All 15 Minutes

  • The Brief Literary Career of Lewis Burgess

    Lewis Burgess was a literary genius, of that there can be no doubt.  It might strike you as odd, then, that his work is so little known.  You may not have read it yourself.  It is even possible that his name is unknown to you.  How should we account for this seeming paradox, for the total failure of Burgess’s work to connect with an audience or gain so much as a glimmer of critical recognition?  Read more [...]

  • Stocktaking

    Shops that sell antiquarian books might get broken into occasionally, but twice at once seems excessive. At least, it does to me, and I was one of the people breaking in. Although I’m usually punctilious – and only someone punctilious would use that word – I didn’t extend myself over this one. After all, I was stealing a single book, not the Alexandrian Library. The shop stood in a quiet street in Bath. Amongst the Read more [...]

  • Something Understood

    Toby Jefferies awoke to the sound of ululation. The BBC World Service was reporting on some dreadful crisis. The mouth of the presenter was taped with sticky flypaper. The women and children were howling through sponge and soldiers fired rounds of ammunition in a soft-room. Toby’s downstairs neighbour was playing Radio Four at high volume and the alternating trill and bray punched through the new-build plaster that separated their bedrooms. The hangover Toby had cultivated Read more [...]

  • A Tiding of Magpies

    One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, Three for a Girl and Four for a Boy, Five for Silver, Six for Gold, Seven for a Secret never to be told, Eight’s a Wedding, Nine’s a Birth, Ten, you must walk to the Ends of the Earth. Traditional counting-rhyme   One for Sorrow. The young girl sits at the bedroom window, watching the snow sleeting down. A magpie sits outside on a bare branch of the Crabtree, Read more [...]

  • The Darts of Harkness

    We were holidaying on the river. The brochure had described it as a cruise. To be honest, it was really just a week-long piss-up, downing tins of beer as we drifted between one riverside pub and the next. Well, what else was there to do? Our vessel required no especial skill to master. At the flick of a switch and a puff of black smoke, the engine would cough into life, like a smoker choking Read more [...]

  • The Blue Rose

    ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’ – Pablo Picasso   It must be Paris outside; I can smell the rain in the dirt between the cobbles. ‘When are you going to write a story about me?’ you ask, rising from the sofa. Your perfume mixes with the wet-grass scent of the room. I laugh to myself and you laugh too. ‘When am I not?’ I reply. I can feel you coming closer, even though I’m Read more [...]

  • Candlelight

    I can hear my brothers, my uncles, my great-uncles hammering away in the mines twenty floors beneath us. Candlelight toys with the dining room and for a second my world becomes dark. Grandpa begins, spewing out the same rhetoric he does every time the three of us are together. His hands are stained from years tending to the oils; candlewax hangs like dew from the hairs on his arms. ‘Today is a great day, a Read more [...]