I’m normally extremely punctual and so I apologise for turning up late to this particular party – but my broadband connection is kaputt.  So here I am, a day late,  and scribbling quickly during a 30-minute lunch break.

In the week when Zadie Smith refused to declare a winner of the Willesden Herald International Short Story Award, there was only one thing to read – an award-winning short story or two.  From 2004-2006 the Scotsman and Orange buddied together and ran the aptly named Scotsman Orange Short Story Award.  Authors were given one word as inspiration for their story. The best of the bunch, including the winner, were published each year in an anthology.   The word for 2004 was North.

The anthology contains 20 stories all by unknown-to-me authors. (There’s a useful search-me facility on amazon.co.uk which displays the full contents page).  Yesterday I decided to read 3 stories.   My selection criteria naturally infallible! 1) the winner – Masonry by Rob McClure Smith 2) the one with the most appealing title – Aurora Borealis by Kenneth Shand and 3) the one whose author shares a name with a character in the last book I read – All She Had to Do Was Wait – Alison Flett.

3 stories which show the diversity inherent in creative minds.  Alison Flett’s story is set in Orkney and revolves around the difficulties in celebrating Hogmanay as a single mother although the core of the story is the identity of the father.  Kenneth Shand’s Aurora Borealis is the name of a young girl who bruises so easily that the colours of her body compare (sometimes quite favourably) with the real Northern Lights.  Rob McClure Smith’s story, the winner in 2004,  is quite superb.  You are a model but you see your lover taking another woman to dinner ….  Would you a) throw a hissy fit, b) trash his car   or c) pull a stunt, involving a tall building, a northerly direction, and a national television crew?  Very entertaining.

I look forward to browsing the other anthologies in this series in the weeks to come.  The word for 2005 was Secrets and in 2006 it was Work.

I can find no reference to a 2007 award. Which leads me to conclude that this particular prize is now defunct.  Shame, a short-lived but interesting concept.

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