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A Brilliant Life

(I am happy to inform you that your piece, ‘A Brilliant Life’, has been selected for a community reading group project at the University of Northampton. ‘A Brilliant Life’ will not be sold and will be used for educational purposes only, but — as you hold the copyright to your stories — it is up to you to give permission for its use. If you … Continue reading A Brilliant Life

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Amy and Hector

There are two people in this story – as well as Hector. Hector’s the elephant. The little girl is Amy, and her granddad is the other fellow. From the moment she could walk Amy took Hector everywhere – after all he was a real elephant and wasn’t he Amy’s best friend in the whole wide world? So why wouldn’t you? Amy loved Hector and Hector … Continue reading Amy and Hector

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Enough Sunshine For Everyone

That summer, that sultry humid one, in ’46 was the hottest on record. She still remembers it. How could she ever forget? From her apartment window on the first floor she could view most of the comings and goings for a block. And she never got bored. Never.  There was always the odd soldier returning home from the war overseas. Those kids in khaki would … Continue reading Enough Sunshine For Everyone

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Dirty River Mansions: Jeremiah’s Story

His house was the furthest from the river and it did Jeremiah good to know it was so. “I hate the water, hate the water, hate, hate, hate, the water,” was his little song that no one ever paid any attention to. It was also obvious was that when you brushed close to Jeremiah that he also did not like soap. But he had the … Continue reading Dirty River Mansions: Jeremiah’s Story

The Girl In The Corner

Once upon a time she had been called Chiquitta, and once upon a time there had been a family in the house. But they had gone now, and she had felt a little comforted knowing that she wasn’t the only one in her position. It wasn’t that she was unloved, if something like her had ever been loved, it was just that it had come … Continue reading The Girl In The Corner

The Montana Express

The Montana Express was a wind that found its temperature somewhere around the northern end of Canada and then didn’t stop until it hit the Gulf. Our home was in its path, and so every April it would bring an unseasonable coldness to our valley which affected almost everyone and everything. It was on one of those April days that the table was finally delivered. … Continue reading The Montana Express

Thing and His Song

Thing was never going to sing at the Paris Opera but that wasn’t the point; he sang because he liked it. It made him happy. Thing’s father was always whistling a tune and he did it so often that most times he didn’t seem to notice. “What’s that tune?” Thing would ask. “Heck, if I know,” said his dad. Thing’s mother would also ‘tut’ at … Continue reading Thing and His Song

Coldharbour: The Big Gallhoolie

It was an ancient village that was for sure, and on some days Jake found it to be the middle of his universe and on others – well, he could take or leave it. He wasn’t that bothered. His family had all been born, lived and died in Coldharbour, as far back as anyone could remember. His father had been the black sheep of the … Continue reading Coldharbour: The Big Gallhoolie

Dancing With Mister D. (3 stories)

Charles the Boy   (The blacking factory on the left at Hungerford stairs – near present day Charing Cross station) It was a blue-cold winter’s day and another poor soul was lying dead at the bottom of the Hungerford Stairs. The boy was just standing there staring at the corpse. That was the first time I ever clapped eyes on the little urchin. He was … Continue reading Dancing With Mister D. (3 stories)

The Day That Love Was Invented

The midday sun warmed his metal quicker than it warmed his skin parts. In this field, like every other field in the quadrant, everyone was equal. No one got more than any other cyborg, and, equally, no one would expect any less. It was the way it had been since memories began. That was the way with memories – you only remembered the last time … Continue reading The Day That Love Was Invented

To Catch A Warm Wind

So you’re asking me what’s the story of this photograph, and I’m saying to you, just rest your bones a while and I’ll tell you. ______________________________ In the old days, and by that she meant the old Savannah days, her Grandma would sit Alice on her knee and sing her a song that came from long, long before her Grandma Catherine was born. The family … Continue reading To Catch A Warm Wind

Me and Buzz and Lyin’

There was a time back then, a long time after Buzz’s pappy had left for somewhere down south, that Buzz took to lyin’ to make himself feel better. Well maybe not lyin’ exactly, more exaggeratin’ usin’ stories that weren’t the whole truth and nothin’ but the truth. I mean I knew his pappy was long gone but I heard Buzz tellin’ the new teacher – … Continue reading Me and Buzz and Lyin’

