Matt Turpin


Matt Turpin’s short story Tom’s Eyes appeared in our second collection. Matt is a Scottish-born writer living in England. After various careers as a postman, a labourer, a barman and a tout he now earns a living running communications for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. He also publishes a long running local magazine, The Beestonian, has two plays in development and writes the occasional short story. When not playing with words he plays with his two-year-old son and writes unfunny tweets at @beeestonia.

Before we move onto our third collection and start announcing editors and contributing author, we thought it would be a good idea, to put some new work out there from some of our favourite writers.




June 2018



I walk the canal about once a week. In winter, where I am now, this cut looks like a flattened slalom: bobsleigh bikes hammering by you, horizontal skiers panting iced clouds as they jog, elbow nudging close, the coots, the ducks, the astute swan: they swim close, eager for bread, hating you by your refusal and this artifice they are forced to cruise.


I like the canal. It never floods.


The pubs are better in Beeston, and there is more chance I’ll meet one of the lads from the APC. Those fellow night sorters whose idea of what is day, what is night, has irreversibly bin changed by decades of night work. That 8pm – 5am shift does summat to a man – and we were mostly men – that you never really shake off.


So it’s the usual early walk home. A sofa (if lucky, if able to fold out – sofa bed -but not tonight) was the usual rest after a night reminiscing with retirees, of which line- leader had been most of a twat. I am invariably younger by them, but not by that much: they retired with pensions; I was retired with dishonour and just the state to prop me up.


My own fault of course: moved onto Walks after a decade on flats. You tell me you couldn’t push away the temptation not to pocket the odd stuffed card, to steam open the curiously packed envelope? Have a few months on it. Then tell me I was wrong. I’d done the night sorting for two decades: the parcels, thrown into a grid of bagged bins and the non-flats passing through the hands pulsing with possibility: how could one resist?


There were never ever harm meant: each item steamed open carefully, and glued back when found wanting – there was no menace here, no pissing on sentimentality. I just needed a few bob to keep whatever wolf was at the door. I wasn’t even that good at it. Hours spent, cross-legged on my duvet, suffering paper-cuts for nothing but lavender smells, good wishes in spidery script, the odd voucher for a long dead concern…. diligently prittsticked back into innocence and slotted into the appropriate destination. The £20 notes? The quarters of weed? All too infrequent, but enough to keep me with the furtive glances and the steaming kettle, the small glories and the hard disappointments.


Then one day, the summons. A meeting where I dismissed the union rep, not wishing to take his time, and was then myself dismissed: if I went without qualm, no police. I accepted. They demanded my uniform back: the three pairs of polyester-rich deep blue trousers, the shirt as blue as the days a night shift worker would seldom see, the tie, the hard boots. To this day, that was the hardest part. Not my colleagues, though they were brothers of sorts. I missed the uniform. It was me, and when I gave that up, it dragged stuff away from me.


So home down the canal. A Tuesday morning, which I only recall as knowing that Monday night had started as an afternoon city centre session down Weatherspoons Monday Club, which then found me early evening by the tram stop – I walked out, and I swear I left it to the gods: squeezed up my eyes and told them that if after a count to 20 there was no tram to Beeston I’d just have one at The Bell and then head back to my flat in Sneinton, perhaps with a visit to the cheap offy just past the ice stadium for some 2 for a fiver red wine or a howitzer of strong cider, home to telly and booze and perhaps some porn on my phone if the spirit rose; but if a tram was due ….well, it would be rude not to hop on to say ayup to my old mates.


A tram had been due, and I was on it. Into the Beeston ’Spoons on arrival, that place where the sorting office once was. It’s called the Last Post. I like to call it The Past Lost, though the joke never seems to have pushed through to nickname. Not in a sentimental harking back to its Royal Mail past, more that there were occasions where I’d stumble out with no recollection of going in. A good place.


Postal workers past and present still ghosted it, spending the pensions they’d earned there on loss-leading lager and flaccid, wilted lunches. Of course I found friends, and we laughed. They knew I wasn’t innocent, they knew I’d been daft, but they knew it really wont that bad, really wont something you should lose your job over, but that’s what happens when you put on the uniform. They knew I missed the uniform.


