Billy Spider

Billy Spider is admitted, via A&E at Guy’s Hospital, London, to a vacant bed in a mixed surgical ward. He’s been in a fight. He refuses to sleep in the bed he’s offered; he’s a regular at Guy’s, has a temper and is thus allowed to sleep under his bed in a blanket. He’s eighty years old and can’t remember where he was born; he only knows his date of birth, 1896, because it’s tattooed on his penis. His body is entirely covered in tattoos; his head is decorated with a tattoo of a huge spider.

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Mary

Mary has spent the last thirty years in Hull perfecting the art of invisibility. Though seldom seen or noticed, she’s fastidious about her appearance; always clean and smartly dressed, confounding stereotypes. During the day, she hides in whichever condemned property she uses as her temporary home. In the early hours of each morning, she forages for food. 

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The Leader

It’s early morning. Alexander wakes bleary-eyed. 

At the end of his bed, a short square man wearing riding boots dances on tiptoes. He’s dressed in a French eighteenth century military uniform; his right hand is tucked into his jacket. 

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Rain

Tam Daiche is twenty-two and, miraculously at his age, in his first job as a tutor in the School of Art. Despite being excited by recent events in Paris in 1968, Tam is politically naïve and ignorant about local politics in the city.

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Shooting Rats

Fotheringale Hall, the ancient pile of the Rogerson-Stukeleys, is falling into ruin. It has one occupant, Reginald, aka Reggie, Rogerson-Stukeleys, the scion of a once rich and famous family. Reggie is lazy and filled with an inherited sense of entitlement. 

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Harry

Harry is ten years old. Every day he wishes he could earn money and buy food. Perhaps then his Mum, Mel, wouldn’t be so sad; she always tries to be cheerful but he hears her crying every night. During term time Harry eats at school but, in the ‘hungry holidays’ they use the St Giles’ church food bank; it’s that or starve. 

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Christmas

Josh is a failed screenwriter in California and he’s broke; it’s tough and the last weeks have been even tougher. At forty-two he didn’t expect a DVT in both legs. Nor had he planned to lie that his mother was dying to persuade British Airways to carry him back to England for her last Christmas. 

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Happy Christmas

Roberto is flummoxed by what to buy his wife, Angelina de Castiglione, for Christmas, a decision made more important by the fact that she is also his employer. His dilemma is complicated, as usual, by his fear of being caught in his serial infidelities and losing his position. Naively, he believes overwhelmingly extravagant presents will convince her of his undying devotion. The best, or worst, example of his stupidity was the Triumph Herald, wrapped in a huge pink bow. Her reaction confirmed his mistake: If I want to go anywhere you drive me there, and why on earth would I want to travel in a toy car? He excused himself by thinking, No one knows how hard it is being married to a bossy old cow; no wonder I need a bit on the side.

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