‘How dare you’ kill off a dog in your novel!

A good friend and former Cumbria Police colleague Peter Reece has given me a hard time and a laugh (with a bit of dialect, too), this morning, on Facebook.

“…How dare you kill off an old dog [in your novel]?  You had me in tears theer, marra. I would have preferred the drunk driver to have ‘bit the dust’.   I know , I know, I know why you didn’t:  bloody coroner’s file, four copies of everything, and a folder thicker than yan o’ them girt big family bibles!”

Obviously not the Border Collie in the novel but a lovely, venerable old lass, none-the-less.

Well, you have a good point, Peter, but while I have deliberately avoided writing about the true facts of any crimes and real criminals in my novel, I have leaned on some true experiences I had during my police career which cannot possibly be seen as defamatory to anybody.  So — albeit sad — this incident of a Border Collie being killed by a drunk driver on a pedestrian crossing the first time the dog ever failed to wait on the kerb for its owner before starting to cross the road, really did happen.  The only things I changed were the name of the owner, the breed of dog, the town where it happened and all circumstances pertaining to the car and driver involved.

The sad bits, the trip to the vets and all that: All true.  The old man having previously lost all the members of his family: True, but not quite as described.  My subsequent efforts to ‘con’ him into taking a young boxer that we then had in the police kennels at that time: Yes, successfully true, and even though the dog was a bit too boisterous for a man of his age and did tend to pull him along when they were out for a walk, the old chap always did have a smile on his face.  In the nicest sense, I have always hoped that the dog outlived him; the man whom I renamed ‘Max’ in the book had been through far more than his life’s share of sadness.

Steve Shearwater

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FOOTNOTES

Anybody wanting translations of the dialect words used by Peter Reece, above, please use the dialect glossary.

When my first novel — My Cup Runneth Over — was published, in November 2016, my biggest fear was what the opinions of my former police colleagues might be.  I certainly knew they had the capacity to be my fiercest critics if my writing was not to their liking.  To my delight and relief, that has not proved to be the case.  You may read their thoughts here.

Help with UK police jargon & Cumbrian dialect words, for overseas readers

It was obvious from the outset that I couldn’t write an accurate police story without using the appropriate ‘period jargon’ and that similarly my novel couldn’t capture the fabulous aura and personality of the Cumbrian people without including dialect speech.  But if these aspects might put off some readers from outside Britain, don’t worry; help is literally at hand!

“Blues & Twos” – driving at speed, using the flashing blue lights and two-tone sirens (now multi-tone, but the nickname persists)

Simply have your laptop, tablet or smartphone handy when you are reading and if you find any confusing words or phrases click on the tabs at the top of each page of the website, for either — unsurprisingly — ‘Police Jargon’ or ‘Dialect’, and your confusion will disappear!  (And if it doesn’t, please tell me and I’ll fire the person who wrote this!!! 🙂 )

Steve Shearwater

Purchase the Cumbria Police Novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ here

The Facebook page ‘Cumbria Police Novels’ (which is the ‘tag line’ at the top of each page and blog post on this website) now has both the paperback and Kindle versions of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ on sale through Amazon UK. British readers click here.

Readers in the USA, Canada and other countries, click here.

 

 

 

A new dialect list for agricultural and farming words in Cumbria. Would you like to help?

As a young police officer who quite often had to deal with farmers in order to enforce such as the stock movement laws designed to minimise risks from livestock diseases such as foot and mouth (USA: ‘hoof and mouth’), I was frequently faced with solid dialect speech.  Having been born and raised in the Lake District, and having worked as a lad on several farms during school holidays, I wasn’t troubled by the dialect — indeed, I loved it — but sadly this delightful aspect of our Cumbrian culture has been fading for decades.  This has given me a determination to preserve at least some bits of it in my writing.

A lot of my long-term and new-found friends in various Cumbrian groups within Facebook have contributed a lot to the now-growing list of general dialect words on the steveshearwater.co.uk website and it has been so successful that I’m now asking for everyone’s help with a list of specifically farming-related dialect words, which I think may be unique once it’s created in sufficient depth.

Many agricultural words undoubtedly are found across larger areas than just our county of Cumbria so their inclusion in the imminent list may be short-term until we establish for certain whether they are unique to the dialect or not.  Also included will be dialect/regional words for features found in the ‘statesman farmer’ type of houses that were built here in the 18th Century and for other types of farm buildings.

If you want to participate and suggest some agricultural dialect words please reply to this message on Facebook or submit your answers on a ‘Reply’ within this message on the steveshearwater.co.uk  website.

Finally, on the shearwater website there is now the facility for readers to ‘like’ individual pages and posts so I would be very grateful if you would click the ‘Like’ buttons at the bottom of any pages you approve of.  (There are also buttons allowing you to ‘share’ those pages straight to Facebook, Twitter or Google+, so please feel free to use those, too, if you wish.

One last thing, if you want to help with the creation of this presumably unique list, you will have to do well to beat the West Cumbrians because they submitted far, far more suggestions than everyone else combined, for the general list.  Come on, everyone else in Cumbria…. or will you let them win hands down, once again? !!! 😀

Book review of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ by the ‘Cumbria’ magazine – Part I

This month (February 2017) Cumbria magazine has published a much-shortened chapter from my novel – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – and next month they are kindly adding a review of the whole book.

Clearly, a book about being a young police officer stationed at a town in the stunningly beautiful Lake District National Park in the north-west corner of England has interest for British folks who know the Lake District but it has also been written to appeal to people from other countries, too – particularly those of you from the USA, where I have lived for over ten years.

Is this another example of the so-called, cultural ‘British Invasion’ in the USA?  I’d like to think so but as this is my first novel it would be silly of me to actually believe that.  I have, however, had the delightful good fortune to have had the style and humour of my novel repeatedly compared to the wonderful books by the famous veterinary surgeon James Herriot.

Remembering as well that even today the vast majority of British police officers do not carry lethal weapons, the novel offers a great insight into how such unarmed officers can operate in general safety and it also gives a great insight into rural life in England’s  second-largest and most scenic county – home of the famed ‘Lakes Poets’ such as William Wordsworth.

Dialect and police jargon are included in the writing but they are carefully explained in glossaries on the website – see the link below – so nobody need struggle to understand these fascinating cultural aspects. (The Lakeland dialect, for example, is strongly based upon Old Norse, from Viking times.)

And then, of course, there’s the crime aspect!  Naturally, none of the crimes or criminals in the book are actual events or real people, but each has been developed from my own lengthy experience in the police and the events are therefore very true-to-life and accurate in terms of police procedure back in the 1970s where the story is set.

Read here how readers from around the world have responded so wonderfully to My Cup Runneth Over.

Purchase the book (including USA) here.