An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories for Kindle

“An Irrational Fear of Dogs” is a collection of short stories that is sometimes funny, sometimes dark, always entertaining:

An Irrational Fear of Dogs
The dog was staring at her with small red eyes, its slavering jaws ready to clamp around her small thin arm.The children are coming, the children are coming, look out, look out! Phoebe felt safe here in the bushes for now, but did they?

The Sweet Smell of Lilies
Lilies always reminded her of funerals. But then Grace was inclined to let her over-active imagination run away with her. Only this time, however, she couldn’t have imagined the real truth about her family.

Double Bill
Goodbye Sarah. I bet you thought we would be friends forever. How wrong you were.The two of us were going to stand here and watch as Bill’s coffin was lowered into the ground. But things don’t always turn out as you expect them to…

The Indulgence
‘How long have you been dead?’ asked the angel. ‘About 30 years,’ she replied, ‘is that my time?’ Tess was becoming impatient, ‘What’s my indulgence, are you going to tell me what it is?’‘Tomorrow’, the angel told her…

Believing in Fairies
‘Help us,’ I hear you say. ‘If they stop believing in us, we’ll vanish forever.’Mia’s world was one of waking dreams, but no-one believed her, not even Dr Williams. ‘I walk with fairy folk and elves and creatures from beyond the stars,’she told him.

Global Warning
‘It doesn’t matter you know, any of it,’ said Jack. ‘It’s all rubbish, global warming, climate change, holes in the ozone layer, all that stuff.’Or is it? Martha though otherwise and the result would come as a bit of a shock.

Stage of Fools
‘It is a simple tale. What begins in love and jubilation ends in hate and misery. And revenge is so sweet.’ The opening night of Peter’s Medea would be a spectacular performance if it all went to plan, but not as spectacular as Justine’s parting shot….

Click here to buy An Irrational Fear of Dogs for Kindle

Stage of Fools and other stories

‘Stage of Fools’ is a quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear. However, I used it as the title of a short story in which a theatre director decides to stage a production of The Medea, a Greek tragedy by Euripedes. Peter, the director, is a pretentious fool with ideas well above his station and talent. In the meanime his marriage to his French wife, Justine, is falling apart and while Peter is looking for funding by seducing the daughter of a rich publisher, Justine (like Medea) is plotting her revenge.

I have always had a ‘thing’ about The Medea ever since I studied it in the second year of my OU degree. However, I never imagined it would become the plot of a short story!

Here is an exceprt from Stage of Fools, the last and longest story in An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories.

It was a fascination with Greek tragedy, brought on no doubt by a boy’s experiences of the Classics at public school that led Peter Meadows to follow his childhood ambition and stage a West End production of Medea. Now approaching that milestone age which shall only be spoken in whispers when one is quasi-famous, he believed it to be now or never. Justine preferred never, but then always more pragmatic and less self-indulgent than her husband, she was the one who paid (or frequently didn’t pay when they had no money) the ever increasing bills that fanned themselves out on the floor of the porch like the spreading flare of a peacock’s tail feathers, vying for attention.

‘They’ll take care of themselves,’ Peter would say if she tutted and then throw them over his shoulder to land in a pile on the floor.

‘Non cherie, they will not,’ she replied and picked them up, stuffing them into the sagging pockets of her long brown cardigan, before adding them to the teetering pile that was now becoming a fire hazard in the conservatory.

Thus began the daily ritual of will they won’t they which perfectly demonstrated the widening chasm between two people who had met at university when the whole world stretched out before them, filled with happiness and opportunity. Peter, two years older than Justine, was dashing, attractive and extremely persuasive. The year was 1988 and he was in his third year reading Drama at Reading University when the beautiful exchange student walked into the bar of the Student’s Union and asked for a glass of Chardonnay in perfect, yet broken, English. Slim, chic and better dressed than the average university student, she was obviously French.

‘I’ll get that,’ Peter said to the barmaid (another of his recent conquests but no hard feelings eh), who was pouring Hock out of a wine box, ‘and I’ll have a beer.’

It didn’t take him long to discover that Justine, as her name turned out to be, was in her first year studying the Classics at the Sorbonne and was in England to discover the museums and art galleries.

‘J’adore Oxford, en particulier le musée Ashmolean.’

‘Then we must go there,’ Peter replied, everyone at his school had at least passed basic O level French, ‘I know, let’s go tomorrow and take a picnic and go boating on the river.’

Within a week they were sharing his digs and were head over heels in love.

The sweet smell of lilies reminds me…

Ok that sounds like an observation. It’s actually another excerpt from
An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories. This one is called The Sweet Smell of Lilies. So here goes…

Lilies remind me of funerals. Not a very original observation, I hear you thinking. Why not roses or gardenias or boring old Sweet Williams or those plants that everyone loves the smell of except me, stocks, I think they are called. No there is something about lilies, especially white ones, that is associated with death.

