I’m currently working on my first novel! I’ve never really done anything like this before, so its definitely an interesting little hobby to work on. The novel is based on an idea myself and my friends came up with a few years ago. I started on Saturday night and I’ve already reached 15,000 words so things are going well. I’m giving you all the first chapter to read here as a taster, I hope you like it!
CHAPTER 1 – NOTHING EVER HAPPENS HERE
Never was there more a quaint and idyllic village than that of Smedlington. Each cobbled road was a picture of rural Britain, dry-stone walls and perfectly trimmed hedges bordered beautifully crafted oak and white brick houses. It was the kind of village where everyone read the Telegraph, didn’t like foreigners and avoided moving more than a few miles from their homes.
The faint smells of brewing hops daintily drifted down the road from the often frequented public house: The Cockerel In Cider. Across from this magnificent pub, a fish and chip shop proudly displayed its signage. As per usual, the town was silent during the early afternoon, the stillness only broken by the occasional bird or squirrel.
In the centre of the village a church dominated the skyline, surrounded by trees and attractive flower-beds. The graveyard was carefully maintained, not a stone out of place. Community had always been an important part of the village – tombola and fairs were common in the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants.
From the top of the church you could see a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside – the thick and ominous forests and huge sprawling fields; filled with all types of useful crops and animals. On the horizon, standing before the hills and peaks of middle-England stood a great mansion, a home so grand it’s huge driveway sliced across the forest directly towards the village it was situated by.
Smedlington Manor was a monument to a more opulent age. Sprawling gardens stretched out like tremendous fingers pushing back the woodland around them. The manor was in a state of disrepair: the roof work was in a poor condition, some of the masonry had either collapsed or worn away and several windows were cracked in places. Some bad investments coupled with a double-dip recession had meant cut-backs to the manor’s upkeep budget.
The current owner of the mansion was one Reginald Percival Persimmon Dulot III. Reginald was a tall, pale man in his early forties. His thick, brown hair was almost in a constant curly mess – slightly greying in areas around the ears and the back. His ice-blue eyes were framed with wrinkles and slightly dark bags from a lack of sleep. His nose was unmistakably large like those of his predecessors, underneath this protruding snout was a large and carefully trimmed moustache.
Reginald sat down on a large leather sofa in the mansions second study, he looked out of the huge window across the gardens towards one of the man-made lakes that dotted the area. He reached over to a nearby oak desk and filled up a glass from a scotch decanter, each movement of Reginald’s hands were well placed and deliberate, as if it had been done a thousand times before… which it had. He lifted the glass to his lips and took a drink from medicinal-tasting whisky, swallowed and then let out a long drawn out sigh.
From behind, another man silently walked across the room, lifting the needle on a large gramophone and setting a record into place. This man was wearing a tuxedo jacket and appeared to be older than Reginald, his straight greying hair and wrinkles betraying years of long service and stress. Dutifully, the man placed the play needle into position, the sounds of Chopin filled the air, Reginald continued to stare out of the window.
Reginald looked across at the scotch decanter, it was almost completely drained. He frowned with a look of desperation in his eyes.
“Butler, we’re running out of scotch.”
The other man turned to look at Reginald whilst cleaning a dusty shelf with a cloth. He looked across at the decanter and then across at the alcohol cabinet, which was practically full to the brim with gins, whiskeys and wines. He rolled his eyes and then continued to dust the shelves.
“I’ll order some tomorrow, sir.” said the man, his voice aching with a drab and dreary monotone.
Reginald went back to sipping from the glass, occasionally swilling the glass and watching the potent liquid slosh around. This had become the norm over the last five years: wake-up, drink then sleep. It had actually become irritating to leave the house for those boring village fairs, it was merely a formality now anyway, Reginald didn’t care much for the village folk, they were beneath him. He closed his eyes and recounted the time he had to spend several hours trapped inside the public house with the locals, the thought of eating ‘Fish and Chips’ again made him gag slightly. Butler walked up behind him calmly and leaned down to his eye level.
“Sir, Master Tippy has awoken, he is on his way to see you.” droned Butler.
“Ah, thank you Butler.” replied Reginald, who placed his glass on the desk and stood up.
“I shall now go to prepare your afternoon tea.” Butler stated, turning to leave the room.
Reginald nodded and feigned a small smile. From off in the distance a gunshot echoed from the forest, Reginald looked out the window and saw a flock of birds escaping into the sky. Reginald squinted and looked concerned.
“Is there a hunt scheduled for today Butler?” asked Reginald.
“Not that I know of Sir, but I do believe that the nearby farm has been having some fox trouble.”
“I see,” murmured Reginald, “Very well! Can you please remind me to send them a letter reminding them that the forest is not their farm.”
“Yes Sir,” Butler stated, as he slipped out of the room.
Reginald turned his back to the window, watching the door patiently. From down the corridor he could hear the soft patter of hurried footsteps on bulky, crimson carpet. Reginald lifted his scotch glass from the desk and downed the rest of its contents.
The door burst open, knocking over several small ornaments on the shelves. A confused looking gentleman
in silk pyjamas blundered into the room, looked around and then fell backwards into an armchair.
“Morning Reginald!” the man yelled, his face saturated with a beaming grin.
“Morning Tippy, how are you this fine afternoon.” asked Reginald.
“Lovely!” replied Tippy, who proceeded to rock back and forth with child-like glee. Tippy was a few years younger than Reginald, although if you didn’t know you would swear they were twins. His hair was dark-blonde and just as scruffy. His chestnut coloured eyes glinted with a spark of slight insanity.
Reginald smiled, Tippy was his best friend after all. The two had been living together for almost five years ever since Tippingdale Manor was burnt down in a freak accident. Tippy had lost a great deal of his money from his addiction to certain… uncouth substances and a spout of unlucky gambling on horse races. The lack of funds made it impossible for him to afford to have Tippingdale rebuilt, but he could still live comfortably. Reginald was perfectly happy with having Tippy stay at his mansion, after all: he would have probably died of boredom without him there.
Tippy rocked back and forth on the spot, letting out adorable squeaks from the leather seating. “So what are we doing today Reginald?” he asked in a high-pitched voice, the silver spoon in his mouth singing out loudly.
Reginald furrowed his brow and closed his eyes, “I’m not entirely sure Tippy, we’re not scheduled for a hunt until tomorrow, I do believe today is a lazy day.”
“A lazy day you say?” replied Tippy in a somewhat disappointed voice.
Reginald thought for a moment about things to do, Tippy stared at him waiting for a response – his expression similar to that of a dog waiting for its master to throw a bone.
Tippy’s attention slowly drifted away from Reginald’s pacing, he followed several dust particles as they drifted across the room into the bright outside light of the grand window. He narrowed his eyes as they became used to the light – then he saw something.
“Reginald?” asked Tippy quietly.
“Not now Tippy, I’m trying to think of something to do.” answered Reginald briskly.
“Reginald… are the gardeners meant to be on today?” Tippy replied, his voice sounded concerned.
“Of course not Tippy, we won’t need the gardeners in for a good week and a half.” said Reginald, who was now leafing quickly through a dusty book entitled “Things to do in Smedlington Volume 1”.
Tippy stood up and walked towards the window – peering out down onto the sprawling lawn. “Then why is someone out there on the west green?”
“What?” asked Reginald, turning around and tentatively walking towards the window.
Tippy was right, there was a man standing on the lawn.
It looks like things are about to get interesting for Reginald and Tippy! If you liked reading this, drop me a tweet, comment or email!