Both Sides of the Story - Bad News - Part One
Bad News - Part One (England, 1993): The evening news was depressing—all bad as usual—and the weekend weather looked just as gloomy. I got up and went to the kitchen. "Do you want another wine?" I called back to my wife. No response. I'd swear she's going deaf, but she hears everything I mutter under my breath.
Both Sides of the Story is a short story collection written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. Inspired by Phil Collins’s 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 - Bad News - Part One
I wrote Both Sides of the Story for the Ian St James Awards in 1994. The inspiration for my short story was the 1993 Phil Collins hit song of the same name.
As the protagonist in Bad News observes, the print and TV news back then was full of stories about “bad people who got what they deserved and their victims”. However, after watching the Phil Collins Both Sides music video on MTV and its juxtaposed scenes of violence and backstories, I wondered if I could show both sides of the news in a short story. Or, as the protagonist’s wife asks, could I “look behind the news. [At] what causes people to betray and abuse others?”
Both Sides of the Story consists of four self-contained vignettes, Westminster, Bosnia, A Council Flat and The Gym. And the fifth piece, Bad News, that ties together and resolves the questions raised in the larger story.
I commented in the Introduction episode, quoting from my 1994 diary, how Bad News was the most difficult of the five parts of Both Sides of the Story to write: “Struggling with ending of story. Pivotal last scene is in danger of sounding trite.”
Twenty-five years later, when I revisited the short story in 2019, Bad News once again proved the most difficult of the vignettes to transcribe. And in the end, it required more edits and structural changes than the other four parts combined.
Perhaps this is a testament to its importance in resolving Both Sides of the Story?
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 TallAndTrue.com.
The final episode from Both Sides of the Story, Bad News - Part Two, 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. Doing so helps other listeners find the podcast.
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Podcast Theme and Podcast Sound Effects
News Jingle: https://freesound.org/people/Tuben/sounds/272044/
Sipping Beer: https://freesound.org/people/bbrocer/sounds/382656/
Clock Ticking: https://freesound.org/people/gecop/sounds/522119/
Podcast recorded in Sydney, Australia, on Eora Country.
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