Both Sides of the Story - A Council Flat

A Council Flat (England, 1993): The sound of the twins fighting in the bedroom filled the flat. Their screams drowned out the drone of sport on the TV and the sizzle and bubble of dinner on the kitchen cooktop. ‘For Christ’s sake, Ruth,’ Stu bellowed over the TV, ‘shut those bloody kids up, will you!’ 

Warning: This podcast episode contains strong language and themes that may be distressing for some listeners.

Both Sides of the Story is a short story collection written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. Inspired by Phil Collins’ hit song and initially written for a UK writing competition in 1994, the collection contains four self-contained vignettes and a fifth piece that ties together and resolves the larger short story. Westminster, Bosnia, A Council Flat, and The Gym are the vignettes. And Bad News is the fifth and final piece.

Robert shared Both Sides of the Story on the Tall And True writers’ website in 2019 and published the ebook collection in 2020. The podcast version consists of six instalments, an introduction, followed by the five vignettes. In the earlier podcast episode, Both Sides of the Story - Introduction, Robert explained how he wrote the short story collection. And at the end of each vignette, he provides insight into that episode’s short story.

The show notes include links to Both Sides of the Story on Amazon and Kobo and the podcast's theme music and sound effects.

Copyright notice: Both Sides of the Story song written by Phil Collins from his Both Sides album (1993). 

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Writer's Insight for Both Sides of the Story - A Council Flat

I wrote Both Sides of the Story for the Ian St James Awards in February 1994, inspired by the Phil Collins hit song of the same name.

The news at the time was full of stories about wrongdoers for whom the public (including me!) felt little sympathy. But one night, I watched the Both Sides music video on MTV and its scenes of desperation and violence juxtaposed with backstories. And I wondered if I could show both sides of the news in a short story.

I wrote Both Sides of the Story as four self-contained vignettes and a fifth piece to tie together and resolve the larger short story. A Council Flat, set in England in 1993, is the third vignette. And the idea for it came from the newspapers and radio and TV news I consumed back then. 

As I’ve stressed in earlier episodes, my intention in writing The Council Flat in 1994 was not to be an apologist for the characters or their actions. And I unreservedly condemn domestic violence against women and children. 

However, my goal with the short story was to follow Phil Collins’ lead and, if possible, imagine both sides of a story. And in this case, explore why Ruth had remained silent in the Council flat.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Tall And True Short Reads. You can read all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at

The next episode and fourth vignette from Both Sides of the Story, The Gym, will be released shortly. In the meantime, please check your podcast feed for earlier episodes and other short stories. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite listening app.

You can also buy my ebook collection of Both Sides of the Story from the Amazon Kindle or Kobo online bookstores. 

And finally, please support this podcast by telling your family and friends about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers’ website. 

Podcast Theme and Podcast Sound Effects

Royalty-free music from Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 ‘Pastorale’ – IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non-Troppo, performed by Karine Gilanyan.

Sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 0 from

Kids Fighting

Football crowd:




Opening Beer Can:


Crash/Broken Glass:

Thrown Can:

Wedding Bells:


Production Notes

Tall And True Short Reads produced using Audacity. Thanks to Josh (VoiceOverMaster) Meyer for Audacity recording tips and tricks.

Podcast recorded in Sydney, Australia, on Eora Country.

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