The White and Blue Niles

The White and Blue Niles

Tall And True Short Reads

The White and Blue Niles

Episode 95 (9 July 2024)

In 1987, my wife and I shouldered our backpacks and set off from Australia. The plan was to live and work overseas in England for two years, using it as a base for UK and wider world travels. And the widest of these were inspired by reading books like Alan Moorehead’s The White Nile and The Blue Nile.

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The White and Blue Niles

Show Notes

Season Four: Episode 95 (9 July 2024)

The White and Blue Niles is a travel blog post from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read the post on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/the-white-and-blue-niles

Read a post about the nine-month overland journey inspired by travel writers and Michael Palin’s Pole to Polehttps://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/inspired-by-michael-palins-pole-to-pole

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

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Story Insight

I wrote this travel post in February 2021. Earlier that month, a friend mentioned Alan Moorehead’s White and Blue Nile books on social media, and we exchanged photos of our yellowed paperback copies. Dusting off the books from my bookcase, I recalled how much they had meant to me in my early backpacking days and decided to pay homage to The White and Blue Niles on Tall And True.

Moorehead’s books are of their time—the quoted cover blurbs are proof of that. But they’re also detailed historical accounts of life along the rivers, the clashes with the European colonisers, and ultimately, the search for the source of the White and Blue Niles. As a young wannabe traveller and travel writer, I found them inspirational. And as our modern times prove, we must learn from history to stop repeating its mistakes.

I hope you enjoy this reflective travel post. You can read all my posts, selected short stories and other writing on TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections, including the latest Tall And True Microfiction anthology from the Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Kobo online bookstores — links are available in the show notes.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from all four seasons. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite podcasting app — doing so helps share my storytelling.

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

Finally, please share this episode with family and friends and tell them about the stories and posts on 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. Podcast episodes are recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

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The White and Blue Niles

One of Those Mornings

Tall And True Short Reads

One of Those Mornings

Episode 94 (18 June 2024)

Have you ever had one of those mornings? You know, where everything goes wrong. It’s like a farce, a series of mishaps increasing in frequency and intensity that have you howling with side-splitting laughter or shedding tears of frustration.

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One of Those Mornings

Show Notes

Season Four: Episode 94 (18 June 2024)

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

Read the story on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/fiction/short-stories/one-of-those-mornings

Read the Five April Stories blog post: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/five-april-stories

Listen to The Winner’s Toast, Episode 45 of Tall And True Short Reads: https://www.tallandtrueshortreads.com/the-winners-toast/

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

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Story Insight

One of Those Mornings was my entry for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s April 2024 Furious Fiction writing challenge. And as I shared in the Five April Stories blog post on Tall And True, it was also the fifth April story I’d written for Furious Fiction since my first in 2020.

The brief was:

  • Your story’s first sentence must be a question
  • It must include something being pulled
  • And the words POST, TEAR and THUNDER.

In addition to examples of questions and how writers can use them to open a story and engage the reader, the Writers’ Centre specified:

For this challenge, we don’t want to see any “she said” or “Jane asked” tags at the end of this first sentence. It must end with a question mark.

My question, “Have you ever had one of those days?” and the scenario for the short story about a widowed father with a teenage daughter came to me very quickly. But soon after I started writing, I realised it was too broad, and I’d need far more than 500 words to tell the story. And even if I had 1000 words, I doubted it would engage the reader until “The End”!

So, midway through, I gave up on the story and thought of another opening question, “Can you keep a secret?” I wrote a paragraph but returned to my original story, drawn back by its characters and premise. However, I tightened the timeline and pace by slightly modifying the question, “Have you ever had one of those mornings?”

The Writers’ Centre judges didn’t Showcase or longlist my fifth April Furious Fiction, which was disappointing. But as my protagonist artist says in another of my Furious Fictions, The Winner’s Toast (Episode 45 of Tall And True Short Reads), “I’ve learned to channel disappointment into creative energy.”

I revisited the story, tweaked a few sentences, and shared it on Tall And True. I even changed the last sentence when I drafted the script before narrating it for Tall And True Short Reads, adding that the father was “shedding happy tears” but would “remember the alarm next week”.

