There is one character that has been a mainstay in any of the fiction I have written. It is a quirk of mine that I picked up years ago when I used to flip through the newspaper as a kid looking for the political cartoon by Jeff Hook. In everyone of his cartoons, he used to place strategically, a fish hook somewhere in there and it was one of those cool little challenges for my brother and I to find it. We always did, for memory. Anyway, the hook in the Jeff Hook cartoon was an essential. For me, it defined who he was in a small way.
I am drawing a very long bow here aren't I.
Simon in 2005.
My dog, Simon, is a 14 year old cross bred cattle dog that I picked up from a pet shop when he was just six weeks old. I remember, at the time, going past the pet shop with my then partner and hearing this yapping coming from within. We had talked about getting a dog as young couples do in that stage of the relationship when things become serious...(my observation anyhow) and when we heard his yapping we were instantly intrigued. He was there in a big glass cage in the shop, spinning around in the ridiculously small space, chasing his tail and I knew - even though I was the more reluctant of the two of us - that this pup was coming home with us. I very nearly didn't go ahead with his purchase when he rather unceremoniously squirted a thick stream of poop all over the inside of the glass enclosure but somehow, my partner convinced me that we should dive in. So this little scrap of a pup came home with us.
That was 14 years ago.
The Author & Simon (2005).
I don't hesitate in declaring here and now, that Simon is perhaps one of my best friends, if not my best friend. Cliched, I know but the shit we've shared over the past decade and a half could well be a book of it's very own. Simon has been by my side through some wonderful times and through some very dark times as well. He knows, implicitly my mood and will come up beside me and give me a nudge with his nose to let me know that he knows what I am thinking. He is a beautiful companion. Though he is much older now and he is starting to slow down a little, Simon remains such an integral part of my family. He adores our children and we had no trouble at all in introducing both Xavier and Lucy to him at the appropriate time. Simon seemed to get it.
A Saturday morning walk, Simon with Xavier (2007).
His inclusion in The Hambledown Dream as a character - a fairly significant one - seemed natural to me. I knew that given some of the paranormal subject matter that I was dealing with in the story, there would be a way to incorporate Simon into it and I had no trouble finding that "fit". I remember doing some reading about dogs and their intuition when it comes to detecting serious illness in humans. There was one particular article I read that credits certain canines with being able to detect cancer in humans and that certain medical professionals saw merit in adopting this trait as a diagnostic tool. I have also read that dogs have been written about in terms of their ability to detect paranormal energies - i.e. ghosts.
Without giving too much away, Simon as he appears in The Hambledown Dream, became a fairly significant plot tool in order to reveal certain, major events in the story. This was a pretty big deal for me because I knew early on that what I could achieve by having Simon in the story would help me not only in constructing critical scenes - but he would also contribute to major illustrations of the central characters in the story - most notably Sonya and Denny. Their portraiture, through the eyes of Simon, became an indelible mark that adds gravitas to the underlying themes in The Hambledown Dream.
I love my dog.
I love my dog.