And of course I accepted their invitation to come back to theirs; back to the flat where the divorced, retired night shift line manager for outgoing -p

lats put on that Mike Reed tape on his grinding workhorse VHS, a tape that never lost its funny if never viewed sober; and drink a gravelled whiskey with Lidl cola and feel like kings. A pair of cigars would be bought out at some point, lit and savoured.


Former managers and line-leaders are called out, part of a rage that will envelope all as it burns: the Pope (cunt) Donald Trump (fucking cunt), Muslims. The latter is uncomfortable, and swiftly qualified. We like the ones we know, but fucking hell. An argument breaks out on Christians that fuck them too, if you ban the hijab then ban fucking nuns. But the peak of passion has long passed, the video grinded to its spool, and now winding back with the thrashing noises of a cotton mill. We laugh, bring out that joke –


Here’s a crossword clue I’m not happy with


Go on


“Angry Postman”


How many letters?


Too fucking many!


And the hours go, the day now another.


Then we’re broke. A stroke, a temporary stroke that paralyses thought and response and instead routes all brain electricity towards a pillow; there it will hit the switch and goodnight, goodnight.


A void. Shocked out of with








Amsure. Night.




Dreams come to escape from.




Awake, a piss, then out, key posted, into the vulgar glare. Always get up and go, that I live by. Take your troubles home; never be caught in the away end with them. Hangovers at home are blankets, an excuse for oblivion. Elsewhere they’re futile, painful, a crab cut from its shell. Yer get home before that. Not easy on the launch, but once up and out, you’re up and out.



Then a sort of fight, a box, as the first breathes burn the throat as cold air is sucked in. Each stride, an assault on the lungs, a breath that hurts. A pace is set, the pavement a steady provider of pulse that echoes up each side and explodes in the ear. Spit is rare, and I struggle to gob enough into my mouth to rinse my mouth of the night, the baccy, the booze. Onto the canal.


Intent drives the porridge-hued path further behind me, pushing me on. Narrowboats puff out wood smoke; early cooking smells of fat and pork tease, the brass window frames call out a comfort. I could beg entry, and probably get: the residents on the water recognise a fellow outsider. But my ringed hob, my proudly blackened pan, my bacon – the block that would spunk out half its weight in white goo when heated – was home. Maybe toast. Eggs: they mop up the booze, an idea that perks me. I stride on.


The canal steams gently in the watery light. I pull my lapels close to my face. As I leave Beeston, the Boots factory dominates the opposite side; a sprawl of dismantled industry, pipes and vats, now leading to nowhere and containing nothing but rusted flecks of paint.

A curve, and then the flanked scrap yards, already busy crushing down the tide of metallic crap that spews from the roads, from the houses: skeletal cranes moving tighter and tighter bricks of metal around, the smell of diesel rank. The fag factory, which reeks in today’s still, low air of nicotine and tar to the point of gagging, the taste when a rolly bleeds into your mouth, the brownness of the taste, the bitter purging spit amplified and air-borne.


We used to love this time. When on nights, we’d knock off at 5 and have the day for ourselves. This was often a walk round the nature reserve with a few joints. You see stuff then. Foxes, with cubs in summer. Birds we’d guess at naming, knowing we were safe from contradiction. Shimmers in the Trent we’d convince each other were an otter sighting. We saw a badger once. Really, not a stoned thing. I was never much into the drugs, but would take a draw, to be friends, so know what I saw – what we saw. They were special days, emerging from the paths onto the roads as the early commuters sank off to work as we headed home to duvets.


There will be no warm arms when I get back to my duvet today. Don’t get all daft about it, I’m happy this way. I had my fun, I had my women, and it’s best this way. I’m not some sad case man in his late fifties who feels left behind. I could try, and I would get, I’m sure. I’ve never been the most attractive man, with looks. Used to do alright, the booze used to work well then, not now, but it’s no loss. Urges otherwise can be killed with a wank, which afterwards enlightens to the stupidity of it all. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve liked women, lived with one for a while. I never can say when it went wrong, but it did, and what was a nice compromise with some romance never got further. She has two teenage sons now. I saw her shouting at them at the Viccy Centre entrance a few years ago, when they were still boys. She is probably happy, as I am, probably.


