Tall And True Short Reads
Season One of Tall And True Short Reads launched in September 2020 and featured short stories written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. In Season Two, the podcast expanded to include Robert’s blog posts and other writing from the Tall And True writers’ website.
Season Three Episodes
“When I introduced Tall And True Short Reads in 2020, I called it an “audio fiction podcast”. But two seasons on, I’ve realised I’m producing storytelling episodes, whether they’re based on short stories and blog posts, fiction and nonfiction, or tall and true tales.” ~ Robert Fairhead, Season Three Trailer
Episode 73 (9 May 2023)
Mum’s up first, though she doesn’t like looking at her reflection nowadays. She splashes her face and turns away from me with a towel. Over her shoulder, I watch Mum gaze out the bathroom window. And when she turns back, Mum’s wearing her pained expression again, like she’s failed to solve the riddle of life.
My Good Dog and Muse
Episode 72 (19 April 2023)
I met Harry when he was six months old. He was the last of his litter, hiding under a kitchen table. And when the breeder dragged him out, Harry flopped his head on my leg and looked up at me with worried, brown eyes. At that moment, a bond formed between us, which lasted for just over twelve years.
Episode 71 (5 April 2023)
Jennifer swivelled her chair away from the laptop and stared at the lights receding into the distance beyond the high-rise office window. Her eyes had welled up reading Stephen’s unexpected emailed demand, and she reached for a tissue to dab at the tears. “Twenty years,” Jennifer exhaled softly, wiping her eyes.
Two Visits to the Berlin Wall – Part Two
Episode 70 (16 March 2023)
After living and working in England from 1987, my wife and I returned to Australia in 1995, overland. Michael Palin’s 1991 BBC series, Pole to Pole, inspired our journey and route, travelling from north to south for eight months. And along the way, we revisited Berlin, as I recorded in my travel journal.
Two Visits to the Berlin Wall – Part One
Episode 69 (3 March 2023)
In 2019, approaching the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I found a timely book in a secondhand bookshop: The Berlin Wall, 13 August 1961 – 9 November 1989 by Frederick Taylor. The book inspired me to write about my two contrasting visits to Berlin as a backpacker in 1987 and 1995.
The Magical Lamp
Episode 68 (13 February 2023)
Handcuffed in the police car, I wished the lamp hadn’t been magical. “That, sir, is a genuine antique,” the stallholder had asserted when I’d stopped and inspected it at the secondhand market. The oil lamp looked like a prop from Disney’s Aladdin. But though tarnished, I thought the embossed metal would polish up nice and shiny and earn me a tidy profit.
Season Two Episodes
For Season Two, in addition to short stories, Tall And True Short Reads expanded to include blog posts and other writing by Robert Fairhead from the Tall And True website.
My Marxist Philosophy Class
Episode 58 (28 August 2022)
In February 1998, I started an eight-week evening college course, Introduction to Philosophy. I was in my mid-thirties, and while I was aware of philosophers, I hadn’t read their works and knew nothing about critical thinking. Our text was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. And our tutor was a Marxist.
Thanks Ian St James Awards
Episode 57 (8 August 2022)
In their heyday, the Ian St James Awards offered the biggest fiction prize in the UK and Ireland. Launched by the thriller writer Ian St James in 1989 to encourage new writers, the awards were open to 5,000-10,000 word short stories by unpublished writers.
The Lost Hour
Episode 56 (26 July 2022)
You know what it’s like when you lose something. It’s always in the last place you look. So I write down all the possible places the lost thing could be and work through the list in reverse order. But how do you find a lost hour? It’s not like it can slip down the back of a sofa like coins or keys!
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration
Episode 55 (10 July 2022)
In May 1992, the Sydney literary news was full of Tim Winton’s success and his novel, Cloudstreet. And I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one, and I was thirty. He’d grown up in W.A., and so had I. He’d just won his second Miles Franklin Award. And I was having a second crack at being a writer!
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”.
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.
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.
Episode 51 (24 Apr 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.
Episode 50 (11 Apr 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.
Season One Episodes
Season One of Tall and True Short Reads launched in September 2020, featuring short stories written and narrated by Robert Fairhead from the Tall And True writers’ website.
Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two
Episode 32 (23 Aug 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.
Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part One
Episode 31 (12 Aug 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.
Both Sides of the Story – The Gym
Episode 30 (27 Jul 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!”
Both Sides of the Story – A Council Flat
Episode 29 (14 Jul 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!”
Both Sides of the Story – Bosnia
Episode 28 (1 Jul 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.
Both Sides of the Story – Westminster
Episode 27 (23 Jun 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?”
Both Sides of the Story – Introduction
Episode 26 (13 Jun 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.’
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.
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.