On Thursday October 1st my new book is being published! It has another beautiful cover by Levente Szabo and I'm pleased to see that the dog on the cover looks very similar to our own dog Beezle, who inspired me to write the story and personally let me into the world of dog. We are going to launch the book with a great party I hope and some blue dog shaped biscuits. Beezle will of course be attending.
I'm not going to say anything else on this blog post (though I have a great picture of a toad who I found swimming in the dog's water bowl the other morning.} Instead I'm going to put up the first chapter of the book.
Hope you enjoy it but more to the point - BUY THE BOOK! Here is link on that website
When my death came it was swift. Swift as a racing horse. It wasted no time. Like a conjuring trick. One moment I was in the car, the next on the road and then I wasn’t anywhere. And when I awoke from anywhere I was slouched in a chair in a room with yellow paint peeling off the walls and a table at the far end. Yes. My death was as fleet as the wind. Meteoric you might say. Mercurial, like quick silver. No floating above the body looking down on the grieving relatives. It was snappy, prompt, it was smart.
It’s funny, now I come to think of it. The man who was driving the car always had a fear of horses. He was so afraid of them he would never get on one, nor pat one on the neck, nor let their lovely soft muzzles blow in his face. I know all this because the man driving the car was my Dad and my Mum told me how scared of horses he was.
“It’s unreasonable really,” she’d say. “He’s never had anything to do with them. It’s not like he was kicked by one when he was small.”
And that is what’s funny. Because the reason I ended up on the road was because a horse jumped over a hedge onto my Dad’s car as we were driving to the supermarket. So it had been a premonition. His fear of horses.
“You’d better hurry up dear,” said someone at the table at the far end. “or all the best jobs will be taken. We had a multiple coach crash just before you came in and most of the qualified jobs have gone.”
“Jobs?” I asked. “Why do I need a job? I’m only twelve.”
“Were only twelve dear,” the voice corrected. “I’ve got you down as Daisy Fellows. Distinguishing features one blue eye and one green eye. Is that right?”
I nodded. I had longed to have one of those old passports with the bit about distinguishing marks. I thought whoever read it would have to look long into my eyes to make sure it was true and I would learn to perfect a blank stare so that they wouldn’t be able to see into my soul. But they don’t do that any more. The passport I got last year just had a little microchip in it which probably said everything there is to know about me including my bad marks in the maths exam.
A woman was sorting out a pile of papers on the desk and she glanced at me every now and then.
“Really my dear, you don’t want to get cold. You must go whilst you can. Now a new baby is about to be born in Spittalfields. It’s the only qualified job left. I think we’ve about two minutes so come and sign the form and then you must be off.”
“Off? I don’t understand.” I said, “I’ve only just arrived. And come to think of it I don’t even know where I am. Is this Heaven or something?”
“Heaven? Goodness my dear. What an old fashioned concept of death. You are in one of our Government run Job Centres. You are a soul are you not? Everyone who is born needs a soul. It’s just a question of whose body you take up. Look upon it as re-housing.”
She was just about to hand me a form to sign when a telephone rang at her side. She picked it up.
“Oh dear. Really? What a shame. Thank you for letting me know.” The woman looked at me. “The baby was stillborn. No need for you to go there.”
“Why is no one else here?” I asked, “six thousand three hundred and ninety people die per hour. I learnt that at school. Where are they all?”
“That’s an old figure my dear. Far more people die than that. But that’s not the point. The point is we like to treat people as individuals. There are lots of rooms in the building you know and queues of people waiting to come in here.”
“What about my Dad? He’ll be here won’t he?”
“I don’t know dear – what’s his name?”
The woman opened a draw marked F and rifled through it. “Fanshawe, Featherstone. Fielding – can’t see a Dennis Fellows, there’s a Freddie Fellows – any relation?”
I shook my head.
“He can’t be dead then.”
Good I thought. Mum’ll be pleased. Just me then. No joint funeral. Thank goodness. I wouldn’t want to be buried to something by the Beatles. I thought about it for a moment. It would have been fun to have seen who’d have come to it– most of Year 8 I guess. I wonder if that boy from tennis club would have been there? Of course, technically I wouldn’t have had my funeral yet. I’m probably still lying on the road covered in a sheet. I expect there’s a crowd of people. They always stop and stare at accidents. I wondered what had happened to the horse. Perhaps it was in the queue outside waiting to come back as a hedgehog.
“So Mum was right about her theory of coming back again as something else when you die?” I said. “She was a Buddhist.”
“It’s not about religion.” The woman said scornfully. “It’s about practicalities. Now you’re getting cold aren’t you? We must hurry. Ah yes. You needn’t sign any forms for this one – look upon it as a temporary job. And remember – no one will understand what you’re talking about so don’t waste your time trying to be understood. Off you go dear – through that door on the right.”
“But what’s my – er – who er – WHAT’S MY JOB? WHO AM I TO BECOME?”
“There’s a litter being born right now in a charming house. I’m sure you’ll like it. They’ll all be out but I’ll arrange for one to be stuck in the birth canal. That’ll give you about three minutes to get there. Remember – the door on the right!”
I just had the handle in my hand when the door flew open .It definitely seemed like sky out there and when I looked down a jagged vent opened up and it felt as if something had grabbed hold of my legs. Too late I realised I had gone through the wrong door. I hadn’t seen the second door. I found myself falling, falling. And it was as quick as the wind. It was snappy, prompt. It was smart.
As I fell I remember shouting out “What sort of litter? Am I going to be a pig? A cat? A RAT??” But no one heard me and it wasn’t until I could open my eyes twelve days later that I could see, perfectly well that I had come back to Earth as a dog.