Past Castle Marina, and into town proper. Here, towers of glass and steel rise up, windows stuffed with computers or curtains; offices and balconies with bicycles strapped to them, pathetic sculpted gardens cut as a teenage shavers goatee in this grim season. I’m nearly home, once past the magistrates court and the chrome and glass canalside clump of bars. Under the station bridge, pass the lock, and up the steps to the road.


This is town proper now, a scram of traffic and noise. The air tastes of old pennies. The canal, which seemed for the past 45 minutes almost like a silver slither of nature now is exposed for what it is; a sick trickle under an angry city of cars and vans and no one will be happy until this all ends, till they get away from here. It rages, traffic accelerating from the roundabout up the hill and remorseless. To a driver this is nowhere, just traverse. I’m insignificant to them, a flash of flesh against the concrete and sky.


When I drove, I never knew this place existed. Then I wasn’t allowed to have a car, and the city took a new shape and a new vulnerability as my metal shell would no longer shield me from the streets. The BBC buildings are ahead. You don’t get many famous faces round here. A sighting could serve me well when the next drunk exchange of anecdotes starts. I struggle otherwise. Not much happens now.


Then I see him. He’s on a bike, and he’s not on the road. I read the papers, and I know this strip of pavement, and know that he shouldn’t be here. This is pedestrians.


He’s bearded; he’s got hair over his collar. He is dressed in an overcoat, plastic, shapeless, it’s reflective patches null under the strained dawn light. He has an expression on his face of benign happiness, and I want to punch it out of him. Why? Because this strip of pavements isn’t for bikes. He should be on the road and he is not.


He is approaching, and he’s noticed me, and is moving to the curbside of the pavement. But why should he be here at all? Why should he not do what he should do and ride on the road? Why is it me who has to think this? Why me? Why should I have to step in? Where are the police, where are the cameras, where is the justice?


I have to step in. That bounces round my head a dozen times before I am resolved; so many times I’ve let it slide, let the fuckers get away with it; and each time I’ve gone home with a sort of nag like a numbed extracted tooth; the sharp pain; the constant draw back to the moment, the lessening. Then the unconscious quell into acceptance. No.


Not today. I am not perfect, I know I’m not perfect, I’m far from perfect, but I’m in the right right now and where else are we? He should not be here. I am here. All I’ve done wrong, all that I’ve done, it’s all here, in this I inhabit, this body burnt from the inside out, these eyes sore and this skin raw, rubbing, holding me in as it reddens and flakes. I am not this. I need to stop it all, this all. I need to do something.


And I grab him and his clothes scruff around my hands and over his shoulders, and his bike falls away into the traffic as his legs lose the grip and he is suddenly all of me, over me, and I have my face by his, as gravity drags us down and close, and as my mouth and eyes and jaw form into a clenched fist of hate I see his face before it drops out of focus, and it is serene, hatefully serene, it is staring down at me and then on me and as my chest convulses with a mule-kick of pain I slip into something away from the beers and the fried eggs and the blue comic turns and the pure sear of here and now, not the refined polished edge of what I could have been, but the sheer smouldered smithereens of what I wasn’t, and the chest pain is a body pain and all is switched off, my journey home undelivered, lost and forgotten.







Listen: Bert Spinks

Bert Spinks

Bert Spinks is a writer, poet, storyteller and bushwalking guide from Tasmania. His work spans a variety of genres, looking at history, geography, travel, politics, culture, beer, and Aussie Rules football.
To find out more about Bert, and to follow him you can go to Bert’s website where there is a stack load of information, and a load of links to thinks he has done is doing and has been a part of.
One thing Bert has something of a reputation for is his prowess at the art of performing and reading a story.
Bert features in our second collection, and we’ve asked him to fire us something over that we can put on our website before we start working to get the funds together to get our third collection out… which is imminent! Details of editors invited writers, and selected writers to follow… then the big job, Crowdfunding!

