Tuesday, 21 December 2010

'The Hairy Plug Monster ...and Christmas

As she stood by the tree, Maya’s eyes opened wide

There were stars hung all over, with chocolates inside

Tinsel and baubles, with lights wrapped around

And even more presents that lay on the ground

On the shelf by the fire, Dad Place a mince pie

With a nice juicy carrot, So Maya asked “why”?

“You need to leave food for the reindeer”, dad said

“And Father Christmas wants mince pies, to keep himself fed.

Climbing up and down chimneys, All night isn’t fun

And he can’t take a break ,when there’s work to be done

Perhaps you can help?”,dad said with a laugh

“With the Hairy Plug Monster ,Who lives under the bath”

Maya thought for a while

And she smiled and then said

“Maybe I could,”

And went off to bed.

A few hours later

Maya hadn’t slept

So into the bathroom

She silently crept,

The Hairy Plug Monster

Was sat by the soap,

With a floppy red stocking

All tied up with rope

Maya asked once again

“Do you fancy a feed? ”

And the Hairy Plug Monster

Smiled and agreed

“We’ve got Mince Pies, and chocolates

and a huge Christmas Cake

There’s even a turkey

All ready to bake”

So they tiptoed downstairs

and walked through the hall

straight to the kitchen

to the fridge by the wall

Maya opened the door

and they both peeked inside

And the Hairy Plug Monster’s

One Eye opened wide

There on the shelf was a large plate of Jelly

A trifle and pudding and cheese that was smelly

There was mince pies and chocolates

And cranberry jam, Sprouts and Potatoes

And a big piece of ham

The Hairy Plug Monster

Jumped onto the shelf

And in no time at all

He was helping himself

Maya said to her friend

“That’s all we’ve got

Its Christmas tomorrow

And you cant eat the lot”

But the Hairy Plug Monster,

Didn’t reply, he was already munching

On a tasty mince pie

He tried out the pudding, and some of the cake

And then all the sprouts,……….


What a mistake

Yuk –yuk yuk yuk

What a funny old taste

He didn’t like sprouts

And curled up his face

The hairy plug monster,

Was hungry no more

And sat down and sulked

On the cold kitchen floor,

Maya thought and then said

“I know just what to do”

Father Christmas is coming

He’ll be here very soon

They went to the front room,

And both peeked inside

And The Hairy Plug Monster’s one eye

Opened Wide

There by the fire was a man dressed in red

With a big floppy hat

That was hung from his head.

His belt and his boots were shiny and black

And down by his side was a huge great big sack

Hello Father Christmas, said Maya with charm

And she held put a mince pie at the end of her arm

I’ve come to help and make sure that you’re fed

You can sit down and rest while everyone’s in bed

Father Christmas sat down, with the pie on his knee

While Maya placed presents around the big tree

Thank you said Santa, and started to yawn,

It’s time that I went, for soon it is dawn

Father Christmas got back, on his magical sleigh

Gave a carrot to Rudolph, and then flew away.

The Hairy Plug Monster needed a nap, so he crept back upstairs

And squeezed back through the tap,

His stocking was full of presents and toys

And a small yellow duck - that made a strange noise

“What’s that noise?”, said her dad the next day with a shout

“There’s a noise from the hole where the water runs out”

“You know who that is” Maya said with a laugh

“That’s the Hairy plug Monster…..who lives under the bath”.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Jodie Muir joins the team as Spooky Stories is prepared for the studio

Another eventful week saw the first public reading of Zombelina by Steve Garry to school children at St. Andrew's Primary School and by all accounts it went pretty well. 

 Now the filming commitments for Rough and Ready look to be over for the time being, the focus is now on getting the much awaited Spooky Stories recorded and released as an audio book a.s.a.p.

Jodie Muir has joined the team to conjure up the initial artwork for the audio book with a view to illustrating the book on its release in the coming year.

   Here are her  initial rough submissions for Zombelina and the Toymaster which capture the mood perfectly.  The dates for recording have not been finalised yet, but we expect to have the majority ready before the end of the year with the aim to releasing them as downloads at the beginning of Spring.  After spending most of the past year promoting Spooky Stories by stealth I am anticipating quite a good reception - especially for the long awaited "Golden Arm". 

