Both Sides of the Story – Introduction

Both Sides of the Story – Introduction

Tall And True Short Reads

Both Sides of the Story – Introduction

Episode 26 (13 June 2021)

Phil Collins released Both Sides of the Story in October 1993. It was a catchy song, but I remember it more for the music video. Scenes of homelessness, domestic violence, military patrols on streets and a ghetto kid mugging a white man, juxtaposed with Collins crooning, ‘We need to hear both sides of the story.’

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Both Sides of the Story – Introduction

Show Notes

Episode 26 (13 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 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 blog post: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/blog/both-sides-of-the-story

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

Phil Collins released Both Sides of the Story in October 1993. It was a catchy song, but I remember it more for the music video. Scenes of homelessness, domestic violence, military patrols on streets and a ghetto kid mugging a white man, juxtaposed with Collins crooning, ‘We need to hear both sides of the story.’

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 It was my third submission to the then annual awards, at the time, the UK’s biggest fiction prize for unpublished writers.

The idea for the story came to me while working out in a gym. The news at the time was full of items about people for whom the public (including me) had little sympathy. I watched Collins’ Both Sides music video on MTV in the gym, and it set me thinking: Could I show both sides of the news in a short story?

In November 2019, I re-read the yellowed printout of the short story and still felt proud of it. The protagonists in the four vignettes remained unsympathetic, as the news would have portrayed them in 1994. And the fifth piece linked and resolved the story as I had planned, as well as paying homage to Collins’ song.

So, twenty-five-plus years after I wrote it, I decided to share and showcase Both Sides of the Story on the Tall And True writers’ website as a five-part series. Westminster, Bosnia, A Council Flat, and The Gym are the vignettes. And Bad News is the fifth and final part.

Having shared Both Sides of the Story as a series, I decided to publish it as an eBook and make it available online. One of the joys of publishing the final piece, Bad News, was reading all five parts of the short story on Tall And True. I hoped the reader would enjoy a similar experience with the eBook collection.

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 first vignette from Both Sides of the Story, Westminster, will be in your podcast feed shortly. In the meantime, please check your 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:

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

Dot Matrix Printer: https://freesound.org/people/azumarill/sounds/345054/

Pub and Glasses Chink: https://freesound.org/people/16FPanskaSoldat_Martin/sounds/505330/

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.

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Both Sides of the Story – Introduction

Signs of the Second Coming

Tall And True Short Reads

Signs of the Second Coming

Episode 25 (31 May 2021)

At primary school in Perth, Western Australia, in the 1970s, I had a teacher who was also a lay preacher on the weekends. Before schoolwork, he started the day at our (supposedly) secular state school with the Lord’s Prayer and gospel readings. And his favourite scripture topic was Signs of the Second Coming.

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Signs of the Second Coming

Show Notes

Episode 25 (31 May 2021)

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

Read Signs of the Second Coming: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/microfiction/signs-of-the-second-coming

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

A Facebook post from 2011 popped up in my timeline memories in March 2021. The post was titled “Signs?” and was the brief tale of one of my primary school teachers, a lay preacher, who started each day at our secular state school with gospel readings. And how he greeted the class excitedly the morning after any news of disasters because these were “Signs of the Second Coming”.

As I related in the post, his daily gospel readings and tales of the “second coming” spooked the eleven-year-old me. And my fear only abated when I moved schools and headed into my teens and had other things on my mind.

I don’t know why I wrote the “Signs?” post in 2011. But reading it in 2021 brought back memories of the panic I had felt as a boy, seeing a falling star in the dark Perth skies. And as Graham Greene said, “Writing is a form of therapy”, which is why I wrote this short story.

The writer, John Banville, also observed, “Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don’t think we remember the past, we imagine it.”

Some parts of Signs of the Second Coming are from my memories (or imagination, as Banville would describe it). And other parts are my writer’s imagination and licence. I leave it to the listener to separate fact from fiction in this short story. And to decide if the memories of an eleven-year-old boy are pure imagination.

I hope you enjoyed Signs of the Second Coming. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

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 episodes. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

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

Podcast Theme and Podcast 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:

Classroom: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/480708/

Church Bells: https://freesound.org/people/Audeption/sounds/425172/

Lords Prayer: https://freesound.org/people/BeeProductive/sounds/380359/

Earthquake: https://freesound.org/people/zatar/sounds/514381/

Heavy Rain: https://freesound.org/people/jmbphilmes/sounds/200272/

Fire: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/483311/

Flies: https://freesound.org/people/Natty23/sounds/442839/

Mortar Fire: https://freesound.org/people/greenbastardd/sounds/240567/

Playground: https://freesound.org/people/mshahen/sounds/503841/

News Jingle: https://freesound.org/people/mansardian/sounds/61322/

Crickets: https://freesound.org/people/Woodmoodman/sounds/543450/

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

Church Choir: https://freesound.org/people/kirmm/sounds/503504/

Hellfires: https://freesound.org/people/Leady/sounds/26727/

Girl Laughing: https://freesound.org/people/squashy555/sounds/240324/

Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads is 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 – Introduction

Memories and Marshmallows

Tall And True Short Reads

Memories and Marshmallows

Episode 24 (19 May 2021)

The sky-blue swell pounded the breakwater at Borthel on Sea in a steady rhythm. John gazed out at the mountains across the broad bay and drew a deep calming breath. The anxiety that had built up and wracked him in recent months and on his spontaneous long drive from the city eased its intensity.

