Of Mattresses and Men

The new mattress is by and large a success, though it does have the bad habit of tipping us towards the centre, so we’re having to retrain it by lying towards the edges to flatten it out a bit. I once wrote a story about a mattress; called ‘Mem Mat’ it was about a sign I’d seen in a shop window which puzzled me greatly. What could ‘Mem Mat’ mean? Some sort of doormat? Finally the penny dropped and I realised it was a mattress made out of so-called memory foam.

I’ve never liked the idea of these. I don’t want a mattress that remembers my shape; I want to be free to assume any shape I damn well please. I want a forgetting mattress, a mattress with dementia, if you will. So I was never tempted to buy one. But the sign ‘Mem Mat’ stayed with me and sprouted into a short story in which – no, if I told you that I’d have to kill you. But happily, the story is published here and you can read it.

Everyday Fiction, god bless them, were the first people to publish me with a short story DIVORK (also available on the website). I’ll never forget the feeling when that email came back with the comment ‘this is almost perfectly publishable.’ They are quite an exacting website and wanted a couple of minor alterations but that was fine, and they went on to publish two more of mine, Mem Mat and Olympic Summer. It’s been a while since I’ve sent them anything, mostly because the stuff I write is longer than 1000 words nowadays, but maybe it’s time I di.

Speaking of Science Fiction (and with a quick nod to Chris Conway whose song Science Fiction Eyes is one of my favourites) it is quite shameful how it is disregarded in more literary circles. As OH never tires of pointing out, the concept in Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is exactly the same as Asimov’s much earlier Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and you can pretty much bet that any speculative idea you come up with has been done, and most likely done to death, in the world of SF. So a little humility in that regard is called for, I think.

I will never forget though, the difference it made to me to be published, to be able to answer with a ‘yes’ the inescapable question, the question Monty asks Marwood in Withnail and I – ‘are you published?’

Yes! Yes, I am published. Have to leave you now to send off some more stories. Toodle pip.

Kirk out

Every Day is Fiction

Many of you have been kind enough to read my story on www.everydayfiction.com about a mattress which absorbs your thoughts and feelings and ‘remembers’ them.  I was quite pleased with the story and even though EDF wanted some changes which, within a strict 1000 word-limit, were hard to accomplish, I am pleased with the result.

I went through a phase of writing slightly surreal stories where everyday objects interact with the brain to produce surprising results: another tale I’m working on at the moment is about knitting with videotape (yes, this is an actual thing and I’ve seen it done) and absorbing the images and memories from the tapes.  The main character in that story has lost two children in a car-crash and in this case the bag she makes from old family tapes, helps with the healing process.

I’m not going to tell you what it’s called because I’m quite proud of the title: the EDF story is called ‘Mem Mat’ and it was published yesterday.

Please go and have a look and either comment on here or (better still) on the actual site.

Kirk out

My Story is Published!

My short story, ‘Mem Mat’ is published today.  It’s a fantasy about a Memory Mattress which explores what would happen if memory foam actually did harbour our thoughts and feelings and ‘remember’ them.  It’s published on Everyday Fiction, a site which pays a writer a day for a story of 1000 words or fewer.  *

It’s quite hard to write a story in under 1000 words – it’s about 3 pages of A4, just to give you an idea – and with this particular publisher there is no leeway at all.  Plus, they don’t pull their editorial punches and the comments you get – even when they’ve accepted your story – can be quite hard to read.  Anyway, I’m pleased they have published another one of mine so please read and tell me what you think.  You can find the story here:


*note the meticulous grammar

Return to Sender?

Most of this post disappeared into the blogosphere yesterday: I’d spent ages writing it and then I hit ‘return’ or something and it took me literally and returned whence it came.  Wherever that was… then I started a new post today and it asked me if I wanted to restore yesterday’s post.  If only I’d known it would do that!  I tried everything to get it back… so now you have yesterday today:

Ouf!  That was a very tiring day, from which I am only just now beginning to surface.  For reasons about which I shall, for the time being, remain mysterious, I have been to Nottingham and back.  This involved a trip around the castle (not into it) and a tour of the back streets before getting thoroughly exasperated with Thing for not a) bringing directions to our venue or b) thinking to bring their phone number.  In the end we found a friendly local bobby (gosh, they really are getting younger, aren’t they?) and he set us on the right road.  I arrived hot, sweaty, tired and thoroughly irritated.  Not the best start.

It got better: after our appointment we found a small friendly cafe which had a nice line in paninis and baked spud as well as a vast range of herbal teas, and we had lunch.  We explored a little more and then got the train back again.  I was exhausted by then as I hadn’t slept well.

