Marketing my own books does, actually, make me pretty nervous – and so, for over a year, I have avoided it! But, my new start involves facing up to nervousness, so here goes!
I have always loved animals, me – though only platonically, you understand! – and they appear as characters in their own right in ‘Long-Leggety Beasties’.
Though a loather of all team sports, in the active sense, from the earliest age, I have long been fascinated by Archery (which my father and younger siblings got involved in during the eighties) and Fencing, as in sword fighting not mending garden barriers, which Son and Heir did for ten years.
When I started to write ‘LLB’, some time back in the early noughties, four animal types suggested themselves to me as potential, nay hilarious, creations: The Hens, and Cock, of Doom, Hengist, Fluffy and the Holy Goat.
The hens and their randy swain were based on a true incident at the school where I taught. The Rural Science Department had a motley collection of our feathered friends lurking somewhere at the back of the school (an area I rarely visited!) and, on one hysterically funny occasion, the buggers escaped and the male of the species was chased frantically by the Head of that department, causing a witty colleague of mine (who, like me, was watching avidly from a classroom window) to exclaim, ‘Oh look, Smithy is chasing his own cock!’ – a saying which has gone down in history, and was borrowed shamelessly by me!
The hens in ‘LLB’ cause merry mayhem – and, slightly later, the basic ingredients for a very profitable roadside stall set up by the Wellbeloveds, a rough quintet of toothsome builders who, along with their horse, the aforementioned Hengist, set up camp on the school grounds in order to lay a rubber bottom to the moat, like you do, to make fire alarm practices slightly less lethal.
The Wellbeloveds – renowned, far and wide, for their Weapons of Mass Seduction – range from the brutish, but slow, Amos to the evil, conniving and well-sexy Jethro. They cause rising skirts, and shortening temper, throughout the school.
Hengist appears in one of the two al fresco sex scenes – though as transport only, I hasten to add! – but really comes into his own in the final chapter (which deals, at climactic length, with the School Pageant), when he is ridden bareback during a Visigothesque raid up a sloping field, during which cheese is used for offensive (in both senses) purposes!
Fluffy is a cat given to Geraldine when the rodent population in her rented half of a farmhouse (Yup! Based firmly on reality once more!) threatens to overtake that of the village in which she lives. ‘Fluffy’ is, of course, a complete misnomer as the feline in question is built like a small lion, has claws like rapiers and a temperament to the Right of Vlad, the Impaler. Anything less fluffy would be hard to imagine.
The Holy Goat is another side-product of the Wellbeloveds’ entrepreneurial streak (not so much a streak, actually, more a canyon!) – and, having been born (in a scene full of blood, groaning nanny goat, Congo line of Wellbeloveds and wild stormy weather) on a significant date, is used ruthlessly by the brothers in a largely-successful attempt to deceive the credulous dinner ladies and set the scene for a staged miracle of Biblical proportions.
The only other creature to get a fictional look-in, as you might say, is a blameless eel which, minding its own business in the rapidly=drained moat, is tripped over by Seth Golightly (who, on this occasion, did nothing of the kind), Head of Rural Science, and concussed by his artificial leg.
Archery? Well, the Archers weren’t given that name for nothing, you know. More in my next post!
Or read the book!