Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How I found my hero by Sheila Claydon


There I was, off to visit friends in the Yorkshire Dales for a weekend of over-eating and dog walking, with absolutely no idea that I was going to meet the hero of my next book!

Visiting the glorious Yorkshire Dales when the weather is good is, indeed, like visiting 'God's own country.' Ask any Yorkshireman.  Visiting, as we did, when a blanket of grey mist hung like a pall over the whole landscape, was another story altogether. Walking left us damp and cold with our walking boots inches deep in mud, our trousers spattered with it from ankle to thigh and our hair lank and wet from the moisture swirling in the air around us. And when we climbed to the top of Middleham Low Moor we could have been at the end of the world. The gallops where race horses train most mornings were deserted. There was not a single  sound, not a jingle of harness or a creak of leather, not the snorting effort of the horses or the sharp calls of the jockeys, not even the sound of a curlew or the harsh shriek of a pheasant, just that strange cotton-wool silence as the world closed in on us. Think <em>Never-ending Story </em>if you've seen the film, and you'll be close. It was like Fantasia once it had been destroyed by <em>The</em> <em>Nothing</em>, except that in Yorkshire on that day, there wasn't even colour. Just a bleached white-out that hid the wonderful views that we knew lay below us.

Of course the local beer, the pubs that welcome dripping walkers, muddy dogs and wet boots in no particular order, the excellent and abundant yorkshire food, all made up for it, as did the log fires and the hospitality.  A delicious lunch of pork belly and apple washed down with beer soon had us putting the world to rights again. And then, right in the middle of everything, serendipity came to call.

I had only just decided that I wanted a musical background in my next book.  I hadn't even got as far as deciding what sort of music, and I was still in a dilemma about the hero when...there he was playing jazz piano at a jazz evening that we were taken to later that day, and where we swayed and clapped and drank wine with the best of Yorkshire.

So thank you Yorkshire, thank you Red Stripe Band, and thank you jazz piano player.  Don't worry.  You won't recognise yourself in the book because it isn't you, so please don't fret and please don't sue!  I just needed someone to point me in the right direction and you did it, with your music, your band, and your wonderful enthusiasm...so let's hear it for The Red Stripe Band.