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Animal Turns For some time now I've thought it might be a good idea to put together a collection of my stories that feature ani...

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

From A Dithtanthe!

From time to time I've been publishing stories about the two dogs and all of the other animals at TURN Education.  You can find the latest stories on ABCtales, just follow this link.  For some unknown reason, I couldn't upload this recent story to that site, so I'm sharing it here.  Hope you enjoy it!

 


 

India was snoozing peacefully in her crate, warmed by a handy shaft of autumnal sunshine shining through the kitchen window.  She heard, but tried to ignore, the pad, pad, pad of Labrador paws progressing from the kitchen door across the stone-tiled floor.  Eventually the padding stopped and a shadow fell across her face.

“Erm” the shadow ventured.

“What?” India asked, crossly, with her eyes tightly shut.

“I don’t like to worry you…” Rohan (the owner of the shadow) began.

“But you’re going to, aren’t you?  Why is it that, when anyone says ‘I don’t want to worry you…’, ‘worry you’ is exactly what they do?” India grumbled, still with her eyes firmly shut.

“Only…it’th Mom” Rohan explained.  India jumped up, fully awake immediately.

“What about her?  What’s happened?” She asked, looking alarmed, and then, “what have you done?” She asked, suspiciously.

“Me?  Nothing!” Rohan was full of indignation.

“Then what’s the matter?”

“It’s just…the’th wandering around the yard, talking to herthelf” Rohan looked pleased to have got that off his mind, but also concerned.

India frowned more deeply still and thought about this for a moment.

“Come on, we’d better go an see what’s happening” She announced.

Rohan padded after her, out into the yard, only too pleased to have shifted responsibility for this problem onto his older playmate.

Once out in the yard, Mom could be seen at the far end, one arm outstretched, talking quite loudly.

“Perhaps she’s talking to the goats, or maybe the sheep?” India suggested as she sat and observed.

Rohan plonked himself down beside her and listened for a while.

“It doethn’t thound like thomething you would thay to the goatth” He commented.

“No, you’re right” India nodded, much to Rohan’s amazement, “it doesn’t.” She thought for a while, before, “You know, I think I’ve seen this before”

“What happened?” Rohan asked, “did they have to go to the Vet’th?” He suggested, gloomily.

“Of course not!” India snapped, “people don’t go to the Vet’s”

“There were loadth of people there when I went latht time” Rohan pointed out.

“Yes, but they would have been there with their animals.  People don’t go to the Vet’s, they go to a Doctor”

“What’th the differenth?”  Rohan asked, reasonably.  India thought, furiously, about this for a while.  Eventually,

“You don’t have to pay at a Doctor’s” She said, delighted to have thought of a difference.

“Why do you have to pay at a Vet’th?”

“Well, that’s obvious!” India snorted, “we’re clearly very valuable, so it’s very expensive to make sure we stay well”

“And they’re not valuable?” Rohan nodded toward Mom, in the distance, still talking to her outstretched hand.

India looked at him for a while, and then shrugged (which is very difficult for a dog to do).

“Anyway,” She said, “I’ve seen this before”

“Tho, what happened?”

“Well, nothing really.  It stopped after a bit.  It’s something to do with that thing she’s got in her hand”

Rohan and India peered into the distance.  Dogs’ eyesight isn’t anywhere near as sensitive as their sense of smell, but they could just about make out the dim outline of something in Mom’ hand.

“What ith it?”

“Well, it’s that thing she sometimes stares at.  You know, it lights up every now and then and sometimes makes a noise.  Whenever she looks at it, she either gets cross, and says a rude word, or sometimes she laughs”

“Oh, yeth.  Flynn’th got one ath well”

“That’s right!  Packham, who was here before me, he used to say that it was something they could use to see and talk to people who were a long way away”

“Like Flynn’th telethcope?”  Rohan suggested.

“Well, no, not exactly” India frowned with the effort of thinking. “You can’t talk to people through a telescope”

“Otherwithe you could talk to the Man in the Moon” Rohan grinned.

“There isn’t a Man in the Moon” India snapped.

