Stuck in Time

Stuck in Time

Tall And True Short Reads

Stuck in Time

Episode 54 (22 June 2022)

It’s 1997. I’m fifteen, and Dad’s delivering another lecture on my poor prospects: “If you carry on like this, son, you’ll end up in prison.” I won’t admit it, but he may have a point. Because today on the drive home after catching me shoplifting again, the local cop issued a “last warning”.

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Stuck in Time

Show Notes

Episode 54 (22 June 2022)

Stuck in Time is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read Stuck in Time on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/stuck-in-time

Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Writer’s Insight

I celebrated my second anniversary of submitting 500-word short stories to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Furious Fiction competition in March 2022 with Stuck in Time. The brief for March was:

  • Each story has to include a character that commits a crime
  • Some kind of DOOR being opened
  • And the words CHALK, TALK and FORK (longer variations accepted with the original spelling retained).

Having “brainstormed” ideas, I set my first draft at the “Redundant Dads Club”. I felt the characters at this monthly meeting offered me opportunities for a crime and doors opening (and closing) on relationships and places for the required words, with lots of TALKing.

But I stalled after about 200 words, abandoned the draft, the first time I’ve done so in two years of Furious Fictions, and returned to my ideas list. And among my jottings, I spotted an alternative opening line: “My father is giving me another of his talks.”

I’ve blogged on Tall And True about following Ernest Hemingway’s advice to write one true sentence. And so I changed the opening line into something my father once said to the teenage me: “If you carry on like this, son, you’ll end up in prison.”

Ping! Like a light switched on inside my head, I suddenly saw the story, with my protagonist flipping back and forth between his teenage and “pushing forty” selves. And struggling to reconcile his feelings for his father.

How much of a writer’s work is imagination, and how much is memoir?

I used a true sentence in Stuck in Time. Yes, I live across the continent from my father. And we have had our “father and son” difficulties over the years. But I call him regularly and visit whenever I can. The rest is pure imagination — the shoplifting, mum and dad fighting, running away from home, dad dying,   sharing a joint outside a hospital with my brother. And I was fifteen in 1977, not 1997, and when I wrote Stuck in Time, I wasn’t pushing forty, I was pushing sixty!

In another first for Furious Fiction and me, Stuck in Time was longlisted for March 2022. I was as proud to see my name and story on the list as if I’d won the competition, and it felt like a fitting reward on my second anniversary of Furious Fictions.

I hope you felt rewarded listening to Stuck in Time. You can read this and all my blog posts, short stories and other writing at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from Seasons One and Two.

And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite app — doing so helps me share my writing with other listeners.

You can support this podcast financially by making a small regular or one-off donation via the Acast Supporter Page.

And finally, please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org.

Clock Ticking: https://freesound.org/people/Julien%20Matthey/sounds/457651/

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is produced using Audacity.

The Podcast is recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the land of the traditional custodians of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

Support this show https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads.

Contact Us

Stuck in Time

Six Weeks in Teal

Tall And True Short Reads

Six Weeks in Teal

Episode 53 (31 May 2022)

In 2018, I shared a blog post about My Week in Politics, handing out how-to-vote cards for Dr Kerryn Phelps, an independent candidate for Wentworth. Kerryn won that by-election but lost the seat in the 2019 Federal election. Three years later, I spent six weeks in teal helping another independent, Allegra Spender.

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Six Weeks in Teal

Show Notes

Episode 53 (31 May 2022)

Six Weeks in Teal is a blog post from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read Six Weeks in Teal on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/six-weeks-in-teal

Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Writer’s Insight

I wrote Six Weeks in Teal during the week following the 2022 Australian Federal Election. The “independent teal” I’d supported, Allegra Spender, had won my local Sydney seat of Wentworth. Across the country, there’d been a teal, Green and Labor backlash against the incumbent conservatives. There was a change of government in Australia, and I had been part of it, wearing my teal t-shirt for six weeks.