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Memories and Marshmallows

Show Notes

Episode 24 (19 May 2021)

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

Read Memories and Marshmallows: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/memories-and-marshmallows

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 Memories and Marshmallows in March 2021 for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly 500-word short story competition, Furious Fiction. The brief was:

• The story must include the setting in a photo provided by the Writers’ Center.

• Being March, it must also have the MAR words MARKET, MARBLE, MARVELLOUS and MARSHMALLOW.

• And the final sentence must contain dialogue — i.e. someone speaking.

The photo provided with the brief was of a broad bay, possibly on the coast. There was a concrete and stone breakwater with boat ramps and mountains in the distance. And in the foreground of a pebbly beach sat an old red public telephone box.

I gazed at the photo and reflected on my summer holidays. Of the favourite rundown places, I’ve visited over the years. And the quaint fishing villages of southwest England. I thought about how the hurly-burly of work can take over our lives and distance us from happy memories and places. And how we may not realise this is happening until it’s too late!

In the story, John revisits Borthel on Sea, the scene of his happy childhood family holidays. It’s rundown now but always was unfashionable. However, John and his family had loved the quiet seaside village with its breakwater, fish market and chilly swims, and the pebbly beach where they had built bonfires and toasted marshmallows.

One afternoon on the breakwater, John’s father told his son he wanted to retire to Borthel on Sea. But his father dies of a stress-related heart attack before the next summer, and there are no more family holidays on the coast.

The adult John has followed in his father’s footsteps in the city, working long hours and climbing the corporate ladder. But he’s also feeling anxious and stressed and, like his father, is drawn back to Borthel on Sea.

I hope you enjoyed this seaside short story — perhaps it’s inspired you to toast marshmallows. Did you catch the MAR words (one’s a tasty giveaway!). And the red telephone box for the final dialogue?

You can read Memories and Marshmallows and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

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 episodes. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

And 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:

Sea and wind: https://freesound.org/people/Globofonia/sounds/547011/

Seagulls: https://freesound.org/people/plantmonkey/sounds/377107/

Fire: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/483311/

Laughter: https://freesound.org/people/Evil_Ear_Recordings/sounds/524775/

Car horns: https://freesound.org/people/allanh15/sounds/353180/

Walking on pebbles: https://freesound.org/people/775noise/sounds/494571/

Phone ringing: https://freesound.org/people/aldenb4610/sounds/348584/

Phone pickup: https://freesound.org/people/MootMcnoodles/sounds/444399/

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 – Introduction

Back to School – Chapter Six

Tall And True Short Reads

Back to School – Chapter Six

Episode 23 (9 May 2021)

The headmaster sighed and shut out the old memory. He leaned forward on his desk. “Edwards, your marks and behaviour this year have been poor enough to earn expulsion several times over.” Hamilton watched the boy’s chin drop. He shook his head and sighed again.

READ SHOW NOTES

Back to School – Chapter Six

Show Notes

Episode 23 (9 May 2021)

Back to School is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. The podcast version of the story is presented in six instalments, one per chapter.

Read Back to School: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/young-adult/back-to-school

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 earlier chapters, I explained how I wrote the original version of Back to School when I lived in England in 1992. In the handwritten draft, the working title for the story was A Second Chance. But when I typed it up on my old Amstrad PC, I changed the title to Another Chance.

Like Charlie in the story, I left school when I was sixteen and worked for a while in the building trade. For many years in my early adulthood, I dreamed of being sixteen again and back at school, imagining different alternatives had I sat my final exams. One day in 1992, I decided to exorcise those dreams and give myself “another chance” by writing this short story.

When I shared the story on Tall And True in 2017, I renamed it Back to School. By now, I was a father with a fifteen-year-old son about to enter his final years of high school. And around this time, my dreams of being back at school returned. Only now, I dreamed of being my middle-aged self, sitting in a classroom with my son, studying for our exams. And this prompted me to rename the short story, Back to School.

I’ve been fascinated with exploring the cross over between dreams and reality for many years in my writing. Perhaps I was inspired by Franz Kafka. Or by the tale of the 3rd century BC Chinese philosopher Chuang Chou, who dreamed he was a butterfly. Afterwards, Chou was left confused. Was he was a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man?

In Back to School, I leave it to you to decide if the sixteen-year-old Charlie dreamed of his future as an unemployed father or whether the adult Charlie dreamed of a past visit to his old headmaster’s office. Maybe there’s a third option, and the two Charlies exist in separate realities? Truthfully, I’m not sure of the answer— and I wrote the short story!

