I’m on the train to catch a plane to fly to Spain where the rain, I hope, stays mainly on the plain. We, the Dark Angels, will be in the mountains of Andalucia – where fellow writer John Simmons and I make our annual pilgrimage with a group of business people keen to refresh their writing skills.
Far from their offices, they will be immersed for five days in all that is new about a foreign land including, not least, a different language; one they may not know a word of, but from which we will ask them to translate, guided by sound, rhythm and tone alone.
This is a place of cork forests and olive groves, fierce sun and glossy black fighting bulls. Africa is a mere hundred miles away as the vulture soars. The civil war is still within living memory. There is much here to feed the imagination and we will encourage them to produce writing that brims with the colours and textures, the tastes and smells and sounds of southern Spain.
They will create poems and stories, they will write with all their senses engaged, they will discover things about themselves they didn’t know. At the end they will go back to work having crossed a linguistic Rubicon. If we’ve done our job well we will have made it impossible for them ever to return to the corporate equivalents of rain, plain and train – the dreary monotones of so much modern business language.
Still warm from the Andalucian sun, our nine new converts we hope will flex their wings and join the crusade for a few more kind words.