Mysteriously unmanned.

They hid the sites behind branded, light blue scaffold covering, like everyone, though theirs was superfluous for much longer. A marketing exercise, I suspect. I’d been seeing them around in the midst of a growth period for the housing market — a period that never seems to end in this country— and I was curious and I started skipping regular beats to keep an eye on their new developments.

The guys that let the trucks in, the trucks that filled the roads all day headed both in and out, were suspicious of me and at least one of them came…


What they don’t check in at the concierge desk of your nearest upmarket hotel, although they likely should — and we have made the recommendation to operators around the country in our most recent newsletter—are your secrets.

They’re portable and hard to discern and harder still to tease out from behind the polished marble of reception but they speak in small ways to those whose job it is to watch for them, to send champagne up with the bellhops at the right time, to know when an unexpected expense is just the cost of a good host.

Here at the…


Like one of these but on — and they’re not often let on in a Mercedes. Or turned on at all.

What should we do about those who never turn off their indicators on the highway?

We could try to pay them no mind but that’s easier said than done when you’re trying to plan when to indicate and merge yourself, as if perhaps they’re just signalling a mile out from the exit that they will be turning — as you’ve seen them do—but the truth is most likely that they don’t know that it’s on.

This can be hard to believe if you’ve ever caught the glimpse of flashing green lights bouncing off the bitumen or off the tail end…


In a chair like his he worked his magic.

Alonso was classically Italian — round and good at what he did best. It was a niche service, a storefront slotted in between an aging fish and chip place and the only butcher for three miles. The closest barber was across the road and Alonso benefited more from them than they did from Alonso. A small concrete island in the middle of the road separated the two provincial lanes.

People would come from all over and they would find Alonso outside his store smoking, waiting for his appointments, booked singularly in his only chair, and with generous time on either…


It does happen, but not all the time.

Windows down and I can hear the kids playing before we pass them by along the side of the school, the buildings flat then tall, loose gravel crunching under the tires. A whistle in the distance and I pull onto the yellow line at the square head of the long thin carpark and Julie and I climb out.

She heads for the canteen at the front of the shed at the bottom of the hill as I slide the doors at the back of the van open and haul out the first of the boxes. I carry them down towards…


A still from episode 10 of Retcon, ‘Fulltime’

Welcome to Retcon, your first choice for a second chance.

The first season of Retcon, released online as an independent web series, leaned into the restrictions inherent in the coronavirus lockdowns around the world.

Written, produced, and shot from my laptop in my flat in London — before we returned home — with a team of Australian collaborators, the show hinged on that distinctive call. The last thing travellers do before they leave.

The series had both benefited and suffered from the Zoom-shot format restrictions. Scheduling became simple, production was streamlined, and we experimented with the format to avoid the ubiquitous video-on-black screen we’d all become unpleasantly used to. Opting…


It really had no idea what to do with it, which you’d suspect was not a surprise, but it was an avid tennis player already. Perhaps it was more the shape of the ball, that it was made for feet not for racquets held in the hand, that bewildered it so.

It pressed at the ball with its long foot, careful not to pierce it although the surface was already flaking away. The ball rolled away revealing a tattered new side and the wallaby leapt at it but its toe just punted it away towards a eucalypt. …


This is a very short story about a stage manager who cut a hole in the roof of the theatre to let the Moon shine in over the midnight show forgetting that as the seasons changed the usefulness of the hole would wax and wane.

Local critics at the first and second preview found it to be a cute touch but cloud cover on the opening night seemed to spoil the illusion somewhat so, in a calm frustration, our stage manager did not sleep. Instead, he cobbled together the longest ladder he could out of whatever happened to be loose…


Two brothers, one job, no hope.

Lemon Moon is the precautionary tale of two brothers, Clark and Winslow, who abandon their lives on Earth to head for the new opportunities on the Moon. But the only thing they’ve ever done together is run a lemonade stand as six-year olds so they’re trying that again on their new, sparsely populated home.

Over the 2020 Easter long weekend, with the whole of the United Kingdom in lockdown, social media use spiking, and Netflix beginning to run out of new shows, I decided to put my social experience to use to market the pilot (currently only) episode.

With just…


Foxe Basin, by USGS.

It must have come from the grounds around the school, from what’s left of old forest at the base of the bricks bearing the height of the Overground. Your light is dim and yellow, the only one in the street still not off, and you feel the cool of its streaking light even from the first floor.

You slowly cross the living room trying not to wake the couple downstairs with too loud steps and pull an almost-dry coat from the off radiator. You go back to the couch but you look out the open window as you sit to…

Zac van Manen

Writer, producer, social.

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