Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thirsty Thursday

'Water! Water!' It's what people are supposed to cry when they've spent days crossing the desert without coming across a mountain stream because they don't have those in deserts. They don't even have Tesco Expresses. They really should get that sorted out. However, on this occasion it was the author bloke, Keith, who was calling for it. His throat was still a bit ropey. He didn't even sing along to some of his terrible music - old stuff, from way back at the tail end of the last century - so I new things must be bad. Not that I was complaning. If you've ever heard him sing then you'll no why I appreciated the silent journey as we headed to St Barbara's PS in Muirhead.

The head teacher there has one of those lovely sing-songy Irish accents. The author bloke says Irish people must have been at the front of the queue when accents were being handed out. (Mind you, he has to say that - his wife is from Ireland.) She'd invited Keith back after a previous visit in February 2009 when everyone had really enjoyed the show.

I was impressed that some of the pupils knew how the Moon had been formed (something coliding into Earth, sending chunks of rock into Earth's orbit, which were then pulled together by gravity, the resulting collisions releasing energy that turned the Moon into a big ball of molten rock). And a lot were surprised to hear how many stars are in our galaxy, the Milky Way. There are a lot - about 100 BILLION of them. Isn't that incredible? It would take quite a while to visit them all in one of these.
And I don't mean the plant! How could you fly to the Moon on a plant?

When it came to prizes, one of the teachers nearly won a book but was pipped at the post by Lauren and Scott. (Just to be clear, it wasn't 'Scott with two Ts' who appears in Lee and the Consul Mutants. This Scott's haircut was much better than his fictional namesake's.)

Keith's voice held out, aided by lots of water, and so we boarded our rocket again and headed along the M8 and through some countryside to here:

It's the Fauldhouse Partnership in...Fauldhouse, of course. Okay, so some of you may not know where that is. M8...Harthill...head south for a few miles and you're there. And look, the SUN was shining. Yes, in Scotland, in February. The photo isn't Photoshopped!

So what happened here? Well, all of this did:

In the last photo, Keith is pointing at a 100-day-old biscuit crumb covered in fluff and saying, 'That looks a lot more appetising than the totally tastless cheese-and-tomato-on-white-bread sandwich I had on the way here.' And having seen the sandwich, I think the crumb probably was tastier.

And we had a special guest with us - author Matt Cartney, whose brilliant new adventure novel is launched in April. Here's the cover for it. Cool, yeah? If you like Alex Rider or Young Bond or Jimmy Coates, this will be right up your street. Or in this case, over your sand dunes.

This time a TEACHER from St John's PS won a book! Teachers have been doing well on that front recently. However, she insisted on her book being signed to the whole class. What a lovely lady.

And so it was off home, but not before thanking John Chambers from West Lothian and the lovely Ann (or is it Anne...I didn't find out) from Fauldhouse Partnership Centre. They kindly bought us a cup of tea in the centre's cafe. I think the heat of the drink finally melted the stodge of that sandwich the author bloke tried to eat during the journey.

Croak croak croak

Well, the author bloke, Keith, looks more like a frog than a prince, so no surprise that this week he's also been sounding like one with his croaky throat. And so, when we turned up at St Eunan's Primary in Clydebank I thought we were in for a lot of hacking and coughing.

He'd coughed most of the way to the event, so it wasn't looking good. In filed nearly 200 pupils and staff, up stepped Keith and...and it was fine. A bit hoarser and rougher than usual, but no worse than a football manager by the end of a game. Phew. It helped that the acoustics were excellent in the nice-and-shiny new hall.

The event was organised by Sophie Hawkey-Edwards and Anne Louise Anglim from West Dunbartonshire Libraries. Anne Louise had bumped into Dawn Nelson (the D A Nelson of DarkIsle and DarkIsle:Resurrection fame) a couple of days earlier, which was a coincidence because the author bloke and I had spent most of Sunday with her, dashing around bookshops in Glasgow, Edinburgh and East Kilbride. Small world.

Talking of West Dunbartonshire Libraries, they've got copies of the Lee books, so if you're from St Eunan's and reading this you can have a look here West Dunbartonshire Libraries Kids' Zone, where you can discover which of your local libraries have which Lee books and also find the addresses and telephone numbers of the libraries.

At St Eunan's we talked about the Moon - where I go in Lee on the Dark Side of the Moon...I don't think I'm giving away much there! Quite a few pupils were keen to climb aboard my cardboard cut-out rocket and head straight there, but then they realised that they'd miss out on morning interval and decided to stay on Earth instead. A wise move, I'd say, because they would also have missed lunch. Now that really would be a disaster!

Lots of people bought books, but lots more wanted them, so the author bloke and I will be back at St Eunan's on Friday to sort that out and sign more books.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Taming of the Shrew(sbury)

After our first hot meal in a couple of days, the author bloke took me to Shrewsbury Cathedral Primary School today. Shock horror (but no surprise), the pupils voted for the ‘funny but very slightly disgusting’ part from Lee and the Consul Mutants ahead of the ‘funny and exciting’ part. Mind you, it’s what I would have voted for!