The goal of this blog post was to explain what had spurred me to play an active part in politics, first in 2018 and 2019 for the independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps and again in 2022 for Allegra. And give a flavour of what it felt like to be part of Allegra’s teal team.

I could have gone into great detail about the long days of campaigning (often wet and cold), late-night Zoom meetings, conversations with voters and conflicts with the incumbent candidate’s team. But instead, I wanted to write the blog post as I will remember my six weeks in teal, something of a blur, as the vortex of the election day approached.

I apologise if my voice sounds more snuffly and gravelly than usual in the narration. In her post-election wrap episode of ABC’s The Party Room podcast, host Fran Kelly commented election night was crowded with parties (celebrating or commiserating), and COVID had struck down many party-goers and broadcast teams covering the events. And I, unfortunately, was one of them.

I hope you enjoyed my account of Six Weeks in Teal. You can read this and all my blog posts, short stories and other writing at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads (with hopefully a less COVID affected voice) will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from Seasons One and Two.

And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite app — doing so helps me share my writing with other listeners.

You can support this podcast financially by making a small regular or one-off donation via the Acast Supporter Page.

And finally, please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org.

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is produced using Audacity.

The Podcast is recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the land of the traditional custodians of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

Support this show https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads.

Contact Us

Stuck in Time

The Special Tree

Tall And True Short Reads

The Special Tree

Episode 52 (8 May 2022)

The tree stood in front of a vacant block at the end of the street. It had thick, leafy branches and was easy to climb. It was Matty’s special place. And then, one day, he saw a sign on the tree. Matty couldn’t read the big words and went to find his sister. Jess was a school captain, so she’d know what the sign said.

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The Special Tree

Show Notes

Episode 52 (8 May 2022)

The Special Tree is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read The Special Tree on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/the-special-tree

Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Writer’s Insight

The Special Tree was my entry for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s December 2021 Furious Fiction. The brief for the month’s 500-word short story was:

  • It had to include a TREE.
  • Something BEING TAPED.
  • And the words DANCE, SEARCH and CHANGE (longer variations were acceptable as long as they retained the original spelling).

Like December 2020’s Furious Fiction brief, where the story had to include a GIFT of some kind, the temptation was to fashion a festive season scenario. However, as I did with last year’s entry, The Gift, I decided to write a short story that had nothing to do with Xmas or Xmas trees!

Instead, I drew on my experience as a boy for my protagonist and plot. A tract of undeveloped land surrounded my boyhood home. We called it the “bush”, and within it stood tall trees that I loved climbing. But one day, bulldozers rolled in and cleared the trees, and builders followed. The bush that had seemed so vast to me as a boy became a row of boxy suburban houses.

For my story, I condensed my boyhood bush into a vacant block with a favourite climbing tree out the front. My young primary school-aged protagonist, Matty, finds a sign on the tree and asks his big sister to help him read it.

Back home, Matty’s mother searches the council website for the development application and confirms the builder wants to remove the tree. Matty is distraught, but his family promise to contact the council and rally support to save the tree.

As a writing device, I simplified the third-person narrator’s language because I wanted the story to be from Matty’s point of view without making it first-person.

Does the “mean builder” remove the tree? I leave that for the podcast listener to decide. But I hope Matty has more luck with his tree than I had with mine in the bush all those years ago.

I also hope you enjoyed listening to The Special Tree. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from Seasons One and Two.

And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite app — doing so helps me share my writing with other listeners.

You can support this podcast by making a small regular or one-off donation via the Acast Supporter Page.

And finally, please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org:

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is produced using Audacity.

The Podcast is recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the land of the traditional custodians of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

Support this show https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads.

Contact Us

Stuck in Time

Departure

Tall And True Short Reads

Departure

Episode 51 (24 April 2022)

Airports are the same the world over. Full of frenetic activity, people coming and going, joyful reunions and teary-eyed farewells. Though not in the middle of the night. And apart from the passengers sprawled across and under the international airport’s departure terminal chairs, it was empty and silent.

