First-Person Short Story Competition - Winner

David Hobson

First-Person Short Story Competition


David Hobson now resides in BC, Canada, but he grew up in Lancashire. He is a life-long, avid reader and has always had an interest in writing. Once he retired he decided to get more serious in the task and has self-published a non-fiction and a children’s fiction book. However it was only after completing a WM Short Story Course that he decided to experiment with different genres. He is delighted and amazed with this first contest win.

Wandering By David Hobson

I wandered lonely as a cloud o’er vales and hills and the odd stream and a couple of stiles plus through a five-barred gate and not to mention, stubbing me toe on a stone which I thought were loose when I kicked it, but it wasn’t. Anyway, I don’t know what that bloke was on about ‘cos I aint seen no bloomin’ daffodils. Maybe it’s because it’s June and they’ve all died off or sommat. I dunno.
Whatever. I don’t suppose it matters about seeing daffodils. I’m just enjoying the walk. Well, when I say enjoying, what I actually mean is that, I’m not disliking it. To be honest, I’m not really taking in all the beautiful countryside or appreciating the scenery as I normally do. I’m just wandering. Walking anywhere to get me mind off her and out o’ me life.
Two hours ago we’d been having lunch in that lovely hotel restaurant down by the lake, when she suddenly says that she doesn’t want to keep seeing me. Well, I were that surprised I nearly spilled me tea. I thought she were gonna come out with one of them ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ speeches, but she didn’t. She said it were me.  Told me I was too boring for her. Said she wanted a bloke with a bit more excitement.
I thought she were interested in me stamp collection and all me old Big Band 78rpm records. That gramophone’s worth a lot of money, I’d told her. Apparently, not even our Friday night visits to the fish and chip shop had held her attention.
It turns out that she’d been wooed by Big Stuart and his motorbike.  Him of the leather jacket, tattoos, beard and nose ring. Apparently, he’d taken her for a ride and she felt exhilarated with 500cc throbbing between her legs. Too much competition for my old 50cc Vespa.
We’d been dating (if you can call it that) for seven months, two weeks and three days and, in all that time we’d only kissed 23 times. That’s less than once a week. I’d tried to get a bit more amorous once, but that ended in disaster when me mother burst into the living room and asked if we wanted a cup of cocoa. That seemed to put a kibosh on proceedings and she said she’d better go home ‘cos it were getting late. So, I walked her to the bus stop. The Vespa was in the garage being repaired.
I didn’t see her for a week after that and, when I did, I tried to apologize and offered to take her to the pictures. She agreed to go but was too busy eating her popcorn to let me put me arm around her or anything. What I didn’t know then, but found out later, was that she’d already met Big Stuart and got her leg over his Kawasaki.
So, here I am, wandering lonely as a wottsit and wondering what comes next. I’m glad I took that last scone off the plate and brought it with me. I’d paid for it after all and, it was too good to waste. Just a pity I couldn’t have put the jam and cream on first. Never mind, it’s still yummy.
I’ve no idea where I’m going but the path I’m on looks well used and, importantly, it doesn’t look too steep either. I don’t mind walking, in fact I quite like it and did think about joining a rambling club once. What put me off was the thought of having to talk to lots of strange people during the ramble. I’m not one for socializing much; I prefer me own company and just drifting off into me own imaginations. I do like to listen to music though. Classical mostly. I’ve got quite a few good tapes that I play on me Walkman when I go on a walk. Usually. But I forgot to bring it today. On account of having lunch with her. I didn’t expect to be walking.
On I plod for about an hour, thinking of all sorts. I don’t think too deeply when I walk ‘cos I just like to listen to me music and admire the scenery.But today I’m thinking.  Mostly about what I’m going to do next now that I don’t have to consider her. I’ll just get on with me work and concentrate on doing a good job. There’s a possibility of a promotion in the next six months ‘cos the boss keeps hinting at it. Mind you, there’ll be a lot of competition in the office and I’m not exactly one of the hot favourites.
I wonder if the boss’ll choose Mary. She’s nice and gets on well with everyone. She even smiles at me sometimes. Yes, Mary. She’s a really good worker and always meets her targets. I’ll bet she’ll get the promotion. Or Gerry. He’s another one. Doesn’t like me much but he’s always sucking up to the boss. Smarmy git. Posh suits and gelled hair. Well, if he gets it, at least he’ll be out of the office a lot more. Good thing too.
It’s the Craft and Hobbies Fair next month. There’ll be lots of stamp traders there so I could get them to look at me collection. I wonder if there’ll be anybody selling 78rpm records. I’ll have to find out ‘cos I wouldn’t mind trading some of mine for new ones.
Me feet seem to have brought me to familiar ground. It looks like I’ve come back into the village, only at the other end. I must have gone round in a circle. Still lots of people milling around, so it mustn’t be time for the buses to leave yet. The place gets a lot quieter when all the tourists and day-trippers go home. I’ve always liked coming here whatever the time of year. It gets packed in Summer, obviously, but there’s still quite a few about in Spring and Autumn. In Winter it gets too cold for visitors, but I don’t mind coming and just enjoying the views of the lake from the café.
Here is a Sea of Tranquility for me; not the Moon one, just a haven of peace and quiet where I can get away from the bustle of town and tensions of the office. Now she’s not gonna be around I can get back to just pleasing me, myself and I. Tomorrow I’ll be back in the grind; the frenetic world of insurance. All those ledgers, policies and computer printouts. I can’t wait. Well, actually, I can.
Just one more stroll around the village before I go back to me little flat over the bakery, and me mother. No, I don’t want to buy any postcards, Beatrix Potter souvenirs, books, Kendal Mint Cake, or outdoor adventure wear, thank you very much. I’ve seen ‘em all a million times before but they still give me pleasure as I watch tourists ooh-ing and aah-ing over everything. Of course, the shopkeepers couldn’t do without them. But I’m not a tourist. I’m just a sad frump, dumped by a girl who thought I was too boring.
I suppose I should find me Vespa and go home. But maybe another drink before I go. Another cup of tea or, maybe I should drown me sorrows with a pint of bitter in the pub. Two things aid my decision. One, I don’t drink alcohol. Two, I’m driving, well riding, technically. So back to the tea shop for a cuppa. And maybe a chocolate éclair.
I stroll through the village to my favourite tea shop, overlooking the lake and three doors down from the hotel where she’d given me the bad news earlier. To get there, I had to pass a pub called the Rose and Crown. No, I wasn’t giving in and going in. I was sticking to me principles. But there, parked in front of the hostelry was something that stopped me in me tracks. Was that what I thought it was? I stepped forward to get a better look. Yes, a Kawasaki 500cc.
So, she’d not only dumped me, but gone straight off with him only minutes later. Well, that just let me know the type of girl she really was and how lucky I’d been to escape from her. At least, that’s what I was telling myself. Inside, I still felt the pain, the humiliation, the anger. This called for drastic action. I’ll teach her to make a fool of me. I’ll teach her that she can’t trifle with my affections.  I’m not going to let her bring me down. I can get over her just like that and I can prove it. Not only would I have a chocolate éclair but a custard slice as well.  And a pot of tea, not just a cup.
Tomorrow, it would be back to the boredom, but today I was going to celebrate the return of my freedom and my sanity.  And to her I say, good riddance.