I’d also had a busy weekend: the Riverside Festival was heaving with folk from all over the place and as always with these events you bump into people you haven’t seen for years.  Every few yards it seemed there was a long-lost friend to catch up with; not only that, we signed up for a veg box with Riverford and bought coffee from a barge.  After that we were due at Andy’s in Birstall for dinner and wine and possibly a walk through Watermead Park (his hen-filled garden backs onto this wildlife haven).  I arrived too late for the walk but got stuck into the wine and food.

Interestingly they seem to have the same sort of bees as we do nesting in their roof:

White-tailed bumblebee on bramble - Zsuzsanna Bird - Zsuzsanna Bird

These are white-tailed bumblebees.  It’s quite amazing how many different types of bees there are.  We were worried in case ours were masonry bees which, as the name implies, make rather drastic inroads into your brickwork.  But they are in fact harmless.

Sunday at Riverside always features Sing for Water, which this year climaxed with a Bollywood song – terrific fun.  One of my all-time favourite Bollywood songs is Jai Ho, the theme tune for Slumdog Millionaire:


I love this dance sequence at the end of the film: I’d really like to learn Bollywood dance.

Aaand back to today: and it’s the usual scenario, another rejection and sending something off straight away.  That’s my tactic now – every time I get a rejection, I send something else off.  The problem with the previous story, apparently, was that nothing much happens.  That’s one good thing about Everyday Fiction, I guess – you always get feedback, even if it’s painful to read (and it is).  Still, they’ve published a couple of mine, so they can’t be all bad:


Kirk out

Here’s My Latest Publication…

Yes, I have gone and got something published again!  Yay!  This time it’s a short story about the summer of the Olympics.  Do you remember that news story about workers bussed into London and then left under a bridge because no-one knew what to do with them?


This is about that.  It’s also about debt and greed and art; it’s called ‘Olympic Summer’ and you can read it here:


I can tell you it feels really good to see my name up there.  Most of the comments are very positive too, so please visit and add your own.  Thanks!

This brings the total of my publications up to six.

I feel I should celebrate somehow.  Maybe by drinking six pints?  Hmm.  Last night we went to Occupy Leicester Cabaret where I did some poems and we had a drink or two.  This morning Mark said he felt a bit rough.  ‘You only had a pint,’ I said.  ‘A pint?’ he quipped, ‘that’s very nearly an armful!’

And so it is… after all, they used to say it’s what your right arm’s for…

Off to Tomatoes now

Kirk out




The Woman Who Read the Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year in Bed for an Hour

I’ll deconstruct that title in a mo – but first – OMG!!! two bits of brilliant news.  First, this morning I had an acceptance!  A story of mine called ‘Olympic Summer’ which I’d been waiting an AGE to hear about, has been accepted by Everyday Fiction:


These people are well worth supporting and not only because they’ve published two of my stories: they deliver a short story to your inbox every morning, and it’s completely free of charge!  I’ll let you know when mine is due – meanwhile here are some comments their editors made:

‘This piece is highly accomplished, extremely well written and has a particularly original plot arc that achieves intense tension.’

‘…very evocative of the atmosphere surrounding London during the 2012 Olympics.’

‘The author does a fine job in this of conveying the artist’s thoughts — confusion and anxiety — in such a way that we also get a deep sense of the period and place.’

‘This is a beautifully written and unique piece. I just love the backdrop and meaning of the painting for this story.’

Yes, all in all I am pretty happy this morning, and particularly so in light of the events of last night.  Because the impossible – or highly improbable – happened and Tesco’s planning application for Queen’s Rd was REJECTED!!!  They put in six applications altogether and five out of six were rejected, most by a substantial majority.  The committee seemed really impressed by the objections they’d received, but what swung it I think were the points made regarding traffic.  They’d had submissions from two local primary schools whose pupils walk or cycle and use the junction twice daily, and points were well-made about cars stopping to use the proposed ATM machine as well as people being picked up with their weekly shopping by cars which would stop at unsafe places.  But the killer was the car-park.  Tesco’s proposed a car-park in an existing space at the back; but they also proposed a chiller unit and a condenser unit.  Objectors were able to prove that lorries delivering to the shop would not be able to turn round in that space but would have to back out onto the road.  This is obviously highly dangerous on a busy and well-used junction and I’m pretty sure that’s what swung it for us.

So congrats to all especially Mags and Ian who represented local views and did so much hard work.  Of course Tesco’s can and probably will appeal but I think they’ll have a hard job proving that the rejection was made without sufficient grounds.

So that’s all good.

Good?  It’s great!

And in other news, I have started reading Sue Townsend’s ‘The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year’ which is utterly brilliant, so much so that I was in danger of staying in bed all day to read it…

Kirk out