BackStory: Five Questions with Jude Higgins

A Landsturm Duet (detail)

BackStory: Five Questions with Jude Higgins
Author of Send Him Victorious

What inspired you to write this piece?

It was inspired by a black and white 1930s photograph of two children playing at the shore while a boat came in. In the stern, as in the story, there was a man playing a guitar. I’ve written another story about a child being confused by the words of the national anthem. This one has much more hanging on the word ‘victorious’. I think I first drafted it in November 2015 when the right wing press were making a big deal of Jeremy Corbyn not joining in the singing of the national anthem at a Remembrance Day event, soon after he was elected leader. He was more interested in staying silent out of respect for those killed in wars.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?

I’d go back to the 1890s in Leeds and spend time with my grandfather, Joseph, who was a young man then and he rode a penny-farthing. In this scenario, I’d be the same age as him. I’d have a go on his bike. Maybe I’d go along to the music halls with him. I’d ask him everything I wish I’d asked when he was still alive, grill him on his politics and take copious notes. I’d get to know his future wife, May, and find out about the lives of women like her, the daughters of professional men. I’d try out wearing one of those dresses with bustles and a little hat with a veil.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?

When the national anthem was still played at the cinema or concerts at the end of performances in the 1950s and 60s I always refused to stand up and sing, even though I was quite young and my father was standing to attention next to me. Unlike my character, it wasn’t to do with a relative being killed in a war. I thought singing it was an imposition. And I didn’t believe in the words.

What do you like most about writing flash fiction?

Finding a beginning, an ending and a title that work perfectly together. I haven’t done it that often, but when I do, it makes me very happy.

Three words that describe my favourite place to write are:

Do Not Disturb