One from the archive

One from the archive

I mentioned last time that I was opening myself up to the scrutiny of others. As it turns out, this is not the first time I have tried this approach – although, as it turns out, it is something that I had forgotten all about until recently.

Back in 2002, as a student, I decided to enter the University of Exeter’s Paddon Award short, short story competition. It was flash fiction, back before anyone realised it was going to be called that. Maximum 400 words with a twist.

I entered. I was shortlisted. I had to stand up in front of a lecture hall (half) full of people and read out my story. It didn’t take long, but then, it was only 400 words. I didn’t win, and then I forgot all about it. Until now…

We are decorating our spare, spare room at the moment. This is the room where all of the stuff goes to hibernate until we need it again (or, more likely, never need it again). And while I was moving piles of paperwork around, to free up some space to paint, I found my story. I stopped what I was doing (any excuse!) and re-read it. Again, it didn’t take long.

It is a little clunky, and why on Earth I chose the name Brenda I do not know, but it is a complete story in under 400 words. If my memory serves me well, I thought that I nailed the ‘twist’ element of the brief far better than many of my competitors. I obviously lost it elsewhere (style, tone, subtlety, imagery, subtext and the rest).

It now only exists on two sheets of A4 upstairs in my house, so you will have to make do with a scanned copy; but here, ladies and gentlemen, for your delight and delectation, is A Birthday Treat.

A birthday treat short story paddon award 2002 university of exeter jon stubbington

What did you think? And no, that is not how you spell Jonathan…

A birthday treat short story paddon award 2002 university of exeter jon stubbington letter


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