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A dedication

Posted on Jan 1, 2014 by John Scotcher
So, here's how it begins.  On Saturday night I was staying in Maidenhead, where I grew up.  After a few light ales in town, I decided that it was time to take a visit to an old friend's house.  Thus I left the pub and began through the night, with only the slightest hint of a stagger to my walk.  Now I hope that there will be only a very few of my blog posts that start with a few light ales, but to be honest, I already half had this post in mind as I headed off, so in this instance it is relevant, honestly!

As this blog is partly about the journey I am taking to get my new novel released through Kindle and possibly print on demand on the 20th of October, it seems right to start it off with a blog involving a smaller journey.  A journey where more than once I did think to myself, “Bugger this, I could just tell them I did the walk.  Dad’s got whiskey in his drinks cabinet with my name on.”  However, I wouldn’t lie to you dear reader.  Not on the first post, anyway. 

My destination was the home of my boyhood friend, Simon Read, in the relatively well to do area of Pinkneys Green (not so well off they could afford to change the frankly ridiculous name, though).  And my reasons for going were not just a masochistic urge to get rained on at half past midnight, but rather because I hadn’t seen the place since Simon and his family moved to the outskirts of Henley-On-Thames somewhere about 1995.  More so than that, if it wasn’t for Simon, I imagine I might not have written the novel. 

If you don’t have one, I do recommend getting a best friend from a more affluent family!  Ditch the poor ones; they’ll only drag you down, with their coal mining and their poaching.  Trust me.  Standing outside Simon’s house about an hour later, faintly aware that should anyone look out of a window, they’d see a middle aged tramp with a  waterlogged beard and a stupid flat cap, looking like he was debating burglary, I was struck by how little the place had changed.  I started grinning widely, no longer really concerned if one of the local residents did end up calling the police to say the homeless had invaded their street.  That house reminds me of childhood.

Simon and I were friends throughout junior and senior school, only growing apart when he got involved with the big wide world of London to become a doctor (of course) and I grew my hair long and went to a field in Cheshire that claimed to be able to provide creative arts degrees.  We occasionally ran into each other after that and it was always a joy, but it was really as boys that we were friends. 

The Reads had all the things two boys could need; a seemingly endless garden with the right amount of shrubbery to play war effectively in, a quiet enough street that as long as we didn’t make too much noise, was safe enough to play in, exciting trips to the theatre and the cinema, games (never toys as I recall) that broadened the mind, a cat called ‘Spits’ with an enormous nose, the list is endless. As I hit twelve or so, there was also Jo, Simon’s big sister, who I pined after on and off for years without ever really doing a thing about it.

Even as a boy, Simon was always eminently practical and would not suffer fools gladly.  He scoffed at anything supernatural, his attitude pre-empting my own by years, but where he got as enthused and dreamy as I had a tendency to be was when it came to books.  And that brings me back to the point I was making a few paragraphs ago.  Without Simon, our mutual love for books and particularly fantasy novels as we grew up, I wonder if I would have ever attempted such a thing.  Admittedly, I’ll claim I haven’t written a fantasy novel, rather a historical novel with magic in it. (Yeah right, John.  It’s a fantasy novel and you know it.  Geek.)

Either way, it was with Simon that I discovered 'The Hobbit'. It was from there that I tried to read 'Lord of the Rings' (three times as I recall), always giving up during one of the immensely boring bits in 'The Two Towers' (Sorry, Tolkien fans. At risk of really annoying you, I loved the films). There were hours of discussing (along with our dear friend, Sarah) the joys of David Eddings' 'The Belgariad', which, despite some massive plot holes , I remember as a master class in characterisation, (something else to annoy the purists).
It was with Simon that I spent a few years playing Dungeons and Dragons, eventually curing myself of the habit at university years later (mainly in an attempt to make girls thing I was cooler than I am). When I think of being a kid, most of the time, it was with Simon.

I didn't stay outside the house for too long. Late night reminiscing is more of a summer sport and besides the rain was starting to soak my flat cap out of shape. I'd got what I came for; the right feeling to right this first blog post (and possibly a cold) and start my year.  

So, I am not, as you might expect from the title of this post, planning to dedicate this blog to Simon. Rather I am going to dedicate it to the boys that we were. This blog has come about because I have a book to publicise. In many ways, the lead character - a fifteen year old boy called Christopher - is Simon, but then, he is also me. He is also Andy Gilbert, he is James Sloan and he's Russell who lived down the road.  He is all those boys that I shared childhood with. I hope that I will do them all justice.

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