9th - 16th September
L-R back: Val Nolan, Matt Colborn, Liz Williams, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Steph Bianchini, Vaughan Stanger, Mark Isles
Front: Tiffani Angus, Sarah K Ellis, Jackie Hatton, Terry Jackman, Jacey Bedford, Dolly Garland, Sue Oke, Phil Suggars
Milford Report 2017
Steph Bianchini, Sara Ellis, Dolly Garland, Mark Iles, Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Key words/phrases: writers, food, story critique, mind-blowing conversations, sheer lunacy
Setting: Trigonos Centre, Nantlle Valley, Wales
In the beautiful Trigonos centre, under the cover of clouds and rains and occasional bursts of sunshine, fifteen writers gathered together for one week of respite from the regular world. It is understood that most of what happens in Trigonos, stays in Trigonos. But for posterity purposes and for future generations we write this report to give a flavour of some of the things that transpired at Milford 2017. We thank Val Nolan for (unwittingly) donating his story-style for the creation of this document.
Dolly Garland (First generation recipient of the writers of colour bursary & all-around troublemaker): When a fellow Milfordian you’ve never met agrees to give you a lift from London and willing to spend four plus hours in a car with you, you know these folks are all right. Or possibly that you may end up in a car with a complete nutcase. Susan Oke thankfully wasn’t a nutcase. I am not sure if she can say the same about me. The whole week devoted to thinking only about writing has been a sheer luxury. There has been high quality work, great productivity, mind-blowing conversations and sheer lunacy. Muddy trousers too, as I battled imaginary orks during a trip to Mordor (aka slate quarry) with Vaughan Stanger, and traversed across the landscape to map out the lake on my fitbit. And while attempting to play a joke on Phil Suggars, I ended up being on the Milford committee to help out with social media. Tiffani Angus called it karma. I regret calling her wise now.
Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Youngest Milfordian this year, recipient of writers of colour bursary, aspiring beardgang member, snitch on the weekends--if Dolly’s to be believed):
There’s got to be one Dolly in every room, I guess; every gathering needs that energy. Though the remaining thirteen also bring different aspects of themselves to the table, there’s three things all fifteen of us can agree about the trifecta of Milford + Trigonos + Nantlle: the views are breathtaking, the food turns out absolutely fabulous, and everyone’s truly kind and awesome.
Coming from the dichotomous dry/rainy seasons of Lagos, Nantlle’s 5-second September sunshines and 10-hour freezebreezes do catch me by surprise, but I take it all in stride: the weather, the mainly vegan cuisines and the hodgepodge of accents at this year’s conference. Crits are semi-intense but mostly thoughtful and absolutely hilarious, running the gamut from first-paragraph blow-jobs to slidey eyes by mice-boys. Teatimes are a peach, and the sociable evenings are filled with drink and laughter and selfies and memories.
Quick workouts and trips to Mordor punctuate the boisterousness, and I claim some soul quiet through afternoons spent in a bench facing the hills, trying to get a glimpse of Snowdon behind the clouds. The last afternoon takes us to Caernarfon where we dive into a thankfully meaty lunch and mostly cause a raucous in town. Those locals will def have furrowed brows for days, but who cares about that shit?
We’re Milfordians. We are what we are. Lick it.
Steph P. Bianchini (One of three New Milfordians of 2017. She watched too much SF Horror as a kid. As an adult, too): Somebody should inform prospective Milfordians about the real and substantial dangers of induced insomnia. They're real even if in your home settings you sleep as a baby (I do). Instead, here you'll probably spend many nights checking out your phone or staring at your ceiling. No, they don't put anything strange in your food (you wish), and the sky doesn't offer many opportunities for planetary observations (it might, not being so clouded). It's that your brain, after the hyperstimulation of the day, stubbornly refuses to switch off and keeps going into loops as if it were at a holiday theme park. Things get even worse if you have your own critique the day after: last night, I briefly considered Val Nolan's Immortal Hero Pillow Cryo-Option, deciding straight away it was not such a good idea (no tentacles). I decided to settle for the mammoth "Games-of-Thrones-in-Mediaeval-History" The Accursed Kings: endless descriptions of XIII century French brocade dresses do work miracles with tired minds.
