Focus on our members: Gerry Fitton

After our session on sonnets, Gerry has written two cheeky pieces inspired by New Year resolutions!

New Year’s Resolution revisited

My friends will go for exercise;
The treadmill and the weights await.
No more they’ll snooze until quite late –
Oh no, they’ll greet the sunrise!

And some will hail the salad bowl;
The cucumber and radish, on healthy seed
And leafy greens and tofu will they feed,
Nor will they heed the way their tummies growl.

Now, as for me, the sofa gently beckons;
A stack of books, unread and tantalising…
Forget the gym, no matter what your guru reckons!
I’d rather spend the time in endless fantasising
For resolutions, I have found, do not have staying power…
But reading on the sofa? I can do it by the hour.

New Year’s Resolution Homework

Grey drizzles at my window, no visit cheers the day
Dull boring trees hide every silent bird
No butterflies dance by, no humming bees are heard
More of the same tomorrow, no one will come my way

Off-hand and short the e-mail: ‘Guess you are okay?’
My tired family won’t waste the extra word
Unless, unhappily, a bad thing has occurred…
It cannot be denied; a long time until May

Oh, SOMETHING must be done!
I won’t slump and be dull
Too many days have gone

A New Year’s Resolution, that’s the thing!
With virtuous striving my days will be full
And if I fail…I will indulge in one wild fling!
OR (slightly more combative)
A New Year’s Resolution! I shall fight, alone!
Of ceaseless striving my days will be full
And if I fail, I shall with braver deeds atone.

Pulling Threads Update: Postcards from Passchendaele

Pulling Threads, Touchstones Creative Writing Group’s performance arm, are being busy bees this summer; they’re preparing for a piece of original writing. Here are notes from the meeting and the performance dates.

Reflecting on the pity of war: draft script, replica pistol & cloth to clean it.

Pulling threads rehearsal & planning meeting, Falinge Park 13th July 2017

To commemorate one of the “greatest of the four battles of Ypres”, Pulling Threads are pulling together a piece of original drama based on testimonials from the battle. Annette Martens is the artistic director for this production which features dramatic true stories, horrific images, and sound. The italicised phrases are from some of the writers.

“Here are our gifts to the Gods” “roads that lead to the killing Fields”
The voluntary group of players have all contributed pieces to this performance in order to capture the human element; it’s not just the facts, the sheer number of the dead or the time and slog of the battle it’s about getting to the heart of it. The facts are woven in and there is compromise and cooperation in editing the pieces.

“I don’t usually carry a weapon, I carry arms… I’m a stretcher bearer”
There is pathos, and sympathy, created for the characters – the nurse, the stretcher bearer, the man who had his face half blown off but lived. And there is so much mud, a mud world, who thought you could drown in the battlefield?”. The emotion and empathy that has been created shows that “bravery can take many forms”.

“The government, the general, and the Kaiser sat down”
For a small piece of land many gave their lives, and as the performance comes together the script is becoming stronger. Any audience will be moved.

Performance Dates
10th November Oldham British legion, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham. 19:50 – 20:20
22nd October, Part of Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival Fringe. Vibe, Drake Street, Rochdale. 13:00 – 13:40

Next meeting: Thursday 27th July 3pm, the Heritage Cafe in Falinge Park.

Focus on our members: Ray Stearn

After the last creative writing session, here’s a poem by Ray Stearn inspired by one of the workshop prompts. Click on the link to download the piece with how Ray set it out: Ray Stearn ‘After the Storm’.

William Etty 'After the Storm' (c. 1830). Image from Wikicommons (
William Etty ‘After the Storm’ (c. 1830). Image from Wikicommons (

After the Storm (after William Etty)









Poetry for Cotton Famine Road

If you’ve been watching the BBC’s excellent Black and British series recently then you’ll have caught a glimpse of Rooley Moor road set in some of Rochdale’s most beautiful landscape and the role this route played in fighting against slavery.

On the 16th August, members of the Touchstones Creative Writing Group wrote original poetry to help celebrate the unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the community who sided with the cotton picking slaves. Below you can see a video from the event.

For more on Rooley Moor and the work going on in the local community, see their website: Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum.

Other Side of Town

How do you feel to be apart from me?

We should be together, it is our destiny.

How do creed and race compare

to our love, precious and rare?


I left you on the other side of town.

My hopes and dreams shattered, torn down.

My life in pieces, my heart in two.

How am I going to live without you?


It was decided, we had no say

in the events of that awful day.

You were taken, ripped from my side,

to become another man’s bride.


Now it’s finished, your life over.

My beautiful girl, my one true lover.

I leave you on the other side of town.

My life in tatters; you in the ground.