A short story, inspired by the latest Dog Daisies’ single, Valley Mattress Valley – taken from the 2019 LP, Eagletism – written by Ste Hudson (Dog Daisies) and Lloyd Bent (Bingo Records).
Serious inter-personal problems were rapidly becoming manifest between team members at Kendal World of Beds, and the place had only been open for three days. Martin Hodgkins had taken on the role of manager at a point in his life when he had complete faith in his ability to form a collection of bed salespeople into not only an efficient selling machine, but also a friendship group. Over the past couple of days his confidence had proven to be entirely unsupported by reality.
Martin’s solution to these problems was to arrange a camping holiday for the members of his team, with the added incentive of a long weekend off work for all those who attended to ensure people came with him. It’s a fact well known by all who have worked in retail that spending more time with people you do not like brings you closer to them and concocts friendships that would otherwise never get the chance to blossom. With this in mind, Martin drove his team of four salespeople to a campsite near a place called Kearstwick and allowed them all to borrow any tent of their choosing from his collection.
They arrived at the campsite, and Martin enthusiastically set off in the direction of the small shop that was run out of the farmhouse belonging to the site’s owner. He left his staff to reluctantly set up camp.
In the shop, Martin was overcome with excitement and bought as many bits of kindling, firelighters and logs as he possibly could. He also bought matches and cigarette lighters, and then, worried his supply was too small, he bought the same amount of everything all over again. He squeezed it all into a couple of blue carrier bags and put anything left under his armpits and started to waddle off back towards the encampment, which was at present four bed salespeople stood smoking around a pile of canvas on the floor.
Martin was a little frustrated, but did his best not to show it. It was not going to get dark anytime soon, but Martin still wanted camp to be set up as quickly as possible, so that he could get his fire started. The carrier bags strained in his hands, their burden causing the blue polythene to stretch and distort. Noting this, Martin walked faster and winced as the carrier bag handles dug into his fingers.
By the time he was about halfway across the field, something terrible was happening. In the sky the sun was beating down over the Lune Valley. The ground beneath Martin’s feet was verdancy epitomised. But between these two beautiful things the carrier bag in Martin’s left hand, finally submitting completely to gravity, sliced through his fingers and brought them down to the ground along with his precious fire supply. Martin sank to his knees and cried out. His team must have heard him, but none of them did anything.
The grubby combination had landed on the floor in the most uncanny arrangement, as if ready to light straight away. Martin felt nothing. He looked over at the campsite and saw that his companions had now gone and sat in the car. He looked around him on the floor and picked up the box of matches. He put one between his teeth, striking it against the box he held in his right hand.
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