I hope you enjoy listening to One of Those Mornings. You can read this and my selected short stories, blog posts and other writings at TallAndTrue.com.

You can also buy my short story collections, including the latest Tall And True Microfiction anthology from the Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Kobo online bookstores — links are available in the show notes.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from all four seasons. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite podcasting app — doing so helps share my storytelling.

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

Finally, please share this episode with family and friends and spread the word 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. Podcast episodes are recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

The White and Blue Niles

Different Journeys

Tall And True Short Reads

Different Journeys

Episode 93 (27 May 2024)

Teresa’s first thing in the morning text message was a punch in the guts. “Sorry, Colin. I love you, but we’re on different journeys. Let’s stay friends.” I blinked twice to clear my eyes and was about to respond, “Are you serious?” but threw the phone against the bedroom wall instead.

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Different Journeys

Show Notes

Season Four: Episode 93 (27 May 2024)

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

Read the story on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/fiction/short-stories/different-journeys

Listen to Episode 84 of Tall And True Short Reads, In Her Head: https://www.tallandtrueshortreads.com/in-her-head/

Link to the winning entries for January 2024’s Not Quite Write Prize: https://notquitewritepodcast.com/results-of-the-january-2024-not-quite-write-prize-for-flash-fiction/

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

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Story Insight

I wrote Different Journeys in January 2024 for the Not Quite Write Prize, run by the Not Quite Write Podcast. Their brief was:

  • Your story must feature the word PUNCH. The word must be used in full with no spaces or interrupting punctuation. However, it may be included within a longer word provided the original spelling is retained, for example, punching or punchline.
  • It must feature the action of “spilling something”. You don’t need to use this exact wording, and you can feature the action prominently or simply as an aside. The action may occur before the beginning of your story or after it ends, as long as it’s referenced somewhere within your story.
  • And it must break the rule “avoid clichés”. You can interpret this anti-prompt in whatever creative way you see fit, but your goal should remain to tell the best story possible.

Writers had 60 hours from midday Friday to midnight Sunday on the weekend of the competition to write and submit their 500-word flash fiction stories.

Thanks to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Furious Fiction challenges, I’m used to writing short stories to tight deadlines, so I had faith in my creativity and process.

But as I admitted in the insight for the last story I wrote for the Not Quite Write Prize in July 2023, In Her Head, Episode 84 of Tall And True Short Reads, I struggle with anti-prompts!

I settled on two clichés:

  1. A punch in the guts.
  2. Life is full of compromises.

Interestingly, as podcast hosts Amanda and Ed revealed, there were many “punches in the guts” in the stories submitted. Even the winning entry, It Never Rains But It Pours by Athena Law (on Twitter), which “famously” featured the one-word opening sentence, “Moist.”, included the line:

The old ceiling fan punches through the humidity, causing darling goosebumps across your golden, youthful skin.

While my story wasn’t short or longlisted for the Not Quite Write Prize, it didn’t feel like a punch in the guts because I enjoyed writing Different Journeys and proving, once again, that my process works!

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. You can read Different Journeys and my selected short stories, blog posts and other writings at TallAndTrue.com.

You can also buy my short story collections, including the latest Tall And True Microfiction anthology from the Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Kobo online bookstores — links are available in the show notes.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from all four seasons. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite podcasting app — doing so helps share my storytelling.

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

Finally, please share this episode with family and friends and spread the word 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. Podcast episodes are recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

The White and Blue Niles

The Lost and Found Story

Tall And True Short Reads

The Lost and Found Story

Episode 92 (10 May 2024)

I’ve lost a few things over the years but never imagined losing a story! I only realised I’d “lost” A Window Table when I started working on a blog post to mark my fourth anniversary of writing Furious Fictions. However, when I found and read a copy of the story, I didn’t recognise its plot or characters.

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The Lost And Found Story

Show Notes

Season Four: Episode 92 (10 May 2024)

This double-feature episode includes the short story A Window Table and a companion blog post, The Lost and Found Story, from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead.