Here’s what he fired us – have a listen

Thank you Bert… stay tuned.






Anonymous Manuscript Extract #5

It’s good, once you’re in. That’s what everyone always says in Tassie, and that was what Lucy told herself then.  She began wading out, busting through the foamy lines, until it became deep enough for her to dive under. The first wave she dove beneath was gritty and sand-churned, and she frog-kicked below its turbulence with her eyes and lips firmly closed. The shock of the cold shuddered through her body. The second wave was cleaner, having exploded right in front of her into a heavy spray of bright white and crystal-clear droplets, which caught up the sunlight and tossed it about in shimmering rainbows. She plunged beneath it and buried her fingers in the sand, anchoring herself against the churning water. She brought her feet beneath her, pushed off the sand, and burst back through the surface, gasping into the sunlight. Her skin was on fire with the cold. The third wave reared up, just beyond her, and this time, when she dove, she opened her eyes, rolled onto her back and watched the way the turbulence of the breaking wave gathered in a series of foaming balls that passed above her like fizzing, liquefied clouds.


Transportation Press will soon be announcing our publishing program for 2018-2019. In the meantime, we are posting anonymous quotes from novels we like. The first person to pick the novel will receive a free copy of one of our publications. Drop us a line.

Anonymous Manuscript Extract #4

He gets up from the crooked coffee table and stretches up. His hands touch the ceiling. Not because Nino is tall but because the ceiling in these houses are low. Like someone is pressing down on the top of them. Nino has never been able to understand why, in the old days when people were on the whole shorter, they made ceilings higher, but then as nutrition got better and people got taller why the ceilings got lower.

page unknown


What on earth?

Transportation Press will soon be announcing our publishing program for 2018-2019. In the meantime, we are posting anonymous quotes from novels we like. The first person to pick the novel will receive a free copy of one of our publications. Drop us a line.

Anonymous Manuscript Extract #2

Visuel-Com-Franco-1050x741Transportation Press will soon be announcing our print program for 2018-19. In the meantime we will be posting anonymous quotes from novels we like. The first person to pick the novel will receive a free copy of one of our publications (until we run out!), and if they already have a copy we will give them a free copy of our next published collection.

“As soon as we stepped off the Blanco y Negra – the black-and-white bus that heads south – and felt the first lash of the blazing sun in the vast emptiness, he felt an overwhelming thirst for violence, a thirst he had to slake: blonde gringas – not blonde like me, because my hair is like a ripe mango while theirs was the colour of sun-scorched wheat, a pale flax. I have to say I also felt a burning rage to see how many dumb gringos came to our country in search of the seven deadly sins, in an attempt to ‘find themselves’.”

Image – Fernell Franco

Anonymous Manuscript Extract # 1

Transportation will soon be announcing our print program for 2018. In the meantime we will be posting anonymous quotes from novels we like. The first person to pick the novel will receive a free copy of one of our publication (until we run out!), and if they already have a copy we will give them a free copy of our next published collection.


‘A story of blinding love,

Always about to be,

Never forgotten.’

Anonymous Manuscript Extracts

We’re no safe bet, but certainly we aren’t packing it in yet. Nope, we are gearing up to announce an ambitious schedule of publication to see us through to 2019. We are in the running for a number of grants, and failing that we will turn to highway robbery, poaching, money laundering, or dare we say it yet more crowd funding of one type or another.

To clear the dust of our activity, and to start on a fresh slate, we are running a short competition. We will be posting a number of extracts from a select bunch of novels, nothing major: lines, sentences, paragraphs… even the odd image. And anyone who correctly guesses the novel will receive a free copy of one of our previous publication (until we clear the stock that remains), if the winner has a copy of all three then they will win a copy of one of our 18-19 publications.

The  authors of the quotes, extracts, whatever you call them, they will be announced after some time, some guessing, some giving away of free stuff, and our chief editor will write a short essay on why we have chosen those specific quotes, and how they are important in the lead up to announcing the 2018-2019 publishing schedule. The announcement will be accompanied by a massive bonfire, twelve dozen very rare wines and spirits, a selection of cakes and tarts, a calypso band, forty-two Tuvan throat singers, and a herd of unusually carnivorous elephants trampling through at the end, over two continents.

