During the early days of the Velvet Paw of Asquith Novels, Thomas tried getting help on a number of levels, not least with his writing. He attended a local writers’ group recommended by another local writers’ group which had become determined to expel him from their group of local writers after his critique of members’ writing resulted in the group no longer being large enough to be defined by the word. Indeed, Thomas’ comments had been so unconstructive that neither of the other two words in the title were appropriate either; firstly because most gave up writing altogether, and secondly because they moved interstate to be absolutely certain they were no longer in his vicinity.
Nevertheless, this second local writers’ group, unawares of the literary and social languishing Thomas specialises in, welcomed him with the sort of smothering encouragement that small community groups lavish upon new members as a result of their breeding stock having become even more fragile than when they’d got together in the first place. They asked what he, as a writer, wanted to gain from the group, and also what he could contribute—a question that had not, up until Thomas’ arrival, been pondered by any current members, but one that would convey an air of them having done so with some tenacity.
“I think they expected me to say something along the lines of wanting to learn how to write,” Thomas said, according to a recently subpoenaed statement, “when in fact I was more interested in their tea and biscuits. I mean, I could hardly say ‘I’d like to learn about punctuation because I have enough trouble spelling the word’. Instead, I think I said something about improving my social skills—which one member said I could begin almost immediately by putting down the chair.”
What followed was, unsurprisingly, a repeat of what had befallen the previous local writers’ group: eventual disbanding and civil action over who had consumed the most biscuits.
“Perhaps I should have been more honest about my intentions,” Thomas said. “Or at least put down the chair. But that’s the way I am, you see: unconventional. Most people sit on chairs. I tend to wield them. I think the same can be said about my use of punctuation.”