Pea soup

This Autumn I am taking an online non-fiction writing course to help me engage with writing more creatively. Below are two passages I’ve written for one of the first exercises on the course. The brief was to describe an interesting incident in which you were directly involved. Then to write a second account of the incident in which you deliberately take some liberties with the truth. Which is the accurate one and in which have I been flexible with the truth?

1.

I was at a conference dinner earlier this month. We were all sitting at big round tables in one of those huge halls you find in old universities, with mahogany wood panelling and the names of men you’ve never heard of painted in gold on the walls. I was chatting with one of the research technicians from our group and a lady representing the PKD charity when I looked up to see that the sky was green.

At that moment a waiter collected the plates from our starters. We asked if he knew why the sky was green. He looked puzzled then gasped in horror as he saw what we could see. He hastily slipped away, clearly off to tell his manager.

Back at the table our conversation moved onto how polluted London was in the nineteenth century – a ‘pea-souper’ – but of course even then the sky wasn’t the colour of the soup.

A few people got up to take a look outside.

2.

I was at a conference dinner earlier this month. We were all sitting at big round tables in one of those huge halls you find in old universities, with mahogany wood panelling and the names of men you’ve never heard of painted in gold on the walls. I was chatting with one of the research technicians from our group and a lady representing the PKD charity when I looked up to see that the sky was green.

At that moment a waiter collected the plates from our starters. We asked if he knew why the sky was green. He looked as puzzled as we were.

Back at the table our conversation moved onto how polluted London was in the nineteenth century – a ‘pea-souper’ – but of course even then the sky wasn’t the colour of the soup.

Sometime later I reached down under the table to check the time on my phone to find my family and I enjoying a swim under a pea-green sky.

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