A Blast from the Past 2021

Ros Swaney receives the trophy from Linda Smith.

Maggie invited Linda Smith to present her adjudication of the 2021 Blast from the Past competition for a prose non-fiction piece on an historical subject. Linda began by saying that this was the first time she had been invited to do an adjudication like this. Speaking about her background in archaeology she said that she took part in her first dig in 1977, has a degree in Pre-History Archaeology from Sheffield and six years ago did a Master’s degree in Historical Archaeology at York. She has worked mainly in the north including the North York Moors National Park but has recently retired.

As well as writing as an academic, she uses journaling to help sort out ideas. During her working life, she developed a way of expressing in non-specialist terms what needs to happen and how it should be done so that an archaeological site is well managed both during excavation and afterwards. As an example she said that ecologists, farmers, architects are among those who need to understand the demands and constraints of an archaeological site.

Her criteria when adjudicating were:
• the reader should learn something from the piece
• it should hold a reader’s attention
• there should be evidence of relevant research
• there should be a strong sense of audience (who was it written for?)
• the structure should have a beginning, middle and end.

She went on to say that historical sources should be checked and referenced, that illustrations were helpful, and that personal pieces should bring out why they felt like history to the writer. A note of the word count and pagination were helpful to her as an adjudicator.

Before moving to comments on the individual entries, of which there were eight, Linda praised the very interesting spread of ideas.

Linda then announced the results as follows:
• Highly Commended – ‘From the ‘Lion King to Wimoweh’ and Beyond – The Story of a Song’ by Carol Mayer
• Third – ‘Talking the Blues’ by Sheila Whitfield
• Second – ‘The Railway Comes to Town’ by Peter Page
• First – ‘A Blast from the Past’ by Ros Swaney

Maggie invited Linda to present Ros with the trophy, after which a vote of thanks was proposed by Susan and endorsed by members in the usual way.

Our friendly group meets once a fortnight at the St Wilfred's Community Centre on Trinity Lane and is always open to new members from the Ripon area and beyond. Whether your interest is in poetry or prose, novels, short stories, plays, wacky humour, a more analytical style of writing, or just listening for the time being, you're very welcome.

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