Honey I Spent the Voucher

Yesterday I went ahead and spent the Waterstones voucher (no apostrophe is intended, for the apostrophe has gone) which Daniel got me for Christmas.  With it I bought both light and life, which I will explain in a moment.  But first the apostrophe.

I’m sure I’ve blogged about this before *, but the saga of the Waterstones apostrophe reminds me of a pub in Northampton which went from sensible to silly and then just plain absurd.  I have mixed feelings about apostrophes: when they are used I like them to be used correctly, but they are in general so poorly understood that I think we should abolish them altogether.  However, this pub in Northampton started out as a perfectly respectable establishment called the King William IV.  It then being the eighties, it reincarnated as a silly fun-pub catering for yuppies and styled itself King Billy’s.  But over the ensuing months bits of the name dropped off, leaving the name as King Billy’ (losing the ‘s’ but keeping the apostrophe) and then as King Billy with half an apostrophe, something wordpress is unable to reproduce.  So that the failure of punctuation mapped the downfall of this once respectable pub.

Here it is, apparently now closed but due to reopen; if the brewery can be believed (and who could doubt the word of a brewery?)


So with this voucher, as I said, I bought a light.  It’s a very useful light as it clips onto the pages of the book you are reading enabling you to read in bed without needing to get up and turn the light off afterwards.  And I also elected to buy a book of short stories.  I prefer novels but the problem with a good novel is I devour it in a matter of days (I’m already on my second reading of the Rebus I got for Christmas) whereas short stories last me a lot longer.  They also have the merit of introducing me to authors I may never have read.  There is much to say about this particular volume of short stories, but I’ll save it for another post, except to comment that the introduction laments the lack of outlets for writers of the form – a view with which I concur utterly.

So as I come to the end of this post I notice another year has begun.  I wish you all – what do I wish you all?  Everything you wish yourselves, unless what you wish is like this (go to minute 32):

Kirk out

*I did – it’s here:


I am Alan Bennett

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but on Saturday before going to Carol Leeming’s excellent singing workshop I went and spent my birthday present from Mark, which was a book token.  Or rather, a Waterstone’s token (book tokens, like record tokens, don’t seem to exist any more) which according to the view just inside the door, could be spent on notebooks, sketch pads, cards, mugs, photo frames and coasters – oh, and I could buy a book if I really wanted.  Determinedly penetrating the interior like some pith-helmeted Victorian explorer, I located a shelf of Proper Fiction and my eye lit immediately on a lovely volume of Alan Bennett’s entitled ‘Four Stories’.  Very like him to be so prosaic, I thought.

I opened it up and saw that I had already read at least two of the four, ‘The Lady in the Van’ and ‘The Clothes They Stood Up In’ – but no matter.  Bennett always bears re-reading and so, after a cursory examination of the shelves to see if they yielded anything else I really wanted, I plucked the volume from its resting-place and bore it to the counter.

On getting it home I realised that three out of the four stories were familiar to me as I had already come across ‘The Laying on of Hands’ somewhere – but I sat down to read anyway.  In no time at all I had finished all four of them and I am now on my second go.  But that’s the thing: with Bennett there’s always something to enjoy second, third, fourth time around.  He is subtle and highly intelligent; and apart from The Lady in the Van which is all the more fascinating for being memoir rather than fiction, I recommend the story about a dying parent, ‘Father!  Father!  Burning Bright!’


Unlike Alan Bennett I am not great at writing for the theatre and have never attempted a theatre play, but I have occasionally ventured into the realm of radio drama.  I guess it’s because I have a good ear for dialogue and not much sense of where things are on a stage – anyway, when I was deaf a couple of weeks ago, Mark and I took to writing our conversations down, and one of the things we discussed was, as ever, his gender dysphoria.  After we had recorded one of these dialogues in my notebook it occurred to me that I could turn it into a radio play; so I now have a sheaf of ideas and some fragments of dialogue.  I think the theme should grab the producers anyway: the play will feature a character called Leon who wishes to be known as Leonie.  I’m finding it quite therapeutic.

So maybe I’m more like Alan Bennett than I know?

Kirk out

Half past slightly silly

Bit better today.  The stories are coming on.  Yesterday Holly and Daniel went to visit Leicester Sound.  Holly cycled there and back – 8 miles – not bad.  They both enjoyed it a lot.

Not much else to report.  A good day yesterday – I started early in Esquire’s cafe, then went to have a wander round Waterstone’s only to discover they open late on Weds!  Went to SPCK instead (pronounced “spck” *) and bought a book called “The Selfless Gene”.  It tries to unpick the whole Dawkins/fundamentalist christian argument from a Christian and scientific viewpoint.  So far I think it’s good, although Dawkins also has problems with Catholics and Muslims and so far the book hasn’t mentioned them.

I wish the library would open earlier.

Never mind – chalet next week!  yay!

Kirk out

* like someone spitting on a windscreen.  Remember Spitting Image?


Story of my Life

Yep.  Went to Waterstone’s today and – yep, you’ve guessed it – they didn’t choose my story.  OK that’s annoying and dispiriting, like any rejection – but what’s worse is that every story (bar a couple) that they did choose was visually appealing in some way – illustrated, decorated, patterned, coloured – it all looked very good but, fool that I am, I tought it was supposed to be about the words.


Just another example of my total lack of connection with the zeitgeist.

A Memory

I’m four years old.  I’m standing in a field, lined up with other children of my age.  They are alert but I’m looking into the distance, dreaming.  Somewhere a whistle blows but I do’t connect it with anything.  When I look round, the other children have run off into the distance.  As one of them breaks the tape, the meaning of the white lines chalked on the grass, the whistle and the running, dawns on me: it’s a race!  I start to run.  I reach the finishing line but nobody notices I’m there – they’re busy giving out prizes.

Back in the classroom we have free time for everyone to play with their prize – bright blue and red balls.  I don’t have one.  I spend the time going round asking everyone to share.  No-one will.

Story of my life.

Don’t feel sorry for me.  Just send me a ball – a bright blue one, just like the one in my mind.  Send it now.

PS  Actually, between gritted teeth, I have to admit that a lot of the stories were pretty good.