Read A Window Table on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/fiction/short-stories/a-window-table

Read The Lost and Found Story: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/lost-and-found-story

Listen to Some Things Change, Episodes 79 to 80 of Tall And True Short Reads:

Read Some Things Change, Some Stay the Same: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/some-things-change-some-stay-the-same

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

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Story Insight

I wrote A Window Table in August 2023 for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly Furious Fiction writing challenge. The brief was:

  • The story had to take place in a RESTAURANT.
  • Include a character who smashes something.
  • And the words EUPHORIA, LABYRINTH and SILHOUETTE.

There are always stories behind my short stories, but the one for A Window Table is the most mysterious because, as I wrote in the Lost and Found Story blog post, I “lost” the story for six months. 

I eventually found a copy of A Window Table, but when I read it, I didn’t recognise the plot or characters.

Reading a story I knew must be mine but felt like someone else had written it was weird. But the “DNA” proof that I’d written A Window Table was the restaurant in the first part of the story. I based it on a restaurant I booked for a date in my early twenties (forty years ago) that also didn’t live up to its “good reviews”!

I hope you enjoy this double feature, The Lost And Found Story – A Window Table. You can read the blog post and short story along with my other posts, stories and writings at TallAndTrue.com.

You can also buy my short story collections, including the latest Tall And True Microfiction anthology from the Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Kobo online bookstores — links are available in the show notes.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be released soon. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from all four seasons. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite podcasting app — doing so helps share my storytelling.

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

Finally, please share this episode with family and friends and spread the word 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. Podcast episodes are recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

The White and Blue Niles

A New Jack

Tall And True Short Reads

A New Jack

Episode 91 (18 April 2024)

Less than forty-eight hours after receiving her online order, Third Age Cybertronics delivered Jack to Daisy, a sprightly centenarian who purchased the Advanced Companion Droid to help her with household chores and carry her bags when travelling.

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A New Jack

Show Notes

Season Four: Episode 91 (18 April 2024)

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

Read the story on Tall And True: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/fiction/short-stories/a-new-jack

Listen to Episode 87 of Tall And True Short Reads, The Lonely Moon: https://www.tallandtrueshortreads.com/the-lonely-moon/

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

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

Story Insight

A New Jack should have been my entry for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s January 2024 Furious Fiction challenge. The brief for the story was:

  • It had to take place on a character’s FIRST DAY OF A NEW JOB
  • Include something being stolen
  • And the words TRIP, TRIANGLE and TSUNAMI.

But I was holidaying in Perth on the weekend of the challenge in January, and I couldn’t find the time or space to polish the slightly futuristic draft I’d written about Jack’s first day on the job as an Advanced Companion Droid for Daisy, the sprightly centenarian.

When the Writers’ Centre published its showcased stories at the end of January, it inspired me to revisit and finish my story. The tweaked and polished final version is similar to the draft except for:

  • The ending—which I hadn’t written
  • Something being stolen—which I’d overlooked in the draft
  • The story title—the draft was untitled.

I flirted with having Jack steal something from Daisy’s house, perhaps a ceramic Jack Russell. But the simplicity of Jack computing that dogs had stolen Daisy’s heart was perfect for the story and gave me its sweet ending.

As for the title, I was editing a penultimate printout of the story on an evening walk when the idea of A New Jack popped into my head. And like that shiver up the spine moment when I’ve written a final sentence, I knew I had the title for my story.

January 2024 was only the second Furious Fiction I’ve missed since April 2020. I was also in Perth the first time I missed the challenge, for a family wedding in October 2023. As with A New Jack, I finished and shared the story later in the month, back home in Sydney, The Lonely Moon, Episode 87 of Tall And True Short Reads.

I hope you enjoyed the tale of Jack’s first day on the job. You can read A New Jack and my selected short stories, blog posts and other writings at TallAndTrue.com. You can also buy my short story collections, including the latest Tall And True Microfiction anthology from the Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Kobo online bookstores — links are available in the show notes.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website for earlier episodes from all four seasons, and follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite podcasting app — doing so helps share my storytelling.

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

Finally, please share this episode with family and friends and help spread the word 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. Podcast episodes are recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us