click for bigger picture

My novel: Urchin's Kart Club

Urchin's Kart Club A humorous anecdotal story of an eleven-year-old child's fascination with racing karts and his parent's suffering with downright awkward machinery, inclement weather and accident-prone novice-driver children.
No knowledge of oily kart machinery is needed to enjoy this book.
Learn the new definition of borrowing according to the eleven year old generation.

Urchin's Kart Club
Chaper 1: The School Visit
       I clearly recall the evening when we first visited the home of the Kart Club. My wife, our urchin and I were touring the school workshop in the lower bowel area of our son's prospective new High School. The workshop was a very orderly classroom of sturdy wooden tables with dependable looking vices and wall cabinets neatly stocked with tools. The workshop had a large extension area at the back where a number of urchins were milling about.
       Our urchin suddenly spotted something of great interest. He emitted the sort of cry that is a cross between being run through with a large skewer and being offered an inexhaustible supply of chocolate for life. He darted off to carry out a closer inspection. The sight of a dozen racing karts set out in two rows in the workshop extension sent my urchin into a trance of delight. These karts were to my inexperienced eye, all similar in appearance and all possessed four squat, road hugging wheels, a nifty-looking steering wheel and a seat positioned about a hair's breadth from the ground.
       For a brief moment, I wanted a quick whiz around a classic racetrack in one of these karts myself. Observing the mystical and shining expression on my eleven-year-old urchin's face, I could see that he was already touring, at incredible speed, around an imaginary racetrack in his head. My happy little urchin was in high-octane heaven.
       I had a premonition that this place was to feature significantly in our future. Little did I realise what pleasure mixed with pain lay in store for my urchin and I, pleasure for him and the other mostly for me.
       As we stood on the threshold of the momentous times ahead, I could not resist feeling the gentle and contented vibes radiating from the walls of this enchanted place. We looked about the workshop and could not fail to notice that the whole flock of urchins was busily at work wiping, polishing and buffing the karts with much vigour and enthusiasm. This was most unusual. Other parts of the school seemed to be inhabited with wretches that had the demeanour of convicts on mailbag sewing duty. The urchins in the workshop positively exuded tranquillity and cheerfulness. I mused to myself upon the probable reasons for this oddity.
       I spied a teacher, a person of druid-like composure, gently shepherding his flock. He picked up one overexcited urchin by the scruff, shook him a little in a calming sort of way, and deposited him back to earth fully restored to peaceful placidity.
       An urchin out of range was commanded, by an explosive bark that made me quake, to cease the dangerous act that he was about to attempt with a sharp implement. The bark rattled the tool cabinets but appeared to have negligible effect on the urchin. However, the kindly teacher possessed speed as well as volume. In one fluid motion he swept across the floor, disarmed the offending urchin, and returned the implement back to its rightful, orderly place in a tool cabinet. He gently admonished the offender with a kind-hearted body shake and a slight cuffing and then returned the urchin back to the flock.
       There were other custodians in attendance but none possessed the same degree of benevolent command. I supposed that this must therefore be the Chief Custodian of the workshop.
       I decided to carry out a small experiment to check my hypothesis that this indeed was the Chief. I had noticed that all the tool cabinets were regimentally tidy to the highest degree. Tools of the same type were all orientated exactly in a strict arrangement. A row of hammers, precisely ordered, caught my eye.
       I waited until all the Custodians were fully engaged elsewhere. Yes, one was located at the busy first aid station and the others were all mildly shaking various urchins. Quickly I reached inside the cabinet and rotated one of the hammers. The orientation of its head was now opposite to its neighbours. The purpose of this experiment was to ascertain how long it would take for a Custodian to spot the crime. I suspected that the Chief Custodian would be first to discover the transgression.
       The moment my hand released the tool I was astounded to find that the Chief Custodian had mysteriously materialised directly behind me. He emitted a staccato cough of brick-splitting intensity.
       Sheepishly I mumbled something about admiring his exquisite tools. With a trembling hand, I nervously replaced the hammer back to its correct arrangement under his watchful gaze and then slunk respectfully away. I was right. This most certainly was the Chief Custodian. Shortly afterwards we departed the kart workshop realm with a most reluctant urchin dragging his feet.

       We enjoyed our visit to the school. Researching further we found that the school had a prodigious record for academic achievement and the headmaster unusually, had no previous convictions. It was settled. Our urchin liked the school and we hoped that it would like him. I had guessed that our urchin would be very interested in joining the karting fraternity and I was right.
       There was nothing to be done but to use the most powerful argument to dissuade him from this notion. I explained at great length that karting would be an extremely greasy, grimy and grubby pastime. Beneath a thin film of dirt my urchin paled. My beloved urchin is of that marvellous age that believes washing is optional and, given the choice, would never take up the option. Why bother with the soap and water stage if the dirt can be wiped directly onto the hand towel?
       "Oily kart dirt, unfortunately," I explained, "is totally different from your average playing field dirt."
       "Oily kart dirt sticks so tenaciously to your hands," I explained with glee, "that special chemicals are required to clean them."
       There was a gulp followed by a long, deep and profound silence. I sensed victory. I would escape conveying my urchin to cold, windswept racetracks. I would evade all that mucky poking about with mucky, oily kart bits.
       My urchin was at last ready to pronounce his decision. The sea of emotion on his face was now a flat calm. Amazing! My urchin declared that karting was worth any form of deep cleansing that would be demanded by the house management.

       And so it came to pass that we presented ourselves at the school workshop on that first Wednesday in the early evening, at the twilight home of the Kart Club.
       We were informed that new members of the Kart Club are called Novice Urchin Drivers on account of their utter lethalness at the wheel of a kart: no fear, no control, no braking and no sense of direction.
       After a suitable period, in which a Novice Urchin Driver must prove conclusively that he or she is faintly less than suicidal behind a kart wheel, the urchin becomes a Qualified Driver.

       This is the story of my dear urchin's quest for that ultimate accolade. It is a story of heartbreak, triumph, pain, bad temper and boring bits that we all suffered in my urchin's progress to the supreme goal.


The other funniest author on the planet: Bill Bryson
Notes from a Small Island available from
Notes from a Small Island available from
Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island
The Lost Continent available from
The Lost Continent available from
Bill Bryson: The Lost Continent
Before returning to the USA after may years in North Yorkshire, Byrson took one last trip around his adopted country. He provides a deep insight into everything that is so quintessentially British. Such as saying, "Mustn't grumble" so often, queuing properly and Tupperware coloured weather. This is not a book to be read in public places, for fear of sniggering and emitting loud snorts of laughter. "I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." So begins Bryson's travelogue of his epic journey through small town America. Bryson becomes quietly seized with nostalgia for the land of his youth so he borrows his mother's car and sets out to explore the continent's vastness and variety. The account of his travels is a classic, sometimes satirical, sometimes poignant but brilliantly amusing always.

Home Gallery Order Postcard Pastel