I think it’s fair to say that a good time was had by all. I certainly enjoyed it. And two teachers were young enough to remember who Del Amitri was. Actually, Keith has corrected me, Del Amitri wasn’t a person, it was the name of a band from the late 1900s. That was the last century and therefore very very very old. Keith claims cars had been invented by that time. Were they? I'm not sure I believe him.

After the event, so many people wanted to buy LEE books (yes, the ones about me) that by the time Keith had finished we had to sprint up the road towards the station. Unfortunately the author bloke is not as fast as he once was, especially when carrying a rucksack, a heavy laptop back and a pull-up poster. And I wasn’t a lot of help. So despite his best efforts and a fair bit of sweat (yuck) we heard the train pulling away as we charged across the bridge to the platform.

Of course, the author bloke is used to sorting out travel arrangements and soon had an alternative plan in place (he’s good that way). Needless to say that plan involved using the 50 minutes before the next train as eating time. There’s a great Tea Shop on the high street near the castle in Shrewsbury. There Keith selflessly scoffed down a couple of scones (1 x fruit + 1 x cherry if you want the details) to spare others from having to eat them. What a hero! Well, in fairness it was lunchtime.

To everyone who is either on their half-term break, or who is about to start theirs, have fun. May the sun shine and the snow be no more than a metre deep! And for those at the Shrewsbury school, your signed books will be waiting for you on your first day back at school. Something to look forward to. And thanks for making me and the author bloke so welcome.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Abram Bryn Gates

I found out what it means! Abram Bryn was not, as I suspected, a Welshman. He wasn't even a person! No, Abram is one village/estate and Bryn is another and the 'Gates' refer to the old gates to the Bryn estate. There you go, mystery solved by the husband of the deputy head teacher who was also the photographer when I visited Abram Bryn Gates Primary School today.

The school has a pets corner, complete with birds, a rabbit and several other furry animals. The author bloke, Keith, was telling me that his class at school had a hamster and that his classmates used to take it home for the weekend. Only when it came to his turn the hamster escaped from its cage, perhaps after finally realising its wheel wasn't taking it anywhere. It was never seen again. Oops!

I'm hoping to be able to post a few photos of my visit in the coming days - watch this space. Thanks to Mr Sheekey for organising for me to attend. He's the head teacher, but he's also a DJ on the weekends. Now that's a cool Head! He might like the bit about the hospital DJ in Lee and the Consul Mutants...a book that Keith launched in a children's hospital (Yorkhill in Glasgow). What a strange but great place for a book launch! I suppose you could say that was the birthplace of my fame. Anyway, the DJ part is near the beginning of chapter 8 if Mr Sheekey wants to compare himself with the hospital DJ. I think he'll find he compares rather well...

Tomorrow, Shrewsbury. Watch out Shrewsburarians...or whatever you're called.

Bath time

No, not bathtime. Me, have a bath? You are kidding aren't you!

What I mean is that author bloke Keith Charters took me to Timsbury today and it's near Bath but out in the country. We were at St Mary's CofE Primary School and it was a brilliant. The pupils were doubled up with laughter half the time, which was great to see.

And then the most amazing thing happened after we left the school. Actaully quite a long time after we left it because we had to take 5 trains (yes, FIVE) to get to a place called Earlestown, which is near Wigan. After we got off the train we stood at a bus stop for a couple of minutes. (We often take the bus if it's too far to walk, it's better for the environment.) Keith wanted to check that we were waiting on the right road, so he asked a lady who was walking by. And what did she do? She asked where we were headed and when we told her Haydock she said, 'Come on, I'll give you a lift there.' So she took us to her car a few metres down the road and drove us all the way to the hotel! What a lovely woman and what a kind thing to do. Her name was Christine and she was the great aunt of someone called Jack. Keith gave her a signed copy of my first adventure, Lee and the Consul Mutants, to say thank you.

Isn't it fantastic that there are people like Christine in the world? Maybe we could clone her, although it would be confusing if nearly everyone was called Christine and you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. However, it would be very easy to get a lift to wherever you wanted to go because there would always be a Christine near by.

We're going to a place called Abram Bryn Gates tomorrow and the author bloke has given me a task. He wans me to find out why it's called Abram Bryn Gates. Was Abram Bryn a person? Was he Welsh? (His name sounds Welsh.) If so, why is a place near Wigan named after him? I'll try to remember to tell you the answers here soon if my mission is successful.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The hike to Hawick

I was nearly sick yesterday. And it was all the fault of that author bloke, Keith Charters. Okay, so I blame him for most things, but this time it was definitely his fault.
He took me to Hawick, a town in the Scottish Borders. We were there as part of the Heart of Hawick Book Festival. The festival was great fun, with 400+ young people like me having a laugh at the 'funny but very slightly disgusting part' they voted for Keith to read out. There were some great questions too. They're an intelligent bunch in Hawick. And then there was the lunch afterwards...

