EDP heritage postcards inspires students at new Write Norfolk creative writing school

King George VI inspecting the Home Guard in Norwich. Dated 1942. Picture: EDP ARCHIVES

King George VI inspecting the Home Guard in Norwich. Dated 1942. Picture: EDP ARCHIVES - Credit: Archant

Write Norfolk, a new creative writing school, has been finding inspiration in the collection of EDP heritage postcards which are proving a bit hit with our readers.

Firemen tackle a blaze during the Norwich Blitz in 1942. Picture: EDP ARCHIVES

Firemen tackle a blaze during the Norwich Blitz in 1942. Picture: EDP ARCHIVES - Credit: Archant

Fittingly, the new venture is the brainchild of a former EDP journalist, Donna-Louise Bishop.

Based in Cawston, near Aylsham, Write Norfolk currently runs courses in Alby, Cromer and Norwich.

The postcard exercise was part of a Finding Inspiration and Keeping Motivated workshop run by Ms Bishop.

Among the postcards used was one showing King George VI inspecting the Home Guard outside Norwich City Hall in 1942.

Donna-Louise Bishop. Picture: DAVID WOODCOCK PHOTOGRAPHY

Donna-Louise Bishop. Picture: DAVID WOODCOCK PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

It inspired Denise West, of north Norfolk, to write the following: 'It had been an evening to remember with gran unusually chatty and old photos making a rare appearance from the ancient bureau, brought on by the EDP's reprint of war snaps in the region. Gran had them and they meant I'd

seen photos of numerous relatives no longer around and some of grandad after the war. He'd been camera shy on his return from the Burma railway – not a surprise after I'd seen the like of 'The Railwayman' and read survivors' diaries– so much kept in by the quiet gentleman I knew as 'Gramps'.

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'Gran rarely spoke of it when he was alive and hardly mentioned it when he'd gone but she burnt brightly with the memories this evening. She even let me have a photo of the day he came home, drawn, decimated and distant.

'We parted with a hug that evening, and when I got home I went back to the cards in my paper then I spent the moments before sleep looking at my gramps and wondering how such a slight, mild man had survived such brutality.

'I slept fitfully, with images of hot distant lands alive in my head and woke just before dawn as someone shouted out in my dreams. I felt a card beneath my fingers as I plumped the pillow – it wasn't the photo gran had given me.

'Instead, a postcard from the paper lay beside me: It showed the King greeting the Home Guard in Norwich in 1942 – the same year Singapore fell and gramps became a POW. I picked it up and gazed at the old soldiers proudly before their King.

'A coldness passed through me and, as I lowered the card, something made me stop. A second look drew me to a shadowy figure at the back of the parade – a man remarkably like my gramps watching the King pass. A smile seemed to light

his face but it seemed angled towards the crowd. I followed his smile and dropped the card as my gran's smiling features reached out from its depths. It took a moment before I gathered my senses and forced myself to look again

at the card. No Gramps nor Gran.... I smiled at my imagination and settled back to sleep.

'The phone call of her passing came a few moments later.'

Betty Cooke, of north Norfolk, drew inspiration from a postcard of firemen tackling a blaze during the Norwich Blitz in 1942.

She wrote: ''There's nothing,' Mama said. 'Not even a note. It's really most disagreeable. I can't possibly have tea without milk.''Perhaps the dairy was hit,' I ventured.

'Last night we had both found it impossible to sleep in the shelter, with the sound of the bombs blowing our city to bits and pieces. Some of them had sounded very close. My eyes felt dry and tired, my mouth thick with the taste of dust shaken from a hundred shelves and ornaments.

'My mother's high voice, reedy and complaining, was giving me even more of a headache. 'Where are you going?' she wailed. 'Into town,' I called, from the hallway.'Fetch milk!'

'Every day the city looked different, as though some giant rampaging toddler had trampled through overnight, knocking over houses and shops and buildings like sandcastles. The air was full of smoke, and the sound of distant shouts as rescuers struggled to put out fires, or dig through rubble to look for

buried people.

'But the dairy was intact. Outside, I bumped into Mrs Harris.

'You won't be getting no delivery for a while,' she was pleased to tell me.'Whyever not?' 'Ernest Harper has gone and joined up. On his way to France by now, shouldn't wonder.'

'I thought about it and I thought about Ernest, who I could have sworn was still only 16. I took a different route home, ostensibly to buy milk but ending up at the church hall, where the WVS were running a mobile canteen. Edith Partington was there, sorting through a pile of clothes with a lady who was

covered from head to foot in grey dust. Edith saw me looking.

'Have you come to volunteer?' she said, cheerfully. 'Plenty of jobs for a strong girl like you.'

''You were up early,' Mama said to me, the next morning, pouring milk into her cup. 'I couldn't sleep,' I said. 'I shall have to have an early night.' 'At least there's milk today,' she said.

'I thought of Ernest, on his way to France, and his mum; and the lady at the church hall, her house gone.

''Yes. At least there's milk.''

Mum-of-two Ms Bishop has a first-class degree in Creative and Professional Writing from Glamorgan University, and has worked as a journalist locally and nationally for 10 years.

She set up Write Norfolk to support the county's writing community and bring it closer together.

'The dream to start Write Norfolk came from my love of words. I enjoyed every minute I worked in the media industry but my first love of writing novels, non-fiction essays and flash fiction has never been far from my thoughts,' she added.

Write Norfolk is aimed at writers of all abilities, from new and emerging to experienced wordsmiths.

Current courses include Starting to Write for beginners and Moving On for intermediate writers, where topics such as plot, character, setting and publication routes will be explored.

Day courses planned include Writing Flash and Micro Fiction, Novel Writing, Writing Blog Content and Staying Motivated.

Ms Bishop also plans to bring Norfolk's writing community together by joining writers with published authors and industry experts to share knowledge, tips and advice.

Other events include social meet-ups, open mic

nights and regular workshops.

For more information about Write Norfolk visit the website www.writenorfolk.co.uk, email

info@writenorfolk or ring 01603 871028.

You can also follow Write Norfolk on Facebook

(www.facebook.com/writenorfolk) or Twitter @writenorfolk