Not long now…
In a month’s time I will be launching my first kids book in over a decade. It’s called Johnny Nothing and I hope that you’ll find it as funny as my 10-year-old-daughter Sofia does, whom I wrote the book for.
Here is a sample chapter from Johnny Nothing. I’d really appreciate and comments, as long as they are fawning and positive:
Parents – I’m sure you’ll agree – are very different to you. They sprout hair in RIDICULOUS places. They shed hair in others. They have bizarre, flabby, bobbly bits that wobble about in slow motion when they run. They leave absolutely HORRENDOUS, unspeakable stinks in the bathroom that make you GAG.
They cover the sink with bristles. They own hundreds of bottles of weird coloured liquids that they drink or swallow or inhale or stick up their bottoms. They smother their faces in gloopy cream that they think makes them look younger but in fact makes them look exactly the same age as before only smothered in gloopy cream. They definitely come from another planet – a pretty rancid one at that.
They are also contrary creatures. They say one thing and do another.
They put you to bed early but stay up late. They forbid you to eat sweets and then fill their fat, greasy faces with chocolate as soon as you’re not looking. They order you not to swear and then curse at the TV when Simon Cowell comes on. They demand you are careful with the pitiful amount of pocket money that they give you and then pack the house with stupid electronic gadgets or handbags or shoes that cost a DISGUSTING amount of money.
This is the story of the worst parent of all time: the meanest, nastiest, smelliest, ugliest, sweatiest mother you could possibly imagine. Even worse than your own, in fact. And it’s the story of what she did to her son, who’s really very nice actually. Probably a lot nicer than you are.
If you ever think that you’re hard done by. If you’ve ever wished that you could trade your boring parents in or sell them on eBay or something then you’re in for a shock. Because by the time you’ve gotten to know Felicity MacKenzie you’re going to think you have the best parents in the world…
Everybody looked so BORED.
The bloke playing the organ looked BORED. The bloke with his shirt on the wrong way round looked BORED. The people sitting on wooden benches staring at really hopeless poetry looked BORED. The windows looked BORED. The doors looked BORED. The whole world was just BORED. But Johnny Nothing was having the time of his life.
No, it’s a lie actually – he was BORED too. BORED out of his brain.
‘Who’s Johnny Nothing and why is everybody BORED?’ I hear you say.
Well… Johnny Nothing is a ten-year-old boy, probably about the same age as you are. (Unless you’re one of those dreadful precocious spotty little brats who pretend that they can read books written for older people and secretly can’t.) He’s average looking. Average height. Average hair… In fact, let’s save ourselves a little time shall we? Here’s a picture of him:
He doesn’t look very happy, does he? Well nor would you if you had the kind of thoroughly rotten time that he does. But before I tell you all about this I think you’ll agree that he’s nothing much to look at. He’s like any one of a number of boys that go to your school. Sometimes he’s naughty. Sometimes he’s good. Sometimes he lies. Sometimes he tells the truth. He’s not over-clever. He’s not under-stupid.
If Johnny was a colour he wouldn’t be yellow or red or blue or green or violet or gold or silver. He’d just be grey. Dull, muddy, grey. If he was a sound he’d be a monotonous drone. If he was a smell he’d be the smell of nothingness.
He’s someone who doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Someone who is one of the last people chosen when you’re picking sides for a game of footy in the playground. Someone whom clever parents with posh accents might call ‘unremarkable’. Am I making myself clear? Johnny’s just ordinary.
Just ordinary, except for one thing which I’ll tell you about on page 41 because right now I’ve got to get back to explaining why everybody was BORED.
Everybody was BORED because it was the day of Uncle Marley’s funeral. And let me tell you this: funerals are just about the most tiresome, dreary occasions in the whole wide universe. Anyone who has ever been to one is guaranteed to agree with me. They’re dull as dishwater. They’re stinky as a fridgeful of rancid foreign cheese. They’re a complete waste of time. That’s why you’ll never hear anyone say: ‘Went to a totally brilliant funeral the other day. It was fantastic. I’ve never laughed so much in my life. Can’t wait for the sequel…’
If I had my way I’d ban funerals. When people die you should be allowed to put them in a black plastic sack and leave them out for the bin men to collect. Or you should be allowed to chuck them into the nearest canal so that they get washed out to sea and eventually end up on a beach somewhere in France. Let the French deal with the problem.
