The Soup Bowl

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #3 Stealing

Apart from the obvious crime of stealing employee time, Brian Brehmer, retail worker extraordinaire, talks about the weird and wonderful acts of theft that he has seen while working in retail.

Talking Soup Talks: #1 The University Experience

In a new series of interviews and reviews, the editorial team at Talking Soup kick off a new series of podcasts. In this pilot episode our digital editor, John Smith, takes a look at the issues surrounding students in a time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Should they stay or should they go? If you want to take part in the podcast, then please get in touch.

The Joys of Field Testing Agricultural Equipment

Our resident factotum, Brian Brehmer, opens up the oeuvre of his work experience. This time he recounts the inherent joys of working as a field tester for agricultural machinery firm, Briggs and Stratton.

I Was Verbally Abused by a Tudor

I was verbally abused by a Tudor pedlar at the weekend. That is not a sentence I ever expected to write but I write it now in a fit of pique.

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #1 Eleven Years of Selling Shoes at Kmart

Brian Brehmer tells the inside story of 11 years of selling shoes in that most American of institutions, Kmart. Expect exploitation, pointless management, poor pay and a nod to the death of an American ideal.

Land of Eternal Thirst

Bisbee, Arizona. Leah Mueller talks of family, loss and going back to what you have always known.


‘To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time — and in one’s work. And part of the rage is this: It isn’t only what is happening to you. But it’s what’s happening all around you and all of the time in the face of the most extraordinary and criminal indifference, indifference of most white people in this country, and their ignorance’ – James Baldwin.

Broken Saturday Night

Wet, half-sober, tired and bored. The meaninglessness of Saturday night for a disillusioned thirty-something.

The Battle of the Heart Over the Mind

Life is full of changes, and with younger folk are ever-more trapped in a cycle of work and rent, Fulvio Milesi joins us to give us his take on leaving a job that appealed to the mind, but not the heart.

Standing Appointments

In a powerful piece, Ramona Long reflects on her mother’s death from Covid-19, and looks back at her relationship with the beauty shop, one of the few all-female spaces in a male-dominated world.

Her Last Hurrah

As his mother-in-law’s mental health deteriorates, Jim Ross finds himself faced with the difficult tasks of looking after a loved one with dementia.

Carpet Fitter’s Christmas Rush

Brian King, who has worked in the flooring and carpet-fitting industry for 30 years, joins Talking Soup to talk about the Christmas rush for carpets and flooring and the toll it takes on the workers.

Stupidly, I Knowingly Broke Quarantine in Spain and was Instantly Apprehended by Police

Robert Locke, a temporarily unemployed travel company representative, woefully disregards government quarantine regulations and takes to the streets in his adopted home of Malaga, only to be arrested almost immediately.

The Joys of Boys

In a new series on parenthood, Yvonne Hardman, 45-year-old mother of three teenage boys, gives us a stark but witty warning about what is in store for any potential parents.

Parent’s Day

As part of a new series on parenthood, Dee Caples takes a look at the huge perspective shift from childhood to adulthood, and debates what parts to keep and what to throw out when we raise our own children.

Pandemic Solidarity?

With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, John Smith looks at the fickleness and falsehoods that underly the outpouring of public solidarity.

Finding Old Friends

In our adversarial society where politics seem to triumph over personal connections and even common sense, finding old friends seems almost anachronistic. Historical relationships provides the promise of glue that keeps us joined to our own lives. Connectivity offers hope in an uncertain world.

In Search of 53 German Student Girls      

The dance that night was in a converted cinema. We sat in the front row seats and watched the natives giving it, like it was 1919. Country and western was big in the hinterlands back in the day. Sugary sweet songs of the poor emigrant Paddy in his bed-sit in London, pining for his golden haired girlfriend and his silver haired mother while he drank himself into a stupor.

How Black Was My Thumb?

I finish my £8.30 pint and head for where I used to live. Why? I’ve started writing now, I might as well go. It’s an ex-council block. East London thick brick. Rubicon cans on the stairwell, faulty lifts. A kid called Abdi that tries to sell you weed every time you see him, even though you tell him that you don’t smoke weed. It was him that I thought I saw walking past the pub. He’s got a dog. He told me that it is was rare for a Bengali to have a dog. I wonder if he’s still here?

Ice Cream, Whiskey, and Rain

My vacation condo’s washer/dryer combination is tiny and inefficient, so I launder my comforters ten miles away at the decrepit Maple Fuels Wash-a-Ton. The old-school machines don’t take credit cards, only quarters. It takes a lot of quarters to wash a pile of gamey comforters. Since my mortgage and HOA fees are high, I have to rent my place to overnighters through Air Bnb. The guests are often careless, spilling wine and body fluids willy-nilly on the bedclothes.

Please Let Me Cry

I have given up so many times, thought I had hit absolute rock bottom, but after this morning I want only to cry, just cry, Lord please let me just cry. I want that great, cleansing, belly-shaking rain of tears that I had wished would come for depressed Cassie, but I can’t. I can’t cry. I try to bring something up from deep in my chest but nothing comes. I realize now that ghosts have no bodily fluids. Tears, blood, semen, sweat; these are the province of the living.

Back to the Football #5 Horta vs CE Europa

From a global perspective, living in a world in which absolutely nobody seems to be able to agree on anything, it is in fact quite reassuring that one thing in life remains unilaterally recognised. I’m not referring to the the Geneva Convention or the Unilateral Declaration of Human Rights, fated as these are by the capriciousness of feckless dictators and ardent populists. No, the world can tear itself to bits, yet one thing will remain constant, from Santiago to Sydney, that being that the referee is, and has always been, a wanker.

Barcelona Burns. A week in protests.

The centre of town burns, the fires of the barricades rise until late at night. Seen from above the city recalls scenes from its past, when Barcelona gained the nickname of Rosa de Foc. But we are in 2019, a time when political dissent is intertwined with late capitalist tendencies, and indeed you can see Glovo’s workers diligently darting around the front of a barricade fire. Because in the burning city there are those who do not give up ordering sushi at home.

Inside the Canine Head

But the metamorphosis deepened, and I became the most frightening apparition of all: the man who really was a dog. All human perspective was gone now. I was a tall dog standing on its hind legs, teetering close to traffic. This was serious. I could bolt into an oncoming car, or nip a passerby in my confusion. I looked around me at the world of people, orderly for them but incomprehensible to me.