Yellow Balloon

His name was Charlie and he was a kid. Charlie was lucky enough to be living through his best years. His mother, father, brother and sisters were all well, all happy, and all in that little perfect bubble that happens from time to time in life. When Charlie was eight, he had his first birthday party which involved all his friends coming to his house. … Continue reading Yellow Balloon

Gregory

Ever since he was little, folks had always been telling him how he should live; that he should ‘do it this way’, or ‘do it that way’, or ‘you’ll never amount to anything, not with that attitude’. Now either, he was plum crazy (and there was always a chance that was true) or perhaps he simply walked to the beat of a different drum (judging … Continue reading Gregory

Breathers

It wasn’t hurting anyone; now was it?  She’d give the kids a difficult problem to solve, although if she was being honest, there wasn’t an answer to it. Then, when all their heads were down staring at the desk, she’d nip outside for a smoke on a delicious cigarette. She loved teaching – don’t get her wrong, it was her life. Yet it left no … Continue reading Breathers

Nelle and Tru (For Harper Lee)

  “I hate going outside, I absolutely hate it, hate it, hate it,” said Nelle to the sad-looking boy standing at the porch door. “You’ve gotta come, ya just gotta,” said the boy. “P…l….e…a….s…e!” He said in one of those elongated ways, that folks from town always used. This was Alabama and the way people talked could be used as a weapon, as well as … Continue reading Nelle and Tru (For Harper Lee)

Coldharbour: Passing Wonderful

If Alexandra McMillan had been born in any era other than her own, she would have most certainly been burned as a witch. Luckily for her, she popped into the world the same year as Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone; inspiring her father, Robert, to name his new daughter after the Scottish inventor. Robert McMillan came down from the Isle of Skye in 1870 with the … Continue reading Coldharbour: Passing Wonderful

A Hollow Moon

Even although I’m writing this on my deathbed, you’re probably still not going to believe me but I have to tell someone. It’s about what we discovered back then. Long before Neil Armstrong and all the rest of those suckers stepped on the Moon. It must have started around the time I heard my first Elvis’ record. The world was changing, what we knew was … Continue reading A Hollow Moon

Time Flies and Hope Floats

Time Flies One morning when Olivia was still half asleep, she heard her Grandma talking to her Grandpa all about things that fly. At least she thought that was what they were talking about because the last thing she heard her Grandpa say was… “…It’s funny how time flies.” Then Grandpa headed out the door hollerin’ and laughin’ to himself, so hard that he was … Continue reading Time Flies and Hope Floats

The Man Who Came Out Of The Sea

It was a Saturday and it was so easy to remember because it looked and felt like a Saturday. It was just one of those days that you’d pass through on the way to somewhere else. The café had stood on the edge of the sands since 1927 when old Sonny Mist built it with his father using wood from the wrecks of two barges … Continue reading The Man Who Came Out Of The Sea

Coldharbour (3 miles beyond Loch Awe)

Agnes Agnes could smell the winter fires as she stepped across Princes Street for the umpteenth time that day. Somewhere high above the whispering smoke the sky was an azure blue. Agnes knew that for a fact even although she might not always see it; just like she knew that things were about to change and no one had bothered to tell her. She had … Continue reading Coldharbour (3 miles beyond Loch Awe)

Teatime At The Empire Cafe

December 1955 Even although she pulled her coat in as tight as she could, the snow and sleet coming off the Channel still managed to make her shiver. She’d stop in at the Empire Café for a reviving cup of tea she had decided. It’s not as if Mother was in any danger; at least she could wait another fifteen minutes for her prescription medicines. … Continue reading Teatime At The Empire Cafe

Be Kind

The night of him looking at the stars was the night that everything changed. That night as the planets danced overhead, a thought grabbed him and then shot right up his nose and into his brain, almost taking his breath away. Here he was abandoned in Space, a traveller – and whatever the dimensions of this universe there could only be so many travellers. He … Continue reading Be Kind

Zoot and Sandy and Worrying about Things

Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were, without doubt, the best of pals in the whole wide world. They loved to sit by the river and watch time floating past their little seat. “You’re quieter than usual, young Zoot,” said the elephant. “Just thinking,” Sandy replied. “Just thinking.” “Thinking about what?” “Well, Sandy my oldest friend, I was wondering if those birds ever worried … Continue reading Zoot and Sandy and Worrying about Things