Judges Comments

The most important element in any first-person story is voice. The voice in Wandering, the standout winner of WM's First Person short story competition, is an idiosyncratic, hilarious joy.

Comic writing is hard to get right – the line between funny and facetious can be very thin. But in Wandering it feels effortlessly delivered: the kind of quirky, low-key, deadpan humour that characterises, for instance, Jim Archer's 2022 gently odd film comedy Brian and Charles or the writings of Magnus Mills. David Hobson puts the reader inside the thought processes of the narrator, roaming the Lake District, rambling on and musing in a grumpy stream of consciousness on the circumstances of a recent break-up. It demonstrates the way that every person is the star of their own show: this grouchy narrator displays no self awareness whatsover as he details the minutiae of his boring life and fails to see the reasons why his ex had been enticed away by Big Stuart and his motorbike.

Every aspect of this story works: the voice, the delivery, the pacing, the understanding that the reader will see the funny side that the narrator is entirely oblivious of. It's written with a light touch, confident in its individuality and deliciously funny. The 'boring' narrator is anything but, and at the end of the story, not only does he deserve not only a chocolate éclair but a custard slice too, but David Hobson does too.


Runner up and shortlisted:

Runner up: Terry Baldock, Ashton under Hill, Evesham. Read the story at

Also shortlisted in WM’s First Person competition were: Andrew Hutchcraft, Peterborough; Damien McKeating, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Karmen Spiljak, Belgrade, Serbia; Georgina Edwards, Shrewsbury; Kathy Schilbach, Lancing, W Sussex; Chris Bennett, Lindfield, W Sussex; Michael Callaghan, Glasgow; Jane Bidder, Paignton; Dominic Bell, Hull; Rodica Tudorana, Reading.