There are always interesting reasons for the locations chosen for the what3stories website – here you can find out how the stories came into being:

Here We Go Again, by Hugh Westbrook – (///.vivid.gladiators/beams – Maternity Unit, West Middlesex Hospital)

Where better to start than where I was born, the West Middlesex Hospital. It was impossible to find the exact square where I came into the world, and my mother can’t remember precisely what the maternity unit looked like all those years ago (she was quite distracted at the time). So I’ve selected an address from the entrance to the current maternity unit to create a story.


A Message from Afar, by Hugh Westbrook (///along.pulse.watch – National Space Centre, Leicester)

I always loved astronomy when I was a child, and there are a number of sci-fi shows I have enjoyed as an adult, so I wanted to find a location as a trigger for a story in that genre. Where better than the National Space Centre, which I have fond memories of from when I visited.

In The Shadows, by Hugh Westbrook (///rugs.ranks.pies – Central Bus Station, Heathrow Airport)

Living in Oxford, there are many ways to get to London, and one of the regular routes I take is on a bus to Heathrow Airport. One day while I was waiting for a bus I checked to see what three-word location I was standing in, with a view to using it for a story. I toyed with all manner of stories involving airport buses and impossible sets of luggage, or journeys enlivened by the smell of delicious pies wafting among the passengers, but none would work. So instead I moved inside the airport itself and found the words could lend themselves very well to a tale of daily airport life.


The Artificial Leader, by Hugh Westbrook (///input.caring.brain – 10 Downing Street, London)

With the recent state of UK politics astonishing every day during the autumn of 2022, I was keen to write a story about power and those in charge. When a friend of mine showed me the above address for 10 Downing Street, it felt like a perfect combination of words for a story speculating on who might be the real power behind the office.


A Life of Fulfilment, by Hugh Westbrook (///invalidity.impose.tickling – Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan)

Bhutan remains one of my favourite countries, even though I have only visited once. My wife and I travelled there in November 2003 and enjoyed an amazing 10-day journey round the endlessly beautiful landscape. The sense of being cut off from the world was palpable. If we were to go back now, I know we would find a country that has modernised in various ways, while still retaining the magic which we felt on our visit. I have tried to capture something of that in A Life of Fulfilment.


Symphony Interrupted, by Hugh Westbrook (///saving.violin.brains – New Scotland Yard, London)

This was not a story with a personal connection to a location. I was challenged to write a dark story with a an unsympathetic lead character, so chose New Scotland Yard as an obvious location to base a story featuring a series of crimes.


The Missing Ingredient, by Hugh Westbrook (///arts.healthier.wonderfully – Brick Lane, London)

Brick Lane is one of the best places to eat in London, with plenty of great food and affordable options. So it’s probably a little unfair to end up with a story about overpriced food inspired by one of the best value food streets in the country. So apologies to the many fine eateries on Brick Lane – sometimes the words simply suggest a story. And the food critic Jay Rayner was in my mind as well when I wrote it, and a particularly scathing review he once wrote about people’s desperation to eat something just because it was expensive.


Sheep’s Clothing, by Hugh Westbrook (///endlessly.hook.blotchy – Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, UK)

I have visited Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest more than once, always enjoying the chance to see the oldest oak tree in the world. So when I decided I wanted to write a story set in a forest, it seemed the obvious location to use as an inspiration.


Silly Love Songs, by Hugh Westbrook (///hurry.weds.pencil – The Beatles Story, Liverpool, UK)

I’ve loved the Beatles for 40 years, consuming all their music and many books about them when I was a teenager and always enjoying revisiting their music. So when I decided I wanted to write something with a Beatles hook, it was a case of finding a suitable location as an inspiration.


Seeing the Light, by Hugh Westbrook (///allotment.fishlike.baroque – Ligatne nuclear bunker, Lativa)

We had a family holiday in Latvia a few years ago and one of the highlights of the trip was a tour of the Ligatne nuclear bunker, a brilliantly preserved bunker from the Soviet era. It was fascinating to see round all the different rooms of the underground complex and imagine what life there would have been like. So it was the obvious location to choose for a story which feels depressingly topical.


The Woman in the Back Row, by Hugh Westbrook (///space.divide.acted – Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, UK)

My family and I have been living in Oxford for close to 15 years, so naturally I wanted to use an Oxford location as an inspiration for a story. I am sure there will be more. The Radcliffe Camera is one of the more iconic sights in the City, and we always take visitors there, so naturally I gravitated towards it as a first Oxford location. Something about the setting inspired a story which reminded me of recent events.