The 8.22 from Cheltenham is rumbling past Didcot Power Station. ‘Choo choo,’ it goes. I look for the Fat Controller but he isn’t there. Only a thin man with a gaunt face and a copy of the Guardian and a woman with cheap luggage and cheap shoes. She has poisoned her entire family and fled her home in the country to run away with the thin man with the gaunt face. But her cheap luggage and the Guardian are too mismatched so I give up there and then.

At Paddington there is a crowd thronging around some event of which I have no knowledge. A minor celebrity has stepped down from the train perhaps and collapsed on the floor, having been shot twice in the leg and chest by a crazed fan with a Colt.45. I am sure I can smell sulphur. The police come quickly. Everyone will be arrested. I must flee the crime scene quickly in case they think it was me. The evidence is in my handbag. My fingerprints are all over the gun.

‘Help! Help! It wasn’t me,’ I cry, ‘I am innocent. I was on a train passing Didcot Power Station at the time officer. You can ask the Fat Controller or the thin man…..’

Suddenly a man with a small moustache stands up in the middle of the throng and brushes himself down. He is embarrassed, I can see that.

‘I am so sorry,’ he says, ‘I tripped.’

The crowd moves on, uncaring now. I move with them. I have an appointment with death. I am going to my uncle’s funeral in Willesden. He died in suspicious circumstances. He was poisoned. He was alone at the time you see…

You live and learn

What a total ….. up my first effort at self-publishing turned out to be. Probem is that I am used to proof reading on paper so it is only when I received my ‘test’ hard copy this morning that I spotted all the mistakes!

Firstly – no table of contents.
Secondly – no page numbering (don’t know why but I thought this would just happen automatically).
Thirdly – one big typo on the back cover (not too bad I guess).
Fourthly – the spacing was different for different stories.

So there you have it!
But less pages now and slightly cheaper. Just wish I hadn’t bought so many copies to give my friends.
And I got rid of the original A4 version.

So once again it’s at An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories

An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other stories again

Yesterday I self published this as an A4 paperback. That of course is not the right size for a book, more like a magazine! So today I republished in A5 size but it works out far more expensive per copy as it’s 92 pages.
Have a look at An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories

Here is another extract. This time it’s from a story called Double Bill about a bigamist who failed to take into account that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’:

Goodbye Sarah. I bet you thought we would be friends for ever. How wrong you were. The two of us were going to stand here and watch as Bill’s coffin was lowered into the ground. We pictured ourselves distraught, crying on each others shoulders, coming together in our shared grief, holding hands and laughing through crocodile tears, taking turns throwing earth on the coffin, our airline tickets to Rio de Janeiro safely tucked away in our Gucci handbags. But now it’s just me standing here, watching as your coffin is lowered into the ground. Goodbye Sarah. You thought we would be friends for ever. How wrong you were.

It all began two or so years ago when I started going to the Top Rank in Watford. I was a widow. My husband of fourteen years had died after being run over by an ambulance. It was coming towards him, sirens blaring and lights flashing but he was too preoccupied reading the Times Literary Supplement to notice it. When they took him to hospital they found the paper open at the review of a new book called ‘How to Survive in a Dangerous World’.

An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories

Well, I finally have my degree after seven years so I thought I would stop being a student and actually publish something. I did this on Lulu.com (self publishing I know but you have to start somewhere and I wanted to see my stories in proper print). I therefore uploaded six short stories under the title An Irrational Fear of Dogs and other short stories.

They are quite dark and often have a bit of a twist. Here is an extract from An Irrational Fear of Dogs:

The children are coming, the children are coming, the children are coming. Look out children. It’s in the bushes. It’s in the bushes. Look out. Look out.

Phoebe couldn’t take her eyes off them as they ran around in front of her. She imagined them all evaporating into thin air with a pop and then coming back down to earth like small coloured lights, silver and red and green and orange. ‘Pop’ there goes one. ‘Pop’ there goes another. How sweet it felt to see them all. Like little faeries of the night they fell and scattered. The children, the children. She was one of them yet not one of them.

‘Mummy, why am I different?’ Phoebe was lying the wrong way round in the bed with just the top of her head poking out at the foot end and the blanket and sheet tucked in really tight. She was looking at her favourite teddy as she spoke.

‘You’re not. Why do you say such things?’

‘If I was like them, the others I mean, then they would want to play with me. But they don’t. They are scared of me, aren’t they Borage?’

‘Look at me Phoebe, not at the bear. And does that make you unhappy, darling?’

‘Not really, mummy, but sometimes it makes me just a little lonely,’ with which her mother wiped a small tear from the corner of her eye, walked out of the room and shut the door.