Tyne and Wear Metro launched a competition earlier this year asking passengers to write a 250-word story based on the theme ‘Metro Morning’.
Scores of people took on the literary challenge and submitted a creative array of entries which touched on everything from trains filled with subterranean plant life to a runaway bride.
Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive at New Writing North, lent her support as a judge and selected the adult and child winners.
Steve Lancaster, 45, from Whitley Bay, picked up the first prize in the adult category for his story titled ‘Wire’ and received £100 Waterstones vouchers.
In the under 16 category, 13-year-old Gracie Ward, a pupil at John Spence High School in North Shields, was selected as the winner for her story ‘My Famous Metro Past’ and received an Amazon Fire tablet as her prize.
Both stories will be on display at a number of Metro stations across the network for fellow passengers to enjoy as they travel around Tyne and Wear.
Steve, a support worker, said: “It was my wife who urged me to enter the competition as I’m a keen writer of poetry. It’s the first story I have written since school so it’s a very pleasant surprise to have won this competition. I’m looking forward to seeing the story up in Metro stations – if it makes one person stop and enjoy their journey a little bit more then it’s been worthwhile.”
Child winner Gracie said: “I really enjoy writing but I never expected my story to win. I’m happy my school encouraged me to enter and I’m really pleased to have my story recognised by Metro and New Writing North. It’s exciting.”
Gracie was one of a number of John Spence High School students encouraged to enter the competition by English teacher, David Gibson.
David said: “We like our students to test their creativity and many of our Year 8s embraced the Metro short story challenge.
“We’re very proud to see Gracie’s story selected as the best in the children’s category. She put a lot of effort into the story, as did all our other students, so it’s well deserved.”
Judge Claire said: “The standard of entries across the board was really impressive and I was impressed by the myriad of approaches commuting writers had chosen to tell a story about the Metro.
“The writer of Wire brought a little bit of magic to the sights and sounds of the daily commute. The story had a lovely concept that was very well achieved by the writer and he’s a deserving winner. In My Famous Metro Past we are treated to life in reverse in a snapshot encounter that uses the trajectory of the Metro as a metaphor for how far the character has come.”
Paul Walker, Customer Service Director at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates Metro on behalf of Nexus, said: “We were overwhelmed with the number of people who submitted stories to the competition, it’s fantastic to see people using their Metro journeys as source to inspire creative thinking.
“The standard of entries was incredibly high and I want to thank our judge, Claire Malcolm, for lending her support and expert eye to help us select our winners, Steve and Gracie.
“Both their stories showed originality and imagination and we’re looking forward to sharing these with a wider audience. I also want to say a big thank you to every single person who took the time to write a story and send it our way. We have a great amount of talent here in Tyne and Wear.”
The competition, which was launched in August, tasked Metro users to write a story based around the theme ‘Metro Morning’ which is inspired by an artwork of the same name, by artist Anthony Lowe, located at Regent Centre Metro station.
To read the winning stories and other shortlisted entries, visit: www.nexus.org.uk/metro/
Adult winner: Wire by Steve Lancaster
The man’s knees touched the cold floor, and he was reaching towards the platform edge. He held something outstretched – a mobile phone, or an ear trumpet.
A train was approaching: the tracks were starting to sing.
A ripple, half hesitation, half urge to act, animated those of us around him. We were the morning rush; his calm seemed out of place; we wanted to haul him back.
A woman stepped forward. “Howay man!” she said. With a frown, the man drew himself up, tucked his contraption into his jacket, got to his feet. The train pulled in. When I looked for him next, he had gone.
Then there were the quiet folk. Over the months I began to notice them: men and women, on the Metro, silently plugged into their mobiles, absorbed in books with strange covers. There seemed more of them each day.
It was autumn when I saw the man again. Non-descript. He was touching the tiles outside the Metro station. I was fetching my bike.
“October chill,” I said. “Their hearts beat, you know,” he said. He had pressed his hand to the breast of a man glazed in the station’s mural.
“I saw you,” I said. “That day you were recording the rails. The way they sing.”
“You can listen if you like.” He handed me two fluted earphones.
I am plugged in. The tracks begin to sigh. It’s like a storm through a wire forest. And I can hear voices.
Under 16 winner: My Famous Metro past by Gracie Ward
Last week I took my very first step onto my local Metro. I hadn’t been anywhere near this station in years. As I strolled onto the Metro a load of flashbacks and memories appeared. It only felt like yesterday since I was a famous, young actress having cameras flashed in my face everywhere I went.
So I got on to the Metro and found a little seat right next to the window. I was happier than ever. When the Metro was travelling at a high, rapid speed I looked out through the small, rusty window and remembered the time when I got off at Tynemouth station and wandered down to the beach with my friends. Then the Metro started again and went to Cullercoats. I then had a vague memory of my famous young days filming an exciting scene on a cliff. As the Metro was waiting to start again I glanced over to my left and saw a cute, little girl standing next to me. I had no idea what she was doing.
She kind of looked like me in a way with her long, blonde, wavy hair. Then I realised she had a top on with my face printed on it. I was speechless, this girl was a superfan. This cute girl got a picture and an autograph and then wandered back to her mam. This whole Metro adventure had been a flashback from the past.
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