Memories of the late John Lythgoe
Written by Joe Peters
It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death on May 31st 2021 of one of our long-standing former members, John Lythgoe. When his wife Marion gave me this news all the memories of John’s long and faithful membership of RWG came flooding back. John held various offices over the years, including that of President in our celebratory year in 2003. John was a master of many skills. Fortunately for RWG one of those was that of master printer. Without John’s knowledge and guidance and sheer hard work those annual anthologies of RWG members’ writing work would not have appeared at that time.
Everything John did he seemed to undertake with great thoroughness. I never actually saw the model railway he established in his garden – but I know it would be accurate and immaculate in every detail. His encyclopaedic knowledge of all kinds of public transport, from technical features to the various liveries was spellbinding. Soon left behind by the complexity of those wonderful articles he wrote for various magazines I could only listen in awe.
Perhaps above all, John had a dry infectious sense of humour which often caused much merriment. And yet John was equally skilled as a sensitive observer of nature and the countryside, especially of his much-loved North Lincolnshire where he spent two happy years operating the mobile library service.
I’m sure those reading this who actually had the privilege of knowing John will have their own memories.
Marion too was an ‘adopted’ member of RWG. Although not attending actual meetings she always joined John for special occasions like those annual dinners, parties and days out. I’m sure you will all want to join me in offering condolences and love to Marion, our ‘adoptive’ Northumbrian.
PS: I know RWG’s founder will be casting a critical eye over this piece. I know she could have done it much better than I.
Adjudication by Jill Freeman
Jill’s adjudication, submitted perforce in writing, was both thoughtful and thorough. Thank you, Jill! As ever, tales with a discernable beginning, middle and end had to be spun in exactly 50 words and there was a wide variety of themes.
- 1st Place – Janet Barclay with ‘Space Quest’, a story of aliens sending Covid to Earth to wipe out the human race prior to a possible invasion
- 2nd Place – Maggie Cobbett with ‘Living for the Moment’, a story about cattle being let out to enjoy sunshine and fresh grass after a long winter
- 3rd Place – Carol Mayer with ‘The Treachery of Images’ concerning Rene Magritte’s painting ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’
- Highly Commended – Susan Perkins with ‘Invasion’, a story of Martians responding to an explorer lander from Earth by sending ‘Marsovirus’
- Commended –Peter Hicks with ‘A Cautionary Tale’ (an entry in verse about not sawing the branch one is sitting on when lopping branches off a tree), Ella Benigno with ‘My Sister’s Granddaughter Homesick and Stuck in Hong Kong’ (about a family wedding severely affected by the Covid pandemic) and Peter Page with ‘The Story of Ancient History’ (about the way stories of events in ancient history have been passed down leading to modern disputes about what really happened).
Roger Kendall once again agreed to judge our Poetry Competition, entries for which were sent to him towards the end of last year, and remarked as follows:
As on previous occasions, I have been most impressed by the high standard of the entries to this competition. They cover a variety of subjects, including the recent pandemic, and a range of poetic forms from free verse and rhymed tetrameter to a perfect Shakespearian sonnet. There was a real confidence in all of the writing, poets who had found their ‘voices’and were in control of both language and structure. They all usedsome vivid language and some original similes and metaphors. They explored a number of different moods, the anger ofthe poet in ‘Nasreen,’ the anxiety of the out-patient in ‘Breathing Space,’ the humour of the wild-swimmers in ‘Autumn.’
Such was the quality of all the entries, it made choosing a First, Second and Third a difficult task. As always, it’s a subjective matter, but I would emphasise that every one of these poems is to be highly commended. It was a great pleasure to read them all and I wish Ripon Writers’ Group a happy and successful writing year and good luck with the next Poetry Competition.