The Miracle of West Culpepper

In those days, the Blue Ridge Mountains were another world. Very few folks had automobiles back then and the trains didn’t go anywhere near. The little town was called West Culpepper, and if you had just clambered up from the Shenandoah Valley then you hadn’t gone far enough and if you got all the way to Blacksburg, then you’d gone too far. It was such … Continue reading The Miracle of West Culpepper

THING and His Best Ever Thought

When it happened it took Thing by surprise. The fact that a thought like that could go through Thing’s mind, both scared him and got him excited. When he was younger, when he had first started school, he would have done anything for someone to say a kind word to him. Sure his teacher was kind, but as for the rest of the kids, well … Continue reading THING and His Best Ever Thought

The Morning of the Day…..

She could feel the sun on her heart, as its rays broke through the window. There was a bird, a blackbird, singing in the old twisted trees. She heard the cyclists from the city, shouting to one another as their bikes sailed past her front door. The aroma of the freshly made coffee had skipped the stairs and had, instead, entered her room through a … Continue reading The Morning of the Day…..

A Love Story: Zeppelins Over America

Elizabeth’s Story It had only been a day since my world had changed. I sat by the window, opening it a little. The cold air of the lounge was refreshing after the stale air of the cabin. It had been slightly more than a day since I’d left Los Angeles. A lot of peoples’ lives had changed – after all nineteen twenty-nine was a year … Continue reading A Love Story: Zeppelins Over America

The Street With No Name

She lived on a street with no name; the street that is, not her. She was called Conchita and she had spent all her life on the no-name street. When she was young, her mother took her to a fair and there they met a fortune-teller who said that Conchita would never know real happiness. Her mother crossed the woman’s palm with a silver coin … Continue reading The Street With No Name

Secret Things, Sweet Things

Secret Things She awoke, as she did every morning to the sound of the muffled, shouting voice and the door being unlocked before repeatedly kicked. Slivers of sunlight were all that her young eyes could understand until she reached for the old spectacles that were her only possession. She was in the garden shed as this was where she lived. There was another kick, usually … Continue reading Secret Things, Sweet Things

The Private War of Bobby Falkirk

Which war he went to (and came back from), isn’t important here, it’s just important to know that Bobby came back in one piece – well almost. His head was intact, as was his body – but it was a plain and simple fact that his brain and heart didn’t really communicate that well with each other. Whose does? Ever since he was old enough … Continue reading The Private War of Bobby Falkirk

The House

Apart from an occasional family of coyotes, no one lives there any more. Leastways, not since Silas found his mother cold as ice in her bed that Thanksgiving. After they’d put her in the ground, he took the last of the money from the ginger jar and headed to the Panhandle to look up Sara, his sweetheart. Don’t let the way it looks fool you. … Continue reading The House

My Final Place

There had been an old Star Trek episode once, where the world was about to end in destruction and people could select (by the aid of a time-machine) a place to go in the past where they would survive – albeit, among strangers, and among people who did things differently – well, the past was like that. And that, my friends, just about sums up … Continue reading My Final Place

How Simon Got His Happiness Back

Simon was a simple lad with no grudges against the world. He was a happy boy who only wanted to the best for his friends and family. One night when Simon went to his bed, he decided to look at his phone and, for no reason, on Social Media he wrote the words ‘Black Is Black and White is White’ and he meant it in … Continue reading How Simon Got His Happiness Back

The Woman Who Died Among The Chickens

The way I was told it – was that she died in among the chickens. I mean that’s what they said. Apparently, her hair had been matted with chicken crap – I kid you not. She had raised these little critters from the egg and this was the way they wished her a goodbye. In the end, it was only the chickens and my Aunt … Continue reading The Woman Who Died Among The Chickens

Greenock Story: The Glass Red Rose

There was an old road, they called it ‘the Roman road’, which led there once upon a time. The farm, like the family, used to stand proud and shiny as it looked hopefully towards the loch. There’s nothing much of it left now, just a shell that keeps the wind and rain from the lonely hill-walker. But a long, long time ago, probably before you … Continue reading Greenock Story: The Glass Red Rose