Poker Face, by Hugh Westbrook (///.together.deal.zebra – Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar)

I saw a post on social media showing the exact what3words address from a key World Cup moment – the location of where the ball didn’t cross the line before Japan crossed for their winning goal against Spain – a result that put them into the next round and also knocked out Germany. So I used the words as an inspiration, together with the idea of cameras coming to the aid of a contest, as VAR did in the World Cup match. I have to say, the resulting story was not what I expected when I started thinking about it!


Just Desserts, by Hugh Westbrook (///leaned.system.hunter – Westbrook Road, Staines-upon-Thames, UK)

I was brought up in Staines – before it changed its official name to include its geographical connection to the Thames. There is a Westbrook road in Staines, named after my grandfather, who was the mayor of Staines back in the 1960s. I used this as an inspiration for a story about someone being honoured by a town. The main character in this story bears no resemblance to any member of my family!


Keeping up with the Cohens, by Hugh Westbrook (///outdone.lipstick.behind – The Western Wall, Jersualem, Israel)

I wanted to write some stories for the festive season, starting on the first day of Hanukkah, 2022. The obvious location to choose was the Western Wall in Jerusalem, as the story of Hanukkah centres around the rededication of the Temple


Who’s on the List?, by Hugh Westbrook (///straying.enlised.chemist – Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland)

For a Christmas story, where else to choose but Santa Claus village in Lapland, Finland – a place where many head every year for a little taste of Santa.


Last Year’s Resolutions, by Hugh Westbrook (///clean.wider.both – Big Ben, London, UK)

For a story about New Year’s resolutions, the obvious place to pick was Big Ben in London, the place which is most closely associated with the start of the year in the UK. In the future, there are many other places which I could equally choose as representing the start of the year.


The Eggs-treme Omelette, by Hugh Westbrook (///reading.readjust.nominations – Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA)

Many years ago I backpacked around the United States and there are many locations from that trip which have very fond memories for me. One such place is Yellowstone National Park, and I can still picture many of the amazing things I saw during my visit. One of course was the famous geyser Old Faithful, and I have chosen that as a location for a story. Unusually for what3stories, the selected location actually appears in the story, rather than acting as an inspiration.


A Nice Cup of Tea, by Hugh Westbrook (///damage.tags.path – PG Tips tea factory, Manchester, UK)

Many stories on what3stories are created by choosing a location and an address and then seeing what story emerges from those prompts. On other occasions, there is a story idea looking for a location to support it. That’s the case with this story. I had a story I wanted to write about drinking tea, and wanted to pick a suitable location to provide the words. I could think of nothing more iconic to the British tea drinker than PG Tips, so used the factory location as the inspiration.


Cooking with Robin, by Hugh Westbrook (///olive.gross.admit – YouTube Headquarters, San Bruno, USA)

I wrote Cooking with Robin a couple of years ago. It was one of my earliest forays into flash fiction and I have always been fond of it and keen to bring it to a wider audience. In terms of finding a suitable location for it, the headquarters of YouTube soon emerged as a place which seemed an appropriate inspiration. As for a specific address to use, the original story had a reference to olives, so when I found an address containing the word olive, it wasn’t a difficult decision to select that and make a couple of other tweaks to accommodate the other words..


A Taste Sensation, by Hugh Westbrook (///sushi.zest.crate – Gtech Community Stadium, Brentford, UK)

There was never any doubt that at some point I would use the home of Brentford Football Club as a story inspiration. After all, I have been devotedly watching Brentford since the mid-1970s. After around 45 years going to Griffin Park, I am now up the road at the recently renamed Gtech Community Stadium, and loving life in the Premier League. I picked the centre circle to provide the address for a story, and wrestled for some time with what that story might be. In the end, a tale about how football catering has changed in recent times came together. And no, I would never eat Sushi at a football match.


The Weight of the World, by Hugh Westbrook (///plenty.reject.fired – Weight Watchers International HQ, New York, USA)

This was one of those stories in search of a location, rather than seeing a story grow from the location and words itself. I had the idea of an ancient weight transference machine and wanted to use it in a story, so picked the Weight Watchers HQ as my location to inspire it. But I still ensured that I picked an address that corresponded as closely as I could see to the entrance to the building, and then allowed the words of the address to help dictate the narrative.

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