen Island, a young man in his 90’s, recovering from surgery recited a love poem which had all the ladies swooning. Ben Nuttall Smith read a great tale of witches and children from Chameleon Sings his autobiographical book.
That’s when Margaret Lawrence appeared, just as Perry was reading from her latest novel. She stood in the corner with a smile on her face. Then Stephen Leacock appeared beside her followed by Robertson Davies. Not everyone saw them. “Sometimes characters from novels appear as well,” an author told me. “We had that fat girl from that early Margaret Atwood novel but she seemed mostly interested in the food. The others like seeing the tradition being passed along. “ The readings ended and the watchers were gone. Just like that.
Some fool played a shrunken guitar and sang hoarse and off key, something about wanting a bail out and “Lost a trillion.” It’s a tolerant group. Highly encouraging of others they’re forever rewriting and editing their own works. And when that’s not sufficient masochism they turn to the resident editor Bernice Lever (“Colour of Words”) who read Generations from her latest book of poetry. She’s always happy to put on her black editor’s corsette , don a pair of Kay’s old spike heeled (not sensible) boots and whip her way through an author’s new book while they shout with piggish glee. An odd group indeed
That was the meeting. A young UBC student sat next to a UBC professor emeritus plotting mystery. The writers who returned from the Toronto MagNet conference did a collective ‘glow’. Announcements of the Victoria Harbour View Can Write Conference in June next year were made. Patrick Taylor will be attending. Then the meeting broke up into the typical author shenanigans of table dancing, ghost stories and card tricks. It was all the White Spot staff could do to get them out of the building. They still lingered in conspiratory groups in the parking lot. All in all it was a good meeting. Very civilized and Canadian. No brawls or food fights. Yet.

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