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Departure

Show Notes

Episode 51 (24 April 2022)

Departure is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read Departure on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/departure

Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Writer’s Insight

The Australian Writers’ Centre moved their 500-word short story writing competition, Furious Fiction, from monthly to quarterly in 2022.

As I admitted in the introduction to my second short story collection, Twelve Furious Months, I’m addicted to writing short stories. So to help cope with the loss of my regular hit, I decided to attempt unofficial Furious Fictions on the off-quarterly months. And thankfully, the Writers’ Centre’s website has an archive from which to randomly select briefs.

In January 2022, following the usual Furious Fiction rules and deadline, I wrote my first unofficial short story, The People Were Happy. And for February, I selected an airport brief from September 2018 for my second attempt:

  • The entire story had to take place in an airport
  • Include the word SPRING (or plural)
  • And the phrase: IT WAS EMPTY.

Part of my Furious Fiction writing routine is formulating plots and characters while walking my dog. And this worked well for me on our Friday evening and Saturday morning walks. By the time I sat down to write the first draft, I had Declan and the German couple in the terminal with their fellow delayed passengers. And as the story developed, I added Declan’s absent girlfriend, Molly.

It can be argued part of the story takes place at the coastal resort. But these are only reflections by Declan and the third-person narrator. And both are firmly in the airport for the entire story.

Anyone who’s spent an unscheduled late night in an airport departure terminal will recognise the phrase, “it was empty”. And backpackers and other regular travellers will know the importance of staying hydrated with a bottle of “spring” water.

As for the denouement, I toyed with several endings, but Declan feeling “Britta’s deep voice breathing in his ear” sent a tingle up my spine. And what does she mean by her comment, “Everything has a natural ending”? I’ll leave that to the podcast listener to decide!

I hope you enjoyed my second *departure* from official Furious Fictions. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from Seasons One and Two.

And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite app — doing so helps me share my writing with other listeners.

You can support this podcast by making a small regular or one-off donation via the Acast Supporter Page.

And finally, please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org:

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is produced using Audacity.

The Podcast is recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the land of the traditional custodians of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

Support this show https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads.

Contact Us

Stuck in Time

Milestone Reflections

Tall And True Short Reads

Milestone Reflections

Episode 50 (11 April 2022)

My parents separated in 1967 when I was five, and my younger brother and I went to live with our grandparents. Nan looked old to my young eyes, and leathery Pop ancient. But born in 1907, Nan was only sixty when we moved in, a cause for reflection when I reached my milestone sixty in March 2022.

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Milestone Reflections

Show Notes

Episode 50 (11 April 2022)

Milestone Reflections is a blog post from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read Milestone Reflections on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/milestone-reflections

Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Writer’s Insight

I celebrated my sixtieth birthday in March 2022. Milestone birthdays, like sixty, are times for reflection. And as my big day approached, I recalled a treasured photo of my Nan with her grandmotherly arms wrapped around my younger brother and me.

When I dug out the photo and looked at my boyhood brother and me, I realised it was from shortly after we’d moved in with our grandparents in 1967, following our parents’ separation. And that meant Nan was sixty in the photo.

Grandparents (and parents) always seem old to children. But looking at the photo of Nan with my middle-aged eyes and then at myself in the mirror, I see things differently. And writing Milestone Reflections was my attempt to put things in perspective.

Is sixty really the new forty? Is age a state of mind? And did Nan act old in her conversations, reading and TV habits or taste in music? Or was my boyhood perspective of her a generational response, like my neighbour’s daughter’s guess about my age?

I hope you enjoyed my Milestone Reflections. You can read this and all my blog posts, short stories and other writing at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, don’t forget to check your feed or the podcast website, for earlier episodes from Seasons One and Two.

And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite app — doing so helps me share my writing and reflections with other listeners.

You can support this podcast by making a small regular or one-off donation via the Acast Supporter Page.

And finally, please tell your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Pixabay.com: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from FreeSound.org:

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is produced using Audacity.

The Podcast is recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the land of the traditional custodians of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

Support this show https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads.

Contact Us