For many years I’ve had foxes visit me in my back garden. The first one was Cheeky, so named because he felt at home wandering into the conservatory, and making himself comfortable on the chairs. They’ve still got the marks to prove it! I’m not sure if he’s admiring my books, or thinking the curtain tie-back would be fun to play with.
He was followed by Chico and Rosie. She was more reserved, but didn’t stand any nonsense from her partner if he tried to steal her tidbits from their favourite restaurant.
What have foxes got to do with writing? Some years ago I wrote a short story inspired by a song title. One thing led to another, and before I knew it there were over fifty short stories in various genres, including this one. The song was released in 1961 by John Leyton. You can read a snippet from the story below:
“Johnny, Remember me.”
He was my first love when I was sweet sixteen. My parents didn’t approve of his black leather jacket and motorbike, but they didn’t know him as I did. Under his long hair and bad-boy looks was a gentle, caring man who only showed his wild side when he saw injustice, or if anyone came between him and his beloved animals.
His father was a wife-beater who ran off with another woman when he was five years old. His mother couldn’t cope and turned to drink to get her through the miserable days, so his childhood was not a happy one. He learnt to look after himself when a long succession of uncles found his presence interfered with their desires for the woman who was still beautiful, even when she became an alcoholic.
‘Evie, can’t you get rid of that brat for a while? I didn’t come here to babysit. He gives me the creeps, always hanging around and watching us.’
‘That’s not fair, Jim. He’s a good kid, really. You’re only after one thing, but there’ll be no fun and games for you until I’ve got a drink inside me. Johnny, why don’t you go and play outside for a while. I’ll call you when I’ve finished talking to Uncle Jim.’
‘Funny sort of talking, and he’s not my Uncle.’
‘Move, kid, or I’ll do some talking with the back of my hand. And don’t cheek your mother.’
I first met Johnny some years later when, as usual, he’d had to make himself scarce while his mother entertained. He was in the woods tending the damaged leg of a fox, who despite being a wild animal had not been resisting his touch until she sensed my presence.
‘The poor thing,’ I said. ‘She looks in a bad way. Do you think she’ll survive?’
Earlier this year, I had the idea of putting together a collection of the stories, and releasing them in time for Valentine’s day.
‘Listen to Love’ was the result. Although there is a common theme of song titles, the stories themselves are not necessarily romance, but include everything from foxes to ghosts and senile dementia.
You can find it on Amazon here. Also, free with Kindle unlimited.
Thanks for dropping by. See you next week.