I generally have a rough idea about what I intend to write about on any specific day. It’s never a rigid plan. Sometimes something will crop up, a particularly fatuous story in the newspaper for example, and the schedule gets thrown into disarray. Best laid plans of mice and men, as it were.

Yesterday someone gave me a present. That’s nice. It’s been a while. Better still this was a book. Goodoh! I always like books. Betterer still, this book was written by the giver, who just happens to be one of my followers. Yes indeed, Julia Dean-Richards, of


sent me a copy of her book Snailbeach Tails.

I was a bit trepidatious to be honest. Suppose I didn’t like it? That would be awkward, wouldn’t it? How could I possibly respond? My fears were unfounded. I’m loving it so much I’m having to ration myself so I don’t finish too quickly. It’s a delight.

Firstly, it’s hardback with a real paper slipcase. I do like hardbacks. The cover carries a beautiful illustration by Julia’s collaborator Fran O’Boyle. There are more illustrations inside. It’s not ‘lavishly illustrated’ at all, but where the illustrations fall is just right, and they are beautiful.

The story is by turns whimsical, mystical, philosophical, funny, and wise. There’s a bit of scatology in there too to make for surprise, and occasional flashes of present day humour to make you grin.

Much of the language is odd. It looks like English, but it isn’t. You’ll find words you don’t recognise, that seem to have been made up, but it doesn’t matter. You can still understand what’s going on.

I suppose you’d call it a fantasy, with its cast of talking animals, the Story Book Girl, and a Bag Lady, but it’s much more than that. Also it reads as if it’s meant to be spoken, narrated in the tradition of storytelling, and storytelling was ever about basic truths masquerading as half-truths and out and out fabrication This is how Snailbeach Tails works.

If they ever made a film of this book, I know who I’d have writing and performing the soundtrack music. Caravan, that’s who I’d have.

So a wondrous book that put paid to my writing intentions for today. Best laid plans of mice and men? Best laid plans of mouses, mooses, and men more like.