Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Better than a blank page. But not by much

Funny, the things you lose in a house move. The kick plate from a freezer. A magnum of champagne. A small green scoopy thing you use to transfer compost from bag to flowerpot. At the time of writing, the first two have turned up. One is attached to the bottom of the freezer, the other has long since been imbibed and its container recycled. The third item has failed to surface; I had to use a metal trowel instead.

Funny, too, the things that you find after a house move. Amongst the gew-gaws, assorted trinkets and brickbats, I came across the following piece of writing. Now, many years ago, when No.1 daughter was at school, she was 'tasked' with producing a short piece of fiction concerning The Gold Rush. And, as a good Dad (I like to think) I did what good Dads do; I interfered, suggested, advised, and generally gave all manner of (unwanted) input as to how said piece of fiction should be written. Eventually, I saw the error of my ways and, as someone who had always been vaguely interested in writing, penned my own version, which closely follows her (then) somewhat quirky style, for my own amusement. Here it is in its entirety. I have included it (a) to show that I am really a shameless self-publicist with all the talents of William McGonagall on mogadon; (b) to clear up doubts, if any existed, that my huge rollercoaster Middenshire novel is ever likely to be published; and (c) allow you to whisper, point and snigger at me whilst I think of something more useful to say.

Anyway, here it is...

A whole village was going to settle in a new place. A huge meteorite, made entirely of cheese, had landed on their old one, and the sad, inbred inhabitants were still covered in small slivers of burnt mozzarella. Billy, Jane, Bella, Indiana and Jesse were moving in a group together. Almost all of them were in their twenties. It was 1848, only two years away from 1850. The Gold Rush had started when a man came into the village, shouting, 'Gold! Gold! I've found it in the American River! Look, here it is!' After he had been shot and subsequently buried, ostensibly for telling lies, the simple villagers had discovered that he had, in fact, been telling the truth. The unwashed villagers dropped everything and raced to the now well-known Gold Rush.

Billy was the leader, because, despite being the thickest, he was both the oldest, and a man. Jane was the youngest. She was ten years old and still completely illiterate. As they headed over California, they became hot and tired.

'Gee, I'm becoming hot and tired, Indiana. When are we going to be there?'

'Soon, Jane old girl,' said Indiana, without the faintest idea what she was talking about.

All of a sudden, they heard waggons, and the neighing of buffalo.

'It's the chuck waggon!' said Jesse.

As the waggon got closer, the people driving it said, 'Keep your filthy horn-swoggling hands offa the waggin, you dirty and misbegotten old cow pokes.'

After burying the chuck wagon driver and a big dinner they camped and had a rest. In the middle of the night, Jane suddenly awoke. She could hear the whoop of baboons, the hum of a nuclear generator and the distant crump of shells from a heavy calibre machine gun. She went back to sleep without even wondering what these sounds meant.

In the morning, Indiana was the first person to get up. 'My God!' he said, 'What's happened round here?' In front of his eyes were the scattered remnants of Red Cross parcels, broken biscuits and waggons that had apparently been burnt to a fine white powder. There had been an ambush. The rest of the team got up.

'Oh well, you young'uns! No gold for you this year!' said the Sheriff. 'As you can see, there has been an armed conflict of some kind in the middle of the night. Thank goodness no-one was hurt.'

'But Sheriff, what about that huge mound of bodies?' said Billy.

'Dang these glasses!' the Sheriff said.

'Thank goodness you were here, Sheriff. You're my hero!' said Jane.

'That's OK, little missy.'

After burying the Sheriff, the group headed back to their village. They all got up on their horses and rode into the sunset. No gold this year. Perhaps they could corner the market in meteorite cheese instead.


mo.stoneskin said...

I've always been amazed that they allow baboons to man (or baboon?) nuclear generators. I mean, for starters, they already have blue bums.

Your novel better be published. I've already pre-ordered on Amazon to pre-empt both the mad clamour of eager readers (and baboons?) And in order to beat any potential price rises caused by inflation.

chris hale said...

Mo - I agree whole-heartedly with your sentiments re. the baboon in a nuclear facility issue. You're far better off with a mandrill.

I fear you may have a bit of a wait for the book, but in the meantime, why not buy Joined up Thinking by my old friend Stevyn Colgan, whom you can visit at:

He's not paying me. Honest.

Comedy Goddess said...

I swear I just watched this movie on Turner Classics last night!

chris hale said...

Dang it, CG!

You've discovered my evil plan to flood the world with rubbish scripts for third rate movies!

Derrick said...

Blimey Chris!

What were you messin' around with Betjeman, Chaucer and Dickens for when you've got Gold like this lyin' in them thar drawers??!!

WV: supsta - speaks for itself!!

chris hale said...

Derrick - Hi!

Assuming there's still a market for Wild West Fiction, guess I'll mosey along to the ol' computer and write myself a tale of old cowpokes, ornery critters and varmints. Yee har!

Y'all come back now!

(incidentally, the word varmint originated, not in the USA, but in England in the early 16th century!)

Madame DeFarge said...

For some reason, all I could think of was Woody's Round Up Gang from Toy Story 2. Thi may say more about me than it does about your power of storytelling. Which is admirable and enjoyable.

chris hale said...

MDF - (Touches brim of imaginary ten-gallon hat, perched on two pint head) Why, thank you kindly, ma'am!

Stevyn Colgan said...

It is a work of purest genius. Although I don't quite understand why they felt the need to bury a big dinner.

Thanks also for the mention of my humble book and blog. The cheque is probably in the postal system somewhere. I sent it. Honest.

chris hale said...

Stevyn - Don't you remember a quote from some government minion, it's a good day to bury a big dinner? It's a Labour-led initiative to combat obesity.

Somewhere in the archives I have the start of a story freely adapted from The Famous Five books, but I don't dare use it!

The cheque arrived today. I've never seen so many noughts!