Thanks for listening to the podcast. I hope you enjoyed Back to School. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

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 chapters of Back to School and other self-contained short story episodes. 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:

Clock Ticking: https://freesound.org/people/FlashTrauma/sounds/398275/

Footsteps inside: https://freesound.org/people/Anthousai/sounds/398782/

Creaky Door: https://freesound.org/people/deleted_user_7146007/sounds/383816/

Footsteps outside: https://freesound.org/people/Yuval/sounds/205817/

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 – Introduction

Back to School – Chapter Five

Tall And True Short Reads

Back to School – Chapter Five

Episode 22 (1 May 2021)

Hamilton leaned back, tapping the tips of his fingers together in contemplation. “An interesting dream, Edwards. What do you make of it?” Charlie shifted nervously from leg to leg. “Well, sir, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought since last night, and I think it was a premonition.”

READ SHOW NOTES

Back to School – Chapter Five

Show Notes

Episode 22 (1 May 2021)

Back to School is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. The podcast version of the story is presented in six instalments, one per chapter.

Read Back to School: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/young-adult/back-to-school

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

If you’ve listened to my insights in the earlier chapters of Back to School, you’ll know I wrote the first draft of the short story in 1992, based on a dream I’d had about my school days. Initially titled A Second Chance, the story became Another Chance in subsequent drafts. And when I shared it on Tall And True in 2017, I renamed it again to Back to School.

In Chapter Five, Charlie is sixteen again and still attempting to convince his headmaster, Heavy Handed Hamilton, that the dream of his adult self, and his house and family, and his being unemployed again was a premonition. “It was a warning of how my life will be if I don’t finish high school and sit my exams next year.”

Hamilton has school reports to sign and a pile of paperwork but indulges the boy. “If it was a premonition, as you say, Edwards, do you believe you can alter your future, your destiny?” Because the headmaster had a dream or premonition back in his army days. And acting on it saved the lives of his patrol and his own.

Unlike Charlie and Hamilton, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a dream that’s come true, a premonition. But I’ve had vivid dreams and experienced déjà vu many times.

Thanks for listening to this podcast. I hope you enjoyed Chapter Five of Back to School. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

The final instalment, Chapter Six, Another Chance, will be released shortly. In the meantime, check your podcast feed for earlier chapters and other self-contained short story episodes from Tall And True Short Reads. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

And 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:

Creaky chair: https://freesound.org/people/gmarchisio/sounds/167878/

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

Helicopter: https://freesound.org/people/metrostock99/sounds/345084/

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 – Introduction

Back to School – Chapter Four

Tall And True Short Reads

Back to School – Chapter Four

Episode 21 (25 April 2021)

Hamilton held up a hand. “You mean to tell me, Edwards, you dreamed about the house where you live with your parents?” The boy shook his head. “No, sir, I’ve never seen this house before, but in my dream, I knew it was mine. And I’m not married, sir, and I don’t have any kids.”

READ SHOW NOTES

Back to School – Chapter Four

Show Notes

Episode 21 (25 April 2021)

Back to School is a short story from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. The podcast version of the story is presented in six instalments, one per chapter.

Read Back to School: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/young-adult/back-to-school

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

As explained in earlier chapters, I wrote the first draft of Back to School in 1992. The story was initially titled A Second Chance but then became Another Chance. And when I shared the short story on Tall And True in 2017, I renamed it again to Back to School.

In Chapter Four, Charlie explains to his headmaster, Heavy-Handed Hamilton, how the strange house in his dream belonged to the “adult him”. And how he recognised “his family” in it, his wife and daughters and two sons, the oldest of whom is the same age as Charlie, sixteen. Charlie then goes on to describe his birthday party in the dream. And his realisation of why his sixteen-year-old son glares at him with loathing, because Charlie won’t let him leave school. And the source of the dread Charlie feels: he’s lost his job and is unemployed again.

At his daughter’s urging, Charlie makes a wish when he cuts his birthday cake, something perhaps we’ve all wished once or twice in our adult lives: “I wish I’d known what I know now, as an unemployed husband and father. Back when I was the same age as my son. When I was still at school, and life wasn’t a bad dream.”

Charlie opens his eyes after making the wish and finds he’s sixteen again.

Thanks for listening to this podcast. I hope you enjoyed Chapter Four of Back to School. You can read this and all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.

Chapter Five, Sixteen Again, will be released shortly. In the meantime, check your podcast feed for earlier chapters and other self-contained short story episodes of Tall And True Short Reads. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

And 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:

Creaky chair: https://freesound.org/people/gmarchisio/sounds/167878/

TV sitcom laughter: https://freesound.org/people/Kinoton/sounds/383207/

Girls babble: https://freesound.org/people/senshi.sun/sounds/428072/

Plates stacking: https://freesound.org/people/MilanKovanda/sounds/377044/

Giggles: https://freesound.org/people/Reitanna/sounds/343984/

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