The Jacket

Geoffrey is proud of the home he and his late wife, Isabella, created, for themselves and their daughter, Anita. In the ten months since Isabella’s death he’s kept the three promises he made her: he’s kept a close eye on Anita, eaten three meals a day and kept himself ‘respectable’.

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Untidy Rain

Heavy rain sweeps over the overgrown back garden. Margaret, or Peg, as her husband Oliver calls her, is staring out of the kitchen window of the rambling Victorian house that has been the Cromwell family home for nearly fifty years. Gusting wind bends the silver birch and the black barked laurel hedge shudders in the growing storm. It’s not rain, Peg thinks, it’s the ocean, the cold Atlantic, as squalls of rain, thick as waves, pound the window panes. She imagines white horses breaking on the lawn. The once herbaceous borders, now populated by weeds, drown under the weight of rainwater. The leafless branches of trees wave frantically as if they are the masts of long lost galleons. Are there pirates to be saved, Peg wonders? I’m all at sea, she thinks, lost in memories of her daughter, Ellie.

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Let Them Eat Cake

The reverend Ellis Evans, the parish priest of St Gwynno’s church in the village of Ynysybwl, South Wales, is a long way from home and still somewhat bemused by his new role as the ‘Visiting Shepherd’ at The Church of the Lost Sheep in San Diego, California. Learning that the church is the home of an evangelical TV station, Ellis begins to doubt the ‘special job’ the Archbishop found for him.

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Concerto for Emilia

Adam has late diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer. On being told he has, at the most, sixty months to live (years are not used in calculating life expectancy when dealing with cancer – a year is too long a metric), he says, Sod that. 

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Fate

Jack looks in the mirror in the hotel toilet and there he is, a reflection of himself; nothing unusual about that except that this ‘himself’ isn’t him. He turns.
The man standing in front of him says, Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Name’s John. He extends his hand.
I’m Jack. They shake hands. We’re doubles. John, Jack, almost identical names.
There’s the word for it, doppelgangers.

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May Day

Angelo, a widower, has lived in the apartment block for nearly ten years; it’s a friendly place and he prides himself on knowing all his neighbours. On the eve of May Day, he’s in the local supermarket in the queue at the till behind a stranger carrying a small child. As the man picks up his shopping, a plastic bag of onions splits and onions bounce off the conveyor belt and all over the floor. The child wails. 

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The Errand

They have no telephone at home nor callbox nearby, so Abraham is on an errand for his mother to see how his uncle Fred is doing in Cardiff Royal Infirmary after a heart attack. It’s the school holidays and Abraham’s been as bored as only a thirteen year-old can be. Not now. He’s sitting on the number 6 trolleybus whistling Buddy Holly’s hit, ‘It doesn’t matter any more’. 

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The Drain Man

1910 Swansea.

Roddy, head bowed and breathing hard, stands between the shafts of the milk cart he’s just pulled up the steep hill to the top of Cambridge Street; he’s caught in a sudden pool of early morning light glistening on the tarmac, damp from overnight rain. Seagulls whirl, screeching with laughter. The milkman climbs down from his seat and sets the bottles gently on the front step of Ivanhoe. Hearing a scream from the upstairs window he thinks, That’ll be Maggie’s new baby.

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Snapping

It was 1967 and I was a young man on Hessle Road in Hull taking photographs. I wanted to be a photographer as great as Bert Hardy or Tony Ray-Jones. I was at ease as I moved amongst the crowds of Saturday shoppers. I wasn’t hiding what I was doing and revelling in the alchemy of being seen and unseen, taken for granted, and as uninteresting as a road sign. 

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Property

It is the evening of June 7th 1983. Archie and his wife, Rosy, are watching a Conservative Party Election Broadcast on their twenty-two inch PYE television in the front room of their council house on Orchard Park Estate in Hull. 

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