First meeting in February

9.2.19

I was sadly unable to get to this meeting, but Tim kindly took the notes for this blog and they follow here:

Present: Laura, Eileen, Chris, Angela, Ian, Tim
Apologies: Lynn

The fellowship gathered in the Seminar Room on a blustery but occasionally sunny Saturday afternoon. We missed Lynn and Julie, who were unable to join us for this session.
Following some preambulatory conversation amongst the group, Ian opened the Tolkien-related discussion with a report on a crowdfunding that has been started up for Sarehole Mill, in order to return it to full working order (Ted Sandyman’s been letting it slide, so me ol’ Gaffer says). The original target was £6,500, which was quickly reached and exceeded, and was then extended to £8,000 – which has, in turn, been exceeded!
Details of the crowdfunding and the project may be seen at:
https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sareholemill
http://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/sarehole

Laura introduced a suggestion for the next text for the group to study – not one of Tolkien’s own creations, but works that inspired him. Laura thought we might consider The House of the Wolfings by William Morris (he of the Arts and Crafts Movement, poet, novelist, translator, proto-socialist) which is one of the myriad inspirations for Tolkien’s own journeys into lore and mythology. It is a tale of the struggle of the Teutons against the invading Roman legions.
The general consensus of the group was in favour of studying the book, subject to further discussion with Lynn.
Angela started the discussion on The Fall of Gondolin. In the section entitled “The Conclusion of the Quenta Noldorinwa” (p.250) Ungoliant is described as having been slain by Eärendel, as opposed to the description in The Silmarillion (p.81) in which it is told that: “Of the fate of Ungoliant no tale tells. Yet some have said that she ended long ago, when in her uttermost famine she devoured herself at last.”
Chris noted how many Balrogs were killed during the battle of Gondolin, as well as Dragons. Ian referred to what Gandalf had said with regard to destroying the One Ring: “not even Ancalagon the Black could destroy the Ring”. At time of speaking he couldn’t, Ian noted, since he was dead.
On the subject of the Ring, Eileen observed that Frodo destroyed the Ring as his finger was still in it when Gollum fell into the Crack of Doom. This provoked some discussion about who did destroy the Ring: Frodo, Gollum or the Valar?
Chris returned to the Fall of Gondolin, noting that Ulmo came out on top regarding Gondolin. Eärendel escaped, representing hope for the future. Ulmo’s “Plan B”.
Laura commented that the earlier version of the battle shows Tolkien’s obsession with heraldic symbols and imagery, like a “heraldic spreadsheet” – colours, symbols for each military unit. Tim likened it to regimental colours. Laura felt it seemed overdone.
Ian considered it to be a reaction to a utilitarian approach to large groups. People can relate to common links of attributes, for example, in medieval imagery. There might be a variety of world views present without the need to go how any group might view the world – different aspects and values. Visual imagery.
Laura thought the description was all gorgeous – rich colours – which contrasted with descriptions of Tuor, or Aragorn, when they were in the wild, in “mufti”. Ian said there is complacency in wearing dress gear – ceremonial. Different kindreds were identifiable through their liveries or uniforms. Laura said there was a contrast with Maeglin, who was all in black.
The session was drawing to an early close, since Angela and Chris had to leave earlier than usual due to transportation issues.
Ian informed the group that a forthcoming episode of the fantasy series DC’s Legends of Tomorrow entitled “Fellowship of the Spear” would be set in the First World War, and would feature a young British Army officer named Lieutenant Tolkien. It will be on Pick TV Freeview channel 11 at 8.00pm on Monday 18th February 2019. (It is also available on Pick +1 at 9.00pm on the same day, and is currently available online on NOWTV – subscription service.)
With that, Angela and Chris made their apologies and left to catch their bus, and Eileen left soon after to get her bus home.
Laura, Ian and Tim wound up the proceedings at about 3.20pm.
The next meeting will be at 1.30pm on Saturday 23rd February 2019.

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