The fourth issue! It feels great to have got this far. We have 28 stories by writers from Australia, New Zealand, the US and France, as well as closer to home. Depicting a mosaic of life in all its glory, simplicity, delight and horror, we are thrilled with them all, and I want to mention every one. In limited space, here goes …     

  We are now familiar with how life can be suddenly turned upside down. Two powerful pieces illustrate this: the account Neil Philip sent from Phuket in 2004 to reassure those at home that he and his wife were safe after the tsunami, and the story Lili Caseley has bravely written about being caught up in the London Bridge terror attacks in 2017.     Moving away from disaster, a theme of the sea, coasts and water flows through the magazine – the thrilling ‘A Great White Tale’ by Dennis Power-Sharpe, Irene Pyper-Scott’s ‘The Orange Light’ from the depths of lockdown in New Zealand, Pippa Hurd’s beautiful ‘Sea Change’ and Alec Sabin’s evocative story, ‘Iron Curtain’.     

  Other tales are comic and/or downright unusual! Martin Ling’s fantastic ‘When She Goes, We Go,’ Caroline Richards and Vick Fullick with their youthful crush on a Swiss ski instructor and Sheelagh Neuling’s difficult day looking after her small granddaughter in ‘The Child’.     

  We are delighted that broadcaster Peter Curran and Australian singer -songwriter Peter Milton Walsh are in this issue; the former with a funny tale of from his Belfast childhood and the latter with a personal review of Tracey Thorn’s new book, ‘My Rock ’n’ Roll Friend’.     

  We have stories about family and growing up. Young writers Erin MacDermott (‘Strike A Pose’) and Julia Lasica (‘Daughters & Daughters’) reflect on the joy of living, while returning writer David Wickers and new contributor Pierre Tran share poignant but humorous stories of being unwell. Rachel Krish returns with a tale of her father’s eccentric parenting, Chrissie Charlton recalls her 1960s school uniform, and two very different stories of schooldays: Nicole Carmichael at her Catholic convent and Andrew Pickering at public school.     

  Jane Devane and Roberta Planer are back – funny and insightful as ever. Clare Hetherington remembers her mother’s knitting, Humphrey Price reflects on a boyhood love of guns, Sharron Trisk becomes a ‘birder’ and Cloud Downey recalls his young life in ‘The Magic Clock.’     

  Lastly, Mike Nicholson has contributed another superb illustrated story, ‘The 39 Steps’. Together with Ann Kronnheimer’s pen portraits, his work is a key part of Friends On The Shelf.


Rachel Swann, September 2021


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