Story Starter: Bandstand

Magdalen Green bandstand, Dundee.

How about a traditional bandstand as the Story Starter this week? I think this one will test your creativity rather nicely.

This wonderful Victorian bandstand sits on Magdalen Green in Dundee, which is open parkland down by the river, that river being our beautiful Silvery Tay. I lived out this way until I was eight. We lived in a small flat on the top floor of a tenement, and Magdalen Green was a glorious playground at the bottom of our street for all the local kids. There was an actual playground, too, with swings, a roundabout, and a cheese-cutter – a lethal kind of seesaw that’s no doubt banned now!

Some of my most treasured old photographs are of family picnics on the grassland which has a great slope running down from the road along its top side. It’s a perfect gradient for rolling Easter eggs – or yourself! Daisy chains – I remember making them.

Oddly enough I don’t remember any bands playing in the bandstand, though they do now. It’s been refurbished in recent years; perhaps it was too ramshackle before.

Way back, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to the Green!  Go on, Google it. Thousands turned out to see his American spectacular. We actually ran a serial about it around ten years ago, written by Betty McInnes – who’s just finished another serial for us, by the way. It’ll be published later this year. It’s terrific – about the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

So, from a quietly elegant bandstand, paintwork all shiny and colourful, via childhood reminiscences, to Buffalo Bill Cody – that’s how the story starter can set your thoughts a-wander.

I wonder where your thoughts will wander off to?

I’m still looking more for 2000 or 3000 words than the shorter lengths of 1000 or 1200 words. Season wise, remember to allow three-six months between now and the season you’re aiming to be published in. To put it in the context of our production schedule, this week I’m selecting the stories for our April 8 issue. That means they’ve already been through the reading queue, been paid, illustrated and are now in stock. So think ahead.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.