The Voice – a short story from The Netherlands.

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In June 2010 I arrived in The Netherlands with the notion of finally ‘settling down’. Young, in love and still just a little wet behind the ears, my girl and I had all the typical rat race dreams: Get the jobs so we could save money. Save money so we could get the house. Get the house so we could have kids. Have kids so we could be a happy family, a regular functioning cog in this big old machine we call society. What could possibly go wrong?

Leighton: Welcome to your weekly dose of Films & Stars!!! Coming up this week… Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis don’t exactly see eye to eye …

Robert Downey Jr: I despise who you are on a cellular level!!!

Leighton: Charlie Sheen definitely has no issues with acrophobia!…

Charlie Sheen: I just wanna get high!

Leighton: …and Daniel Radcliffe claims to have nothing in common with his character Harry Potter!

Daniel Radcliffe:  I think I’m allergic to magic!

Leighton: But first… sit down, buckle up and hold on tight for this week’s movie news!

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The Good, the Bad and the Naughty – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilization and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“Good afternoon Krista, how are you?” I chirped, bouncing into the classroom. “I’M FINE THANK YOU, AND YOU?” came her robotic reply, a standard response so ingrained she hadn’t even looked up from the hairband she was twiddling with. For Krista the conversation was now over; her duty done; any answer I might have to how I was actually doing completely inconsequential.

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The City and the Village Part I – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“Oh wow!” cried S as the door swung open to our bedroom. The first thing we saw was the king-size bed; a vessel of a thing set between a pair of elegant side tables. Dropping onto the mattress with a wide smile, I sank into the row of pillows and cushions, bouncing slightly on its soft springiness. There was a basket on one of the tables overflowing with shampoo, creams and gels, while someone had even been kind enough to include a packet of condoms. Now this, it seemed, was a hotel with great sexpectations! Directly opposite the bed sat a flat screen TV perched atop a wide chest of dark wood, while the marble bathroom boasted a sizeable shower, two fluffy towels hanging invitingly from a pair of sparkling hooks. “Not bad…” said S, fishing a hairdryer out of a drawer, “how much was this again?”

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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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End of series update, The Qatar Collection.

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Dear readers,

It’s Leighton Literature’s two month birthday (!) and I’ve just come to the end of my first short story series, The Qatar Collection. So it feels like the perfect time for a breather and a chance to reflect on the past eight weeks.

Firstly I have to concede that I totally underestimated how much work it would take to keep LL ticking along! The Qatar installments had all been written prior to launch, so I figured it wouldn’t be too taxing to maintain the site and knock out an album review once a week. Right?

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