It was late night in the forest.
The woodland animals slept after their busy days of scurrying through the undergrowth searching for food.
I was doing the same, searching for food that is. I haven't scurried through the undergrowth since my brief sojourn into lycanthropy. That ended up being a nightmare. What sane man would submit himself to monthly torture, in spite of the thrill of the blood lust, and the fear in the eyes of the villagers at nearby Nether Bottom.
No, tonight I was looking for something to cook, rather than to eat raw like a wild dog. Tonight I was looking for something for the pot. Badger, fox, ferret, anything would do.
I carried with me my trusty shotgun, Nigel. I named him after the man whose cold fingers I pulled it from (The last would be hero from the village that came to 'kill the beast from the castle').
The bag over my shoulder already carried some swag for the night. Nothing special, a few squirrels, the odd woodpecker, and a penguin (quite what a penguin was doing in the forest is a story which I will retell to you another time).
Anyway, my night was nearly over, thoughts of penguin pie filled my head as I began to make my way back to my castle on the hilltop overlooking the forest. Torches had been lit on the battlements by my butler, Manson, a sign that my bath was run and my supper prepared.
Suddenly there was a rustle in the bushes to my left. I stopped and raised the barrel, pointing it in the direction of the movement.
The subsequent exchange with the creature in the woods is recounted ad verbatim.
Who’s that in the bushes? Come out and tell me what you’re doing skulking around in the woods at this late hour? Who are you? Be quick, my pea shooter is loaded.
Greetings, kind sir. I mean no harm. I was taking Mr Chasington for his evening stroll when he ran off. By the way, I would advise you not to approach if you stumble upon him. He’s two metres tall with ginger fur, orange eyes and a somewhat bloodthirsty temperament. My own invention: a vizsliraptor, a creature with the unswerving loyalty of a Hungarian vizsla combined with the flesh-tearing teeth of a velociraptor. When I’m not hybridising unfeasible monsters in my laboratory under the Waitrose car park, I’m a humble scribbler.
Another writer? It’s a plague, a plague I tell you. Very well then, explain yourself. What’s your book called and what’s it about? Sell it to me.
Do you ever laugh? No, not that chilling cackle. A proper laugh. If so, prepare to give your chuckle muscles a work-out while I tell you about my comic fiction, Note to Boy, to be published later this year – I confidently predict – by Unbound.
Let me take you back to the 60s. No, not the 1860s, silly boy! The 1960s. Swinging London and all that, when my main character, Eloise, then young and sexy, was the talk of Carnaby Street with her outrageous fashions and even more outrageous behaviour.
But Eloise’s heyday is long past. When we meet her, she’s old, lonely, penniless and bitter. Into her life slouches Bradley, a down-trodden, surly teenager with his own reasons to be pissed off with the world. After a rocky start, they forge an unlikely friendship, and set about creating mayhem as they right wrongs and wreak revenges. There’s chaos, misunderstandings and flying crockery, as well as plenty of laughs. Hope that doesn’t sound too upbeat for you.
Ok, you’ve passed the first test, as you’ve not been shot yet. Now for the difficult questions. You’ve been chosen to be part of the next great chapter in British space exploration. You’ll be sent on a long journey to the other side of the galaxy. The trip may take a while and you are only allowed to take three people with you;
a. Someone you’d rather not leave behind
b. Someone to entertain you on the journey
c. Someone who you will be allowed to push out of the airlock once you’re a safe distance from earth
Who are your lucky/unlucky passengers?
How splendid! I’ve wanted to be shot into space ever since I first saw that film Alien. It looked such fun!
For my first companion, I’d choose Mr Chasington, of course. I couldn’t possibly leave him behind, even if I wanted to. He’d tear me limb from limb if I tried.
For entertainment, it would have to be a comedian. Not one of those lugubrious ‘tears behind the laughter’ types (Sorry, Stewart Lee). Someone with a naturally sunny and incurably optimistic disposition. Lee Mack? Count Arthur Strong? Jo Brand? And if they turned gloomy, I’m sure I could rely on Mr Chasington to deal with them.
For the one-way drop through the airlock – I suppose I’m not allowed to say every one of the political so-called leaders currently herding us towards catastrophe? Thought not!
OK then. I’ll go for the stranger in the Waitrose queue last weekend who fit more racist comments into a brief conversation with me than I would have thought possible. God alone knows what he says when he’s with friends and really letting rip! The inmates of my underground Zoo of Death can’t wait to meet you, Racist Waitrose Guy.
I hear you used to be a wrestler, tag team partner to Big Daddy, and winner of a brutal and ‘banned from TV’ bout with Giant Haystacks. If there was one opponent that would lure you back into the ring, who would it be, and would you play dirty to beat them?
Your research is spot on. I was indeed once known as ‘Queen of the Back Body Drop’. Impressive enough in itself but almost unbelievable when you discover I’m a mere eight-stone stripling who barely came up to The Stack’s waist. But I had the advantage of stealth, you see, being small enough to sneak up under the flap of his vast gut, and lump him one.
Sadly, I was forced to retire from the ring due to a freak philtrum injury. For adrenaline kicks these days I go volcano boarding. We have a spare place on our next trip to Nicaragua, if you fancy it. Could be your next big ‘thing’.
I give you the power of DVLA! You can thank me later. What’s the first rule of the road that you would add to the highway code? And if you had to create a new road sign what would it be?