- 1st – Peter Page with ‘The Plates’
- 2nd – Kate Swann with ‘Breathing Space’
- 3rd– Ros Swaney with ‘Autumn
Entrants were then invited to share their poems by email and the following were very much enjoyed by the membership:
- Kate – ‘Breathing Space’ – a poem about an outpatient visit to a hospital for a scan
- Susan – ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward: a Conversation’ – a poem about 2020 written first as an acrostic sonnet and then rearranged as the competition entry
- Ros – ‘Autumn’ – a poem about a walk down to the river on an autumn evening in the course of which three women wild swimming in beanie hats are encountered
- Lindsay – ‘On not being Alone in 2020’ – a poem about a solitary person out and about who encounters a wide variety of things that seem to be in pairs, ending with a dog appearing which seems to think that he and the writer might want to go for a walk together
- Maggie – ‘Nasreen’ – a poem about a girl Maggie had known at school who, after flouting the rules in her own community, disappears, probably sent ‘back home’ to marry some distant cousin in the interests of family honour
- Peter H – ‘First Ice Cream’ – a memoir poem about an Italian ice cream vendor whose ice creams were much admired prior to WW2
- Sheila – ‘Sea Story’ – a poem about a walk on a beach on a day with rough seas and the poet’s ease in conjuring up a sea monster from myth as a result of the way rogue breakers seem to attack her
- Carol – ‘A René Magritte Moment’ – a short poem about lilac leave shifting in a breeze, sometimes revealing roof tiles behind which seem to leap into the foreground, reminding the poet of the ‘trompe l’oeil’ optical effects used by the painter Magritte
- Peter P – ‘The Plates’ – a sonnet about plate tectonics which had been previously shared with the Group.
In addition Susan shared Janet’s poem, ‘Hannah’s Song’ inspired by the story in Chapters 1 and 2 of the biblical First book of Samuel. Janet had intended this as a competition entry but it had somehow got missed.
With no possibility of a festive get together this year, a few of us took part on 10th December in a short but sweet meeting organised by Susan and held via Zoom. Everyone agreed that it was good fun and we hope to repeat the experiment during the coming months.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all connected with RWG in any way and others who wish us well!
The brief this year was to write a review and the adjudicator was Sarah Johnson, a ‘Guardian’ journalist and author. Her favourites from the six entries were:
1st ‘Book Review – an alternative approach’ by Sheila Whitfield
2nd = ‘Midsummer Magic’ by Carol Mayer and ‘National Service’ by Peter Hicks
3rd ‘The Number Bias’ by Peter Page
All six entries were shared on line as follows:
• Susan – ‘Vote for a Supernanny State’ – a review of the ‘Supernanny’ TV reality series with particular reference to one particular episode of ‘Supernanny USA’
• Maggie – ‘Van Gogh – The Immersive Experience’ – a not altogether complimentary review of a visit post-lockdown to the Van Gogh immersive experience at St Mary’s in York
• Peter P – ‘The Number Bias’ – a review of the recently published book ‘The Number Bias’ by Sanne Blauw, a short non-fiction work about the use of numbers
• Carol – ‘Midsummer Magic’ – a look at the Glastonbury Festival over the years developed from a piece written for the RWG ‘Solstice’ sharing
• Sheila – ‘Book Review – an Alternative Approach’ – a review of the novel ‘If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things’ by Jon McGregor first published by Bloomsbury in 2002, paying particular attention to reasons why one might want to reread the novel more than once
• Peter H – ‘National Service’ – a review of what National Service did for men of Peter’s generation and how that sort of experience might be applied in a more flexible form today.
We were very sorry to announce the sudden loss on 6th April of our founder, Daphne Peters, best known for the many children’s poems that were published under her maiden name of Lister and continue to be in demand internationally. You will find two such, chosen by her husband Joe and featured with his permission, at the end of this post.
Together with Joe, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy, Daphne remained an active member of the Group until shortly before she passed away. Our thoughts remain with Joe at this difficult time.
Tributes from present and former members of Ripon Writers’ Group
I cannot recall my time with Ripon Writers without remembering Daphne, and her endearing encouragement she gave to me. I have fond memories too of our friendship outside the group, and a great loss with passing.
Malc B Glasby
Daphne was always so kind, friendly and encouraging. A key member of the group she founded all those years ago. She will be sorely missed.
Daphne always made me feel very welcome to the group. She showed such interest in what I wrote and loved to discuss my work with me during the break. This gave me great encouragement and made me feel I had written something worthwhile. She was an incredibly valuable member of RWG and will be sorely missed.