But no. Instead we give our dead to an undertaker, who tries to make the body look less dead by caking its face in make-up and slapping on a bit of lippy. He then crams its mouth full of cotton wool and sticks the body in a really expensive wooden crate that is then either:
a/ burned to a cinder in a huge oven
b/ buried in a hole in the ground where it is slowly eaten by worms
c/ what I mean about letting the French deal with the problem?
Uncle Marley was currently in the make-up, lippy and cotton wool stage. He lay in a coffin positioned at the front of a large church, deep in dead man thought. Patiently waiting for all the boring speeches to come to an end so that he could be dropped into a hole in the ground and forgotten about.
If you’ve never seen a dead body before I should tell you one thing about them: they really are DEAD. They don’t move. They don’t twitch. They don’t sneeze. They don’t bottom-burp.2 They just lie there looking dead. Uncle Marley was no exception. He was dead. He couldn’t move a muscle even if he’d wanted to. It was as if somebody had hit the pause button on Sky Plus and then gone off on a really long holiday. Here’s a picture of Uncle Marley:
One more thing: Dead people smell a lot, too. And unless you’re reading the special scratch ’n’ sniff version of this book there’s simply no way that the picture above can do justice to the truly horrendous stink that was coming from Uncle Marley.
Do you know that wonderful aroma that you get on a Sunday afternoon when your mum is just about to slide the Sunday roast out of the oven and carve it into succulent slices? Or the sweet scent of blossom dancing in the air on a hot Summer’s day as you eat a lovely cool ice cream with a dribble of raspberry sauce on top? Well Uncle Marley smelt like neither of those.
The odour that came from the corpse of Uncle Marley was… Well, imagine you’ve gone out into your street and accidentally stepped in some dog poo, and then scraped the dog poo off the bottom of your shoe and put it in your mum’s smoothie maker with some cat sick and then hit the ‘on’ button and waited for twenty years. Well Uncle Marley smelt much, much worse than that. And yet strangely enough, nobody sitting in that decrepit old church even mentioned the absolutely DISGUSTING smell that Uncle Marley was producing.
Enough of talking about smells. Back to what’s happening with the story:
‘Blah… blah… blah… blah… Cleaned his teeth at least twice a week. Blah… blah… blah… blah… Never forgot his own birthday… Blah, blah, blah, blah… Changed his underpants once a month…’ The bloke with his shirt on the wrong way round (from this point on we’ll call him the vicar, shall we?) was giving his eulogy.
I think it’s wrong to expect you to know what a eulogy is so I’ll tell you: at a funeral it’s a really bottom licking speech that is made about the person who’s dead. It’s usually given by a family member or a close personal friend. Or in this case a vicar. As you might imagine, eulogies are generally quite flattering speeches. People giving them usually concentrate on the deceased’s good points rather than highlighting the bad.
For this reason, the vicar was making Uncle Marley sound like he was Santa Clause’s less well-known but infinitely more generous younger brother. When in fact, if you could have hypnotised the vicar so that he was only allowed to tell the truth, this is what Uncle Marley’s eulogy might have sounded like:
‘Here lies the body of Jake Marley. An ugly old man with very bad breath and a completely ridiculous wig. Mr. Marley spent most of his life drinking beer, eating chips, doing no exercise and being very nasty to small children… He never went to church, so quite why I’m giving this eulogy is a mystery to me… Everybody who knew him hated him and if it wasn’t for the fact that he was a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very3 rich multi-millionaire he wouldn’t have had a friend in the world. Good riddance Jake Marley, have a very unpleasant time dead and I hope that you go to Hell… PS You had BO.’
1 If this is the ebook version of Johnny Nothing that you’re reading then I really have no idea what page it’s on.
2 Although actually this isn’t true because dead people have been known to produce truly horrendous, putrid farts that often cause the undertaker to bring up his breakfast.
3 In other words very13