So you’d be really stupid not to have a guess, and not to get involved. And to get behind a not so safe bet… Email us at with your innermost thoughts, and who you believe wrote the extract.

Image: The Ceremonial Law’: used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Are you our new Web Editor?

Transportation Press Web Editor

Transportation Press is an independent press based in Tasmania, publishing work from around the world. We endeavour to have an active online presence between publishing our books and running competitions like Smoke, an annual international microfiction competition. We are looking for a Web Editor to oversee and maintain our website and some of our social media content. Our website should be dynamic and thought provoking.

The Web Editor is responsible for maintaining fresh and relevant content on the Transportation Press website and will be focused on publishing either dedicated projects or individual pieces. This will involve commissioning writers, reading pitches and submissions and responding to them, editing, readying pieces for publication and uploading them. They will work alongside the editors, and other Transportation Press writers and crew as required.

We are interested in making the role work for you and we are seeking someone who:

  • will ensure that the Transportation Press website has fresh and interesting content which works harmoniously with the broader publishing program
  • is able to seek and commission online content and select complementary imagery and material, to pair with published online material. (Creative commons and acknowledged).
  • is based anywhere in the world, any age, any identification
  • will commission, read and select submissions of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and to post on the website.
  • has some proficiency in WordPress as well as an active engagement in social media (desirable)
  • will generate a dynamic online presence that compliments the publications, and maintain fresh and relevant content
  • Is available to work a minimum of three hours a week and ideally able to provide some day to day attention to web and social media
  • will liaise with the Editor and Creative Strategist around content themes, and topics, to complement existing and new activities
  • is deeply engaged and interested in contemporary international literature, and social and cultural issues
  • Is self-motivating and very organised
  • Is comfortable with turbulence

We won’t write ‘other activities as required’ because we hate that clause, but this list is not exhaustive and this new role will require, and benefit from the web editor’s own input, creativity, vision, and energy.

Please note: this is a volunteer/unpaid position. All people who work at Transportation Press are volunteers though we are actively seeking funding and this role will eventually be paid. Our published writers are paid, though we are not yet able to pay for online content.

To apply, please attach a one-page cover letter and a one-page CV and send to Rachel Edwards, Editor in Chief and Tadhg Muller, Creative Strategist (emails below). Your letter should directly respond to the above-mentioned posints. Applications close midnight December 4 (pick your own time zone).

Any questions? Please email both of us, Rachel and Tadhg at and
We look forward to receiving your applications.

Dalian what futures? The origin story.

danielyoungDaniel Young is the winner of our first Smoke international microfiction competion. Here he tells the origin story of Dalian Blood Futures, the piece which took the prize.

Dalian what futures? The origin story.
by Daniel Young

I used to work for an investment bank (don’t hate me, my self-loathing is quite sufficient to cover it). In another notch in my long belt of doing things at the worst possible time, I left Brisbane shortly after the GFC to go and write software for an investment bank in Sydney. Actually it wasn’t quite the worst possible time, as the thousands of contractors who’d been fired in the preceding year would be quick to point out; I was part of a small wave of rehiring once those in charge realised the world wasn’t quite ending and that they still needed some people to do actual work.

I worked in the derivatives trading area, writing software to handle back-end functions such as valuations, settlement, accounting, risk management, plus reconciliations and control to make sure nobody was going rogue. I don’t have any background in finance, but if I learnt anything from this experience it’s that it’s not just possible but in fact commonplace—perhaps even desirable?—for software developers to write code without having even the most basic understanding of how it will be used or how the business around them actually functions. Sure, the bank made some efforts: a few years into the job they sent me on an introductory course focusing on financial derivates: options, futures, and the like, but none of it really stuck or influenced my daily work in any way.

