Collected Writings - Vol II builds on from the first volume. It's a further collection of short stories with a wide and varied subject matter, ranging from the slightly humorous, A New Dawn, and two Christmas themed tales; Timothy’s People and A Letter to Santa, to the definitely serious, But For the Grace of God.
As with Vol I there should be something for everyone.
But For the Grace of God is a social commentary not only on the plight of the homeless but also the different reactions people have to the situation. One of the main characters, Albert, a recent widower, also appears in the story, A Quartet of Seasons.
A Quartet of Seasons, a story of despair and hope, follows the life of Albert in the months after his wife’s death until his meeting with the homeless man, Tony, at Christmas.
The Chicken Man’s Wife is a dark tale of a woman who feels marginalised after forty years of marriage.
A Touch of the Serendipitous continues the story of Robert and Jacqueline begun in A Chance Encounter in Vol I.
Timothy’s People is a tale told within the framework of isolation but this one brings a more magical, uplifting Christmas feel with it. Another, Christmas themed tale is A Letter to Santa which includes, if only in passing, a reference to Brexit. It was a subject that refused to be ignored altogether that year.
That’s the Way To Do It, doesn’t fit any particular category; it’s just a story. It’s subtitled, Punch, Lord of Misrule. Hopefully, by the end of the tale you’ll see why.
The last six stories are a suite based loosely around the collective title that I’ve given them, The Times Challenge.
Between January 13th and February 17th, 2019 Times Newspapers published six photographs from its archives in The Sunday Times editions. Each photograph was accompanied by a short story written by Alexander McCall Smith.
The Times then challenged its readers to submit stories with their own interpretation of the pictures. Readers’ stories were limited to a maximum of 1,000 words each. These six stories are my interpretation of those pictures.