Peter Tarnofsky


A book of ten short stories where the ending is never in doubt. It’s not where they’re going, it’s how they’re going to get there.

A brief word about the title:

Many years ago, before I was old enough to know better, my standard answer to anyone asking my opinion of a film (or play, or book, or television programme) was to say that “they all die at the end” – irrespective, obviously, of the actual outcome. On at least one memorable occasion, I was accused of ruining the ending – and for a film I had not even seen. Generally, however, friends and acquaintances realised that this answer did not constitute a spoiler – until now. N.B. I no longer give my opinion of films in this way.

I’ve read a couple of excerpts from the short stories into a video camera, fiddled about on the computer and have ended up with these on YouTube.

If you have the book already, this is how those passages should sound. If you haven’t, run the film (full screen, of course) and immerse yourself.

And, finally, here are a few words from each of the stories:

Yellow Banana Smile

It was the banana that got him in the end.

Shopping Basket Crown

“On the day I was born, my grandmother looked out of her window and saw ten magpies in her back garden. She was superstitious, bless her, and she turned to my grandfather and said something like, ‘It’s either going to be a golden boy or a bastard girl’ – I’m paraphrasing, as I don’t think she used words like ‘bastard’ much.”

Ukulele Cradle King

He was lucky the security services hadn’t set the alert at ‘heightened’ this morning or he might have found himself in the back of a police van before he had a chance to tell them he couldn’t even play the thing and that, even if he could, it was missing its E string.

No Second Swing

He went to the cinema in the afternoons when it was cheaper and when he could sit where he liked and when he often had the room to himself, or only had to share it with a handful of others who spaced themselves out around the cinema, possibly due to each objecting to the scent of the others. Some of the scents were potent. Colin couldn’t always remember whether he had bothered to shower that morning.

Rogue Santa (a Christmas treat, available in full on this website)

His beard swayed menacingly. Three more of the five-year-olds began to cry. Another two started when he attempted a Bhangra head move. His eyes moved to the left, his beard slid to the right and the bell at the end of his hat rang to its own syncopated beat.

Nocturnal Crème Brûlée

I turned towards him, squeezed the trigger again and confronted him with the full-frontal assault of my nakedness and my fire. I threw in a primeval yawl for good measure.

Head Stand Ascension

She wonders if the car driving past the house is answering an emergency call, hurtling to the rescue, taking its driver into confrontation and danger, or whether the driver is just another policeman showing off to a girl.

High Thumb Cuticle

Bob knows who’s happy and who’s not, Bob knows just where to stick the knife and how far he can twist it. Bob knows when the time is right to entertain the troops, entertain himself, sacrifice another goat.

Soft Shoe Kick

“You’ve seen these scars, you can’t stop looking at them, you know I can handle myself.”
“Actually, those scars make me think you can’t handle yourself.”

Two Sole Certainties

Freddie was being told he couldn’t have a piano (but that they could rent him one). Roger was being asked to stop hitting the drums so hard because he kept breaking drumsticks and replacing them, apparently, was an unbearable expense. Certainly no one would have stumped up to buy Brian a new fireplace.

If you want a little more…

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