Human stories

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Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances....

Solving the mystery of Arlena Twigg

The Scotsman and The New Zealand Dominion, October 3 1988

This is a most peculiar story. It has nothing to do with the Presidential election or the space shuttle or anything else. It does not even really tell you very much about America. It is just peculiar and rather sad.

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Plastic people

Mail on Sunday magazine, March 10 1989

This is the story of an American romance, of a man and a woman alone in this crazy world with only their dreams and a standard set of surgical tools to inspire them, and of how they found happiness in their own special way.

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The Westminster Abbey Game

The Guardian, August 28 1989

The Westminster Abbey Game is a contest for two teams. On one side are the Wrist Slappers, who may be male or female, are invariably elderly and grey-haired and usually wear conservative clothes from the 1940s. Then there are the Foreigners, lots of them, and preferably draped in plenty of photographic hardware.

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Giving Nick Davies a bad name

The Guardian, October 1 1991

I have never liked my name. I've always thought it dull, but, on the other hand, it has never done me any harm. Now, however, nobody at all likes my name. Suddenly, it is mud of the nastiest sort, so nasty that it may well do me harm. Because my name also belongs to someone else.

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A lifeline on Death Row

The Guardian,, April 25 1992

Jane Officer did not think much of her driver. He was playing redneck country music on his radio, he had a big belly, untidy grey hair, a mouth full of chewing gum and he was determined to inflict his opinions on her.

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Lies and confusion around the fatal sinking of a trawler

The Guardian, December 12 1992

Luck sometimes gets so bad that it no longer seems like luck at all.

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The dark side of the Bay City Rollers

The Guardian, February 13 1993

It's hard to be sure exactly when Les McKeown's bubble burst. Maybe it was right back on his first night in the Bay City Rollers when the lead guitarist ordered him to dump his girl friend and Les ended up trying to batter him on the back seat of the car. Maybe it was when the promoter in America pulled a gun on him, or when his manager was busted for gross indecency, or when he got so fed up in...

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The hatred of strangers

Options magazine, April 1 1994

It didn't take long for Jeremy Whaley to realise something was wrong. It was four in the morning, he was alone in his cottage near Petworth in the shadows of the West Sussex Downs, his dogs were asleep and all was quiet. First the phone rang, and then stopped. He was used to that happening and he might simply have turned over and gone back to sleep if his senses had not been sharpened by his years...

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Where there's a will, there's a lawyer

The Observer magazine, April 24 1994

Theobald Mathew died early one Sunday morning in July 1983 as he lay in his sister's arms in his villa in Le Treyas on the French Riviera. He was only 44 and his death was sudden but he had written a detailed will and he had appointed his lawyer and his favourite brother, Tom, as executors to carry out his wishes. His body would be shipped to England for burial and his estate would be settled very...

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The frustrated dreams of ordinary people

The Guardian, April 6 1996

It was a dark day in Lewes Crown Court, and the man in the dock looked guilty. He was a shabby little guy, probably in his early 50s, with a balding head and a black leather jacket and he was accused of making threats to kill. While he sat frowning to himself, his own barrister started hanging him out to dry, telling the jury that he understood that they were bound to dislike his client whose...

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The stolen children

The Guardian, May 25 1996

When Archie Roach was a small child in the early 1950s, he lived in a place called Framlingham, a short row of tin shacks and little brick houses which stood on a dusty, dry plateau near the edge of a gorge about 300 miles west of Melbourne. Once, his family had lived by a riverbank, where they could hunt and catch fresh fish, but the white people had come and ordered all of them - Archie and his...

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Satanism in Sussex

The Guardian, April 12 1997

Lewes is the kind of old English town that tourists like on postcards, with a flag fluttering over a Norman castle and good old pubs in twisting streets of antique homes and churches. It is an island of colour and calm, protected from the rolling green waves of the Sussex Downs by a tall white cliff of battered chalk which strikes out southwards from its eastern flank like a gigantic...

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Thieves stole everything I had - except the human connections

Thespinoff.co.nz, December 14 2015

There was one single day in March which pulled together the big theme of my whole year.

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