Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Episode 32 (23 August 2021)

Bad News – Part Two (England, 1993): I woke in the middle of the night with a full bladder from the beers and more than a little aroused from a dream I’d just had. As I sat in the bathroom, waiting to pee, the dream replayed in my head. I was glad my wife was asleep. She’s a mind reader, and I’d be dead if she knew what I’d been dreaming.

READ SHOW NOTES

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Show Notes

Episode 32 (23 August 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 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 the Both Sides album (1993).

Read Both Sides of the Story – Bad News: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/both-sides-of-the-story-bad-news

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 1994 I needed an idea for a short story for the annual Ian St James Awards. The news back then was full of items about “bad people” for whom the public (including me) felt little sympathy. Then one day, I saw Phil Collins’s hit song, Both Sides of the Story, on MTV. And the music video’s scenes of violence juxtaposed with backstories set me thinking: could I show both sides of the news in a short story?

I wrote Both Sides of the Story as four self-contained vignettes (or “news items”) and a fifth piece that ties together and resolves the larger story. Bad News is that final piece, presented in two parts for the podcast.

In Bad News – Part Two, our narrator wakes in the middle of the night with a full bladder from the beers consumed watching TV. And feeling a “little aroused” from the dream of a “stimulating conversation” he’d had while away at a conference many years ago.

Despite having done “nothing wrong”, our narrator felt “wracked with guilt” when he returned home, convinced his wife wouldn’t view the liaison as an “innocent all-nighter”. So he keeps it a secret but occasionally dreams about it and feels like a “guilty adulterer” afterwards.

Looking at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, our narrator recalls the evening news. He’d commented to his wife, “It was full of bad people who got what they deserved and their victims.” But how different is he from the Westminster politician, Baxter, who’d resigned over an affair?

And if our narrator can sympathise with Baxter, what about the combatants in Bosnia? Do they ever question or regret their actions? And the mother in the council flat: why hadn’t she called the police? And wouldn’t he take the risks Winston had in the gym for the chance of fame and fortune?

The man in the mirror doesn’t have the answers. But our narrator’s happy to be asking questions, realising it’s a step towards seeing both sides of the story, as his wife had urged. And Phil Collins sang.

Thanks for listening to the final instalment of this short story. You can read all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

You can also buy my ebook collection of Both Sides of the Story 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 for earlier short stories. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app. Doing so helps other listeners find Tall And True Short Reads.

And finally, please support this podcast by telling your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website.

Podcast Theme and Podcast 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:

Owl Hooting: https://freesound.org/people/Breviceps/sounds/465697/

Kids Fighting/Screaming: https://freesound.org/people/SoundsExciting/sounds/405224/

Glasses/Bottles Chinking: https://freesound.org/people/jawbutch/sounds/344401/

Woman Laughing:https://freesound.org/people/sagetyrtle/sounds/33658/

Toilet Flushing: https://freesound.org/people/lorenzgillner/sounds/274448/

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

Explosion: https://freesound.org/people/tommccann/sounds/235968/

Cheering Crowd: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/486205/

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

Footsteps on Pavement: https://freesound.org/people/JohnsonBrandEditing/sounds/244310/

Birds Chirping: https://freesound.org/people/ken788/sounds/386732/

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.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part One

Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part One

Episode 31 (12 August 2021)

Bad News – Part One (England, 1993): The evening news was depressing—all bad as usual—and the weekend weather looked just as gloomy. I got up and went to the kitchen. “Do you want another wine?” I called back to my wife. No response. I’d swear she’s going deaf, but she hears everything I mutter under my breath.

READ SHOW NOTES

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part One

Show Notes

Episode 31 (12 August 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 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 the Both Sides album (1993).

Read Both Sides of the Story – Bad News: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/both-sides-of-the-story-bad-news

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

I wrote Both Sides of the Story for the Ian St James Awards in 1994. The inspiration for my short story was the 1993 Phil Collins hit song of the same name.

As the protagonist in Bad News observes, the print and TV news back then was full of stories about “bad people who got what they deserved and their victims”. However, after watching the Phil Collins Both Sides music video on MTV and its juxtaposed scenes of violence and backstories, I wondered if I could show both sides of the news in a short story. Or, as the protagonist’s wife asks, could I “look behind the news. [At] what causes people to betray and abuse others?”

Both Sides of the Story consists of four self-contained vignettes, Westminster, Bosnia, A Council Flat and The Gym. And the fifth piece, Bad News, that ties together and resolves the questions raised in the larger story.

I commented in the Introduction episode, quoting from my 1994 diary, how Bad News was the most difficult of the five parts of Both Sides of the Story to write: “Struggling with ending of story. Pivotal last scene is in danger of sounding trite.”

