Tales From The Town #28: Literary Criticism

Transcript from the inaugural Sunday Afternoon Book Club

Organiser: Ethel
Curator: Daniel
Chair: Claire
Actually On The Chair: The Cat
Stenographer: Tina
Catering: Mum
Audience: The Dolls

Daniel (reading from notes): The book I chose for us to talk about is Hansel and Gretel. I like Hansel and Gretel because sometimes I wish our house was made out of cake and we could eat it. But we can’t. What do YOU think about Hansel and Gretel?

Claire: I think Hansel and Gretel are useless. Everything they do is stupid. They get lost in the woods. Twice! And then when they get locked up they don’t even think about eating their way out. Idiots. They deserved to be eaten.

Ethel: They didn’t get eaten. The witch got eaten. Hansel and Gretel baked her in the oven and the crows ate her.

Claire: That never happened.

Ethel: It did! But not in the book. It happened in my head.

Claire: Well that doesn’t count. Anything can happen in your head. That’s cheating.

Ethel: It is not cheating.

Claire: It is! Why did you even make us read this book if you were just going to imagine things?

Ethel: Anna goes to a book club.

Claire: That’s not an answer!

Ethel: I thought this would be fun.

Claire: Well, it’s not.

Claire sits down on the chair. The cat runs away. The Sunday Afternoon Book Club is soon after abandoned.



1. Written on May 11th, 2021
2. It’s officially winter now
3. In the town
4. If not in the world

Tales From The Town #27: Poems In The Dirt

Oya leaves a new poem here every day. Beneath where the pictures used to hang, in the ash of obliterated art. If the wind and rain don’t wash the old ones away, a single brush of her boot does the rest.

She doesn’t mind that no one sees her words. The ephemerality of it all is the point. No-one suspects a thing.



1. Written between the 7th and the 10th of May, 2021

Tales From The Town #26: The Loft

Agnes heard something clattering around up in the loft. I bet it’s that cat, she said to herself. I bet you any money in the world it’s that cat again. It’s worse than the dolls.

But when she opened the hatch, it wasn’t the cat at all. Or the dolls. A creature of some totally different sort was stomping around and doing cartwheels in the dark.

“Claire!” Agnes said. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

“Mum! Look at me! I’m dead!” Claire said, and did a cartwheel to prove it. “See?” Then she paused for a second. “Wait, how did you get all the way down there, Mum? You’re not dead too are you?”

“Of course I’m not dead, Claire,” Agnes said. “I’m just tired. Now what are you doing up here in the loft, anyway? You know you’re not supposed to come up here on your own. It’s dark and dusty and there’s broken stuff everywhere.”

“This isn’t the loft, Mum,” Claire said. “It’s hell. I’m in hell and I’m dead!”

“Well you must be a ghost then because – ”

“I’m not a ghost. I’m a demon!”

“Well, okay, I can believe that,” Agnes said. “But you are definitely not in hell. Look!”

Agnes turned the light on and Claire saw that she really was in the loft. You could tell because there were rolled up carpets everywhere and the Christmas tree was in the corner and there was a big box of Dad’s things that no-one had the heart to throw away. Claire didn’t think even the devil would want a box of Dad’s old books and maps and things. In hell it was so dark you wouldn’t even be able to read.

“Oh,” Claire said sadly. “I really thought I was in hell.”

“You still haven’t told me how you got up here,” Agnes said.

“I used the slide under the stairs,” Claire said. “It goes down into the dark and down and down and down until you come out here in the loft.”

“We don’t have a slide under the stairs.”

“We do! Look, I’ll show you!”

Claire climbed out of the hatch onto the landing, then clattered down the stairs to the hall as loudly as she could. A few moments later Agnes heard some cries from below, then above and below, and then finally from above only. Claire fell out of the shadows and landed on the floor with a triumphant ooof.


“I suppose this means we’ll have to leave the lights on up here now,” was all Agnes could think to say to all this. Nothing this house did should surprise her any more, but a mobius slide was certain something new. “Anyway, at least you’re not dead, Claire.”

“I loved being dead, Mum,” Claire said. “I can’t wait until I’m dead for real. It’s going to be so much fun! I’m going to haunt everyone!”



1. Written between May 5th and May 10th, 2021
2. The culmination of the story started in episode #22 and continued in episode #24