“There ith!” Rohan said, indignantly, “I’ve theen hith fathe!”

“Fathe?  Oh, face!” India chuckled, “it’s not a face”

“Lookth like one” Rohan said, grumpily.

“It’s not a face!  It’s other things like…like…mountains!” India dredged that up from something Flynn had told her ages ago.

“Don’t be thilly!” Rohan giggled and rolled on the floor, ”how would you get thomething ath big ath a mountain on thomething ath tiny ath the Moon?”

“It’s not tiny, it’s…oh, never mind!” India shook her head, despairingly, “Anyway, if Packham was right, she’s talking to someone who is a long way away”

“Ith that why the’s thouting?”

“I suppose so” India conceded.

“Do you think we thould go and thee if the’th alright?”

“Yes, that would be a good plan” India nodded, and set off across the yard, with Rohan in hot pursuit.

“Oh, and here are our dogs here at TURN!” Mom announced to the thing in her hand, “hello lovely boy and lovely girl!” She scratched Rohan’s head with one hand whilst the other pointed the thing at the two dogs.

“Who did the thay that to?” Rohan asked, rolling over to get his tummy tickled.

“No idea!” India admitted, bustling in to get her chest rubbed.

“Are you thure the won’t have to go to the Vet’th?”

“Shush! I’m listening” India cocked her head to one side and listened intently.  “Ah, now I think I know!” She smiled and looked very superior.

“What?”  Rohan looked perplexed.

“She’s not just talking to one person, she’s talking to lots of them!  She’s doing it so that they don’t all have to come here to see us”

“Aww!” Rohan complained, “how can I lick them and get cuddleth if they’re not here?”

“Not everyone wants to be licked by you!” India said, sharply.

“Yeth, they do” Rohan said, confidently.

“Well, anyway, it’s not a very big place, so if everyone came to see us, at the same time, there wouldn’t be room for everyone, would there?”

“Humph!” Rohan grumbled.

“Well, would there?”  India raised one eyebrow.

“Thuppothe not” Rohan conceded, testily.

“So, this is a way for lots of people to get to see TURN and all of us here”

“Through that thing?”

“Yes” India nodded.

“Tho, if I licked that thing, I’d be licking loadth of people?”

“Erm, yes, I suppose so” India agreed, uncertainly.

“Right, I’m going to lick it!” Rohan bounded over toward Mom.

“Rohan!” India shouted, “Don’t!  You’ll get in such trouble!”

“Rohan! Down!” Mom commanded, and Rohan dropped to his paws instantly. “What’s the matter with you, you great soft licky thing?”  She said in a softer tone.

“I told you!” India shook her head, sadly, as Rohan made his way back to her.

“Didn’t get in trouble though, did I?” He said, with a smirk.

“You didn’t lick it, either” India pointed out.

“I’ll get it when the’th not looking, later” Rohan grinned.

“You’re impossible!” India frowned.

“Thank you!” Rohan smiled, broadly.

“It’s not a compliment!”

“Come on, let’th go and lick a few duckth”  Rohan bounded away across the yard.

“They don’t want to be licked…oh, I give up!”  India sighed, as she lolloped after him.

 

You can see the video that Mom was making, and get a full virtual tour of TURN Education in the process (including India and Rohan), by following this link 😊

Don’t forget, you can buy the first book of ‘Waggy Dog Tales’, featuring Packham and India, and help support TURN Education.  Just follow this link and read the instructions on the pinned post.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Don't Ask Me! I've No Idea.

 

 The Chronicles of a Young Lady (and her Maid)

 

I've no idea how this happened, or, for that matter, why?  All I know is that I had this snatch of dialogue going around in my head.  Now,from past experience, I can do one of two things in this situation.  Either (a) ignore it and hope it will go away - which it eventually will as my memory leaves a lot to be desired, or (b) commit it to paper and possibly do something with it in the future.  I plumped for Option B, which is why we are where we are.