Here is the listing for Spooky Stories so far:

There is Something wrong with Grandad
Miss Carr's Pies
Golden Arm
The Commander-in-Chief-of-the-World
Show and Tell
One Legged Steve

All of which are gems in their own right

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Hairy Plug Monster gets Connected

Music and writing really came together this week with a great deal of time being spent composing "pop songs"  for Myles and Connor Ryan (formerly of Connected)who I met at the opening of the Inspire Community Centre in Levenshulme. 

The brief was very simple...write the boys some new material that is on a par with their Boyband contemporaries - and guess what...I totally nailed it.  I managed to pen 6 new songs in various stages of completion, all of which have a definite commercial appeal and if they get recorded could even go on to do very well. 

Having been a songwriter for the best part of 3 decades, this was the first time I had ever worked with anyone who can really sing...and while my grown up friends may snigger at the thought of me writing for Boyband, it seems that it is the right way to go.  Especially as I have written the best part of 300 songs in all sorts of styles over the years, - and none have bought me any kind of success or recognition for my pain.

Ironically, becoming a children's author has rendered a lot of my material unusable in its current state, (especially in these media savvy days) so adopting a softer approach to songwriting really is the only option. 

So here I am at the start of another project, and after listening to Myles and Connor sing (and man can they sing) I have a strong feeling that I can write them something with longevity.  We will be recording a few vocal tracks over the coming weeks and I will post snippets - so you can make up your own minds.

Keeping with the musical theme, Steve Garry and I completed the two tracks for the film Rough and Ready with the third one due for early next year.  The film crew head off to Wakefield on the 13th November to film the opening scene and another club scene with the soundtrack blaring out in the background.

Have a look at the cast list http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1527829/ , there are some pretty big hitters on there and from  what I have learn't they are all eager to do the 2 follow up films. Being the shameless opportunist that I am, I have already thrown my hat into the ring to provide more music, and hopefully get a minuscule part somewhere (not that I want to be an actor - it's just so I can say that I have been in a film.)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Inspire ..... how appropriate

After several years of planning and renovation Levenshulme Inspire centre opened it's doors to the general public.  http://www.lev-inspire.org.uk/blog/ and amongst the V.I.P's which included Sir Gerald Kaufman, and Sir Richard Leese, Myles and Connor Ryan - part of the Connected who narrowly missed winning this years Britain's Got Talent and myself.

In truth it was hard to compete with the twins, who were real celebrities, whereas The HPM hasn't quite got to the stage where scores of screaming girls are clamouring for a signed photo.  Nevertheless, I battled through the noise of the Face Painting table next to me and the art and craft table further along to read a couple of stories. 

I did manage to hold the attention of  the audience for a while, but after a few stories it seemed that the lure of make-up was too much for the audience and one by one they slowly disappeared.

Thankfully, Karen the event organiser arranged for another reading at the front of the centre which captured a more attentive audience and once again the Hairy Plug Monster was a huge success with more than a few parents taking a signed copy home with them. 

The rest of the week has been spent on other exciting projects which I will tell you more about in the next blog...

But before I go here's a little poem I wrote with Maya-Rose.

The Alien

I saw a little Alien, sat beside a tree

He was small green and slimy and really very smelly

He had a little laser gun and pointed it at me,

With a zap, zap, zap

He vaporized my welly.

sometimes you only need a few lines to get the story across

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Golden Arm is the most entertaining poem written for children......ever, at least 3500 children agree with me

Another spectacular week in the world of the Hairy Plug Monster and Friends, kicked off with my invitation to St Joseph and St Bede's Primary School in Bury on Monday morning.....as usual I got lost on the way and arrived with just minutes to spare.

With the aid of a cup of tea, I managed to regain my composure and set about preparing for the first reading to a combined Y1 group.  I used to get nervous when I performed in front of classes but over the last year I have managed to integrate lots of little bits into my "act", encouraging audience participation and building up the atmosphere using "Golden Arm" as a finale - which again didn't fail to scare the socks off them.  I was allocated a room for the day and with each year group, I included the other stories such as "Miss Carr's Pies" and "Commander-in-Chief of the World".  As the final Y6 group came in I cast my inhibitions and read the two Zombie specials, " There's Something Wrong with Grandad" and for the very first time "Zombelina".  Again it seems I misjudged children's appetite for more gruesome stories, as they loved it.  Even the teachers enjoyed the sad sorry tale of the Toymaster and his daughter.  It does help though when you have "Golden Arm" to finish on, and seeing as no one else wants to blow my trumpet, I may as well do it myself...

Golden Arm IS the most entertaining poem written for children ....ever.
It was a fantastic day, with a lot of books being sold and a very appreciative school making me feel very much at home. 

