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Scottish Writers' Podcast

An audio showcase of new writing in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Sally Jordan - Onions

First Prize Winner in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Jules Horne.listen to storyOnionsThere is a woman crying and chopping onions. She cries for dead babies and the pained, crooked lives all around her.Along her window sill a line of mice watch the brown papery skins flutter to the floor and wonder at the woman’s great sadness.Outside the window, two swallows sit in a lilac tree. Soon they fly away to Africa where they tell other birds that in Scotland there is a woman chopping onions who cries so hard that a river has formed at her feet, flows out of her door and away over the hills.Word gets around.All over the world women chop onions… for pilau and dall, to melt onto beefsteaks, to stew with chicken, aromatic with garlic and thyme. Everywhere animals and birds watch the women’s tears drip and puddle and are humbled, that these people who have ravaged the planet for so long should prove to be so unhappy.The women cry on for the dead babies and the pained, crooked lives all around them.Then the food is cooked smelling of earth and plants and hunger.To eat is to hope.Tomorrow women will chop onions again.© Sally Jordan 2006

4 Jan 2007

Rank #1

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Janette Walkinshaw - Shoes

Joint Second Prize Winner in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Jules Horne.listen to storyShoesChrissie’s right shoe developed a hole. Fortunately the weather was dry.She hated the public ordeal of buying shoes. Who ever had the confidence to ask for a private fitting room?Her sister, who worked in a shoe shop one summer, told her the girls never stooped down to help customers try on the shoes. The smell, she said.Chrissie blushed for her swollen ankles, her bunion and support stockings.She disliked self service shops where you browse through single shoes on racks, make a choice, and stand on one foot to try it on, blocking the aisle. She went there once, and the very idea put her in a panic.One Sunday she went to church and knelt in prayer. Not for Chrissie the modern half crouch. She was kneeling properly. Thus the soles of her shoes were exposed to the stranger who sat behind her.As they left the church he pressed some banknotes into her hand with the words “Buy yourself some new shoes”.When he was out of sight, she dropped the money in the Steeple Fund collecting box.In the matter of buying shoes you’re embarrassed if you do, and embarrassed if you don’t.© Janette Walkinshaw 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #2

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Alexander Berry - Climbing to the Scottish Poetry Library

Joint Second Prize Winner in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Robin Dalgliesh.listen to storyClimbing to the Scottish Poetry LibraryHer buttocks hypnotised me. They were perfectly formed, sheathed in a light tan summer skirt, attached to a pair of well-formed smooth legs. The sling-back shoes finished off a picture of sensuality and sophistication. The owner of the buttocks walked three steps ahead of me, that July afternoon, heading to the Royal Mile from the low level of Waverley Station.Funny how each cheek moved independently, like identical twins who had fallen out and were not talking to one another. Briefly I glanced above the muscular beauties and saw a trim waist. Her blouse was sheer Shantung silk, sky blue in colour with a rolled collar, dark auburn hair cut close and short like Audrey Hepburn from the rear. I should have stopped and lit a cigarette but no – the baser me took over. I’m afraid the buttocks had bewitched me.My mind’s eye pictured her bikini line, then went too far and saw her Brazilian, then saw her commando - that’s when I tripped.The pain from the broken cartilage of my nose nearly made me faint. Through watering eyes I saw her beside me. She held my hand and whispered 'Hell mend ye, ya fuckin’ auld pervert.'© Alexander Berry 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #3

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Hugh Bryden - We Have To Do Something

People's Prize Winner and Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Robin Dalgliesh.listen to storyWe Have To Do Something“We have to do something. Socialism is slipping through our fingers like sand.”Boris was worried, so were the gathered representatives of all the remaining communist states, they too could see the writing on the crumbling wall.“Jose has an idea that I think is a stroke of genius,” Xiang said enthusiastically.“Well, we have to outdo them at their own game. We have to secretly form a super organisation that will dominate the western world by having stores that provide everything, are in every town, all over the cities. We start by selling food and control all the markets due to our buying power. Expand into all consumer goods, undercutting other shops. Then banking, insurance, internet access and communications. Buy the people with cheap baubles and suck them in with dividend schemes. We will have everyone dependent on us, know all their details, everything about them. When we have total domination we can reveal that it has all been a socialist coup – everything has been nationalised.”“That sounds remarkable. What should we call it?”“I thought to begin with – TOTAL ENTERPRISE SECRET COMMUNIST OBJECTIVE”.“That’s too long - what will it shorten to?"© Hugh Bryden 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #4

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Peter Blake - Plastered

Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Bruce MacKenzie.listen to storyPlasteredDiners at ristoranti Da Delfina are presented with a glass of prosecco to sip while making their selection from the menu. Favoured guests, are served by Carlo himself. He joined me at my table and poured the wine talking rapidly in his Tuscan Italian. He can speak English but refuses; it’s as though he feels speaking anything other than the Tuscan dialect will somehow dilute the purity of his cooking. Carlo Cioni is Italy’s foremost Tuscan chef.As I lifted my glass in salutation he noticed the plaster on my finger, I trapped it in the door and the nail had turned black.‘Aha!’ he said. ‘If you worked in my kitchen you would have to wear a blue plaster. It is the rule from Brussels for ristoranti, so if it falls off in the cooking, we can easily see it and throw away the food.'‘What a good idea’ I said. ‘It’s nice to see something useful coming out of Brussels?’‘Of course, you are right.’ He said. ‘It is good to have sensible rules, however.’ He paused, leaned closer and said softly, ‘have you considered how many of the old plasters you have eaten?’© Peter Blake 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #5

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It was the most... by Vivien Jones

Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Robin Dalgliesh.listen to story[Untitled]It was the most beautiful t-shirt. White, light and sleek. Perfect cut. Ashley twirled in front of the mirror, loving herself from every angle. It was so cool. She grinned at the assistant.‘Go on then, where is it ?’The girl tried to look interested but it was 4.00 pm on a Saturday.‘Where is what?’ she asked.‘The label.’ Ashley spoke in her isn’t-it-obvious voice.The assistant shrugged. She came close to Ashley and ran her fingers along the hems and seams of the t-shirt.‘There isn’t one,’ she concluded.It was Ashley’s turn to be puzzled. This was a designer outlet, not a just a shop. Of course there was a label. Unless...‘Not having a label – wow!’This could be the start of something. She could be a trend-setter, first with the newest thing. The ultimate in cool. Wasn’t there some cigarette adverts ages ago that never said the name of the cigarette ? She looked in the mirror again. It looked just as good but something was bugging her.Just how would her friends know without a label ?What if they thought it was only High Street ?Ashley blanched in fear.No sale.© Vivien Jones 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #6

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Angela Everitt - Community Spirit

Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Jo Leavesey.listen to storyCommunity SpiritThey’d hired the community mini-bus and left the village square just as dusk was falling. The trip had been well organised by the Community Association. Mrs Dugdale was the responsible adult: she’d been through police clearance as the Brown Owl. Young people had an important role to play.So eight villagers, from thirteen to seventy-three, packed together with black bin liners of rubbish from the cafes, with secateurs from the Horticultural Society, with boxes of chewing gum from the village store, set off to visit three villages that night. They travelled silently and parked just before the first village sign, tubs beneath it all freshly planted. They parted company. The younger members chewed their way round the village centre, spitting out gum and stamping it into its weed-free pavements. The older ones littered the village green, by the dedicated benches and amongst the bushes. The gardeners ‘live-headed’ the strategically placed tubs and the baskets hanging outside the village pub, the cottages and shops.Jobs done, they turned for home, exhausted, but fired with community spirit, singing together, confident in the knowledge that Little Ousebottom now most certainly would be the best small village in Britain in Bloom.© Angela Everitt 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #7

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Jim Gardiner - Henrys boots

Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Bruce MacKenzie.listen to storyHenrys bootsMy dad he goes Jake this is History. Arsenals last match at Highbury. Ever. An I want you to remember you wos there. Wont be no classic though. Its Wigan.No classic. Were 2-1 down an then old Henry only goes an scores an atrick.Bang, bang, bang. 4-2. Well the games over an the crowds goin mental. The players are walkin around respectin the fans. Were down the front like always. Then Henry takes his boots off an walks over an I still dont believe this he only hands me his boots. Im so made up I near piss myself. I just kiss em. Didnt even thank im.Now them boots cause ructions. I can hear em. Ma goes We aint bleedin millionaires. We should get them on E bay an pay for some schoolin cause he aint learnin nothin down that comp. Dad goes Over my dead body. Then he comes in my room and we look at the cool bit in the alcove with its scarfs an the boots at the centre the shrine Dad calls it an he smiles an he goes Its a man thing son.© Jim Gardiner 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #8

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Suneeta Rathore - Bark and Bite

Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Jo Leavesey.listen to storyBark and BiteThe spoilt child was having another tantrum.Her screams could be heard throughout the basement of her apartment."I want a dog, I want a dog, I want a D", she threw toys. "O", she kicked shoes. "G".The lace from her hand-sewn collar flew to the floor.The nanny, tearful knew she'd be beaten. Her role was to ensure the childs continual contentment. Madam's hefty footfall barked the mistress's displeasure.First light, the puppy arrived.Procured from 'Purveyors of The Finest Pedigree Dog Emporium', Bayswater.It was snowy and small, scented and decorated with a hundred fine silk ribbons.The child screeched, gleefully pulling its tail.The dog yelped."Puppy is talking to me", she grinned, pulling its tail even harder, whereupon the dog swiftly turned and nipped her.The spoilt child sprang into action.Indiscriminately she kicked, a frenzy of self-absorption.The dog cowered, its breathing distorted, peppered with muted howls. Then silence.Its neck was broken.But the child did not stop.Dragging the limp shell and panting with exertion, she continued until the room was perfumed with fur and ribbon and fear.Nanny would be beaten, she dare not move."It bit me", the child smiled.© Suneeta Rathore 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #9

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Giancarlo Rinaldi - Poker Chips

Runner-Up in Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association Flash Fiction Competition 2006. Read by Bruce MacKenzie.listen to storyPoker Chips The big game. Five-card draw, six players and seven days' takings on the table. An old school affair that started on a Monday night and finished on a Wednesday morning."Right guys, last hand."That was old Pietro speaking and when he said it was time to finish it was time to finish. Otherwise his wife would chase them all out with a pasta ladle.The cards slid smoothly across the table before being examined intently by a dozen arched eyebrows."Open for four hundred."It was typical Carlo on the final hand of the night - trying the kind of bluff that was as transparent as greaseproof paper."Raise it to eight."This time it was big Giuliano who spoke. Everybody paid a bit more attention. Three silver-haired veterans dropped out - only Carlo and Sergio stayed with him. Another big bet left just Giuliano and Sergio at the showdown."Three aces," said Giuliano."Three kings," responded Sergio with a smile."Jesus Sergio," said Pietro. "You must have lost £5,000 tonight and you're still smiling!""Five thousand?" said Sergio. "That's amazing. Fantastic, in fact. The shop must have been a lot busier than I thought..."© Giancarlo Rinaldi 2006

3 Jan 2007

Rank #10