Writers\' Forum - 04.2020

(Darren Dugan) #1


was at the bar when a bustling
movement sounded behind me, and the
staff stared; and I turned and stared,
for I saw in the doorway, blocking the
sunlight that poured in around them, the
strangest people I had ever seen.
The sunlight, of course, made them blobs
of darkness, so that all I could really see
were short, squat people with immense
shoulders, dressed in cardboard-coloured
jackets with crude embroidery sewn into
them; and immense men, vague in the
dazzling darkness, but with bare arms
like carved and polished wood; and when
I walked amongst them my face was level
with their shoulders, and their benign
voices drifted down towards me from
their great height.
The only English word they spoke was
‘beer’ then they drifted into a distant
corner; and they may have been ghosts
or resting demons for all the disturbance
they caused.*.
I sat alone, bewildered. I felt that these
people, somehow, had something to do
with me and my endeavours as an amateur
writer, but how, I couldn’t think. So I
called – inside my head, you understand

  • for my Guru to advise me, and in a
    moment he strolled from the bar with
    coff ee and cakes on a tray.
    ‘Help yourself,’ he said. ‘I put them on
    your bill.’
    ‘Who are they!’ I demanded. ‘Why are
    they so big?’
    My Guru, I should mention, is not a real
    customer of the hotel, but an immortal
    chip of reality endowed with all
    knowledge concerning creative writing,
    and who is my helper and my friend.
    ‘I didn’t create them,’ he told me. ‘You
    did. Your recent children’s novels had trite
    characters. You know, pleasant child is
    tormented by unpleasant child.’
    ‘Oh,’ I said.
    I poured coff ee for us and looked at the
    ‘These people,’ said my Guru, ‘come
    from very deep down –’
    ‘Eh?’ I had visions of Hell.
    ‘– inside you; because in that depth you
    know that your ideas were lax; and these
    people are your opportunity to give your
    imagination a shake. Speak to them.’
    ‘Speak to them?’
    In the distant corner of the hotel I could

hardly see them, so vague were they amid
the brittle sunlight and soft shadows.
‘What do I do, again?’ I asked.
‘Make them interesting and unusual –
unlike your latest eff orts.’
I slurped a spine-straightening coff ee
and headed cornerwards.
They looked at me as I paused beside
them. They were just as grotesquely broad,
and mightily tall, as when I fi rst saw them;
then the biggest one cried:, ‘Sir! Sit!’ And
with one fi st he lifted a small one up out
of its chair. (I say it, because I couldn’t tell
male from female.)
But I sat, for his smile was welcoming;
and all the smiles were welcoming as if
they knew me; and one said ‘Sir’ in echo
of his friend, and another said ‘Sir’, until
each was repeating ‘Sir’, and their voices
were soft like smoke; and the fi rst one
who had been lifted out of his seat, began
conducting with small movements of his
hand, so that ‘Sir, Sir, Sir, Sir,’ was a chorus

of cheerful near-silence; and I couldn’t
help responding with a fl icker of applause.
And they laughed And their laughter was
the laughter of butterfl ies.
And I said: ‘What do you do?’
And all their heads tilted; then they
looked at one another, and echoed again
‘Do? Do? Do? Do?’ with the little one
conducting, and this time their song rose
in a sweetness that was startling arising
from such strength, until the sweetness
brought tears to my eyes, and I laughed
and cried and applauded; and they
applauded, their applause becoming a
phantom drum-roll full of distant rhythms
and lingering thunder and sharp near-
silent cracks of lightning that scarcely
disturbed the molecules of the air.
‘Is this what you do?’ I cried. ‘You sing?
Is this all?’
‘All?’ cried a female voice from a face as
square as a rock; and as mouths opened
to create a chorus of ‘All’, she trilled: ‘All is
everything! We do everything. Singing is
All! Sir, you know this! for you created us
out of All that is your writing!’
And they gathered close around me,
touching my shoulders, touching my
hair, and ladies among them (I suppose)
touching my cheek; and such cadences
of ‘Singing is All!’ murmured around me
and so thrilled me that I began to realise
the beauty and limitless knowing of these
strange people; and I also realised that

  • outrageously odd as they were, and so
    far beyond my understanding – I realised
    that they were part of me, created out of
    my seeking in the endless dimensions of
    creative writing.
    And I also realised that laxness in
    my writing was a backwards step; like
    writing to a formula because it works,
    and discovering nothing; failing in the
    adventure that is creativity.
    And I wanted to weep again; and the
    fi ngers touching my shoulders and my
    hair and my cheek withdrew, and sunlight
    dazzled me, and I was alone in that distant
    corner of the hotel.

Use it or lose it
* Ignore Use It Or Lose It. You will have noticed
the asterisk near the beginning of this tale; it
is to remind me to tell you the strange fact
that this part of the story was a real event that
happened to me just three days ago. HS

Tales of my GURU by Hugh Scott

This month the mystery mentor shakes Hugh out of his laxness


Their benign

voices drifted down

towards me from

their great height

Free download pdf