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June 2023

Wassup people! June has been an exciting month for Jump! 

On the official Amazon chart for Teenage Sporting Fiction Jump! made it to the dizzy heights of 4! Get in! So pleased I was (don’t know why I’m talking like Yoda?! Maybe it’s the ‘fourth’ within me) that it made me consider and reflect upon other notable “things” that have come fourth. And while we are at it, I think 4th is pretty cool. You’re not on the podium, but if you don’t like heights and you don’t like a fuss, then 4th is cool. Good enough for me.

So, fourth stuff…………..

Up first: apparently The fourth most common tree in the UK is………………..The Oak Tree. The mighty Oak! The King of English trees. Known for its density and strength, the oak has for centuries been used for constructing buildings and ships. On Robbie Blair’s road to recovery, he discovers the “plank” exercise and in a way, from this point tries to recreate himself in the mould of the mighty oak!


Second: according to the Gods of the Cyberverse, the fourth best medieval warrior of all time is (or was) William Wallace. William Wallace (Freedom!) was a Scottish knight who fought the King of England (Edward I) in the Middle Ages. He was born in c.1272 in Paisley. Wallace was a feisty fellow who refused to swear allegiance to King Edward and spearheaded a number of battles against him. After a great run, he was eventually handed over by one of his own and was executed in London on the 23rd of August 1305. Despite it being lunch time (1305), they thought it was acceptable to hang him, emasculate and disembowel him and then cut him into quarters or fourths if you like. For dessert, they dipped his head in tar and presented it on a spike on London Bridge. 

Incidentally, William Wallace never actually painted his face with blue paint from the woad plant - a myth! The makers of Braveheart read about the earlier Picts using woad face paint to look scary and mean in battles and thought it would be pretty cool to go with it, blue being the colour of the Scottish flag after all. I once tried to make blue dye from woad. I got hold of sufficient woad leaves (which was tricky enough!) and then just had to soak them in stale urine. I wasn’t sure how stale my urine should be….it wasn’t stipulated. But I am fairly sure it was pretty stale. You know, stale enough. I didn’t have a gauge or anything. And people were beginning to talk. But did my stale, historic concoction turn blue? Did it heck as like! Apparently, I should have used stale pig’s urine - but even I thought that was a step too far!

Third: The fourth most popular author of all time - Jane Austen. I love a bit of Jane Austen. What’s not to like? A beautifully sardonic snapshot of middle class and aristocratic life in Georgian England. apparently jane austen wrote with a goose quill and used virtually no punctuation capital letters or paragraphs..... 

I once wrote a song in which I had started a new band and Elizabeth Bennet’s bespectacled (and perpetually overlooked) sister Mary was the keyboard player. She was great. What could have been……..

And fourth: Can you say fourthly? Is that allowed? The fourth most played song of all time is “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I have always loved Nirvana and my love for Kurt Cobain’s songwriting, voice and guitar style continues to grow day by day. I firmly remember when this song came out. I was in my second year at Lancaster University. All of a sudden everyone started wearing plaid shirts and ripped jeans. I embraced this new look as I was halfway there anyway. And on the dance floor at the Sugar House, as soon as the spiky, rhythmic chords of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ began, all the male students would proceed to invade the dance floor and launch themselves at each other at regular intervals. As a dedicated non-dancer this was my kind of ‘dance’! Happy days.


Anyway, in other news, Jump!2 (it will have its own name, I promise!) is, as we speak, being edited and I am discussing illustrations with the fabulous Carina Roberts who provided illustrations for Jump!


Speak soon



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