The Photograph of Me

The kid in the middle, the one hiding, was Gene, he got shot in some war, somewhere. It was the only thing he ever did that anyone was ever proud of. Gene spent most of his life hiding and blaming others. The one on the right was Jackson. He was my best bud – I mean the kind of pal who would lay down his … Continue reading The Photograph of Me

One Night, in 1949

I guess it would be inaccurate to say that the day started with the sun rising, ‘cause it didn’t. They day started under the moonlight, up on the Greendowner Hills. It was early on in 1949 and folks were still trying to get things back in order after the big one. People had started travelling again and that’s exactly what Sean McCoy had done. He’d … Continue reading One Night, in 1949

Me and Buzz and Runnin’ For President

I guess it all seems kinda obvious now knowin’ what Buzz was gonna become – but back then, we didn’t have no idea, I kid you not. When Buzz told me that as a good lookin’ kid it was probably beholdin’ to him to run for office. I was thinkin’ that Buzz had surely gone a bit crazy like. But then I was always thinkin’ … Continue reading Me and Buzz and Runnin’ For President

The Look of Strangers

     There are those amongst us who slip into to this life like a well-worn glove, who very rarely question its strangeness and in most circumstances prefer to take everything that it offers. Then there are people like me, Michael Andrews, sometime author, sometimes happy but mostly otherwise confused. There are days when I intentionally tell myself I’m stupid so as not to think too … Continue reading The Look of Strangers

Mister Brilliant (for Lily on her birthday)

His real name was Cuthbert Dogoody but to everyone else he was simply known as Mister Brilliant. He’d never had the easiest of lives, had Cuthbert. When he was five years of age his father ran away to sea – at least that’s what his mother had told him – the truth of the matter was that his father moved in with a young blonde … Continue reading Mister Brilliant (for Lily on her birthday)

The Ballad Of The Quiet Man

He said nothing, not a word ever passed his lips, He just sat in the peace and quiet with a Mona Lisa smile, One cold day the Angry People passed his way All shouting about this and that and the other They stopped and asked the quiet man if he was angry too He said not a word and the Angry People liked that “This … Continue reading The Ballad Of The Quiet Man

The Doll

I can’t honestly remember who first called her, ‘The Doll’. If memory serves me well (and it usually doesn’t) I think it was her Aunt May “You, young‘un, are the sweetest, kindest little doll, I ever did see,” she’d say, then kiss her on the lips. So the name stuck, and although she had two more sisters (just as sweet), she was the one always … Continue reading The Doll

The Dog Who Loved To Drive

It was New Year’s Day, 1913 and Andrew was bored. Everyone in the house was sleeping off the after-effects of the Ball which his parents insisted on holding every stupid year. This meant that no one would be driving the motor car that day and this made Andrew smile. All he needed was to rev the old beast up, find Buster and then the two … Continue reading The Dog Who Loved To Drive

Zoot and Sandy

Dream Thieves Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were, without doubt, the best of pals in the whole wide world. They loved to sit by the river and watch time floating past their little seat. They were always comfortable in each other’s company, so much so that most times they never felt the need to talk – sometimes this lasted for hours. Just the … Continue reading Zoot and Sandy

Broken

Every morning Andy would count to ten before he got out of his warm forgiving bed and while he was waiting, he’d usually count his luck as well. He’d always been the type of soul who walked the line on the lucky side but he had to accept that things happened to you when you were forty-seven years old. The way the radio sounded quieter … Continue reading Broken

THING and His Teacher

Her name was Elizabeth Browning, yep, just like the poet lady and to everyone at Thing’s school, she had been known as Mrs Honey. Where that name came from no one was sure, but she did make everyone feel good and warm (just like honey). There is probably a teacher like that in most peoples’ lives; someone who comes along once in the whole schooling … Continue reading THING and His Teacher

The Vagabond Saints

Where the sky welcomed the road at the far edge of town stood large monoliths of rock pointing straight at the stars; perhaps in an earlier time they had names of gods or demons but these days they were simply known at the Vagabond Saints. My Grandfather had told me a story that they were the remnants of men who had idled too long at … Continue reading The Vagabond Saints

Me and Buzz and Flyin’

