The Scrapheap: A Collection of Short Stories comprises of five bawdy tales throughout regional Australia. Within these pages you will meet Joey Wilson - a scouser living in Australia on a Working Holiday visa who lands a job at Woolworths, stacking shelves. You will also find yourself out in the middle for a game a cricket where blood, sweat and tears are shed by young debutant, Nathan Hamilton. Then it’s straight to the pub with the irrepressible abattoir worker, Meat Axe, for an all in brawl or two. And of course, no Australian tale is complete without a foray on the Gold Coast, as number one ladies’ man and Borrowed Time’s bit part player, Gary “Hurricane” James, returns and does his best to etch his name into Gold Coast folklore. The place will never be the same.
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The Scrapheap: A Collection of Short Stories was born back in 2011, just after I’d finished the first draft of Borrowed Time. These stories spent the best part of five years gathering dust, so I thought I would rework them and make them available for all and sundry.
Albeit very loosely, two of these stories form the premise of Borrowed Time’s sequel, titled Welcome to Charmsville, which I hope to release later this year.
These stories also mark a first for me in the way of first person narrative; a style which I had previously never dabbled in. I very much hope that the results are to your taste.
Not that this is a spoiler alert, but I would like to shed some light into how these stories evolved. If you’re one of those readers who just likes to pick up a book start reading (in all honesty, I myself am one of these reader’s) then it’s best to read the below after you’ve finished reading these short stories.
Side note: These stories are self-edited, so apologies in advance for any spelling/grammatical errors, notwithstanding the vernacular/locality some of my characters employ. I always go over my work with the proverbial fine-tooth comb, but generally speaking, nothing is as good as another set of eyes, so if you do come across any mistakes, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make the necessary corrections.
After The Cure, cigarettes and pot, the core of this story is attributed to schoolyard bullying. Will the federal government’s Safe Schools program negate this sort of behaviour? There’s more chance of Liverpool Football Club winning a cup treble next season and before people shout me down as being a pessimist you simply cannot overthrow the mechanics of human nature. When kids hunt in packs, they can be downright cruel and this story is centred on such malice.
Most nine-to-fivers base their lives solely around the weekends. That Friday feeling evokes a common thought that you’re there. You’ve made it. People can do stupid things in this moment, blinded by the short bursts of ecstasy. On a Friday you yearn for two days of freedom only to be once again dragged kicking and screaming into the mundane pit of nine-to-five to do it all again.
One can accuse the venerable Meat Axe for being an idiot. The guy has been working the same job for thirty-five years and just lives to have a beer on a Friday. There are tens of thousands of Meat Axes around Australia, the world, even. Perhaps that’s the problem? The spirit-crushing rigours of long-term employment grind us into the ground to the point where we become creatures of habit and most of the time without even knowing it, no matter how mundane or trivial that habit can be, which in this case is just trying to have a quiet beer on a Friday afternoon.
No collection of Australian tales is complete without the inclusion of cricket. As a younger primate, I played the game quite a lot and this story is an account surrounding a young kid (Nathan Hamilton) finding his way through a situation by the way of sport. It’s a snapshot through the ignorance of youth, coupled with a few good “yarns” out in the middle from everyone from your professional white-collar types to the rough-and-tumble working class.
I believe that sport is the bricks and mortar of this country. It brings all demographics together and as far as regional communities are concerned, sport really does act as a symbol for inclusion, while on the other hand acts a safeguard against class systems which continue to encumber other countries around the world.
The title of this foray was inspired by a friend of mine, whom I dedicate this story to; Glen Gammon. Back when I lived in the United Kingdom and jobs were hard to come by, I spent my time stacking shelves, so this story is inspired by nights in coldrooms at minus twenty-five degrees sorting through stock. Let’s just say you meet some interesting characters during night shifts - several of them crop up during this story. It’s told through the eyes of a younger Liverpudlian, Joey Wilson, who is out in Australia on a working holiday Visa.
Just like cricket, a good old Aussie story cannot be complete without a tale centred on the Gold Coast. In all seriousness, the place itself gets a bad reputation thanks to the plethora of dickheads who visit the place on weekends and dump all their bullshit from Coolangatta all the way up to Labrador. Residents generally have to mop up this abhorrent behaviour from unsavoury out-of-towners, and as a result, they suffer the burden of a bad reputation.
Those of you who have read Borrowed Time will have already had a taste of the irrepressible ladies’ man that is Gary “Hurricane” James. Well, he’s back and the Gold Coast will never be the same. Gary features, albeit less slightly, in Borrowed Time’s sequel, Welcome to Charmsville, hopefully out later this year. Suffice to say, it’s imperative you join Gary on his flower exploration to the sun and sand of the Gold Coast.