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Midland Hotel proves a winner for short story writer David Constantine

John Freeman

Morecambe's Midland Hotel has helped inspire author David J. Constantine to win the 2010 BBC National Short Story award with his Tea at the Midland this week.

The story centres on the Midland and the famous Eric Gill stone relief of Odysseus being welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa.

A couple visit the hotel for a romantic break, but their afternoon soon turns into an afternoon fraught with tension as discussions about the Eric Gill artwork exposes fundamental differences in their outlooks on life.

A freelance writer, poet and translator, David Constantine was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1944. His poetry books include Watching for Dolphins, Caspar Hauser and Something for the Ghosts. His novel Davies (published in 1985) won the Southern Arts Literature Prize and his non-fiction book, Early Greek Travellers and the Hellenic Ideal (1984), won the 1986 Runciman Award. He is also co-editor of the literary journal Modern Poetry in Translation, and author of the collection of short stories, Under the Dam.

Constantine said his win was "deeply satisfying. I don't think I write in a way that's realistic, naturalistic, streetwise, and modern, so it's a confirmation of what I do – and I couldn't do it any other way, the national Guardian reports.  He also called the award "an immense boost" to his publisher, Comma Press, which had sought him out specifically because they wanted to publish short stories, a form often neglected by publishers.

Coun June Ashworth, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism at Lancaster City Council, said: “We’ve always known that we had something special with the Midland and this award once again proves how blessed we are.

“Since it reopened in 2008 the hotel has attracted thousands of people to the town, and the publicity that this award gives to the Midland and Morecambe will hopefully attract thousands more.”

Listen to David's story Tea at the Midland on YouTube

• Tea at the Midland is also available to buy as a download from

• Order David's most recent collection, The Shieling here  on Comma Press
Take part in National Short Story Day (21st December)