Flashers’ Club V

Hot on the heels of October’s LitCrawl success came Flashers’ Club V, an intimate evening featuring zombies, cling-film, orang-utans and socialist Terminators. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, you missed out. Join us next time.

There are no photos of the evening, owing to a technical problem (I forgot the camera), but we had something even better in the form of live cartoon drawings of the event by fantastic guest writer Sion Owen. You’ll find his drawings throughout this post. If you’re depicted and you want the original then send me a message via the contact form, and I’ll post it to you.*

The night kicked off with Mark Webber reading Rapunzel update ‘Was it the hair that snared him?’, followed by Rod Griffiths’ Halloween-appropriate ‘The Ghost In The Floor’, Jeff Taylor’s story-with-a-twist ‘Harvest Festival’, Robin Barker’s claustrophobic ‘The Absence of Light’, and Lynda Fowke’s refugee tale ‘The Shawl’. The first half concluded with Sion Owen reading flash fiction political piece ‘The Wall’.

The second half featured Jason Jackson with factory gothic ‘The Nightshift Kid’, Rosalind Bayley’s meditation ‘Time and Tide’, Robin Barker’s zom-com (sorry) ‘Quorn of the Dead’, and Ken Frape’s fantastically nasty ‘Bobby and Margot’. We wrapped up the night with Sion reading four interlinked flash fictions which connected to make one political satire, ‘Vermin’.

The stories were a real mix of styles and genres, which made for a great night. One of the reasons Flashers’ has a ‘no genre restrictions’ rule is that we want to feature all fiction: general, literary, historical, horror, sci-fi, satire, fantasy are all welcome. Occasionally the cuts from one piece to the next may be abrupt, maybe even startling; but that’s the joy of open mic. It’s a lucky dip.

We raised £44 for First Story, so thank you to everyone who bought a ticket. Thank you especially to Sion, who came all the way from the Rhondda to share his flash fic, and presented us with his fantastic caricatures. Sion has a book out, ‘Cawl’, featuring his drawings and writing. Do take a look. You can also follow him on Twitter @sionmun.

Thank you also to the kind people at The Ham Free Press, who provided us with the magazines we gave away to all our readers. If you’d like to submit to them you can find their website here; or if you enjoyed their work and you’d like to let them know @HamFreePress then please do!

The next Flashers’ Club will be on Thursday 8th February at Smokey Joe’s Coffee Bar. Doors at 7:30pm, start at 8. The usual open mic session PLUS multi-anthology flash fic genius Tania Hershman PLUS free lit! Join us then. In the meantime, keep up with us on Twitter @flashers_club, or on Facebook /flashersclubcheltenham.


*Also check your e-mail cos there’s a message from me in your spam asking about bios for the website. Kthx.



Flashers’ Club III

The reading list filled up quickly at Flashers’ Club III. At one point it looked like the names-out-of-a-hat form might actually be pressed into service. Had one more reader signed up then it would have been, but happily there were exactly ten writers itching to perform. The names-out-of-a-hat-form lives to fight another day. If it survives August then we should probably celebrate its one year anniversary at November Flashers’.

With ten readers out of fifteen attendees, Flashers’ III was all about the writers. The standard was fantastic. It was a privilege to host an event at which so many good writers chose to share their work.

Chloe Turner kicked us off with the evocative ‘Pwllgwaelod’, and Jim Moeller followed with ‘Joanne Bags a Boy’. Megan Paul read ‘The Fiver’, Hayden Downey ‘The Benefits of Sleeping with Grief’, and Laura Bolton wrapped up the first half with ‘Drunk Girls’.

After a break for some drinks and writing chat (novel-related despair, submissions successful and otherwise, who’s going to which live lit night), we were back with Steven John and ‘The River Severn at Arlingham’. Michael Hurst followed with ‘The Amiable Jocks’, then Courtney Hulbert with ‘Ghost Rider’. Iris Lewis took to the mic to read ‘Shadows In Her Mind’, and finally Mark Rutterford rounded up the night with ‘She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not’.

A remarkable 7/10 of our readers had never read with us before. A big welcome to you: we hope you’ll read with us again.

The free lit from Open Pen went home with all our readers. We hope you enjoy it! Open Pen is open to submissions all the time, so if you’re interested, why not check out their website, here.

Ticket sales and kind donations from the University of Gloucestershire meant we raised £69 for First Story, so as always, a huge thank you to everyone who bought a ticket.

Donation screenshot

Finally, many thanks to everyone who tweeted about Flashers’ or sent e-mails saying how much you’d enjoyed the night. It means a lot, and is really appreciated at Flashers’ HQ. A special mention too for Hayden and Laura, who were on hand to help with the ticketing if the night got busy. Cheers!

Flashers’ Club will be returning in early August (date coming soon), with special guest Jane Bailey and another lot of lovely free lit! See you then.



100 word stories from First Story

After our last donation to First Story, they sent us a thank you letter. Enclosed within were two postcards printed with the winning and runner-up stories from their 2016 ‘100 Word Competition’. They’re written by First Story students and we think they’re great. Here they are for you to enjoy too.


