In 2012 I wrote a story about a day-trip on the canal – or ‘cut’ as it’s known in these parts.
It was published in the Daily Telegraph, winning their Just Back prize and appearing in January 2013 as the first story of the new year.
The Shropshire Union Canal is a great spot to spend time and walk and think and a favourite section is the stretch north of Norbury Junction in Staffordshire (pictured here).
It has influenced my work on numerous occasions including my short-listed story (Yeovil Prize 2011) The Bridge and too many blog posts to recall.
Once again I returned to the cut to write a story about a lad called Joe who suffers at the hands of the brutal Rook.
Joe suffers from hunger and cold and ill-use, but finally escapes the harshness of his environment and there is some hope at the end, although it is unlikely Joe knows it.
If that sounds a little bleak I felt Joe had found some freedom at last.
I was delighted when I learned the short story was runner-up in The Oxonian Review 2013 short story competition and they’ve published it on their website here.