The really odd thing is that this snatch of dialogue related to an imaginary situation which could not be further from my usual literary inclinations if it tried.  I never read historical fiction.  I have little or no interest in historical fiction.  So, what was this piece of dialogue about?  It concerned a young noblewoman watching her betrothed riding off to battle whilst her maid busied herself in the background.  Why would I be imagining anything so substantially removed from my comfort zone?  It beats me!

However, there we were.  It started like this:

"The young Lady stared wistfully out of the window in the castle walls, a slight breeze ruffled her finery.

“He looks so gallant, doesn’t he?” She said, to the room at large.

“Very nicely turned out, yes miss” The old lady, bustling around behind her, agreed.

“He’s using my scarf as his pennant, you know?”  The young Lady said, with pride.

“Hmmm, bright orange eh?  I should think the enemy will see him coming for miles”

“And he will strike fear into their hearts!” The young Lady said, loyally.

“If you say so, miss”

“I do say so!  And he will return victorious and bring glory to our House”

“Like I say, if you say so, miss”

“Don’t you think he will be victorious?” The young Lady asked, suspiciously.

“Put it this way, the lads in the kitchen have him at 20 – 1, which I reckon is bit on the generous side.  Still, who knows, eh?”"

And I was hooked!  I needed to know what happened next!  You see, I don't take a wonderfully professional approach to writing.  I know that, those who know what they're doing, plot their stories down to a fine detail in advance, and then flesh out this skeleton.  I, on the other hand, start writing in the same way as I would read a story, from the beginning, and wait to see how it develops.  It was obvious that the young Lady had a hopelessly romantic view of chivalry and warfare whereas the Maid and the staff of the House clearly had a more level-headed approach.  I thought it would be interesting to see how these characters might cope with their world being turned upside down, so that's what happened.

Twenty four episodes later, I decided that the story had run its course for the time being.  Each episode had featured on ABCtales but I know that not everyone is happy to stick with a story that stretches over days and weeks, and I can understand that.  I have difficulty remembering a plot if I've only put a book down for an hour or two!  Therefore, I decided to put the full story into book form and that's why we are where we are.

'The Chronicles of a Young Lady (and her Maid)' is the end result and is available now as a Kindle e-book and will shortly be available as a paperback.  This is the blurb for it:

"When a young noble lady's betrothed rides off to battle, she has high hopes of his triumphant return, unlike her Maid who expects him to last five minutes! To save themselves from a fate worse than death, the Young Lady and her Maid run for their lives (amongst other things) and so starts a set of comic adventures involving a lascivious watchman, a flamboyant sea captain, a vindictive Sergeant at Arms, a Parson and a couple of bailiffs.

Philip Whiteland takes you on this whirlwind fictional tour of the distant past with plenty of laughs and smiles along the way."

Why not take a look?  You might just like it!

The Chronicles of a Young Lady (and her Maid)


 

Monday, 23 November 2020

A Waggy Dog Story!

 I usually aim to have a book ready to publish in time for Christmas and this year is no exception.  However, there are a few exceptions to the norm this year (well, there would be, this being 2020 and everything).

Firstly, the book this year is available in paperback only (so it makes a great stocking-filler present, always assuming you want your stockings filled?) Secondly, it's a collection of fictional short stories, as opposed to my usual diet of humorous nostalgia (which I call 'nostalgedy' even if no-one else does) and thirdly, this is a book aimed at children rather than adults (although I'm convinced that more than a few adults will enjoy the jokes and situations).

I think the simplest thing would be for me to quote from the book's blurb:

"A collection of amusing and heart-warming stories about Packham and India, the two dogs at TURN Education. Although written for children, we strongly expect quite a few adults will enjoy the jokes and situations that arise as Packham and India try to make sense of their world. Starting from when India was just a puppy and learning the ropes (although she always had the measure of Packham) through to them moving to the smallholding where they, and the rest of the animals, now live. Finally, coming up to date and introducing some familiar faces around TURN.

All profits from the sale of this collection go to TURN Education to help with their remarkable animal -related therapy work with children, young people and their families. 

Sadly, after a brief and entirely unexpected illness, Packham passed away just as this book was being finalised for publication. Caroline insisted that this book should still be published in memory of Packham and to celebrate his life, and the joy and love he brought to everyone who knew him. 

