2013

This page should make it easier to pick out stories. I’ve included a brief summary or synopsis of each story. This might affect your reading experience, so if you don’t want any extra information about the stories, don’t read on. Some jokes and plot twists are explained here.

Click on the links to go to the story. Links open in a new window.

  1. Political Football: a childish prank leads to a comment on Belfast’s sectarian society during the Troubles. Gaeilge Anseo.
  2. Shoes and Socks: A concert in Enniskillen is hijacked by an impromptu dance performance.
  3. Doleful: attending the Social Security office, the narrator realises that government policy has brought society back to the early 1980s, breeding racism, social unrest, unemployment, and poverty.
  4. Jammy Dodger: a traffic warden is the recipient of a random act of kindness. The title refers to the popular biscuit.
  5. Flagging Hopes: an analysis of tribal society set in the time of the Belfast ‘flag protests’. A black umbrella becomes an unlikely peace symbol. Illustration by Susan Hughes here.
  6. Go Ahead: A look at the rejuvenating power of love, with a pagan subtext. The title is taken from a line in the movie Sudden Impact, spoken by Clint Eastwood: ‘Go ahead punk, make my day’.
  7. The Thing that went Bump in the Night: an account of the IRA bombing of Donegall Pass Police Station portraying the impact of the event on three different lives.
  8. Blue Valentines: An humorous story of unrequited love set in the ultrasound suite of the City Hospital. The title alludes to the 2010 film, which features a love story with a nurse.
  9. Blue Valentines, part II: the sequel to Blue Valentines, one year later.
  10. Peace: A conversation in a taxi bursts your bubble in Troubles-Era Belfast.
  11. South Central Belfast: two boys from The Hood experience a clash of cultures.
  12. Gobbet: A dictionary entry with an unexpected twist in the example.
  13. Occupy: A Mexican Standoff occurs in the children’s playground. The title sets the story in the context of ‘Occupy’ movements.
  14. Model Customer: An exchange of letters between a Belfast man and an Italian tailor.
  15. Lost in Translation: Jim awakes to find his French housemate has been in a drunken car chase with the police, who are at the door.
  16. Lessons in Love: 10-year-old CJ falls in love for the first time. The title refers to the song by Level 42.
  17. Drumbeat: Pawel, from rural Poland, encounters sectarianism in Belfast and Ballyclare.
  18. Dirty Bomb: A radio play. Strange gas measurements prompt two City Council pollution control officers to assess a possible biohazard in the city centre.
  19. Good Question: A single mother is finding it difficult to cope. Her son hits the nail on the head.
  20. Racial Prejudice: an incident in early 1990s Belfast International Airport examines the judgmental nature of humanity, and raises questions about prejudice in Northern Ireland.
  21. Service with a Frown: on a trip to the Asia Supermarket the narrator encounters an intimidating example of great customer service. Gaeilge anseo.
  22. La Savante: ‘The Wise One.’ A six year old child invents a dramatic poetic line, ‘out of the blue,’ causing the narrator to reflect upon his own inner state of mind. Does she know?
  23. The Ten Commandments: Wheelie Bin etiquette, from Belfast City Council, based on the Old Testament. Illustration by Susan Hughes here.
  24. A New Direction, Part 1: Davy Smyth falls for his Satnav girl, after getting lost in the Ballymena one-way system. Her comment, ‘Go Ahead,‘ refers to the Vernacularism.
  25. Chadwick at Large: a local newspaper columnist finds a hoard of literary and academic treasures in a Belfast auction house, and shares an excerpt with his readers.
  26. A New Direction, Part 2: The story continues.
  27. You are my Sunshine: A Chilean woman living in Belfast experiences a ghostly manifestation. The title refers to the song of the same name. The story was expanded from the original to contextualise it for a reading in the Household Festival for C.R.O.W.
  28. You are my Sunshine (200-word original version): the original draft of the story, for comparison.
  29. Chadwick at Large, Part 2: Chadwick goes to the dogs, and Edgar Wankel makes some observations on the use of drums and percussion in Irish Music. The Irish phrase ‘Buail an Craiceann’ is a euphemism for sex as well as playing the drum.
  30. Well Raised. A recipe for Irish Wheaten Bread. It might work, try it!
  31. AsynchronicityCnvrsatn n txt spk. Timin is evrythin.
  32. A New Direction, Part 3. The Road Trip commences.
  33. Happy Birthday. Make love, not war. The title references Stevie Wonder’s song. You’re singing it in your head now, aren’t you?
  34. A New Direction, Part 4. Paranoid Android.
  35. Natural Science. Your child philosophises on the natural cycle of life. The title refers to the song by Rush.
  36. Beyond the Pale. Two students (culchies = country people ) are drunk on the streets of Ballynafeigh. A ‘Barrack Buster’ is a 2l bottle named after the IRA bomb that was delivered in a large tubular container.
  37. The Desert Fox. Two tall stories get mixed up. The original joke was told to me by Flamenco guitarist Tito Heredia on the set of the movie ‘The Closer you Get.’
  38. A New Direction, Part 5. Day one of the road trip concludes.
  39. Xmas Special. Maybe not so special by the looks of it. Fluoxetine (AKA Prozac) is an anti-depressant. Inter-textual links to The Cat’s Whiskas, and Service with a Frown. Take a good look at the writing paper and see what you find as well.
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