I had an email from the Windows Project, who requested that I pay them a visit in Liverpool sometime soon and also if I could include them in my next school visit for "assessment". 

The rest of the week was spent finalising the first of three pieces of music for the film - Rough and Ready, and again I didn't fail to deliver the goods.  The only thing that's missing at the moment is a steady flow of income, to pay for all this.....but I keep telling myself that it IS only a matter of time.

Thankfully everybody else seems to agree with me...

Find out for yourself by visiting http://www.hairyplugmonster.com/ and purchasing your very own signed copy of The Hairy Plug Monster.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The wheels seem to be turning again for The Hairy Plug Monster

Last February I had a call from Diane Mitchell from the Wirral library services asking if I was free to do a reading as part of the Wirral Bookfest - in October!!

So 7 months later the date finally arrived and off I popped to Beechwood Library on the Wirral.  I read to two visiting schools in the morning (whose name escapes me at the moment).  No prizes for guessing the most popular story...again.

After a very fine panini in Heswell with fellow poet Angela Topping and the Principal Community Librarian - Julie Barkway, we travelled over to neighbouring Pensby Library for a brilliant reading to some more year ones and reception age children from the local school.  I had to refrain from reading Golden Arm as I didn't want to scare any of the younger children and incur the wrath of the accompanying parents.  It didn't matter though because "The Pot Bellied Cook and The Three Legged Dog" managed to capture the imaginations of the kids just as well.

Angela also recommended that I contact the Windows Project in Liverpool, as they assign writers and poets to schools all across the U.K.  I sent an enquiry with all the links and reviews I could find and now it's a matter of waiting for someone to get back to me.

Following my visit to Bury last week I received a really heartening e-mail from one of the parents who bought a copy of the HPM. 

Dear Leighroy
Our Year 2 children recently visited the Bury Library for a visit with yourself. I purchased your book The Hairy Plug Monster and my children absolutely love this book. My daughter has read this book to her dad and her dolls and continues to ask for it to be read to her. Thanks a lot.
Deborah Barber (Mrs)
School Administrator - St Marie's RC Primary

This is just one of the many reviews that we have got since the publication just over a year ago, and I know that we haven't even scratched the surface yet.  Alison Davies one of the assistant librarians from Bury Library Service also received a call from St Joseph and St bede's  primary school in Bury asking for my details after seeing an article published in the Bury Times last week.  So I now have another booking in Bury for Monday - which is brilliant. 

If the success and enthusiasm shown for The Hairy Plug Monster and my other stories is replicated elsewhere, then its definitely only a matter of time.

Noah and The Hairy Plug Monster
I was sent  a photo from Canada, from a young fan called Noah proudly holding a copy of his book he received last Christmas and thought that it would be brilliant if I could fill the blog with pictures of other proud owners..so if you have an image of the HPM you want to send please email it to me at info@hairyplugmonster.com .

Monday, 11 October 2010

A really thick lining of silver....around a big dull cloud

So there I was seven days ago, updating the blog with nothing but doom and gloom... and feeling very sorry for myself. It's amazing what seven days can do for you...

Steve Garry the actor whose voice was utilised for Zombelina, phoned me and asked if I wanted to have a go at supplying three tracks for a film.....er yeh, and even though the style required was not really my cup of tea, I still managed to spend my free hours during the week coming up with the goods.  I have a feeling though the the film itself will have an adult rating so I can't really tell you more at this stage.

On Tuesday, I was invited to Radcliffe Library in Bury to spend the day reading to local schools from the area:   St Johns, Chapelfield and Gorsefield. 

Unsurprisingly, the reading went well with all the schools being enthusiastic about the new material
"Miss Carr's Pies" and "The Pot Bellied Cook" as well as The Hairy Plug Monster and of course Golden Arm - which fast gaining cult status amongst the pupils.  A few books were sold, and the librarians were happy. 

On Thursday, I returned to Bury, as the guest author as part of National Poets Day, where this time I played host to Holy Trinity and St Marie's Primary schools in the morning before going to Holy Trinity Primary School in the afternoon. Again I read to about 200 children and they all seemed to be very positive about the whole visit and better still more books were sold. 

I even tried out the controversial " There's something wrong with Grandad" (which my mum disapproves of, due to the fact that Grandad has become a victim to the Zombie Apocalypse.)  However, I mentioned to the class before I read it about my mums concerns about it's suitability and got them to vote on it.