This is for Packham."

15 stories in 155 pages for just £4.99!  Makes a great Christmas present.  You can buy it from Amazon at  http://mybook.to/WaggyDogTales and we would be delighted if you did BUT of the £4.99 cover price, Amazon take £4.25, which is fair enough as they do all of the printing and distribution, but doesn't leave a lot left to donate to TURN Education (you can find out more about TURN at www.turneducation.co.uk)  Whereas, if you buy directly from me, £2.40 per copy at least goes to TURN (the rest goes to Amazon).

To get your copy, email me at:

wag@philwhiteland.co.uk

and, to prove that there are some things in this life that are free, follow the link below to see and hear me read the title story:

 A Waggy Dog Story

 


 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

One Page Won't Do!

 Way back in the music history of the 1980s, a lady called Audrey Hall had a one-hit-wonder with a song called 'One Dance Won't Do'.  You may remember it?  If not, you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pbWf5tb_CA

I've come to the conclusion that I can sympathise with her!  Not in terms of dancing, one dance with me would be more than enough for anyone!  No, I'm thinking, instead, about readers and, in particular, a couple who have recently read just one page of my latest tome.

You may be surprised to learn that authors who have books listed under the Kindle Unlimited programme can see how many pages of each book have been read on a daily basis.  As I spend my waking hours pathetically checking the orders for my books and pages read (usually '0' on both counts), I'm always pleased to see a number come up under the Pages Read heading and then wait to see if that number advances, which would indicate someone is steadily reading (and hopefully enjoying) said book.

However, twice in the past week or so, the Pages Read total for my latest book has shown '1' and then resolutely failed to show any increase thereafter.  Which begs the question 'Who, in their right senses, reads just one page of a book?'  Moreover, this presumably is the Title Page!  I began to wonder if I had completely lost the plot and whether, instead of putting

 

Grave Expectations

as I had intended, I had instead put

 

Naff Off And Don't Come Back Again!

but I've checked and this doesn't appear to be the case.  So, I'm at a loss.  I can't, for the life of me, see what can be so completely off-putting about the Title Page that two readers, to date, have got thus far and no further!  

Perhaps you would like to see what you think?  You don't even have to risk 99p in the endeavour.  You can 'Look Inside' on the Amazon book page or, if you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can read the whole thing for FREE (and I can follow the pages read, which doesn't sound much but keeps me amused)

You can find the book that two people couldn't bring themselves to read, here:

 Grave Expectations


and you can hear a sample story, here:

https://youtu.be/2cDx-YyzkRg  

 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Introducing Josiah Oakshott and Archibald Thurble

 I've recently been taking a break from writing my usual 'nostalgedy' stories about growing up in Burton upon Trent in the 1950s and 1960s to return to my first love of writing humorous fiction.  In particular, I've thoroughly enjoyed writing stories about my pair of hapless Undertakers, Josiah Oakshott and Archibald Thurble of Oakshott and Underwood.  These stories have now been collected in two Kindle books, as follows:



A Dubious Undertaking and other stories -

the first collection of stories about Josiah and Archibald

http://getbook.at/ADubiousUndertaking

A selection of darkly humorous tales about two hapless undertakers, Josiah Oakshott and Archibald Thurble, and the troubles that befall them and their clients. Also, some stories about two precocious children you really wouldn't want to tangle with - Peregrine and Prudence. If you want to know who blew up the crematorium, why Mrs Anderby had an unfortunate encounter with some potting compost and how an Anti-Santa found himself in captivity, you could do a lot worse than read this book! If you like your humour slightly dark and rather silly, then this is the tome for you.


Grave Expectations - the further misadventures of 

Josiah Oakshott and Archibald Thurble

http://getbook.at/graveexpectations

The second book featuring Josiah and Archibald and this time all the stories are about their misadventures dealing with irate mourners, V.E. Day, social bubbles, unexpected musical tracks at cremations, the difficulties of 'staying alert', pub reopening, face masks, promotion, dismissal, pyres for Viking chieftains, the oedipus complex, feuding fiancees, personnel management and office romance. All this and the pandemic too! 

