It finally happened. After last year’s Covid cancellation, Milford 2021 is finally happening. I drove across to North Wales on Saturday morning with Georgina Kamsika. We picked up Terry Jackman on the way (at Lymm Services) and had an uneventful drive along the coast road to Caernarfon, and then just a little further to Nantlle, where Trigonos sits on the edge of the lake.
Throughout Saturday afternoon fifteen writers gathered – this year from all over England, though some are Americans living in England. We usually get a few people from overseas, but wisely the people coming from America and Japan deferred to 2022 because of Covid travel restrictions.
Milford has a policy of reserving five of the fifteen places for Milford newbies, so I know ten of the writers well, but it’s lovely to welcome new people. I’m pleased to say everyone fits in really well. After dinner we all gathered in the library. It’s a Milford thing that we take conversational utterances out of context – just because we can. These are some of the ones from Saturday night in the library.
“The best thing about a question is how it illuminates the questioner.”
“What do you think about postage stamps?”
“It’s like my entire three hours of life coaching counts for nothing.”
“I can’t even say, ‘Hopefully people don’t die,’ in my line of work.”
“Mine’s like a drunken spider on its way to Odd Bins.”
“Did you say critgasm?”
“No, I said crit-induced aneurysm.”
“I like critgasm better.”
The real work started on Sunday with the first formal critique session, and my story was up first. I brought a potential novel beginning called The Long Long Time of Jornish Marum.’ I wasn’t nervous, even if people don’t like your story they give constructive critique to help improve it. Luckily people seemed to like this, though there were many suggestions, helpful, of course, and some of them sparked off more ideas, so later that evening I started in on a new chapter – only a couple of thousand words, but enough to get the creative juices flowing.
Milford always recharges my writerly batteries. I wish I could say the same for my watch battery – which died yesterday morning. I keep glancing at my empty wrist – most annoying. Liz’s partner Trevor is going into Penygroes this morning, so he’s taking my watch to see if the ironmonger does batteries. Fingers crossed.
We’re just over halfway through the Milford week, now. Two more days of critique and then, on Friday, a day out, though we haven’t decided where that will be, yet. It partly depends on the weather. If it’s really wet we sometimes end up at Electric Mountain, the hydro-electric power plant built deep inside the mountain at Dinorwic. They give you a hard hat and then take you into the mountain on a bus. The turbine hall is big enough to swallow St Paul’s Cathedral. When you come out you have the distinct feeling that you know what it would be like to live inside a hollowed-out asteroid. Yes, I’ve been before, three times, but quite a few of this year’s Milford have not, so I don’t mind going again. Last time (2019) we went to Criccieth for a look at the castle and lunch at Dylan’s a superb fish restaurant almost on the beach. We don’t all have to go to the same place, but it’s fun when we do.