Note to posterity: consider yourself warned and bring over your most abstruse, unreadable and boring texts of choice for emergency sleeping remedies. You’ll thank us in the morning.
Sara K. Ellis (First time Milfordian channeling messages from Trigonos toaster, now reimagining itself as a haiku generator).
That cake on the board
Brown, smelling of cinnamon
All those chocolates
Time spell overheard
War breaks out over warm toast
It's burnt anyway
Crowding on the steps
Hope no one crop dusts and leaves
We'll know who it is
The last crit is done
Robot has midlife crisis
Oh, that slidey eye
Mark Iles (Milford virgin and relative of Uncle Albert from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ - constantly dreaming of cheeseburgers)
Rarely eating chocolate I came bouncing full of joy to Milford only to find myself recovering from a self-induced chocolate overdose, severe insomnia, and now an aversion to cake. If I never see a slice of the later again I’ll be a happy man. I have to admit to having extreme fantasies of chicken and steak … then more chicken. Just not chocolate covered…
The Overlords: From the contributions above it seems that this Milford malarkey may be worth continuing with. Perhaps by talking to one another about dragons and spaceships, these weirdos may get it out of their systems, and spare the outside world. Of course there is always the risk that it could go the other way and they may end up egging each other on and move onto time travel and women who lead battles. But it’s a risk we are willing to take, because at least by putting them in one place, we know where to find them.
A selection of this year's sayings taken totally out of context. Just because we can...
"It's super-mystical hyper-bollocks, but it works." – Phil Suggars
"I've rarely seen such passive-aggressive toast-guarding." – Val Nolan
"The sex was great, but once was enough." - Vaughan Stanger
“I took issue with the evil conifers.” – Jackie Hatton
“I read it up until the time he went off into foot fetishes.” – Liz Williams
“More Karate Kid logic, less Harry Potter.” – Tiffani Angus
"Hmm, all the men disappear in a puff of testosterone.
I'm not sure whether this is a disaster story or wish fulfillment." – Jacey Bedford
"Ditto Liz about farting." – Dolly Garland
"Some people crop-dust and then walk out of the room." – Tiffani Angus
"Is anyone here Chuck Tingle?" – Liz Williams
“You can file all this under the heading of me being a miserable shithead.” – Phil Suggars
“It’s like Russian Roulette with caffeine.” – Matt Colborn
“Cuckolding porn is all over the net. Don’t ask me how I know this.” – Liz Williams
"I like a demigod with a shoe fetish." – Phil Suggars
“What’s the financial structure of being a soul catcher?” – Tiffani Angus
“Could you dissolve the other boy? I’m not so attached to him at the moment.” – Jackie Hatton
“Start with the blow job.” – Val Nolan
“This sounds like 'Carry On up the Baltic.'” – Jackie Hatton
"I wanted his super-stylish clothes to be made from the skin of his victims." – Val Nolan
"I thought he was a male version of Emma Peel. That's not a bad thing." – Liz Williams
"I was a bit surprised by the machete." – Sue Oke
"Having sex with humans is quite a difficult task." – Phil Suggars
"This place seemed to be a Silicon Valley version of Amway." – Sarah K Ellis
"I really like the story, hence the compulsion to pick at it." – Terry Jackman
"Do something really horrible at the end because that would make it perfect." – Val Nolan
"You can get very paranoid on substances--as we all know, Bob." – Liz Williams
"The bonus is that you can always turn your partner off and leave him in a bin." – Mark Isles
"I picture myself in the Army and the results are too horrible to contemplate." – Liz Williams
"I do feel this story needs much less walking across the landscape in search of a plot." – Val Nolan
"Going on with sexual innuendo and leaping past the slidey eyes..." – Jackie Hatton
"Ditto on the slidey eyes." – Sarah K Ellis
"I couldn't watch Bake Off, so I thought I would sleep." – Tiffani Angus
Committee elected at the AGM, September 2017