The first time that me and Buzz attempted to fly, Buzz broke his arm in two places: in the yard and on the driveway. Yeh, Buzz didn’t think that joke was funny either. Now you’re going back to read it again in case you missed something ‘cause you didn’t think it was so funny. The truth of the matter is that Buzz’s arm was good … Continue reading Me and Buzz and Flyin’

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The House of Laughter and Crying

Now I ain’t saying this story is true, but I ain’t saying it’s a lie neither – mainly ‘cause I don’t want to be sued by any of you folks out there. I am just saying that it is, what it is. If you push me on it, I’ll just have to say that it’s the rabid memory of an old man, and leave it … Continue reading The House of Laughter and Crying

Choodla: London Secrets

The Start What can I say about Choodla, that hasn’t already been said over and over again by the newspapers, the television, the judges, the police, the weird man who lives on everyone’s street, my family, my pet dog? Nothing – that’s what, nothing except I’m Choodla and no one except me can say that. I’ve watched those stupid movies about superheroes (okay they aren’t … Continue reading Choodla: London Secrets

The Last House on the Island

My family used to live on an island, except it ain’t there anymore. Now I don’t mean my family – they’re all kicking and rocking in other places. I mean the island disappeared. Sunk. Way, way back, in the 1600s, my family came over to the New World, and my great-great-great-great (you get the picture, it was a long time ago) grandfather saw this little … Continue reading The Last House on the Island

On The Right Tracks

There is a little railway station just north of somewhere and to the east of that other place. And one time in your life, you’ll either have stood waiting on a train there or will have passed through it, I promise you. The station wasn’t anything special, it just helped people get into the city and received their tired bodies at the end of the … Continue reading On The Right Tracks

You, kill me.

She was the kinda gal who sashayed where ever she went. Always sashaying and flicking those hips from side to side. She was the best mover in town, everyone said so. Even the Reverend Gascoin, who was a sort of expert in these delicate things. He enjoyed having opinions on worldly stuff, as long as his boss up above didn’t get to hear about it. … Continue reading You, kill me.

Thing and Changed Days

Thing was trying to remember when it all changed between the Creek boys at the bottom of the hill and himself. It was probably something to do with that snowball. In the hot sultry days of summer, Thing and his gang of kids played at the Creek almost every day. In the winter they slid down the mountain snow in races of two or three. … Continue reading Thing and Changed Days

The Heart Academy

That long hot summer of 1927, which now seems lost in the past, felt as if it went on forever. Folks took cover under trees, and left feet dangling in streams, while the kids ran barefoot along the riverbanks, throwing stones at imaginary creatures. As Jake made his way down into the valley, he noticed how the sun had bleached most of the wooden posts. … Continue reading The Heart Academy

Strange Day

November 22. The strangest goddamn thing ever, and I mean ever, happened to me this morning. Jeez, my hand is still shaking as I write this even although the boss told me ‘no notes, no traces, no records’ but hey, it’s only one little bitty diary. I had got up this morning, had breakfast and kissed my wife and prepared myself for what I was … Continue reading Strange Day

Zoot and Sandy and Thinking

Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were, without doubt, the best of pals in the whole wide world. They loved to sit by the river and watch time floating past their little seat. Sandy was being particularly thoughtful that morning. “What’s bothering you, buddy?” Asked Zoot the dog. “Nothing much pal, nothing much. Just sitting here wondering, that’s all. It ain’t a crime, now … Continue reading Zoot and Sandy and Thinking

“You’re Not From Around Here,Then?”

Now I ain’t one to lie or even kid (if it comes to that), but sometimes a thing happens to you that’s so far out there that even your closest kin would swear you were talking with a crazy tongue in your head. But you all know me and you know I ain’t the lying sort, so you’re gonna have to come with me on … Continue reading “You’re Not From Around Here,Then?”