Twenty-five years later, when I revisited the short story in 2019, Bad News once again proved the most difficult of the vignettes to transcribe. And in the end, it required more edits and structural changes than the other four parts combined.

Perhaps this is a testament to its importance in resolving Both Sides of the Story?

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.

You can also buy my ebook collection of Both Sides of the Story from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The final episode from Both Sides of the Story, Bad News – Part Two, will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your podcast feed for earlier episodes and other short stories. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app. Doing so helps other listeners find the podcast.

And please support this podcast by telling 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:

News Jingle: https://freesound.org/people/Tuben/sounds/272044/

Opening Can: https://freesound.org/people/squashy555/sounds/244327/

Sipping Beer: https://freesound.org/people/bbrocer/sounds/382656/

Explosion: https://freesound.org/people/Willlewis/sounds/244345/

Flames: https://freesound.org/people/shastrocks/sounds/182120/

Machine gun: https://freesound.org/people/fennelliott/sounds/380349/

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.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Both Sides of the Story – The Gym

Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – The Gym

Episode 30 (27 July 2021)

The Gym (England, 1993): “Come on, Winnie, push.” Winston arched his back and strained against the bar. “Push!” The muscles in Winston’s arms and chest burned. He closed his eyes, let out a primal roar and fully locked his arms. The weights rattled for a moment before Winston steadied the bar. “Yes!”

READ SHOW NOTES

Both Sides of the Story – A Council Flat

Show Notes

Episode 30 (27 July 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 the Both Sides album (1993).

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

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

I wrote Both Sides of the Story in 1994 for the Ian St James Awards. The inspiration for my story was the 1993 Phil Collins hit song of the same name.

As it is now, the news back then was full of stories about “bad people” for whom the general public (including me) felt little sympathy. However, after watching the Phil Collins Both Sides music video on MTV and its juxtaposed scenes of violence and backstories, I wondered if I could show both sides of the news in a short story.

Both Sides of the Story consists of four self-contained vignettes with a fifth piece to tie together and resolve the larger short story. The Gym, set in England in 1993, is the fourth vignette.

In 1994, the memory of Ben Johnson’s doping disgrace at the 1988 Seol Olympics was still fresh in our collective memory. And more athletes had fallen from grace at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, including Britain’s Jason Livingstone, nicknamed “Baby Ben”.

The Gym is not their story, nor that of any other athlete banned for doping. But it is an attempt to imagine why they might risk doping. Or, as Phil Collins would say, to see both sides of the story.

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.

You can also buy my ebook collection of Both Sides of the Story from the Amazon Kindle and Kobo online bookstores.

The next episode and fifth piece from Both Sides of the Story, Bad News, will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your podcast feed for earlier episodes and other short stories. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app. It helps other listeners find the podcast.

And please support this podcast by telling 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:

Gym weights: https://freesound.org/people/Soundscape_Leuphana/sounds/210388/

Gym music: https://freesound.org/people/zikeda/sounds/495899/

Rattling weights: https://freesound.org/people/13GPanska_Lakota_Jan/sounds/378364/

Bottles chinking: https://freesound.org/people/LampEight/sounds/259671/

Sipping drink: https://freesound.org/people/bbrocer/sounds/382656/

Police siren: https://freesound.org/people/vlammenos/sounds/52906/

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

Handcuffs: https://freesound.org/people/daboy291/sounds/138051/

Jail door: https://freesound.org/people/Sandermotions/sounds/275441/

Mallet: https://freesound.org/people/theneedle.tv/sounds/376667/

Cheers: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/486205/

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.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Both Sides of the Story – A Council Flat

Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – A Council Flat

Episode 29 (14 July 2021)

A Council Flat (England, 1993): The sound of the twins fighting in the bedroom filled the flat. Their screams drowned out the drone of sport on the TV and the sizzle and bubble of dinner on the kitchen cooktop. ‘For Christ’s sake, Ruth,’ Stu bellowed over the TV, ‘shut those bloody kids up, will you!’

READ SHOW NOTES

Both Sides of the Story – A Council Flat

Show Notes

Episode 29 (14 July 2021)

Warning: This podcast episode contains strong language and themes that may be distressing for some listeners.

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 the Both Sides album (1993).

Read Both Sides of the Story – A Council Flat: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/both-sides-of-the-story-a-council-flat

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

I wrote Both Sides of the Story for the Ian St James Awards in February 1994, inspired by the Phil Collins hit song of the same name.

The news at the time was full of stories about wrongdoers for whom the public (including me!) felt little sympathy. But one night, I watched the Both Sides music video on MTV and its scenes of desperation and violence juxtaposed with backstories. And I wondered if I could show both sides of the news in a short story.

