Friends On The Shelf #5

Friends On The Shelf is a new independent magazine, bringing you original writing and illustration from people sharing their own true life stories and experiences.

As this issue is published, the world is suffering another disaster. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is particularly poignant for the FOTS team because our Assistant Editor, Julia Lasica, is Ukrainian. She writes about life with her family and friends near Kyiv in this issue, Before The War. It is a powerful elegy to a time and place which existed until just three weeks ago.     

We also have two other articles looking at war. He Was A Quiet Man by Pablo Griffiths about his Spanish grandfather and Sheila Morgan’s story Wartime, about her family’s experience during WW2 remind us that the trauma inflicted is long lasting, and felt for generations.       

Yet even against the backdrop of pandemic and war, life goes on. Each individual experience matters, and the small things that happen to people can tell us important things about the wider world.     

We passionately believe that humour makes life worth living. Julia tells us that for the Ukrainians now, a vital mode of defiance is laughter. Hear, hear! We have a fabulous collection of comically poignant and downright hilarious stories, including I Love Ewe by Simon Morris, Peter Curran’s Do You Believe in ESP? and FOTS regular Iqbal Hussain’s funny but awful account of being treated for his stammer, aged ten, by ‘Doctor’ Shah.     

In Friends On The Shelf our aim is publish true stories from an ever-widening group of people, opening windows and conversations between communities. In this issue we are delighted to help spread the word about the non-profit EmpathyLab, and its pragmatic and essential work promoting the life skill of empathy, especially to children in school. Promoting empathy through reading lies at the core of the FOTS philosophy.     

We hope that a chord will be struck in our readers, when they glimpse into other people’s lives through the true stories on our page