Robot Souls

She called him ‘Charlie’, it had been her grandfather’s name. Not that she was comparing this collection of organic blocks to him. It had just made her feel less alone – it was as simple as that. You couldn’t officially name them even if you wanted to; one or two had tried, but it had been swiftly rejected. They, being the local lawmakers, had felt, … Continue reading Robot Souls

The Man Who Sold The British Library

So you’re probably asking how it all came to this. How I got here, when it wasn’t that long ago that I had everything in the world. Well stuff happens. To everyone. All the time. After I had been working at a blue-chip company in the city for about three years, my partner and I had decided that it was time to start having the … Continue reading The Man Who Sold The British Library

Sleep Well My Little One

There was a time, perhaps it would be more correct to say once upon a time, back in your day, when science was only starting out – when life hadn’t even begun to be understood. That was in the days when the human race thought that sleep was to nurture, and to cleanse the human mind. We knew little then of what the universe was … Continue reading Sleep Well My Little One

The Strange Case of Jack the Zipper

1.Introduction I have been living beneath the strange man who lives upstairs, nigh on ten months now. There is much comings and goings at all times of the night, and although I have reported such extravagances to the authorities, I have been informed that Mister Holmes is a singular man and as such, is prone to eccentricities. Mrs Hudson, his housekeeper (if indeed that is … Continue reading The Strange Case of Jack the Zipper

Santa’s Last Present

At the end of it all, he always felt the same, he could sleep for a year (at least) except he’d be needed long before then. Mistress Claus knew what to expect. He’d be grumpy and tired and full of stories of what went wrong here, or what went right there. He never found the reindeer any company, those kids were working flat-out and there … Continue reading Santa’s Last Present

Thing and the Star Whisperers

Thing sat watching, just like he always had, just like he always would, waiting on his mother and father to return, and for them all to be a family once again. Sometimes Thing got so caught up in his own loneliness that he forgot all about the good stuff in his life; that, happened to everyone, he guessed. One night, just as the sky was … Continue reading Thing and the Star Whisperers

Desert Ice

Marcie’s dog did nothing but bark that night. That little mutt – which always smelt of piss – I reckoned was just showing its final ‘how-do-you-do’ before going over. I knew something was wrong, I mean real wrong, and I could feel it in the pit of my riddled stomach. I ain’t talking about the dog,’ cause I gave up worrying about such things a … Continue reading Desert Ice

Me and Buzz and Santa

Maybe the only person that was ever meant to be Santa, was Santa. That’s the way I’m thinking, lookin’ back over all those years. It certainly wasn’t Buzz, and that’s a fact. He might be stupid, but he had a big heart and all he wanted to do was the best for folks. Okay maybe, I’m exageratin’ and all, but you get my drift. “I … Continue reading Me and Buzz and Santa

My Hero On A Wire

What can I tell you about my uncle that ain’t been said a million times before? Well for a start he’s been my hero for as long as I can remember. He took up the slack when my father passed and treated me like one of his family, even ‘though he and Jean had five kids of their own. He isn’t the tallest man in … Continue reading My Hero On A Wire

The Big Marching Band

She awoke with the sound of sobbing. She knew instantly who it was. Oliva hated it when he cried, and it had been happening more and more. To Oliva, her Grandpa was the greatest man who ever lived, it wasn’t only her who thought so, her Grandpa did too. “Ain’t I the greatest man who ever lived?” He’d ask, then he’d spit as far as … Continue reading The Big Marching Band

Me and Buzz and the Olimpicks

Buzz was just Buzz and things weren’t gonna change that – no matter how hard anyone tried. There was a time when he was gonna be a movie star, then there was the time when he was gonna be President, and then that crazy summer when he said he was gonna be in the Olimpicks (or somethin’ like that).Now I ain’t too sure about what … Continue reading Me and Buzz and the Olimpicks

THING and BEING DIFFERENT

The full moon had formed over Thing’s cave 12 times when he decided that enough was enough. He now realised that his mother and father were not coming back home. Where ever they were, he hoped with all his heart that they were happy. That night, Thing sat at the mouth of his cave and thought about all the stuff that concerned him. He needed … Continue reading THING and BEING DIFFERENT

An Extremely Stupid Story

So there‘s me and Fatboy strolling down the Kings Road and he says he’s just seen The Who. “Where?” I ask him. ‘Cause I’m thinking he must mean he’s seen them at one of this city’s fine rock ‘n’ roll venues – you know, like the O2 or Hammersmith Palais. “No…no…you’ve missed them,” Fatboy tells me. “They must have disappeared into a shop”. “Like Tesco?” … Continue reading An Extremely Stupid Story