Wow! The food was amazing. Keith made me test all of it, including the chocolate brownie and carrot cake with lots of cream on it. I said, 'No, Keith, you know I don't like cake, it's the last thing I would choose to eat. I'd rather eat my shoes than eat cake.' However, when I looked at my feet I saw I had on my good shoes, the ones with the hard soles. Eating those wouldn't have been good for my teeth. So I ate the cake instead. But only, I remind you, because Keith made me.

Anwyay, it wasn't the cake that Keith made me eat that made me sick. Not at all. It was getting there and back (to Hawick, I mean, not getting to the food and back...that didn't take me long!) Keith didn't go the way with the straight roads, he took the most twisty road on planet Earth. It was more twisty than twisting speghetti worms around a twisted fork whilst sitting on a Twister funfair ride. I could feel all that cake he'd made me eat sliding around in my stomach and thought I was going to give it the big heave-ho. But then, just as I thought I was going to see the cake Keith made me eat all over again, we rounded yet another corner and saw this:

What an incredible place! It's called St Mary's Loch and sits between Hawick and Moffat. Now, I'm not much of a scenery lover - after all, scenery was invented for adults who are rubbish at playing computer games - but I had to admit to Keith that this view was stunning.

'Stop the rocket,' I said, because we weren't driving we were flying (which you'd think would make it less twisty, but for some reason it didn't work that way). What, you don't believe that I was fying in my Lee on the Dark Side of the Moon rocket? I didn't think you would, so I took this photo to prove it:


And the good news is that the scenery was so amazing that I completely forgot about being sick because of all the cake Keith made me eat. Indeed it was so brilliant that I've persuaded Keith (who made me eat all those cakes...have I mentioned that before?) to go back sometime soon, perhaps with his family. (Okay, it's partly because there's a cafe at the spot where we landed the rocket...and they probably sell cake.) I can't wait.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Pics of me, Lee

Some of you have asked to see photos of me. Man, you're making me blush. I'm really shy and modest, so all I can offer are these amazing pictures of me that you can find in bookshops throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. How cool do I look in these?

Even The Ogre (that's my teacher, Mrs Ogilvy) must think I look good in these, though she won't admit it. Mind you, I don't want her to. It would mean her opening her mouth, and when she does that things melt with the power of her breath. It even burns that hard outer coating off Minstrels...even when they're still in the packet.

Oh oh. I've just heard that I've been rumbled. The author bloke who created me has found out I'm blogging and warned people. Still, he doesn't know my password, so he can't change what I'm writing! So here's the result of tonight's match:

Me 1: That Keith Charters Bloke 0


Saturday, 5 February 2011

It's me, Lee

Eh, hello. It's me, Lee. From the Lee books. You know, the funny ones written by that author bloke, Keith Charters. Actually, it's his fault that I'm writing this. He said if I didn't he wouldn't write any more hilarious books about my hilarious adventures. So really, I'm doing this for you - so you don't miss out.

I suppose I could start by telling you a bit about myself.

I'm Lee. Well, if you haven't worked that out yet you must be daft, because I used my name twice in the first line. I have a little sister, Rebecca, she's 4 years old and a bit of a pain. I used to have a lot (well, okay, some) friends who'd come round to my house, but then she attacked them all, and even though they're all nearly 3 times her age they're scared to come round now. They don't know what to do about her. They can't fight back because she's young and small. Only Will comes round now. Rebecca likes Will, but then he sometimes brings her sweets as a peace offering. I don't blame him.

I live in a house. You probably guessed that because it's where most people live. Mine is ordinary, with all the usual rooms: toilets, bedrooms, a kitchen, a know the sort of place. What's less ordinary are the people in it. Except me, of course, I'm normal. Unlike my Dad, who still wishes he could have been a rock star (he's actually an internal auditor...whatever that is) and my Mum, who works in an office doing...things. I'm not sure what. Organising things. Whatever people do in offices. She's not there all the time, she's at home sometimes being 'stressed out' by Rebecca. Well, mostly by Rebecca. I'm really good...sort of. Maybe I cause a little bit of stress, but not much. I'm sure it's the same with you: it's whoever else is in your house who is causing any trouble, not you. You see, we're alike you and me.

Right, I'd better not write too much or there won't be anything left for me to say next time. Keith's not paying me to write this, I'm doing it out of the goodness of my heart, to help him. I'll probably end up giving him more ideas and where will that land me? (In trouble, probably.)

In future blogs I'll tell you about the books I'm in. Also, I might tell you about my author at some stage, but don't mention that to him. It can be a surprise, heh heh. Oh no, I've turned into Creepy Kev from Lee's Holiday Showdown!

Bye for now.