The result 34-0 in favour of Grandad Zombie....there are parts in it as well that make it possible to act like a Zombie, which got them all going..and then when you follow that up with Golden Arm, well you can't really go wrong can you?.

Needless to say The Hairy Plug Monster was a massive hit with all the years  and even though the Plug Monster machine stalled last week, it seems it is back on the road again and firing on all four cylinders.


I am not sure why, (but very grateful) but I seem to be very popular in Bury with both Waterstones and Bury Library Service always making me feel welcome. 

Monday, 4 October 2010

It's easier to see the Wizard of Oz, than it is to get a booking at a school

Now that the schools have settled down a bit, I started a new promotional campaign to get as many readings in as possible.  Unfortunately, getting an email passed the Admin Office at schools is like trying to book an appointment to see the Wizard of Oz.

Sometimes if I'm lucky I will get to at least be able to find out the real names of the people who I need to contact, but quite a lot of the admin staff that I have come across just ask me to send the email directly to "them" and "they" will make sure that the right person gets it....

But how would they know?,

....but then again I expect that they get thousands of emails every week  from people like me, all wanting access to the school - and the various opportunities that it presents..

So if any of the readers of this blog do happen to work in the Admin office at a school, please look out for me at least.

The rest of the week has been spent looking for a job, but alas I am still what they tend to call a "struggling writer".. 

The only success I have had recently is for a possible position that isn't happening until at least April 2011 and even then there are probably still a few hundred candidates going for it.  Similarly, I took an online assessment test to become a Census Coordinator, but even if I am successful, I am not needed until roughly the same time as the other job..( which I am not going to mention by name at this stage).

We didn't make the long list for the UKLA 2011 which surprised me in a way, I thought The Hairy Plug Monster would do well and the exposure would have been marvellous....however the idea of running a marathon dressed as the HPM is really starting to appeal to me...I am bound to get on T.V. and at the same time can raise some money for charity...the hard part it seems is running 26 miles all in one go, but after seeing how many people compete in the London Marathon it cant be that hard.....can it?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Trying it a different way....

I have been really ill over the last week or so - the victim of a really vicious bug which has left my creative juices somewhat depleted...

However I did manage to start work on the final two stories for the Spooky Stories collection-
One Legged Steve  and Show and Tell....

 Most of the last week has been spent distancing myself from the other contributors in the Zombelina project, more details can be found on http://zombelina.blogspot.com/ . 

However with every crazy cloud, there is always a silver lining and in this case it is coming in the form of an audio book....so the initial format for Spooky Tales will now be narrated by actor Steve Garry and will become available for download in the very near future...a hard copy of the audio will be available from the HPM Website and eventually through our other suppliers - including I-Tunes et al.

Because of production costs the publication of the book has had to be put back until next year - which is a shame in a way but makes more sense. 

In addition to the Audio Book, a collaboration with Static Island will see chillout remixes of each of the stories - and be released individually as the months go by....a demo version of Zombelina can already be sampled at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdw7kRRUOt8  and on the Zombelina website....


Monday, 6 September 2010

Himalayan Balsam and Mixed Seed Cookies.......

The Hairy Plug Monster's  Himalayan Balsam and Mixed Seed Cookie

Himalayan Balsam

It's that time of year again when those delightful Himalayan Balsam plants adorn the pathways, and waterways of the English countryside and envelop everything in their way - and with each year their numbers increase until eventually there will be nothing left but "Balsam". 

Naturally this has caused alarm throughout DEFRA and beyond, and each year well meaning folk head out into the woodlands and parks with the sole aim of "Bashing the Balsam" - Unfortunately, their efforts are not having very much effect and serve only as a slight inconvenience to the Himalayan Balsam. 

However, as more and more people are daring to venture out at this time of year, intent on capitalising on the bountiful harvest of fruit and berries that are just coming into season, it seems only fair to let them know that an even greater harvest can be had from the public enemy of plants.

I did try spreading the word last year but without the aid of images, my message fell on deaf ears - this year however I am proud to bring you:

The Hairy Plug Monster's Himalayan Balsam and Mixed Seed Cookies 

First put your coat on and head off out to track down some Balsam, I have included an image to aid identification, but to further assist you, look for the tall plant with white or pink delicate flowers. At this time of year they should be on the wane and be replaced with seed pods which are shaped like tiny okra.  The Himalayan Balsam is easily identifiable, because when you touch a ripe seed pod it explodes "Alien style" and throws out the seeds in every direction.  ( this is one of the main reasons that "Balsam Bashing doesn't work").  The stem of the plant is a hollow and translucent and a quick inspection of the roots should show about twenty reddish roots just above ground that anchor the beast in place.

