Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – Westminster

Episode 27 (23 June 2021)

Westminster (England, 1993): “Madam Speaker, I —” Baxter groaned and lifted the pen. He stuck the end in his mouth and sucked on it, searching for a better opening line. He crossed out the first words and started again. “Madam Speaker, the —” His pen froze again. “Damn it, why won’t the words flow?”

READ SHOW NOTES

Both Sides of the Story – Westminster

Show Notes

Episode 27 (23 June 2021)

Both Sides of the Story is a collection of short stories from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. The collection consists of four self-contained vignettes and a fifth piece that ties together and resolves the threads from all five stories. The podcast version is presented in six instalments with an introductory episode. 

Copyright notice: Both Sides of the Story song written by Phil Collins from Both Sides album (1993).

Read Both Sides of the Story – Westminster: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/both-sides-of-the-story-westminster

Podcast website: https://www.tallandtrueshortreads.com

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

Buy Robert’s short story collections online:

• Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Fairhead/e/B086HZ36NM

• Rakuten Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/author/robert-fairhead

Writer’s Insight

In February 1994, I started working on a short story for the Ian St James Awards. It was my third submission to the then annual awards, at the time, the UK’s biggest fiction prize for unpublished writers. And my entry was inspired by Phil Collins’ 1993 hit song, Both Sides of the Story.

The news back then was full of items about people for whom the public (including me) had little sympathy. And watching the Both Sides music video on MTV with its scenes of violence and backstory, I wondered if I could follow Collins’ lead and show both sides of a news item, or story, in my writing.

I wrote Both Sides of the Story as four self-contained vignettes and a fifth piece to tie together and resolve the five short stories. Westminster, set in England in 1993, is the first of the vignettes. It deals with a familiar subject matter of infidelity in high places and the consequence of keeping secrets for careers and families.

In the earlier Introduction episode for Both Sides of the Story, I quoted from my February 1994 diary about how some of the scenes developed: “They seemed to create their own twists and turns, guiding my fingers over the keyboard. And somehow, the endings fell into place, generally when I needed them, as I neared my midnight time limit.”

And this is what happened when writing the last sentence for Westminster, “The Prime Minister wears glasses,” Baxter consoled himself aloud. “Bugger!”

The British PM, when I wrote Both Sides of the Story, was the bespectacled John Major. He was considered an unlikely “first among equals” when Margaret Thatcher resigned in 1990. And despite winning reelection in 1992, Major went on to lose the 1997 UK election in one of the largest defeats in history. In 2002, it was revealed he’d had a four-year affair with a fellow MP from 1984 to 1988. And a newspaper later claimed that had the affair not been kept secret, Major would not have become PM in 1990.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Tall And True Short Reads. You can read all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

The next episode and second vignette from Both Sides of the Story, Bosnia, will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your podcast feed for other short stories. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

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:

Big Ben Chiming: https://freesound.org/people/signtoast/sounds/259965/

Tearing/Discarding Paper: https://freesound.org/people/GustavoGE/sounds/560081/

Chair Scraping on Floor: https://freesound.org/people/sagetyrtle/sounds/35033/

London Traffic: https://freesound.org/people/mzui/sounds/135095/

Car Horns: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/479995/

Office Footsteps: https://freesound.org/people/conleec/sounds/148466/

Clock Ticking: https://freesound.org/people/gecop/sounds/522119/

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads produced using Audacity. Thanks to Josh (VoiceOverMaster) Meyer for Audacity recording tips and tricks.

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

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