 

and you can enjoy the title story of 'A Dubious Undertaking' for FREE by watching this:

https://youtu.be/2cDx-YyzkRg


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Taking the Tablet!




My grandson was stilll not convinced that Packham had properly understood the nature of the virus in the last story "The Walrus and the Aunteater", so I decided to  have one last go.  I couldn't see much humorous potential in this, but it turned out I was wrong!





In the warming rays of the mid-morning sunshine, Packham stretched out on the decking.  A gentle breeze played over his fur, happily keeping him from getting too hot.  

This was definitely Packham’s favourite spot to snooze.  In the distance he could hear the bleating of the sheep and the goats as they grazed in the field beyond.  Behind him came the insistent quacking of one or more of the small ducks as they bickered and bustled around the yard. Geese honked with annoyance whenever anyone got too close to them, which was most of the time, and hens clucked and pecked contentedly just about everywhere.

 It was the usual background noise at TURN Education and he normally found he could doze peacefully through it all, except for this morning.  Amidst the bleating and the quacking, the honking and the clucking, he could hear a regular set of growls, each growl followed by a dragging noise.  Packham debated whether to look up and see what was causing it but decided he was happier dozing and not knowing.

After a short while, the growls and dragging came steadily closer to where Packham was sunbathing.  He felt something being dropped beside him, followed by a short ‘woof’ that could only come from India.  Packham opened one eye and stared, with a degree of annoyance, at his companion.

“Wha’ you want?”  He murmured, sleepily.

“Brought you something” India replied.

Packham made the effort to open his eye again and looked at what lay at India’s paws.  It was a magazine, or, more accurately, what was left of a magazine after it had been dragged out of the house and across the yard by a Labrador.

“Not interested, can’t read” Packham dismissed the offering and tried to go back to sleep.

“You don’t need to read it” India explained, “it’s a picture”

Packham opened both eyes and yawned loudly.  Stretching all his limbs as far as they would go, he reluctantly sat up and regarded his young companion.

“Picture?  You’ve woken me up for a picture?  You know how much I need my mid-morning snooze!”

“It’s important” India pushed the open magazine toward Packham, “you see that thing there?”  India’s nose touched a picture of a round object covered in little spikes, the whole thing was displayed in a disturbing mix of purples and dark blues.

“Ooh, that looks nasty” Packham’s nose twitched in disapproval, “what is it?”

“That,” said India, triumphantly, “is what’s causing people to be ill.  It’s called a ‘virus’”

“A ’virus’?”

“Yep, Flynn was just telling me about it” India looked very superior.

“Not a walrus?”

“Absolutely not!”  India smirked.

“What’s a walrus, then?” Packham was not convinced.

“Oh, for goodness sake!  Hang on a minute, but get ready to run, ok?”  India trotted off back into the house.  

“Run?  What do you mean, ‘run’?”  Packham shouted after her but no answer came.

He was just about to settle down to resume his snooze when he heard a major commotion break out.  Seconds later, India came bounding out with something metallic in her mouth.  She skidded to a halt in front of Packham and lowered her prize carefully onto the decking before him.

“See that picture there?  That’s a walrus!”  India panted.

Packham could see a large gingery-brown creature with ripples of fat, huge whiskers and even larger tusks.  The whole appearance was quite startling and made him jump back.  Back in the house, the dogs could hear another conversation taking place.

                “MUM!”

                “What?”

                “India’s run off with my iPad!”

                “SHE’S WHAT??”

“Oh no, you haven’t taken Flynn’s iPad?  You’re going to be in so much trouble!”  Packham warned.
“It was the only way I could show you what a walrus looked like.  Flynn had been showing me”

“Oh, Flynn had been showing you, had he?”  Packham asked huffily.  He liked to think that Flynn confided only in him.

                “INDIA, WHERE ARE YOU?”

“I told you, you would get in trouble” Packham smirked.

                “PACKHAM, COME HERE THIS MINUTE!”