Before I even met her I knew in what high regard Daphne was held by the Group when I joined it 26 years ago. A serious accident had prevented her from attending meetings, and the way members spoke of her told me how much she was admired and missed. I found out why as soon as she returned because the warmth of her welcome and the genuine interest she took in my early writing efforts. As President she led the way in providing the encouragement and positive help that was the Group’s hallmark.
Val and I soon struck up a special friendship with Daphne and Joe, which we enjoyed and valued through the years. We met up when we could for a meal and perhaps glass or two, and felt honoured to be included in Daphne and Joe’s Golden Wedding celebrations. We were looking forward to another get-together when the Covid19 lockdown was imposed, so sadly it was not to be.
We shall treasure fond memories of Daphne, her kindness, her real concern for all those around her. I received a thorough scolding for not letting her know when I was struck down for a few weeks, because she would have wanted to help in any way she could. On the other hand she was totally undemanding for herself and would never have wanted to trouble others for help. And remarkably in this day and age, she never had a bad word to say about anybody.
Daphne was a truly lovely lady, whom it was a privilege to have known.
I first met Daphne in the Eighties in RWG and remember how friendly and welcoming she was. She showed such commitment to the group from its foundation and her comments on work presented were so encouraging, especially to new members. I shall never forget her warm presence, her poems and her great sense of humour. No wonder the group flourished.
It wasn’t until I’d been a member of Ripon Writers for a year or so that Daphne happened to mention that she published her work under the name of Lister rather than Peters. That was quite a revelation for me, because it was with great delight that I realised I’d already ‘met’ her years before.
I’d taken a break from working in special education to take on the running of a remote, single-teacher school in Argyll. Looking through the resources, I discovered a pamphlet from a children’s radio programme, and in it was a lyrical poem about kites that had been set to a lilting, slightly melancholy tune. I taught it to the children, and it became one of our favourites, especially on windy days. You will have guessed that its author was Daphne Lister.
Daphne’s care for and interest in others seemed to shine through everything she said and did, and it made her dear to me and so many other people. The last time I spoke to her, she told me about her excitement at seeing all the daffodils on a recent visit to Rydale. Whenever I think about her now, I remember her enthusiasm, her ability to make the most ordinary things a source of joy. What a legacy to leave us, Daphne – I’ll be sure to pass it on.
When I joined Ripon Writers in January 2000, Daphne and Joe were so welcoming, they made me instantly feel at home. Since then I have always valued their friendship and the interest they showed in my writing, especially poetry. Daphne’s own poems were delightful and are still used in schools all around the world. When the question “Any acceptances?” came up in meetings, Daphne quite often modestly admitted that she was still receiving royalties for recent re-publications. When she was persuaded to read some of her poems to the group, we realised why they proved so popular. Some were funny, clever and entertaining, others lyrical and reflective. Daphne, I will miss you, as a person and as a wonderful writer.
Daphne was always interested to hear what the rest of us had been working on and unstinting in her encouragement. I loved to hear her reading her own poems, whether comical or whimsical, in her own inimitable style and will miss that very much. Ripon Writers’ Group will never be quite the same without Daphne, but I know that she will be counting on us to continue what she started all those years ago.
Two of Daphne’s poems, selected by Joe
The Sea’s Treasures
In swept the sea
With a swirl and a swish.
It shimmered and whispered,
‘Choose what you wish.’
And the sea showed the treasures
At the edge of the shore,
Shining bright pebbles
And shells by the score.
Long ribbons of seaweed
That showed gold and red.
‘I’ll share them, I’ll share,’
The sea softly said.
Friday Night in Finkle Street
On Friday night in Finkle Street,
When the fish shops start to fry,
Cats come out from all about
And lurk in the shadows nearby.
‘Fish, fish, our favourite dish,’
You can hear them softly sigh.
In Finkle Street on Friday night,
Lots of people come to eat,
They lick their lips over fish and chips
As they wander down the street.
‘Fish, fish, our favourite dish,’
Cry the cats, ‘Please leave us a treat.’
On Friday night in Finkle Street,
When the chimes of midnight ring,
A feast begins in the litter-bins
That the cats think fit for a king.
‘Fish, fish, our favourite dish,’
You can hear them loudly sing.