I wrote Both Sides of the Story as four self-contained vignettes and a fifth piece to tie together and resolve the larger short story. A Council Flat, set in England in 1993, is the third vignette. And the idea for it came from the newspapers and radio and TV news I consumed back then.

As I’ve stressed in earlier episodes, my intention in writing The Council Flat in 1994 was not to be an apologist for the characters or their actions. And I unreservedly condemn domestic violence against women and children.

However, my goal with the short story was to follow Phil Collins’ lead and, if possible, imagine both sides of a story. And in this case, explore why Ruth had remained silent in the Council flat.

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

You can also buy my ebook collection of Both Sides of the Story from the Amazon Kindle or Kobo online bookstores.

And finally, please support this podcast by telling 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:

Kids Fighting https://freesound.org/people/SoundsExciting/sounds/405224/

Football crowd: https://freesound.org/people/habbis92/sounds/206003/

Cooking/Sizzling: https://freesound.org/people/BenjaminNelan/sounds/353124/

Screaming: https://freesound.org/people/Brokenphono/sounds/343823/

Crying: https://freesound.org/people/purplereptar/sounds/449439/

Opening Beer Can: https://freesound.org/people/squashy555/sounds/244327/

Disco: https://freesound.org/people/Dodgy%20C/sounds/264781/

Crash/Broken Glass: https://freesound.org/people/NeoSpica/sounds/512246/

Thrown Can: https://freesound.org/people/Fedor_Ogon/sounds/432382/

Wedding Bells: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/480014/

Thumps/Hits: https://freesound.org/people/Themiwa100/sounds/505661/

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.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Both Sides of the Story – Bosnia

Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – Bosnia

Episode 28 (1 July 2021)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993): The roar of explosives devastated the peace of the valley. Tibor had covered his ears with his hands before Milo flicked the detonator switch, but the thudding explosion set off the bells in his head again. He dropped his hands as dust and grit rained down on him and his men. When the dust cleared, it revealed the shattered shell of the century-old farmhouse.

READ SHOW NOTES

Both Sides of the Story – Bosnia

Show Notes

Episode 28 (1 July 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 the Both Sides album (1993).

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

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 wrote a short story for the Ian St James Awards, inspired by Phil Collins’ 1993 hit song, Both Sides of the Story.

At the time, the news was full of stories about perpetrators of crimes for whom the public (including me!) felt little sympathy. But one night, I watched the Phil Collins-Both Sides music video on MTV, with its juxtaposed scenes of violence and backstories. And I wondered if I could similarly show both sides of the news in a short story.

I wrote Both Sides of the Story as four self-contained vignettes and a fifth that ties together the pieces and resolves the “larger” short story. Bosnia, set in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993, is the second of the vignettes. And the material for it came from the news I read in the daily newspapers and saw on the evening TV back then about the war taking place in Bosnia.

As I stressed in the earlier Introduction episode, my intention in writing this short story in 1994 was not to be an apologist for the characters or their actions. Then, as it is now, my goal was simply to follow Phil Collins’ lead and try to imagine both sides of the story.

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 third vignette from Both Sides of the Story, A Council Flat, 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.

You can also buy the ebook collection of Both Sides of the Story from the Amazon Kindle or Kobo online bookstores.

And finally, please support this podcast by telling 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:

Explosion: https://freesound.org/people/tommccann/sounds/235968/

Falling stones and grit: https://freesound.org/people/tomi_slav/sounds/465811/

Footsteps on hillside/track: https://freesound.org/people/SpliceSound/sounds/218304/

Distant Church bells: https://freesound.org/people/ivolipa/sounds/266525/

Muffled explosion: https://freesound.org/people/NenadSimic/sounds/149966/

Rummaging: https://freesound.org/people/adcbicycle/sounds/14129/

Bouncing football: https://freesound.org/people/13GPanska_Lakota_Jan/sounds/378355/

Men playing football: https://freesound.org/people/fi2lcallpeace/sounds/542615/

Football crowd: https://freesound.org/people/habbis92/sounds/206003/

Men arguing: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/486193/

Kids playing in street: https://freesound.org/people/MariaDelCastillo/sounds/442545/

Football kicks: https://freesound.org/people/padpad/sounds/515908/

Girls laughing: https://freesound.org/people/LoreLya/sounds/377137/

Gunfire: https://freesound.org/people/C-V/sounds/523404/

Puncture: https://freesound.org/people/SamuelGremaud/sounds/457442/

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.

Acast Podcast Supporter Page

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

Contact Us

Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two

Both Sides of the Story – Westminster

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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