After his recent traumas, Harvey bounced back to his normal hungry self. With a new lease of life, he bounded around Alexandra Park in Hastings last Sunday, chasing squirrels with a vengeance. As we keep him on an extended lead, there’s no danger of him catching one. We know from experience what happens when instinct kicks in.
Earlier this year, a fox cub wandered into the garden. Though beautiful and lovely to watch, Harvey’s natural instincts kicked in. Like a rocket he shot into the undergrowth, chasing the fox along the fence. He caught it out in the open, grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and flung it to the ground. My shout stopped any further attack, and the fox scuttled for cover behind our water butts.
We called East Sussex Wildlife Rescue because there was no way we were going to free the fox or stop Harvey attacking it again. The guys arrived, trapped the cub and took it to their centre, where it grew in peace before being released into the wild.
What would we do without these amazing volunteers, who do so much to help injured animals?
They’re one of the main inspirations for Kent Fisher’s animal sanctuary. When I first had the idea, I researched a few places which rescued horses and donkeys, but what I really wanted were dogs. Kent had to become attached to a rescue dog, despite all his rules about not getting emotionally involved.
Harvey was the natural role model for Columbo, Kent’s West Highland white terrier in No Accident. Apart from knowing how Westies behave, their temperament reflects Kent’s nature. He’s tenacious, determined, free thinking and independent like Harvey.
When we chose him as a puppy, he was the largest of the four. Knowing now how much he loves his food, we suspect he gobbled down his own and then ate from the other bowls. Anyway, mum trotted out of the barn with the four pups in tow. She turned off to the left, followed by three of the pups. Harvey went in the opposite direction, exploring under a car, smearing himself in soot from the exhaust pipe, and then wandered over our way to see who we were.
“He’s just like you,” Carol remarked.
Naturally, he was the one. And Columbo has all his traits. He has a much greater role to play in No Bodies, the second Kent Fisher mystery.
The editing of No Bodies is moving along. The last three chapters have taken a lot more time to revise because the tone and balance wasn’t right. It’s a fine judgement, a gut instinct about what’s right and what’s wrong. I can look at a sentence and know it’s not quite right. Sometimes, a synonym is all I need. Sometimes, I can rearrange the clauses. Sometimes, I rewrite the whole sentence with new words. Occasionally, I delete the sentence because it’s just not earning its keep.
I’ve been known to spend a morning, trying to get a sentence right. But being a determined (stubborn) sod, I refuse to let go until it’s the best I can do. It was no different with the Fisher’s Fables blogs, where I would do three or four drafts and revisions before publishing them.
In two weeks, Fisher’s Fables will make its debut on Amazon.
I’ve already had a few comments back from those who’ve received an advance reading copy. These include, ‘It’s so funny.’ ‘Every manager in the country should read a copy of this because it’s so accurate.’
Naturally, I’m delighted. Fisher’s Fables was always intended to poke fun at management in local government the way Yes Minister satirised the Civil Service. Most people who read it at the time enjoyed a good chuckle, so I hope many more will have a laugh or three when it’s released.
Just watch my website or Facebook Author page for more details.
I’m also adding more case files to my list as I recall even more events and incidents from my career in environmental health. One involving an exhumation, where a coffin becomes wedged in the grave, is dead good.
If you’re interested in learning more about environmental health, the case files feature every month in The Tollingdon Tribune, my email newsletter. Just add your details below.