So when you are satisfied that you have the Himalayan Balsam in your sights, it is now time to harvest the seeds. 

1.  Very carefully tilt the flower head towards you and without touching the pods place a large plastic bag over the top of the plant.  Once you are confident that the seed heads are inside the bag, tickle the pods and let them explode, ( be on the lookout for bees collecting the last bits of pollen).  The seeds will collect in the bag and each plant should give your about 100 seeds. 

2.  Carry this action on until you think you have enough seeds.....how much is enough seeds?...erm  well I      don't know, but bear in mind that the pod husks are also collected and will need to be removed at a later stage so.... the more you collect the more you have to sort out later.....simples.

Himalayan Balsam seeds and the green pod husks

Your harvest should look similar to the image above with the seeds ranging from white to brown to black, being mixed together with the curled up green pod husks and occasional flowers.

Now comes the boring bit...the seeds need to be separated, and up to now the only way I have found to do this is to spread them out on a tray and pick out the pods, flowers and anything else that may have found its way into the bag.  I wont kid you....this will take a bit of time, but eventually you should be left with a tray full of seeds.

Himalayan Balsam Seeds

Place the seeds in a bowl of fresh water for twenty minutes to wash off any dust and creepy crawlies that still may be hiding amongst them and drain the water away through a sieve. 

Dry Roasted Himalayan Balsam Seeds
Empty the seeds into a dry frying pan and on a low heat slowly cook them until the seeds turn a similar shade of grey. 

Et voila your Himalayan Balsam Seeds are now ready for eating..... or.  you could do what I did and add them to a cookie mix

Cream 125g of unsalted butter with 125g of sugar, slowly add 2 beaten eggs to the mix and a teaspoon of vanila essence.  Fold in 250g of self raising flour and 200g of Himalayan Balsam seeds together with a 200g  mix of  of toasted almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. 

Gather the mixture together with your hand and shape the dough into a ball.  Wrap in clingfilm and leave to settle in the fridge for half an hour.

When the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and dive into 26 pieces, rolling each one into a small ball and placing on a greased baking tray.

Lightly flatten each cookie before baking at 180C (160C fan oven) Gas Mark 4 for 10-12 minutes until golden but still fairly soft.  Leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transfering onto a wire rack to cool.

 And put the kettle on.

Congratulations, you have probably taken the best step to keep the spread of Himalayan Balsam in check and at the same time made yourself and the kids a damn fine cookie.  Now with a plate full of cookies and a glass of milk sit down in your favourite chair, open The Hairy Plug Monster and start reading.....if you haven't got a copy please visit http://www.hairyplugmonster.com/

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Just So Festival 2010

Regardless of where I was placed right on the bill, it was still quite an honour to be asked to take part in the first Just So Festival, in the woods of Barnswood - just outside Leek.   It was advertised as " A Glastonbury for Kids" and certainly didn't disappoint.

Advertised as "  a boutique, weekend-long festival of creativity aimed at children, young people and their families.
The festival will provide a magical experience where art, music and literature are embedded and entwined in a beautiful and wondrous landscape.

The day started well with a random text sent to Jo Goode on BBC 6 Music turning into a full scale live interview on the air, giving me the chance to mention the book and 'big up' the festival. 

I had been given five passes as payment for taking part I was given five passes to the festival and as the girls were still in Russia, I took my mum and my brother David and his family.  

My reading went well, and even though I was bottom of the bill on Saturday morning - I still managed to pull in quite a crowd and sell a few books in the meantime.  After my stint - we spent the rest of the day walking watching the many different acts performing in the many different glades.

I have to admit that I did feel quite lost without my own kids there, and decided to stop as many random families as I could and read my stories to them...( oddly enough it went down rather well).  There was so much going on - it is really hard to choose a favourite moment although I had to watch in admiration at the two 70+ dancers who were throwing each other around the scout hall to the strains of Glenn Miller.  

The photos are on my mums camera, ( who is in Italy again - for a change and I wont be able to post them until her return).  Although the festival went on for the weekend, we only stayed for the Saturday, due partly to my nephews feeling the pace and me not really being made of camping fibre, in truth though The Just So Festival should be sampled as a three day event,  as the entertainment goes on right through the night, next year I am going to be more prepared and take the girls camping.  ( hmm...that could be an empty promise though). 

