25th Wedding Anniversary


Well, today is our 25th wedding anniversary.  Yes, the OH and I have been manacled together for a quarter of a century and I feel as if I ought to do some sort of ‘summing-up’ post but I really can’t because as OH points out, if you sum it up, that’s the end.  A life is only summed up at a funeral; a calculation is only summed up when it’s finished.  And yet it is a kind of calculation because if you add up the days and the weeks and the years and put them one after another eventually you get to 25 years and then you have to stop and think… and what do you think?  Bloody hell! is the obvious thought.  And then bloody hell once more, but when you’ve thought bloody hell enough times you begin to be coherent.  And that’s when it gets hard.  I mean, what can you say about two and a half decades of conjugal manacling?  Well, you can say without fear of contradiction that there’s a history there – a history which means, for example, that I only have to say the word ‘Gerald’ for OH to know that he is being pretentious (see the gorilla sketch on ‘Not the Nine o’Clock News’) or ‘the mushroom pate’ which encapsulates the history of our first meeting or references to herbs such as ‘it doesn’t comfrey you know’ and ‘go the extra chamomile.’

Half a day has gone by and I still don’t know what to say about the last 25 years.  Still, it’s been a good day so far; the tribute to Gaz was lovely, featuring my poem and Chris’s song and a dozen or so people who came along (not bad at half a day’s notice.)  One person however was not having the best day as she had to get to work and had ordered food which took a while to come; then when she tucked into it I spilled my water all over it.  No sooner had this been mopped up than she discovered her dog, a rather nervous rescue animal, was missing.  A short panic ensued till the dog was discovered at the back of the cafe.  Anyway, an enjoyable if emotional event.

Before that I went to the hairdresser’s by mistake: I was just walking down the road and saw a sign advertising half-price cut and blow-dry, so in I stepped and on discovering that the half-price offer was very cheap, sat down in one of the chairs and prepared to be cut and blown dry.  I’m really pleased with the result.

And tonight we’re off out for a meal at Pizza Express.  All this and a free CD from Chris Conway as well!

What more could one ask?

A quarter of a century not out.

Kirk – erm – out

Fingerprints Tomorrow – Come on Down

Tomorrow, 12th June, as well as being our 25th wedding anniversary, would have been Gaz Carnell’s 37th birthday.  I have blogged before about Gaz and the poem I wrote for him


and tomorrow we will be having an impromptu memorial by the bench outside Fingerprints Delicafe.   I will be reading the poem and musicians may pop up and do a song (Chris Conway is scheduled to appear.)

It all kicks off at 1 pm, after which I shall be having some samosas and crumpets in the cafe.  See you there.

Kirk out

A Poem for Gaz of Fingerprints Cafe

Four years ago Gareth Carnall, owner of Fingerprints cafe in Leicester, was suddenly and tragically killed in a head-on collision.  I wrote about his funeral in this blog post:


and now I’ve written a poem for him:



A car crash on a lonely lane

left Fingerprints of loss

witness the neighbourhood remain

for the cortege to cross;

the slow procession, nothing rushed

the street from end to end was hushed.


It caught my throat: I hadn’t thought

to feel so much for one

I’d known so little: yet it taught

that when a life is run

we walk so slowly to the grave

as if to make the time our slave


For death came quick: head-on collision

in the early dawn

a crash nobody could envision

nor expect to mourn

his flag of life as yet unfurled,

no time to vanish from the world


I can’t imagine how it feels

to those who knew him best

the sudden smash of blackness reels

and rocks within the chest

a host all silent in the road

shared common grief as life was slowed.


For Gaz left prints of memory

upon the local scene

this heartbeat of community,

the bench outside still green;

forgetting would be travesty

so, fingering the melody

here we sing our threnody –

remember this his legacy.


Sarada Gray, 2018

Kirk out

Map My Ride

As I commented yesterday, I’m not a fitness fanatic.  I rather smirk at those people with devices strapped to their upper arm measuring heart-rate, calorie expenditure, respiration rate, ml of sweat lost, distance of hairs from upper arm, and who knows what else.  I can’t help thinking that all this measuring is at the expense of simply experiencing: surely you can feel if your heart-rate is increasing and your breath is coming faster?  Can’t you tell if you are sweating?  I worry that the more we rely on devices to tell us what is going on, the less we will be able to simply tune in to our bodies and experience what they are telling us.

