1. Train from Delhi to Agra, March 2004. The train from Delhi to Agra took just three and a half hours, by far the shortest journey of my entire Indian adventure. And the trip flew by faster still when I found myself seated opposite this bright-eyed, bushy-tailed duo. Working in Delhi as criminally underpaid call operatives, they were heading home to Agra for the weekend and seemed thrilled to meet me. Bespectacled boy was a big cricket fan, but despite my admission that I didn’t follow the sport, insisted on peppering me with queries I couldn’t answer (“How rich is Ian Botham?”). As we pulled into Agra, I did the photographic honours and presented them each with a 50p coin, plucked from a little bag I’d prepared for such occasions. “God bless the queen!” cried checkered-shirt-boy, giving his gift a passionate irony-free kiss. And off we went in our separate directions, never to meet again.
It’s Leighton Literature’s 1st birthday!
Does it feel more than a little egomaniacal to wish my own website a happy birthday? Sure, but **** it you only live once.
I can’t quite believe it was a year ago today that I published my first post. Since then I’ve released thirty-two short stories, twenty album reviews and eight installments of my photo series. When I launched the site I was living in Beijing, where a cushy teaching schedule left me with bags of free hours. It was an incredibly productive and fruitful time, some mornings I would set up camp in a local café and slip into a literary coma that would consume me for hours.
I don’t know about you but I’m so relieved to have finally finished my India series! Of my three short story collections to date, this was by far the toughest to put together!
Some of the installments had been written years ago but felt so underwhelming I was forced into complete re-writes. A lack of decent photographs meanwhile had me scrambling around the web seeking out suitable shots I could use without getting into copyright trouble.
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 Dolphin, Jordan Stein and Martina Stolarikova, your support has made a massive difference.
The short stories published on this website are all based on real life experiences from a life spent living and working abroad. Click on the ‘travel’ link below for an overview of where the wind has taken me. It also serves as a sneak peek at the short stories to come!
Thanks for reading,
What more is there to say about The Beatles? Pioneering, prolific, insanely talented and highly influential; they virtually wrote the book on popular music as we know it. I could have easily filled my Top 20 with three or four of their records. But having set myself strict guidelines (read more here), some tough decisions were in order and I had to settle on just one.
Would it be the arty progression of Rubber Soul? The revolutionary leap of Revolver? The meticulous orchestrations of Sgt. Pepper’s? Or perhaps even the medley-driven ebb and flow of Abbey Road? In truth it could have been any one of them. But for me it’s always been their eponymous release, better known as The White Album, that best sums up the fab four’s incomparable greatness.