Easy. I’d ring the changes with traffic lights. On alternate days, say Mon, Wed and Fri, it would be red for go and green for stop, and on Tues … I don’t have to spell it out for an intelligent man like yourself, surely? Why? Firstly, it would add a frisson to the boring business of waiting at the traffic lights – you’d never be quite sure – and secondly, it would save me the bother of trying to remember which is which. Always have had trouble with that one.
Not so much a road sign, as a must-have, in-car accessory. I’d invent a gizmo that flips out and lights up, signalling ‘Sorry!’ to other drivers. No more red-faced shrugging and grinning.
I like a nice cosy night in, in front of the telly. I love settling in to my armchair with a party bag of Wotsits and a cup of hot, steaming offal. My favourite programme has just been cancelled though, after one hardly watched season (who knew that ‘Funking with Farage – Naughty Nige explores the history of disco whilst dressed as a panda’ would be so unpopular).
I want you to create my next favourite programme to keep me entertained on those long lonely nights. What’s it called and what’s it about?
I’m sure you, like me, are a huge devotee of Say Yes to the Dress. I’ve long felt there is much more mileage to be had from the franchise, covering other big lifestyle decisions, not just weddings. These are my off-the-top-of-the-head ideas. If you know any BBC commissioning editors, please do pass them on. Usual copyright restrictions apply.
Say Perhaps to the Blazer and Slacks.
Say Hello to the National Trust Supersoft Merino Wool Throw.
Say Don’t Mind if I Do to Joining a Quechua Community That Worships Prince Edward in the High Andes of Peru.
Say I Really Shouldn’t Oughta to Random Acts of Slaughter.
My cook Dahmer is a wizz in the kitchen, there’s nothing (or no one) he can’t cook and cause me to salivate in a quite disturbing way. Suppose you survive my questioning and I ask you back to the castle for a slap up three course meal, name your ideal dinner extravaganza. What would you have Dahmer knock up for us both?
I’m an adventurous eater. I doubt Dahmer could dish up anything I wouldn’t have a go at. Just a couple of small provisos: no shellfish, red meat or poultry: no jelly, beetroot, anchovies or ice-cream (that is one pizza I’d like to forget!); no fried, spicy or raw food; grains, dairy or refined sugars; and absolutely – I have to insist on this – no pufferfish, larks’ tongues or golden samphire.
Actually, make mine an apple. Organic. Unsprayed. Cox’s.
Imagine that you are the devil for a day, and have been asked to create a completely new plane of Hell. There’s already a place for the thieves, one for murderers, and one for fornicators. Which section of society are you going to create a special place for?
People with bad table manners, who chomp with mouths agape, giving all around them the benefit of seeing, hearing and feeling the splatters of their messy mastications. They are usually the sort who also don’t place their knives and forks neatly together on the plate to indicate they’ve finished munching. Oh, and those who drool fresh blood on my white damask. Such a nuisance to get the stain out. They can all head straight for that special place the Tusk man was on about.
Art. It’s a funny thing, some famous artists are obviously masters of creating beauty, and others would struggle in an under-fives finger painting competition. Is art really an individual thing or is some of it just bollocks? Feel free to show your idea of the best and the worst. (if you want to attach pics to your reply email to demonstrate that would be great, if not no worries)
I know what I like and that is … nothing that I could possibly draw, paint or otherwise physically create. I’m more in the ‘colour-blind one-year-old with poor co-ordination’ category when it comes to the visual arts. But, ask me to play a Chopin nocturne …?
You have dazzled with your answers. I am further intrigued by you and will probably begin to stalk you on the interweb. Where else can I find you? Do you blog? Insta? Facebook? Tweet? Let me know where I, and others can find you?
Feel free to stalk away, as long as when you lurk on my FB page, Twitter account, You Tube vid or Unbound pages, you and your misshapen cronies also pledge a wedge of florins (or silver guineas, I’m not fussy) to my comic novel, Note to Boy, which currently stands at 75% funded with Unbound.
And if you don’t … here, Chasy, Chasy, Chasy! Here, boy! Come to Mummy.
Looks harmless, doesn’t he? But just look at him when his velociraptor blood is up!
I lowered my shotgun and backed away slowly. Despite the rumours I am not a stupid man. Cruel perhaps, violently ignorant at times, but not stupid.
"I'll be off back to my castle then." I murmured, not taking my eyes from either Clark or her pet, each of which was as dangerous as the other in my book.
Each step backwards seemed to take an age, as I struggled to not make any sudden movements. I was about ten yards away when I stepped on the twig. The cracking noise although probably barely audible, resounded through the woods.
Their ears twitched and they bared their teeth.
Go d help me, I turned an ran as fast as my old and crooked legs would carry me. Branches hit my face, leaves slapped my cheeks, but I ran.
I did not stop until I was safely over the drawbridge and the portcullis was down. I had had a lucky escape.
I had not known fear like this since the last time I struggled to find toilet roll in any of the castles lavvies. It was a cold sweat which ran down my back, a harsh twist of the guts that would not settle until much later on.
Please visit Sue Clark's Unbound page today and pre-order your copy of your book. It will please her greatly and the world will therefore be a safer place.
Just click here, for mercy's sake unbound.com/books/note-to-boy
If you're as lovely as Sue Clark, and wish to visit Castle Holbrook for a chat, please email me at email@example.com and I'll get it sorted.
If you have enjoyed this blog and the others preceeding it, do also feel free to support my own spectacular new novel The Love of Death. A sweet love story about the angel of death finding his true love. Cklick here to find out more https://unbound.com/books/the-love-of-death/