Reading: Canon Slade

For the first time this afternoon, I read one of my stories at a public event!

Alongside Laurette Evans, Julia Hewitt, Stella Pye and Phil Isherwood, I read non-genre short story ‘The Medal’.

‘The Medal’ is the first in a sequence of three linked stories – I also have fourth and fifth stories planned but not yet written. The stories explore events surrounding a pivotal moment in the lives of three individuals, investigating the different perspectives and opinions that are experienced by each person. The ‘medal’ itself is based upon an object from real life, but it’s been brought forward thirty years from the Falklands War to the current conflict in Afghanistan. Here’s the real-world version…

And here’s the prose version, introduced in the first paragraph of ‘The Medal’…

It is a medal, of sorts, a three inch circle of dirty yellow brass with a coin in the middle where the firing pin used to be. At the top of the medal is another hole, but this one is smaller and threaded with a leather cord that smells like my school shoes when they get wet. Dad said that the soldiers used to make these when they got bored using the ends of old Russian artillery shells, and this one was used by the people he was fighting to make something called an eye-ee-dee. He said he lost a friend who tried to disarm it.

I’m still undecided whether to send this story to a magazine, but I’m holding back on publishing it to this blog (at least for the moment) because of first publication rights. If you’d like to see the full version, just drop me an email.

This is the first time I’ve read my own prose outside of a writers’ group or class. It was nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time!

The reading was given to an adult audience inside the chapel at Canon Slade School

This was a strange experience, because part of the story reads…

Downstairs, I hear Mum’s voice, ‘Three bloody tours over there!’

She shouldn’t be swearing in front of the Chaplain.

Then a deep voice, ‘Would you like to pray?’

There’s a pause. Mum isn’t the praying kind, but then I hear the Chaplain again, ‘Lord, have mercy on all those who have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives and died in service to their country.’

Reading a line of a prayer in such an authentic setting was strangely atmospheric. And there will no doubt be certain members of my family (you know who you are!) who will appreciate this more than most!

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