Growing up in a rural community I was always surrounded by animals and we constantly had pets – this lead to a lifelong love of animals and I’ve have had the privilege of sharing my life with scores of fur, feathered and scaled creatures.
The animals in my books are based on some of the real-life animals I have known through the years, some have the same name and most of them share the same zany personality that we all know and love about our pets. Here are the influencers for the characters in my book…
The books’ main character, Earnshaw, is based on Tigger, the Tiger Tabby; probably the most intelligent Cat I’ve ever come across and first of the influencers. Acquired when only a few weeks old; rest of the litter were all white and sold already; no one wanted him; bounced up and down on all four legs, hence the name. Bonded with everyone and his new home instantly, although too small to climb upstairs without help and did not stop purring for a fortnight, his usual perch was on my shoulder! We investigated his neighbourhood, together with the help of a collar and lead! Learned to swim in the ponds, on his own, and climb trees, sometimes needed help to get down. Unusually altruistic and caring for a Cat, to Humans and other Animals and especially Birds.
Topsy is the model for Enoch the black, naive kitten with 5 white hairs on his chest. Nervous and easily frightened.
An earlier long-haired Tabby, obtained from a Cat’s Home in Manchester. Moved to the Lake District for the rest of his stress-free life, apart from an occasional crusty-back hormonal induced problem after being neutered. Friends with Fred, the Hippy Rabbit, another of the original influencers, even to the extent of taking (or tolerating) wheelbarrow rides together round the garden! Frequently suffered from tangles of his long fur, usually resorted to combing them out in a clump of Saxifrage. Very friendly, quiet Cat, liked by everyone.
Ginger was the first Cat, a Manx Cat with no tail! Born in a cave on Whitbarrow scar, a nearby limestone escarpment; when finally taken home to the Farm cottage by his Mother, unwanted like the rest of her previous litters he was about to suffer the same fate as his predecessors when rescued and brought home. Colour ginger (obviously), looked like a Lion and was the original model for Earnshaw; his distinctive Manx Kitten face became the emblem for the Trade Mark. Grew up strong, independent and a hunter of wild Rabbits, not Birds. Ginger was once shot with a 12-bore shotgun in the side; no vets in those days! I cut his fur away and lay still, watching calmly as I removed the shotgun pellets with a pair of tweezers and a pen knife (no anaesthetics available either; age 7 or 8, me!). Ginger successfully recovered without problem. A successful Cat burglar, with a penchant for the custard in custard tarts, never taken into custardy! Was recognisable and famous in the Village although sometimes mistaken for a Dog! Lived a long and contented life.
My first Dog, an Irish Wolf Hound, Bosco was a mystery, he simply walked in one day and adopted me. He ‘guarded’ me and refused to let anyone near me, except for parents; if I crawled too far or he thought I was getting into trouble, he simply picked me up by the scruff of the neck like a wayward pup and carried me back! Very gentle and patient, an important ally and friend. In Cat’s Eyes, was Old Ted’s canine companion until shot by Poachers.
Another stray, starving, desperately ill Dog; no specific connection to the others except for his poor condition. Tiger suffered badly from mange covering most of his back and was obviously shunned by most Humans. Treated his back with coal tar ointment, which meant rubbing it into his skin; the smell was revolting and he was banished to live in the Peat House across the street. The mange was slowly defeated and his diet included a sack of broken biscuits, wafers, custard creams etc, which he shared with me. Recovered from the mange and his fur grew back; neither of us suffered any ill-effects from the biscuits.
Whitey was original Poacher’s Dog; who used to call on villagers and try to buy Rabbits, Pheasants etc from them. Called at the House one day but was told where to go; ran over his own Dog outside the front door and smashed its leg! The Dog crawled into the house, whimpering and lay under the table. Poacher stormed in and tried to drag the Dog out and finish it off; was discouraged by a heavy walking and threats. Saw Whitey’s leg, bones were sticking out through the skin. Rushed out to dig up some wild Comfrey. Whitey was lifted gently onto the table, still whimpering in pain. Whilst Mother washed and pulverized the Comfrey roots. I pulled the leg to reset the bones which could be seen clearly through the open wound and tied it together with a piece of bandage. Meanwhile, Mother was making a comfrey poultice which we applied to the leg and bandaged it up; Comfrey sets like plaster of Paris and promotes bone healing! Dog renamed Whitey and lived to a ripe old age – without a limp! Slept with Ginger most nights.
Tiny was a farm dog who coincidentally (and accidentally) lost a leg when he was run over by a mowing machine. But had timely transport and access to a vet. the model for Flower the Collie
Jasper was an unexpected birthday present and the model for Monkton. A Senegal Parrot from Barrow-in Furness, no wonder he was initially confused. He escaped twice, the second time he was at large for three months before I caught him, though I suspect he gratefully surrendered, having had to live in a holly tree and survive on a diet apples to avoid the lethal attentions of Crows and Jackdaws. As a result, became agoraphobic and refused to go further than the door of his cage for the rest of his life. He used to play fight with Tigger, bopping him on the nose with a closed beak, whilst Tigger responded with pokes from a paw with claws withdrawn. Jasper always ended the bouts by pulling Tigger’s whiskers.
Fred the Rabbit
The Hippy, piebald Rabbit, Model for Starsky. TV addict, watch anything, adept at sneaking into the House and jumping onto the settee in front of the TV and waiting for it to be turned on. Had an unfortunate rubber and plastic fetish, biting through cables and attacking children’s wellies. Has the unlikely talent for devising limericks.
Fred & Oliver having a wheelbarrow ride together
All the characters are based on real pets and other animals we have known over the years.
Earnshaw, the Tiger Tabby Kitten, was born into dereliction and deprivation in Salford; cast into the dark, oily waters of the Docks by a vicious Human but rescued by a kindly passer-by.
Earnshaw, the Tiger Tabby, and his new family of animal friends have their parallel world invaded by a group of vicious Humans, bent on attacks on their own unsuspecting, adopted Human family and their animal circle.
Excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Very funny & had difficulty putting it down..
- AMAZON REVIEWER
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