“Ha!  Not just me, then.” India giggled, “come on, we’d better make a run for it”

“Bottom of the field” Packham panted as he and India bounded away, “we’ll hide under the hedge until this all blows over”

Moments later they were safely tucked under the hedgerow, peering cautiously through the branches to see if they could spot anyone in the distance.

“So, where does Maxine come into all of this ‘virus’ thingy?”  Packham asked, in a way that implied he wasn’t all that interested really.

“There is no ‘Maxine’, you silly old dog!  You misunderstood.  It’s a ‘vaccine’ they’re looking for”

“’Vaccine’?  What’s one of them?”  Packham hated being in the wrong.

“Well, you were mostly right before…” India began.

“See!  Told you!” Packham responded, smugly.

“It is about putting a little, harmless, version of the virus into you, sort of.  That way your body knows how to fight it if the real thing comes along.”

“The Aunties!”  Packham nodded.

“No, it’s nothing to do with Aunties but I’m not really sure what does it”

“Hah, now who’s silly, eh?”

“But, I think you’ve got like these little super-hero type things in your body and when something nasty turns up, they fly in and get rid of it for you”

“I think I preferred the idea of Aunties” Packham huffed, “what about if you’ve already got this virus inside you?  What can they do about that?”

“Well, you know those sticky-up things we saw on the ‘virus’?”
 
“Yes, I didn’t like the look of them” Packham shivered.

“Well, they think if you could gum them up, somehow, that might stop the ‘virus’ making people so poorly.  That’s what they’re trying to find, something to do the ‘gumming up’, I think” India frowned as she tried to make sense of it all, which isn’t easy when you’re a dog.  “I know we’re involved.”

Packham turned to look at her, “What, you and me?”

“No, silly!  Labradors”

“Labradors are involved in finding something to stop this virus?”  Packham asked, disbelievingly.

“Yes, because Flynn said that Research Labs around the world were working on it”

“Well, I suppose that does make sense.  We are highly intelligent.”  Packham thought it over for a bit before continuing, “I still don’t see how people catch this virus.  I mean, it’s easily as big as the walrus.  You would see it coming from miles away!”

“Ah, no, that’s where you’re wrong!”  India shook her head, vigorously, making her ears flap wildly.  “Flynn explained that to me.  That picture shows what the ‘virus’ would look like if it was really, really big.  Actually, it’s so tiny, you can’t see it, which is why it can creep up on people and get inside them”

“Gosh! Makes your fur creep to think about it, doesn’t it?”  Packham looked around, warily, as if expecting a spiked blue and purple thing to come bounding out of the branches around them.

“Yeah, you can see why people have been keeping a long way from each other, can’t you?”  India nodded, “because you never know who might have the ‘virus’”

“Can’t be a lot of fun being people at the moment”

“No, there’s a lot to be said for being a Labrador right now” India agreed. “Especially if you’re a Research Lab helping them find a cure”

                “PACKHAM! INDIA! WHERE ARE YOU?”

“But, perhaps not exactly RIGHT NOW!” Packham ducked down as low as he could and tried to blend into the hedge.

“We can’t hide in here forever” India said, glumly, as she tried to shuffle down into the leaves and twigs.

“Oh, I don’t know.  We could give it a try” Packham whispered, “anyway, I don’t see why I’m in trouble, I haven’t done anything wrong!”

“Well, I wouldn’t have had to bring you those pictures if you hadn’t gone on about Pandas, Walruses and Maxines” India grumbled.

“I don’t think I was that far wrong, really” Packham suggested, rather optimistically. “Hey, you know how you could get out of trouble, don’t you?”

“How?” India asked, suspiciously.

“You could tell them…”  He started to giggle uncontrollably, “…you could tell them you were just taking a tablet for the virus!”  Packham roared with laughter and ended up on his back with all four legs pointing upward, tail wagging furiously.

“Boys are just so silly!”  India snapped, but couldn’t stop her tail wagging too.

You can find a lot more of Philip's fiction in the brand new book 'A Dubious Undertaking and other stories' available now for just 99p - and FREE on Kindle Unlimited :-)