Flashers’ Club II

Flashers’ Club I was, naturally, an event of firsts, but the theme continued with Flashers’ Club II. We had our first ever reading with a prop, which we hope has Flashers rummaging around for musical instruments and costume ideas of their own. We had four readers we’d never heard before, one of whom was sharing his work with the public for the very first time (buy that man a drink). We had our first litmag giveaway by Prole magazine. And, of course, we had our very first guest writer in the form of award-winning author and lecturer in creative writing Tyler Keevil.

Flashers’ is an organic kind of enterprise. It’s an open mic night, and 90% of our tickets are sold on the door. We have no clue how many people or how many readers to expect on the night. The stories aren’t selected, so when a reader gets up behind the mic we have no idea – none – what we are about to hear. Not even from our guest writer. And that’s what makes it thrilling. It was thrilling to see so many new faces coming through the door and joining our audience, thrilling to see writers filling up the readers’ list with their stories, thrilling to feel the attention of a whole room focused on a single voice. It was wonderful to see faces from our first event coming back for the second (regulars!) We had feedback from our readers saying how good the audience was, and from our audience saying how much they enjoyed the stories. We couldn’t ask for more.

The new guest writer feature was a hit, with Tyler Keevil delivering two sparely beautiful and assured pieces: ‘Red Dirt’ and ‘Running’. As if it wasn’t enough that he was reading for us for free, Tyler also sold copies of his novels The Drive and Fireball, his short story collection Burrard Inlet, and the student short story anthology Reflections, donating all income to our charity coffers.

Pooling the ticket money and proceeds from Tyler’s book sale, we made £126.50 for First Story. That’s an astonishing amount, and everyone who bought a ticket or a book should be rightly proud of themselves. If you’re reading this and you haven’t already taken a look at work by First Story‘s students, please do.

Our readers at the event were, in order of appearance: Mark Rutterford with ‘Ting’, Lucas Abbott with ‘Mr Greencard’ and ‘The Delicate in the Deep’, Jim Moeller with ‘A Little History of Mr Duncan’, Alex Clark with ‘The Legacy’, Tyler Keevil with ‘Red Dirt’, Hayden Downey with an untitled piece, Gill Garrett with ‘The Drop’, Nastasya Parker with ‘A Night in the Tropics’, Sophie Livingston with ‘Breathing Out’, and Tyler Keevil with ‘Running’. If you’d like to know more about any of our readers, you can find bios on the ‘Our Readers’ page. Pictures of the night are below. Come and join us next time!

img_2159Mark Rutterford


Lucas Abbott


Jim Moeller


Alex Clark


Tyler Keevil


Hayden Downey


Gill Garrett


Nastasya Parker


Sophie Livingston





Flashing the cash

Yes, it’s got to that stage already. The stage when the arts venture suddenly realises it needs to – agh – make some money.

Flashers’ Club is not a profit-making event, and those of us who help to run it will continue to do it on a voluntary basis. However, we do need a small amount of funding to run each event. That money will do things like cover our miniature but regular promotional costs, and pay our guest writers’ travel expenses (our guest writers for this and the next couple of Flashers’ will be doing it completely for free, so do give them a big handshake if you meet them). The money will keep Flashers’ viable and vital, allowing us to build a quality event and continue fundraising for First Story.

We’ve investigated local and national sources of funding, and because we need money to run Flashers’ (rather than to stage a special event or outreach programme), we’re not eligible for arts funding. To keep Flashers’ Club flashing, then, we propose to split our ticket takings 50/50: half of the money will go into the Flashers’ coffers, half to First Story. Any money out of that 50% which we retain for running costs which is not spent will then also be donated to First Story. We’ll also be making tickets £3 across the board (they’re currently £2.50 online, £3 on the night).

We’d love to know what you think about the proposed changes – either come and speak to us on the night, write us an e-mail through the Contact form on this site, tweet to us @flashers_club or message us through Facebook. For those who’d rather be anonymous there’ll be a chance to write us a comment note on the night.

Thursday’s event will of course remain exactly as publicised: all money to First Story.

See you then, Flashers!

A message from First Story

First Story, the charity which receives the proceeds of our ticket sales, has been in touch following our first donation. We’d like to share their message with you, firstly to say a big thank you once again to everyone who bought a ticket, and secondly because we think you need to see the kind of work that First Story’s students are producing.

Here’s the message:

‘I’m writing to thank you for donating to First Story the proceeds of the Flashers’ Club event in memory of your friend. We are incredibly grateful for the donation of £78; please accept this email as formal receipt of the payment received on 13th November 2016. The Flashers’ Club event is such a fantastic and fun idea, and it has been wonderful to see its support and success via Twitter.

This year, First Story is running writing residencies in 70 disadvantaged schools across the country, which is the largest number of writing residencies we have run to date. Through participating in writing workshops and other activities, our students are flourishing in confidence and creativity, developing key skills that can underpin their future success. We believe that every school-age child should have access to excellent creative provision, and your generosity could not be more timely as we grow and develop our programme.

The impact First Story has on students is truly extraordinary and it can enhance the quality of their lives. Our work simply would not be possible without those, like you, who share our vision and ambition for young people. As an example of the creativity your support will unleash this year, please find attached to this e-mail a poem written by a First Story student who is twelve years old, and who was recently commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award with this beautiful piece.’  

And here is ‘Mid-Air’, a poem by Jolina Bradley, 12.