Both Sides of the Story - The Gym

The Gym (England, 1993): "Come on, Winnie, push." Winston arched his back and strained against the bar. "Push!" The muscles in Winston's arms and chest burned. He closed his eyes, let out a primal roar and fully locked his arms. The weights rattled for a moment before Winston steadied the bar. "Yes!"

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 - The Gym

I wrote Both Sides of the Story in 1994 for the Ian St James Awards. The inspiration for my story was the 1993 Phil Collins hit song of the same name.

As it is now, the news back then was full of stories about “bad people” for whom the general public (including me) felt little sympathy. 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.

Both Sides of the Story consists of four self-contained vignettes with a fifth piece to tie together and resolve the larger short story. The Gym, set in England in 1993, is the fourth vignette. 

In 1994, the memory of Ben Johnson’s doping disgrace at the 1988 Seol Olympics was still fresh in our collective memory. And more athletes had fallen from grace at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, including Britain’s Jason Livingstone, nicknamed "Baby Ben".

The Gym is not their story, nor that of any other athlete banned for doping. But it is an attempt to imagine why they might risk doping. Or, as Phil Collins would say, to see 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

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

The next episode and fifth piece from Both Sides of the Story, Bad News, 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. It helps other listeners find the podcast.

And 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

Gym weights:

Gym music:

Rattling weights:

Bottles chinking:

Sipping drink:

Police siren:



Jail door:



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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