Paul led off our series of up-to-date stories with concerned parents in a paediatrician's waiting-room - following Horace's instructions in his Ars Poetica 147-9 to plunge in medias res, 'into the thick of it', rather than beginning ab ovo, 'from the egg' [Horace meant the one from which Helen, later Helen of Troy, was hatched - but that would have required a gynaecologist's, or an obstetrician's, or maybe a vet's waiting-room]. The story turned out to be The Pickpockets' Child - but none the worse for that, nor for the fact that he admitted having stolen it from Jane, who told us that she had stolen it [at one remove] from Taffy Thomas, who had stolen it from...
Then Raphael told us how easily people can be deceived - a mediaeval Spanish, Moorish-derived version of The Emperor's New Clothes, which we were free to apply to whatever recent events we chose. Maddie told us The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, which was an enormously consoling conclusion to the first half, suggesting that things may turn out all right after all.
Mark, absent for a long while, told us about Tudor tailors, and the true origin of the word'garbage'. Then Jane brought us really up to date, with the story of a young man whose home was not his sanctuary but his prison, and how he fought to free himself from it, out of concern for a woman whose daily appearance in her delivery-van had always been a bright spot in his life, and whose absence spurred him on to take charge of his life, and visit her in hospital.
Mike told a story created in 2012, the story of Tim Rakewell, the software-designing, upwardly socially mobile hero of Grayson Perry's series of six tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences, all the way from his childhood in Sunderland [The Adoration of the Cage-Fighters] to his pointless death in a middle-aged macho motor duel in an Essex retail park, with his shaken and bloodstained new trophy-wife looking on.
But you can't end an evening like that, with a star-screened i-phone as a memento mori, so Paul told The Wonderful Pig, and we all went home smiling [except for the vegans and vegetarians, of course.]