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Members’ Musings

Here you will find an occasional post by members of Hatchery Writers who tell us about their writing journey.  If you have a tale to tell, or just want to brag about your latest work, drop us a line.

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Never Judge a Book by its Cover

by Crispin Ellison

Written following a writing class exercise to observe people in a café or pub

The three of them sat at one of the low tables along the opposite wall of the café, under a photograph of the decaying West Pier.  I decided they would be the ones to observe, as I took notes behind my teapot. I had first become aware of the mother, sitting on the right side, probably in her early twenties. She was very heavily-built,  her light blonde hair scraped back with an elastic, making her pudgy features more prominent. A pale green cardigan lay open over an ample, greyish top and black trousers. Her head seemed small in comparison with her near-spherical body.  Occasionally she reached to the table in front of her to pick from a packet of crisps.

It was her voice that had caught my attention.  She read from a picture book to a small girl seated close by her side. She seemed unaware that her reading dominated in a room mostly occupied by quietly-mumbling pensioners, this being mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, before the stroller-rush. Occasionally the coffee machine in the next room hissed and spat, but otherwise people conversed unobtrusively, placing their teacups and teaspoons gently on their saucers.

The little girl was aged about three, wearing over-sized, black-framed spectacles. Her eyes, magnified by the lenses, were fixed on the pages of the story-book, “Bob the Bursting Bear”. I heard the mother read “He started to make himself bigger… and bigger and bigger and bigger…”, the young girl mouthing the words. In the warmth of the room she had cast off her green coat. From under her brown trousers stuck out a pair of faded, yellow wellies.

The third figure in the group, partly hidden from me by their laden pushchair, was a man of perhaps 28, a black t-shirt stretched over his weighty frame.  His face bore several days of dark stubble. He stared at his mobile, unmoving. Though part of the group, he didn’t appear to be interacting with the other two.

From time to time, the girl fidgeted or sipped from a water-bottle on the table.  But her eyes never left the book that her mother continued to read, line by line, picture by picture. Still the man studied his phone.

When the mother stopped reading, she folded the book.  Mr Black T-shirt looked up, putting away his phone. He leaned towards the girl, offering her a high five and a knuckle bump. She shuffled over to him, leaning her body against his chest, putting her hands either side of his face, feeling his stubble, gazing into his brown eyes.  He blew into her face, making her giggle. Mum laughed openly and fondly at the sight of them and, lifting her own phone from the table, took photos as father and daughter played pat-a-cake.  I felt deeply moved, privileged to see such open love.

The three discussed where to go next, perhaps to nearby Wish Park, I heard them say. As the parents talked in more detail about timing and what else they had to do that day, the three-year-old switched on a screen on the seat beside her and for a few minutes happily watchd a video, occasionally taking sips from her water bottle.

It was time for me to go. Manoeuvring my wheelchair towards the double-doors, I felt awkward about the A4 pad on my knees, tangible, undeniable evidence of my spying. As I passed their table, the man stood up abruptly, looking at me. He was not just heavily-built, but tall, looming over me in his dark clothes. I felt suddenly vulnerable, my subterfuge discovered, afraid.

“Can I help you with the door?” he asked.

I could have hugged him.


ON WRITING by Dave Patchett

     There’s room for all kinds of writing, just as there are for all kinds of reading. I only read Non Fiction these days, although, of course, it can turn out to be fiction, accidentally, or otherwise. I feel that time spent on fiction, is time lost on gaining information. For me, information feeds the writer.

     When writing, I think of readers who are people just like me (That may be somewhat delusional, since they always seem to be in another place). I want to add insight to the reader’s experience.  I write Fiction mainly, thus avoiding the soapbox (I’m most attracted to it).  I am an avid researcher and it is amazing how research fuels the fire of writing. I admit that I am a fan of the obscure. Beware though, rabbit holes are full of traps and I have come unstuck many times. The Internet is a maze of rabbit holes. The only way to journey through unscathed is to persevere with cross references, trial and error and, evidence, evidence, evidence. It does get easier with time.

     Essentially I write for myself and a few friends. I have never had any ambition of becoming published. This is not good, but not bad either. I have no deadline, no pressure and I don’t have to swim with the fashion. I see fashionable themes as a very subtle form of social engineering. Art, films and theatre, I see in the same way. I may be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.

     There is something called TRUTH, not mine, or yours, but the actual. It’s hard to quantify and even harder to prove. But shouldn’t all Art try it’s best to move in that direction. Obviously I’m virtual-signalling here, but, again, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

     I write mostly short plays – for the Hatchery-affiliated BRIGHTON THEATRE OF THE AIR.  My research, right or wrong, has taken me so far away from the main stream, that I have to slide my most contrarian ideas into the plays in a most subtle way. This is in order not to lose my audience through cognitive dissonance. This was difficult at first but has become almost natural. My themes vary mainly between malevolent science, political trickery, strange groupings of cult-like hobbyists, secret societies and crime families.


Like the dark side of the moon
Which we cannot see
Books have a dark side too

We open them. They open us
They insert ideas
Ideas. Ideas. Ideas.
Feeding us in our minds
Blocking us with fat
Lines of lard

Poems of
Lovely. Lovely. Lovely
Filling the electric gaps with Polylovely
The Polylovely has all been through the censure machine
Passed by Tavistock
Passed by The Royal Institute Of Infernal Affairs
Fat and sugar. Yes. Pass it through
The Adventures Of A Transgender Rabbit. Lovely. Pass it through
The Battle Between The Cannibals And The Vampires. Lovely. Pass through.
Astro-Physics Made Easy. Highly recommended. Pass

We stop ‘Critical Thinking’
It was hard work
Got us nowhere

Now, we believe in anything.
No light. Only dark books.
We all believe the same same-thing
Bookishly. Nothing is too stupid

A car flies off to Mars
We are moist with excitement

We wish we could be the mannequin driver
We want to be at the wheel
Into the starless space
We want to go happily where none have gone before
Through the dark vacuum of
Total stupidity.

Dave Patchett


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