As some of you may know from my former blog and tweets, I’ve been working on a couple of writing projects. Anyway, I’ve pulled out one that I abandoned a while ago and I’ve started working on it again. The working title is “Kiffness Bears” and here is an extract from the first few pages. Hope you like it. All comments welcome.
One could easily mistake Tabitha Jones as an angelic child. She had the warmest of brown eyes, a crown of golden curls which danced loosely around her heart shaped face and pink rosebud lips which would make any parent jealous. She really was quite disarmingly pretty.
“I should very much like my present now please “, the little girl earnestly asked her mother, swinging her legs under back and fore under the kitchen chair. She smiled sweetly with her small, pale hands folded on her lap
To the outsider observer, she was quite charming, but if you cocked your head slightly to one side, squinted and really, really, looked at her, you would see she was not exactly charming at all. No, not charming, that is definitely not the word you would use, not be the right word at all. She was engaging, she was astute, and she was as sharp as a butcher’s knife and shared the same steely determination. Tabitha was the thing which all parents secretly dread – remarkably, and inexplicably, bright. She outshone her peers in all her classes and was possibly much brighter than the grown up she knew, and worse than that, little Miss Jones knew it, she absolutely knew, it and more unnervingly she never, ever, mentioned it.
If one spent any time with Tabitha Jones, as her teachers did, you too would come to believe that she was on the verge of saying something remarkable at any moment in time. She always answered the questions before any of her classmates, always got the right answer and was the politest child in the whole school. But although she always said the exactly right thing, her teachers were always left with the feeling that there more, that she was holding just enough back to allow her to laud it over to them. She seemed that she was perpetually on the verge of saying something remarkably insightful and interesting and wonderful, but at the same time was not quite ready to let it out. You wouldn’t be entirely mistaken in thinking she was edited her behaviour to suit her age, not her capabilities, and what it made worse for everyone who was being made to feel inferior to Miss Jones, without her even saying anything a solitary word of course, was the fact that she was only eight years old.
“Darling, you can’t,” Mrs Jones said trying to unreason with her angelic little girl, “You have to wait for the Kiffness Bears”.
Every Kiffness it was the same. The end of the year came and to reward you for making it through the last one, and incentivise your continued commitment to the next, you got presents. It was exhausting for all parties. Presents had to be thought about, requested, and cooed over once unwrapped. Time had to be spent with the family members who you only every saw at celebrations or funerals (which sometimes turned out to be celebrations). The fact you could detest each other the remaining 364 days of the year was incidental, you had to smile till your face ached and eat so much that you resembled a three bird roast, which you coincidentally had to eat whether you liked it or not.
Nobody exactly knew from where the tradition all the traditions and peculiarities of Kiffness had derived, but it was generally thought to have evolved from the activities of an ancient religious sect on the distant peninsula of Trombony, which was located on the North face of Tutherland, depending on where you were standing. The ancient people of Trombony were said to have had a peculiar fetish for brass instruments and at the end of each winter enforced a day of organised fun in reverence to their God, Symbus, and partly to ask him not to kill them or smite them in any other way. The history books tell very little of the detail of the assorted ceremonies which made up the festivities, although stone etchings and ancient manuscripts suggest it involved eating, drinking and often quite a bit of pain. It was difficult to tell whether that represented a good thing or not to the Trombonies.
It was a reasonable assumption, however, that at least modern children would prefer the modern day interpretation of the festival, mainly as it resulted in getting actual presents unlike the original Trombony feast day, originally known as Kicknutts, which often left the younger participants with partial deafness, a limp and an unpleasant gastric problem for at least a month afterwards. Broadly speaking, it appeared that the more civilised parts of Tutherland had adopted the bits of the festivities they liked, and ignored the rest as if they never existed. It hadn’t been uncommon with the colonisation of remoter territories, and this certainly wasn’t the only religious or cultural festival which had been subsumed and redesigned by the moral majority during the history of Tutherland.