It’s similar, in a way, to maps vs satnavs.  I like looking at maps because they help me to interpret where I’ve been and put it in the context of a wider area.  There’s a hinterland to my journey whereas all a satnav wants is to get me from one point in space to another point in space using the best available route.  There’s no context to this; it assumes no interest in the landscape, just the simple logistics of getting from point A to point B.  I feel the same about printing out a route on Google: navigating with just a piece of paper leaves me feeling naked.

Then again, I’ve always been bad with instructions.  They don’t work out for me, partly because I resent them and partly because I question them.  What if the person I’m supposed to meet isn’t there?  What if the milk doesn’t curdle?  What if the part I need is missing?

I demand the right to be flexible – which means, in the context of travelling, having a map.  If you have a map you understand the hinterland; you know the alternatives available to you.  A map is power in your hands.  So having done my bike ride, I immediately wanted to find out how many miles I’d done and what the route looked like.  Because although I could feel how many miles I’d done – especially the next day (!) I guess a part of us wants to have our experience verified by external sources.  I wanted to be able to say ‘I cycled fifteen miles’ instead of ‘I went on a long bike-ride.’

So, all of this brings me, in a roundabout way, to insecure writers day.


Yes, it’s that time of the month again, when all writers experience a surge of insecurity hormones.  We write something which we feel is brilliant, insightful, interesting – and immediately we want to share it.  We want our thoughts verified by others – which generally means we want to be published.  But, by ignoring the satnav of ‘how to get published’ and looking at the hinterland; the history and geography of our art*, I’ve found another route: and that is performance.  Performing poems has given me a direct relationship with an audience who appreciate (and occasionally don’t appreciate) my work.  I get an immediate response which, though I enjoy comments on this blog, feels so much more powerful.  There’s something about being in the same room as your audience; seeing, hearing and feeling their response.   It’s so much better than words on a page.

So please, if you’re in or near Leicester, come and see, hear and feel my words at these upcoming Artbeat events:

  1.  Poetry on Toast, Sunday 19th June, 5 pm at Fingerprints cafe
  2. Comedy Night, Monday, 20th June, 8.30 at Cultura cafe  http://www.clarendonpark.net/2016-programme/

See you there!

Kirk out

* I’ll come back to this.  I’ve rambled enough for one day



I Am Not Washing My Husband’s Bras

Thanks for all the positive comments on the short story and please keep them coming.  I’d especially like to know if you guessed the ending and if so, what gave it away.  I hope it fares better in any case than my previous story, the one which began ‘I am Washing My Husband’s Bras’.  I thought it deserved a better fate than to be completely ignored in the Mslexia short story competition, but it didn’t even get shortlisted.


I may send it off to another competition.

Aanyway, today it’s a lovely day here in blogland and already I’ve been pervasive along Queen’s Rd as we had our usual Friday morning breakfast at Fingerprints.  We often end up having discussions of one kind or another over breakfast and today was no exception as we started on the topic of the election.  Mark is much more down about this than I am as he thinks it’s evidence that people are basically very self-centred and deceitful: I’m not sure what it’s evidence of, but I’m regrouping myself (if an individual can regroup themselves) to do things differently.  What that will involve I’m not sure but I’ll keep you posted.

Even more than self-centredness, which is depressing enough, what makes me gloomy is apathy.  I understand people feeling that politicians are all the same, that you can’t trust any of them and that nothing changes: what I can’t see is what these people who don’t vote would do instead.  So if you didn’t vote – not because you weren’t eligible, but because you didn’t want to – please let me know why.

I promise I won’t tear you apart – I’d just really like to know.

Changing the subject, I’ve just realised with a shock that it’s only just over a month till the start of Artbeat!  Five weeks from today the whole thing will kick off and I’ll be doing my Artbeat Opening Ode at Christchurch on Clarendon Park Rd.  So please put the date in your diaries and come down for the launch, from 5.30 on Friday 19th June.  More details to come.

Meanwhile, have a good weekend.  What have you got planned?  I’ve got Tomatoes tomorrow followed by gardening, then a shared lunch at the Quaker Meeting on Sunday.

Kirk out