In those years, we worked in what management-speak refers to as ‘business-aligned account teams’, which means that we sat on the dealing room floor along with the traders, despite hardly ever speaking to them and, as I’ve outlined, having very little idea of what they actually did. I hear that things have changed now, with IT staff moved into central teams, hidden away out of sight where they belong, but back then we had prime position. Dotted around the floor were traders with twelve or more monitors arced around their cubicle, but what really caught the eye was the large black ticker screen covering the entirety of one of the interior walls. I’d glance up at that screen throughout the day watching information tick over in traffic-light-coloured LEDs: green, orange and red. I’d pretend I knew what it was all about while secretly revelling in my complete ignorance. I paid particular attention to the price of soybean futures, finding something vaguely amusing in the very idea of them, and making little bets with myself at how the price might move from day to day.

Colleagues would sometimes tell stories—you probably don’t know the ones, though the narrator of Dalian Blood Futures runs in different circles to us and seems to think you will—stories about futures traders having to take shipment because they hadn’t ‘closed their positions’. In other words, they’d let their futures contracts expire without selling them, leaving them contractually obliged to take delivery. The internet, of course gives differing accounts of this phenomenon:

“When you’re dealing with so many contracts, it’s not hard to lose track of one and accidentally hold it to the settlement date. You really do get a call from someone asking you where you want your silver or corn or whatever. When you’re a member of a futures exchange, you’re expected to be able to take delivery of whatever physically settled contracts you take to expiration. Obviously, most trading firms don’t have facilities to store 500,000 gallons of rapeseed oil, so you have to dump it at a loss to someone who does. They know they have you by the short and curlies, so you’re going to pay out the nose for it.”
—some rando on Reddit

“There’s some apocryphal story about some analyst at like GS who messed up and had to accept delivery for cattle, and had to arrange warehouse space and food for them. But it’s probably bs.”
— some other rando on Reddit

“You may wonder what happens if a trader forgets to close out a long position. If he bought live hog futures, will someone deliver 40,000 pounds worth of squealing porkers to his back door the morning after his contract expires? Sorry, but no.”
— some random website

We should never let the facts stand in the way of a good yarn.

It was only years later, sitting at my desk in Brisbane reading some finance news (don’t hate me) that it all came together. I’d grown accustomed to seeing prices quoted from the Dalian Commodities Exchange in China, usually iron ore or other common commodities, but this story was about the launch of official quotation in Dalian egg futures. It might seem like a big leap from eggs to blood, but if you’ve read Yu Hua’s book Chronicles of a Blood Merchant, or recent stories about the determination of some Silicon Valley executives to live forever, or know anything about professional cycling, perhaps it’s not such a leap at all.

When the call-out for the Smoke microfiction competition came out, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to cram all of these obsessions into a 300-word story and, as often happens with flash fiction, it all came tumbling out quite fast, so much so that it seemed wrong to even add the appropriate punctuation (don’t hate me). In the weeks after submitting it, I toyed with the idea of expanding it into a longer story, and the idea is still tempting, but sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone. And as this extended origin story shows, by being longer than the microfiction itself, sometimes it’s better to cap things at 300 words. Sorry. Don’t hate me! And thanks for reading.

You can buy a copy of the Smoke One collection and read Dalian Blood Futures yourselves, here.



Sholeh Wolpe and the contemporary essence of Persian poetry

the-conference-of-birds_cover-678x1024Sholeh Wolpe is a wonderful poet and translator, hailing from Iran, currently residing in LA, via the UK and Trinidad, where she was sent to live with her aunt at age 13. Her work, while contemporary, is part of a centuries’ long Persian love and respect for poetry, and in this interview, recorded in Gaungzhou, China late last year, she will tell you of childhood games that even featured poetry.

She is not able to go back to Iran, partly because it would mean giving up citizenship elsewhere, and partly because she translated the powerful, erotically charged poetry of Forough Farrokzhad, a poet, whose words, says Sholeh, unveiled the words of Iranian women. Her new translation, of the twelfth century Sufi Mystic, and teacher of Rumi, (who is incidentally the biggest selling poet in the USA today) Attar’s Conference of the Birds,  will be released from WW Norton this year.

This interview was recorded at Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, where Rachel Edwards, from Transportation Press was attending the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Conference, as was gorgeous Sholeh.