My Photographs: Top 5 Bratislava.

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1Schöner Náci, September 2002. I’ll never forget the magical year I spent living and teaching in Slovakia’s gritty capital. Although a relatively small city, upon arrival it felt like I’d been dropped in some gargantuan Soviet bloc jungle where a dense concoction of dark, gray and unsmiling was the order of the day. Thankfully, the city’s tight compact old town saved the day with its historical buildings, artsy cafes and grungy bar scene. A collection of cutesy historic statues added much to the district’s enchantment too. This one stands in honour of Ignac Lamar, a renowned Bratislava vagrant whom the locals supported with free food and occasional cleaning work. Famously friendly and charming, if not a little mad, he was a regular city sight; strolling around in his tails and top hat, greeting people and kissing the hands of ladies. For a more detailed insight into my first impressions of Bratislava, check out my short story Up on the Hill.

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End of series update, The Slovak Files.

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Dear readers,

It’s four months to the day that I launched Leighton Literature and a timely moment indeed to celebrate the end of my second short story series, The Slovak Files. Putting together its twelve instalments was a real challenge, but also one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever undertaken.

Along the way I got back in touch with a host of old friends, people who played a hugely important role in my life that year, unwittingly helping to shape me into the person I am today. In addition to catching up and getting all nostalgic, they also provided invaluable memories, priceless insight and old photographs that I gleefully incorporated into my tales. So I really can’t say enough of a thank you to Jon Crisp, Bill Phillips, Myles DolphinJordan Stein and Martina Stolarikova, your support has made a massive difference.

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The Slovak Files – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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“All packed up?’’ asked Goldblum from the hallway as I dropped the last few items into my rucksack. As exciting as it was to be off on another adventure, I knew it was gonna be a slog lugging all my stuff around, an unavoidable downside of life as a professional transient.

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Minx Manor – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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‘‘Minx alert!” announced Goldblum one morning, arriving at our table with a coffee and a sorry looking McMuffin. “Where?’’ asked Ben, craning his neck to see. ‘‘Not here’’ chuckled Goldblum, ‘‘Little Katka told me three new gals have arrived. And guess where they’ve shacked up?’’ ‘‘On the hill?’’ I asked with a sleepy smile. ‘‘Yah’’ he confirmed, taking a chunk out of his eggy monstrosity, ‘‘looks like we’ve got three new neighbours’’. ‘‘No guarantees they’re minxes” pointed out Ben, nursing his coffee. ‘‘Irish Mike has already gotten a glimpse’’ explained Goldblum, ‘‘and he’s forecasted a general outbreak of Minxomatosis”.

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Me Fish Be Dead – a short story from Slovakia.

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‘‘How’s your love life Lignon?’’ asked Irish Mike one night at The Slovak Pub. It was one of those sleepy midweek gatherings that had kicked off with half a dozen teachers, but soon fizzled out to just a few late night stragglers. ‘‘Ha!’’ I replied taking a gulp of Zlaty, ‘‘it’s interesting… confusing… unpredictable… and not half as eventful as you’re thinking’’.

‘‘Who’s Busminx?’’ grinned Clockwork Orange Paul as beside me Ben shrunk back into his chair, doing his best to suppress a ridiculing chuckle. ‘‘You bastard’’ I muttered, without even turning to look at him.

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Party Hearty – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first pay check. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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Winter hit Bratislava hard that year and I was totally unprepared for it. ‘‘Lignon, is that your damn coat?!’’ scoffed Goldblum one day as we headed out into town. It wasn’t exactly what you’d call a winter coat, but it was all I had and I was too stubborn to buy a proper one. Before long Golblum began calling it ‘‘the pathetic piece of cloth’’ and was forever shaking his head at me as we stood shivering at the local tram stop.

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The Last King of Štúrovo – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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Ah Leighton! Do you have a moment?’’ I’d just finished an Obchodna morning class and was dashing through the lobby, keen to get my daily fix of McMinx-served coffee and fried apple pies.

Little Katka? Her shrill voice stopped me in my tracks. Oh ****, what have I done? ‘‘Sure’’ I said, trying to look relaxed as she led me into her office. Although pleasant enough in her own clipped way, the school’s assistant director was someone you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Little in name, but gargantuan in reputation, it was a widely held belief among the teachers that if you could avoid being called into her office, all was well with your Bratislava teaching career.

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