London To Basildon

(Click on the link above to open the book in your browser. You will need Adobe Reader installed to view the book. If you don’t have it, you can download it for free at https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/)

In the spring of 2008, I went on a small day-outing to the town of Staines just outside the western region of London, where my Auntie Carol currently lives. (No, its name doesn’t mean ‘stains’; it’s from the Old English ‘stanas’, meaning ‘stones’. So ‘Staines’ means ‘stones’. I love place name etymologies!) On that one particular day out, we visited the nearby bigger town of Windsor to see the eponymous Royal castle, the official residence of Her Majesty which famously burnt down in 1992 (which Her Majesty likes to refer to as her ‘annus horribilis’, or ‘horrible year’ in Latin, because of numerous scandals and disasters which rocked her whole family during that year). On the way of Windsor, we passed through a small village called Datchet. I immediately imagined a character with that name, and so a new passion was sparked off. A passion that continues even today…

datchetberks
The small village of Datchet, Berkshire, England

At this point the Months had pretty much served their time and purpose for me – I’d spent a good two years or so on them, starting while I was still living in Colombia. So it was now time to create something new… or should I say someone new.

Inspired by that sudden ‘light bulb moment’ I had while on my way to Windsor, I created a wholly new series called Britain Boys (although there were girls in it too). Basing it on the geography of Great Britain (but mostly England as it is the country I’m from), the series was different from all the others I’d concocted up to that point in having the characters be named after actual cities and towns and not just countries (as with the Flags series). Britain Boys would become the model for later series of my creation based on personified places, namely American Boys and Canadian Boys. (Told you it’s still going on today…)

ukflagflying

mapofgbandireland

These ‘pages’ for a sort-of ‘character booklet’ weren’t drawn right when I first had that idea pop into my imagination, but rather a few weeks or a month later when I’d gotten used to Britain Boys a little more. These were the first few sets of characters I created for the series, so the ‘character booklet’ wasn’t complete as I was still going to create a whole lot more Britain Boys characters, but it was a good way to start visualizing them.

london2stanmore
London to Stanmore

First page:

  • London is the protagonist of the series due to being named for the capital city. She presents the popular evening variety in-universe TV show House of Britain and has two children named Leyton and Stanmore (who are also shown on this page).
  • Carlisle is a cook. He runs a bistro called ‘British Delicacies’ and he has written his own cookbooks. He likes to browse the Web when he isn’t cooking.
  • Osterley is a writer. His ‘…on Oxford Street’ series of books is popular amongst many children – and adults – in the Britain Boys universe. Whenever he gets a brainwave, he will immediately start to write up on his new story idea.
  • Newington is a flamenco dancer who often dances with castanets tapping away in her hands. She is a regular at the British Talent Show and attracts many with the colours of her dress.
  • Doncaster is the designated villain of the series. He loves to cause trouble and mischief to others, but he has difficulty in getting to the bathroom in time.
  • Datchet is a seven-year-old boy who lost his parents in a car crash when he was younger. His older brother Dechmont (also shown on this page) cares for him. Somewhat prone to crying, he is very creative and loves to write his own stories.
ponte2humberston
Pontefract to Humberston

Second page:

  • Pontefract is a four-year-old girl. She has a habit of dribbling all over herself and chewing on things, which is why she has a plastic keyring attached to her pushchair.
  • Newcastle is Pontefract’s mother. She has to take on a lot of responsibilities to care for her young daughter, which greatly exhausts her. She loves to knit dolls and tiny clothes for Pontefract to play with and wear.
  • Castleford is a cartoonist for the British Gazette newspaper. He publishes his creations in the ‘caricatures’ pages every day, except on days when he is absent from his studio. He is Pontefract’s father and Newcastle’s husband.
  • Leeds is a shy 13-year-old girl who is unable to speak. She is very self-conscious and will usually try on new outfits in the mirror. She can only making grunting noises to communicate.
  • Sunderland is an old friend of Leeds and her impromptu carer. He helps to make decisions on her behalf and care for herself. Unlike Leeds, he is very chatty and friendly.
  • Margate is a TV news reporter. Very talkative, she researches articles in newspapers and magazines and uses them as a basis for her reporting.
  • Grimsby is a two-year-old boy. A member of the infamous ‘Humberside Boys’ gang, he frequently causes small accidents like knocking a tower of bricks down or spilling drinks all over himself.
  • Cleethorpes is Grimsby’s father. He causes slightly worser antics than Grimsby, like deliberately colliding with people or knocking things over.
  • Humberston is Grimsby’s mother. She causes major disasters such as earthquakes, floods and eruptions to greatly disrupt the normal lives of others.
Brighton to Basildon
Brighton to Basildon

Third page:

  • Brighton is a Britain Boy who often turns up around noon at the water amusement park or at the beach, where he is often joked to be the lifeguard Scarborough’s ‘imaginary friend’.
  • Goole is a tennis player. He participates in weekly games at the British Sports Centre and practises daily at his local tennis courts. He has won gold and silver medals from the annual British Tennis Tournament. (On a side note, Goole is also the town where I’m from.)
  • Airmyn is Goole’s eight-year-old child. She has a speech difficulty which renders her unable to speak, and she habitually spills drinks down herself. She often hits Goole unexpectedly with his tennis racket. (Airmyn is the name of a village near the town of Goole.)
  • Tadcaster is an aide of Doncaster’s. His teenage years were marked by various wrongdoings such as spray-painting ‘Tadcaster Rules’ on a communal garage door, which was soon after painted over.
  • Leicester is a flamenco dancer. She dresses up in the same fashion as Leeds, though her outfit is orange instead of blue as with Leeds. She performs for crowds at parties and parades.
  • Harrogate is a three-year-old girl. She has a habit of shaking her head uncontrollably when she is excited or angry. She collects tiny objects such as sweets and trinkets in her straw basket.
  • Hull is a TV cook. She uses a variety of fruits in her recipes such as strawberries, mangoes and blackberries to encourage people to have more of their ‘5-a-day’, which she has printed as a slogan on the front of her apron.
  • Lancaster is Newington’s cousin. She dresses up in an outfit akin to those worn by Leicester or Leeds, though it is purple instead of orange or blue. Like her cousin Newington, she also dances flamenco. Her sparkly jewellery attracts thieves and other criminals.
  • Ferrybridge is a five-year-old boy. He is allergic to nuts, having developed a rash on his back from accidentally eating a nutty chocolate bar, and he often suffers from severe wind. He likes to eat sweets he picked up off the floor.
  • Basildon is a film and TV actor. He debuted with We Are Going on a Summer Holiday and has since starred in many other productions with fellow actors Northampton and Southampton. He drafts character designs in his sketchbook for use in later productions.

As I mentioned earlier, this was only early days for the Britain Boys series, so of course there were going to be a whole lot more characters coming along!

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