Lightly Done – November 2019

The Greyhound Trilogy

I didn’t go looking for greyhounds, they just walked into my life. It all began in 1971 when I was traveling from York to St Pancras on an over-crowded train. The Guard noticed me trudging wearily backwards and forwards past his van as I searched for a seat. The train was crammed and the Guard eventually invited me to share his van.  The other passenger with him was a large and very beautiful golden greyhound who raised his head to greet me with gentle politeness.  For the rest of the journey I listened to a very angry man describing how greyhounds were regularly dumped in his van  to travel across the country and make money for their owners. At the age of five, they were considered ‘past their sell by date’ and many disposed of by any convenient means. It has been common practice for them to be  turned loose on a highway, dumped in a pond with a brick tied around their neck or just simply shot.  That day I promised myself that one day I would make a home for a retired greyhound.  Since then a series of greyhounds have come through our front door and made their homes with us, each one has become more than a family pet, every one has become a close friend and part of our lives.  I completed my first novel Phoenix House in 2006 more or less in control of the plot although the characters often made decisions for me, telling me how the story should develop. As I began to plan the next three novels, Willoughby’s Will, Dragonfly, and Loneliness is a Killer,  uninvited greyhounds began to quietly walk into my imagination and into the plots and The Greyhound Trilogy became a reality. These are not books about greyhounds, they are books in which greyhounds play a part just as they do in my daily life. I hope you enjoy their company as much as I do. This morning the postman delivered a box filled with copies of Willoughby’s Will, the first volume of The Greyhound Trilogy. Dragonfly is with my editor Judy Manville, and Loneliness is a Killer is now at the planning stage on my desk. No other canine is as closely associated with speed, grace and agility. For thousands of years they have been cherished and bred as hunting dogs and loyal companions in the courts of kings, their portraits are painted on the walls of the pharaohs so we know for certain that they have been part of the lives of humanity for at least four thousand years. Their mummified remains have been found buried in Egyptian tombs so that they could accompany their masters to the hunting grounds in the after life. In Homer’s epic the Odyssey only the old greyhound Argus who has been patiently waiting for Odysseus since his departure many years before, and recognises the hero when he returns home. If you open your home and your heart to them in return they will pay you with love and loyalty overflowing.

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