I'm an infrequent visitor to the twitter sphere and so it was mere chance that I saw recently that Julian Clary had written a children's book. Is it embarrassing to admit to squealing with joy ever so slightly? I don't think so. It took me back, a long, long time. I remember late night tv watching his show. It is only via Google now that I see that this would have been Sticky Moments way back in 1990-1991. I must have been about 4 at the time....
I knew that anything from Julian Clary would have to be fun and clever, so I snapped it up online straight away. This week I had the chance to finally meet The Bolds.
The Bolds tells the story of a plucky pair of hyenas who seize opportunity when it comes their way. Fred and Amelia Bold are English tourists who suffer a tragic end on safari in Africa. Spot and Sue are hyenas living close to the safari park. They have become used to people, and begun to pick up their ways, and even their language.
'Don't you see?' said Sue. 'This is our way out of here. I've always fancied living in England. Apparently it isn't as hot as Africa and the humans there love queueing. That would make a nice change from always fighting and diving in for scrpas of meat here with the rest of the hyena clan. This is our chance for a new life!'
So Spot and Sue become Fred and Amelia Bold. They fly to England and take up residence in their house in suburban Teddington (where Clary himself grew up). They soon discover that being human means terrible things like bills, and so the need to have a job and earn money. Things all go quite well until the kids arrive one night, and they realise that they will have to take extra precautions so that their true identities are not discovered.
But Betty and Bobby had to be told this before they started school, because of their tails- which needed to be hidden at all times, for obvious reasons. Trust me, a big hairy tail dangling between your legs during a P.E. lesson would not go unnoticed in most schools.
Special mention must be made of my favourite sentence:
'Oh yeah?' said the spotty oik, limping backwards.
Oik. Noun. British. An uncouth or obnoxious person. Now that's fabulous- I think I like it nearly as much as gobshite.
I was also intrigued by the mention of Joan Collins. "I dated some of the most beautiful women in the world- Joan Collins and I once spent the weekend together in a luxury spa hotel- happy days." But now see that Julian and Joan go way back. Julian performed as The Joan Collins Fanclub in the 80s. And if British tabloids are to be believed they're now great friends, after working together in 2010, and that Julian recently saved Joan from drowning.
Hyenas were perfect animals for Julian Clary to pick to live amongst us. They love to laugh, the like to smell bottoms and mark their territory by rubbing their bottoms on things so there is plenty of opportunities for humour. The author blurb at the back of the book tells us that "His life-long love of animals inspired him to tell a story about what would happen if they pretended to be like us." I did find the omniscient human narrator a little trying at times, but I'll certainly line up to take a look at The Bolds To The Rescue when it is released next year.
Fabulous illustrations by all round clever person David Roberts really work well with the story. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't recognise his name, but I've certainly seen his work before.
You can see Julian reading an extract from the Bolds here. I do love that Mumsnet has subtitled him!
I couldn't resist The Bolds and immediately dived in and ordered my copy online a few months ago before it was released locally. The wait is nearly over and now The Bolds will be published in Australia on November 2 2015.