I’m delighted to announce the second book in the Aunt Grizelda series will be launched on the 4th July at Book Corner, the wonderful independent book shop in Halifax’s historic Piece Hall. The event is free and starts at 7pm.
I’ll be reading extracts, signing copies and giving an account of the road to publication with some dos, don’ts, and things I wish I’d known – tips that should help other aspiring children’s authors on their own journey.
This week’s problem comes from Ireland and concerns the extent of a spectre’s job responsibilities.
I feel as if
my employers are not paying me fairly for my work. I drive passengers by
carriage throughout Ireland: but as I travel through the countryside, I am also
expected to call out the names of those about to die. Surely this is the job of
gripe I have concerns the passengers: like myself they have detached heads. On
a bumpy lane this can result in them arriving at their destination with a
different head from the one they started out with. It is always me that has to
sort out the confusion, and I am not paid extra for this.
thinking of asking my employers for an increase in salary to reflect these
additional responsibilities. Do you think I have a case?
Dear A Spectre,
dawn of time dullahans have announced the names of those about to die, and
therefore, even if it isn’t written into your employment contract, it is an
integral part of the job. Consequently, you have no hope of extra pay for doing
to reassigning passengers’ heads at the end of a trip, you are on firmer
ground. Before the explosion of public liability claims, passengers cheerfully
accepted a bumpy ride could result in a new look. However, these days, they can
turn quite nasty about it. But is it your responsibility to sort out? It rather
depends what it says under the Job Responsibilities
section of your employment contract.
any of your passengers actually assault you, you may have a claim against your
employers under insufficient Health and Safety provision.
Gum – bubble or chewing – can lead to dramatic accidents. The following recounts what happened to one young boy…
The Bubble Gum Tragedy
Bobby blew a bubble out of
bubble gum one day,
And it was such a giant one
it carried him away.
He sailed above the rooftops
like a helium balloon.
His mother cried, “Come back
at once, it’s time for dinner soon.”
But sadly, Bobby could not
heed this order from his mum,
Because his lips were stuck
fast to the bright pink bubble gum.
The neighbours rushed into
the street and pointed in dismay,
As Bobby shrank into a dot
and drifted far away.
And further yet and further,
up up into the blue,
He drifted to such dizzy
heights he vanished clear from view.
For weeks they sent up
spaceships – on board were rescue men,
But Bobby and his bubble gum
were never seen again.
So if you must chew bubble
gum, be careful or you may
Come to a very sticky end as
Bobby did that day.
To avoid gum mishaps, follow The Gum Code.
Do not chew dramatically in public: you are not the manager of a professional football
team. And even if you are, don’t do it.
Do not chew at ANY sad or tragic or important event: it looks as if you don’t care, and even if that’s the case, some of the people attending the sad/tragic/important event do care and won’t thank you.
Dispose of your gum carefully: your sister’s hair is not a suitable place and neither is beneath your desk or bed. Bin it.
Manners makyth man was the motto of William Wykeham, a
man who lived in the 14th century, and although that period isn’t a
shining example of civilized behaviour, what with its beheadings, floggings,
dungeons, brawls and general brutishness, his motto drew attention to a politer
way to live.
Although people’s behaviour continued
to be violent, it
was at least accompanied by please and thank you, due to William. The aristocracy
in particular began to abide by rules of etiquette and would often present a
wonderfully formal banquet to the king, before stabbing him to death. And
instead of a prisoner being told, “Get yer head on that block,” a much
pleasanter, “If you could just lay your head down on that block, please,” made proceedings
much more courteous.
By Victorian times genteel behaviour had got out of
hand: people required an encyclopaedic knowledge of cutlery items and how to
use them, not to mention knowing when and where certain garments should be worn
and how often they should be changed. The slightest deviation from the social
code could spell disaster. Decorum was everything. I include, below, an excerpt
from the poem, “The Lady Languishes,” as an illustration.
The Lady Languishes (an excerpt)
others trip the polka gay
her throat in anguish,
And calls a
footman to prepare
A couch on
which to languish.
strikes a merry note,
The host is
in desperation seeks
Oil that is
pale lily gilds her cheek?
breathing rattles so!
has no handkerchief
her nose to blow.
And out her
dainty nostril drips
pale as water –
beats fast and so she grasps
she didn’t oughta.
white tablecloth she takes,
her head down close…
thinking no one sees the sin,
wipes her nose.
Those of you familiar with the poem will know she is spotted committing the faux
pas and is exiled from polite society for the rest of her days.
Today, thankfully, manners have moved
on, and polite
society is less burdened with dos and don’ts, but it is still useful to know a
few basics to ensure smooth social interactions. And this is why my next series
of articles will be a guide to modern etiquette.
So, what more can be said about parents? As we’ve seen, all types have their drawbacks, but on the whole they do their best, and remember, one day you might be a parent yourself, so cut them a little slack.
Will never be heard to say: “Stop doing that. People are looking!”
So you’re probably thinking, “How can this be a special category? ALL parents are embarrassing.” And it’s true, they are; from the dads who demonstrate how to do a sliding tackle or a break dance move, to the mums who think they’re still young enough to wear the latest skimpy fashions. But to be fair, most parents are only embarrassing occasionally…except for the ones who’ve made it their life’s work to be cringey ALL the time.
embarrassing parents are without fail
Ready to try anything
Involved in acting/bands/morris dancing/political activism/performance art/poetry/
credibility with friends can be seriously undermined by these types. But apart
from avoiding being seen with them, what can you do?
Well, on the
plus side, they tend to be so involved in their own enthusiasms they probably
don’t have too much time to spend with you. But if you run into them
unexpectedly there are two possible strategies:
Pretend you haven’t seen/heard them and walk away quickly in the opposite direction.
If you can’t get away in time, look slightly mystified and when they’ve moved on tell your friends you’ve no idea who those strange people were.
Finally there does come a point where embarrassing parents become clinically interesting, which can be useful if you study psychology at university and need case studies. See, it’s not all bad.