Liz Sandison writes to chat about the Book Club at Arnison Close:
“I believe there are several Book groups/ book circles flourishing in the area but this one was the first!
It was begun in 1981 by Sue Bates who lived at Hallgarth, Allendale and so is now in its 38th year. It meets monthly in the Common Room at Arnison House to discuss that month’s book, to partake of refreshments and then to consider the burning issues of the day!
The books to be read throughout the year are chosen – in a very democratic process- by the members at their pre-Christmas party. The suggestions put forward throughout the year are collated, listed and circulated. Each member makes up to 10 ticks on the list (the number of meetings during the year) and the books with the most ticks, from first to tenth, are chosen. Simple. You know in advance what the books are and you can put them on your Christmas present list if you wish!
Members take it in turns to provide sufficient refreshments (wine and nibbles) and, in the expectation that everyone has read the book of the month, a lively discussion as to its merits (or not) follows. Indeed, the discussion can be so lively at times that the ‘big spoon rule’ has to be brought into play. The one who holds the spoon gets to speak!
We are not exclusively a female group, although ladies are in the majority. At present Noel Broome is a long-standing member and we welcome his input as well as his quiz at our Christmas party. But members hail from far and wide: Sarah Barker now from Hexham is also a long-standing member as is Elspeth Christie from Alston.
To celebrate our 30th birthday we contacted as many as possible of our old members and had a tea party with a book shaped cake (made by Carrie) at the Allendale Bakery Café at Allen Mill, back in the day, and Sue Bates travelled up from her new home in Cambridge to join us.
Our current membership is 14 so, allowing for conflicting engagements on the night, there are usually about 10 group members present.
Meetings are on the last Thursday of the month starting at 7.30pm and we would be happy if new members wish to join us.” Perhaps, however, those of a readerly bent, who wish to look more closely at meaning, and listen to the comments and opinions of others, would be likely to self-select as welcome participants, rather than those of an argumentative disposition who prefer to hear their own voices!