Saturday, October 18, 2008

File under fiction: available now from

This debut collection of short stories by Martin Locock ranges from the misadventures of an archivist dealing with a landed family to a solicitor's obsession with a perfect family seen through a window.

The stories are fast-paced, sexy and funny.

Published by Carreg Ffylfan Press.


Change and Decay

An archivist meets a gentry family amid a decaying estate and reveals some family history they had wanted to conceal.

"The train muttered and grunted to a halt, and the doors hissed open. I stepped out onto the deserted platform- none of my fellow-passengers were inspired to alight. I walked through an archway, leaning to even out the weight of the laptop case and suitcase, past spare mail trolleys queued for an unexpected pre-Christmas rush. A bus timetable yellowed behind a cracked glass display, ready to be sold to some transport museum as a bygone."

Read it online.

Exchange Mechanism

Developing a telepathy machine presents an opportunity for misuse and manipulation.

"I had got used to the prevarications of a series of boyfriends who would drag out our vidchats interminably on the offchance of catching a glimpse of my roommate Kristin walking around in the background. Although I'd tell them at the earliest opportunity that they were wasting their time (Kristin was 100% lezz), that didn't stop them looking."

Read it online.

Candles on the Table

What looked like the perfect family hides a dark secret.

"Stephen looked to the far side of the road, and saw a small neat cottage; one of the downstairs rooms was lit, and he could make out, with intrusive clarity, a woman setting cutlery on the table. Two candles were already burning in elegant simple candlesticks. On the wall behind the table there were small framed pictures and blue-and-white plates. He was enchanted, as much by the room as the figure; he had once thought that he would occupy such a house, everything just so."

Read it online.

The Time Zone Rule

Two colleagues are sent at short notice to Morocco; they succumb to the romance of the situation but then have to deal with the consequences.

"Sue's people carrier circled the staff car park while she became increasingly frustrated. Her criteria for what constituted an adequate space dropped ever lower. Designated personal parking spaces had been abolished the year before in a fit of executive egalitarianism, on the advice of a touchy-feely consultancy brought in to make the company 'a happier place to work'. It wasn’t working for her today, she thought grimly, gritting her teeth."

Not available online.

A night like this

A music reviewer picks up a girl at a Dylan gig in 1974.

Read it online.

The Grand Tour

A tourist in Italy spends the perfect afternoon sitting in a station cafe watching the world go by.

The waitress brought the drinks over to our table. Mine was a cappucino; this was back in the 1980s, before real coffee became universally available, and it was therefore something of an exotic treat. My friends had chosen lemonade in deference to the shimmering heat of August.
Philip unzipped a side pocket of his backpack and brought out a notebook.
'We've got three hours here to wait until the express comes through to take us to Florence.'
He looked around the station café, finding little prospect of amusement.
'I could do with changing some more travellers' cheques,' he continued, 'we'd have to catch the bus up to the main town to find a bank.'
'I'd like to go too,' said Malcolm,' there's a church with a 15th-century pieta I'd like to see.' He paused and turned to me. 'What about you?'
'I think I'll stay here,' I said.

Not available online.

A place of learning

Newbury University's Religious Studies department is rife with internal politics, complacency and frustration, while outside the comfortable Anglican certainties crumble.

Morning. Penelope Zbigniev tilted her head back, wiped her eyes, and yawned. She refocused on the computer screen and continued typing.

'Definitions of prayer vary across the world. For this study, the phenomenological approach has been taken, hence covering all individual spiritual activity which includes both ritual and contemplative components.'

She paused. She knew that a PhD thesis wasn't supposed to be interesting, but she took it as a bad sign that hers bored even the author. She stretched again, the old wooden chair creaking as she shifted her negligible weight on it. The small room was packed with stuff: books, ornaments, cover throws. Her housemates slept; undergraduates kept later hours. She looked out into the yard below her window. An ugly tomcat stalked along the wall, peering suspiciously at the foliage in the overgrown garden. He did this every day. Penelope wondered whether there was a contemplative component to his spiritual activity.

Not available online.

The Austen correspondence

An undiscovered letter from Jane to Cassandra.

Read it online.

Boswell continued

Further adventures of Johnson and Boswell.

"Being an addition by Another Gentleman to James Boswell's celebrated Life of Johnson, in which is described a visit to Lichfield, with instances of the Doctor's wit and sagacity which arose in the course thereof."

Read it online.


'I've left him.'
Sheila opened the front door wider to allow the distraught figure of her sister to enter. In no time, Linda was sat at the kitchen table, alternatively sobbing, sniffing, and taking a tissue.
'Max [sniff] is [sob] having [blow] an affair.'
'Are you sure?' asked Sheila, doubtfully.
'Yes,' said Linda, nodding wordlessly, 'it's a bit out of character, I know, doing something imaginative. You're right about him being dull.'
'I don't think I ever said . . .'
'You didn't have to. But there you go, he is having an affair. Well, good luck to him.'

Not available online.

The seducer's tale

The Fresher's Ball ends unexpectedly.

Read it online.

The price of everything

A beggar recounts an eventful day.

Read it online.

Street science

An unlikely friendship grows from a chance meeting at the hospital.

Read it online.

Sinners, all

A quite night in a bar, an argument, a wager.

Read it online.

Author's Notes

"Change and decay owes its title only indirectly to the hymn 'Abide with me'. I first encountered the phrase when reading Scoop at an impressionable age in my teens: it seemed to me at the time to be most perfect novel ever written, an opinion I have had little reason to alter. Re-reading it recently I became aware of how much of the atmosphere of country house living I had imbibed, reflected in Change and decay."

Not available online

About the Author

"I was born in Barrow-in-Furness, a grim grey shipbuilding town on the north end
of Morecambe Bay, drenched in the drizzle of the Irish Sea. Terraces huddled
beneath the silhouettes of cranes; as the hooter sounded the streets would fill
with tired but boisterous riveters and boilermakers heading for pub, chip shop,
or home, as preference and finance dictated.I cannot claim, however, that I
absorbed much of this atmosphere into my personality. By the age of 6
months I had left forever."

Not available online

188pp, 6" x 9"

It can be ordered from as a book or digital download.

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