If anyone is thinking about booking for next year, my advice is "Get a move on", as the tickets went on sale for Just So Festival 2011 the following Monday, and are already selling like hot cakes..


Thursday, 19 August 2010

There's something wrong with Grandad


There’s something wrong with Grandad.

He’s acting rather strange.

He stumbles with a confused look

And doesn’t sound the same

It started at the weekend

He said that he was ill

He wouldn’t take his medicine,

Or wouldn’t take his pill

And now he’s on the landing,

With arms stretched out ahead,

With dripping blood around his lips

And scars across his head….

I didn’t meant to hit him,

But when he bit my Dad,

And took a chunk out of his arm

I thought he’s turning mad.

And now my dad is changing,

His skins gone rather grey,

He really smells of nasty meat

And doesn’t want to play

( Find out what happened to Grandad when Spooky Stories is published in the very near future)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Miss Carr's Pies

Miss Carr's Pies
by Leighroy Marsh from the Spooky Stories Collection

Long, long ago, there was nothing but snow on the dark country lane in my tale

And galloped a horse, (with a rider of course) with a bag full of paintings for sale.

But the snow was too thick, and he had to think quick - if he stayed out too long he would freeze

And though the dark night he saw the pale light of an inn, where he could find some ease.

He tethered his steed in the stables next door, and carried his pictures inside.

And there by the bar, was the lovely Miss Carr with a tray full of pies at her side

Good evening Miss, he said with a hiss – his mouth was all frozen and solid

She simply looked up from a recipe book and said in a manner quite stolid.

“Good evening sir, can I get you a beer? A room for the night or some tea?

There’s nobody here at this time of year I can give you a discount maybe?”

“What would be nice, is one of those pies.. “ Said the traveller eyeing the tray

“Can you warm right it up with some ale in a cup and tell me how much I must pay

“I certainly can” she said to the man “please take a seat by the fire”

“I shall warm it up quick, I ‘ll be back in a tick – with a pie that will match your desire”

Miss Carr went away to the pies on the tray, and selected the largest one on it

To the kitchen she went with a pie for the gent , whilst humming herself an old sonnet.

“So the man wants a pie”, she said with a sigh – it will cost him much more than he thinks

She pulled out a locket from inside her pocket and opened it over his drink.

Down poured some dust, which was redder than rust – It bubbled and fizzled and festered

She stirred up the brew which was thicker than stew – but smelt rather good none the less

(Find out what happens to the Traveller and Miss Carr's Pies in Spooky Stories - coming soon)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The pen is mightier than the parking ticket

You may remember that in a previous blog, I mentioned that I got a parking ticket for slightly overstaying the limit by 8 minutes, due to me staying a little while longer to give a reading at the Oxfam shop.  I was relying on those charitable souls at the parking office to rescind the fine as the circumstances were, in my view exceptional. 

Unfortunately it seems that those 'charitable souls' are not one for charity and unfortunately my appeal fell on deaf ears.  On the plus side however, it seems I have a new set of villains to write about.....lucky me:

Those charitable souls - down at parking control, with their cameras and watches and tickets
Skulk in the dark of the public car park and hide in the bushes and thickets
Like lions they'll wait if the victim is late, they'll pounce without mercy or pity
Then they'll gorge and they'll feast on the poor wildebeest, in manner described as "not pretty"

First attempt at a Plugmonster Wordsearch

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Pot Bellied Cook and The Three Legged Dog

The Pot Bellied Cook and the Three Legged Dog


In an old wooden tavern, quite close to a bog

Lives a pot bellied cook and a three legged dog

He spends all his days making green smelly cheese

While the three legged dog sits and scratches his fleas

High up in a tower, lives the Old Purple Gint

Who drinks nothing but smoothies of onion and mint

She grows all her food in a pair of old boots

And makes soap from the juice of the dandelion root

But cook wasn’t happy to live all alone

He wanted to share the green cheese in his home

So he closed up the tavern and set foot outside

With his three legged dog he looked for a bride

To the Old Purple Gint in the tower he strolled

With some cheese in a sock, feeling ever so bold

He called from the ground to the window above

And proclaimed from his knees his intentions of love.

“My darling, my sugar, my sweetheart, my dear

I have lived all alone for so many a year

I have come to ask you, would you marry me please

And stand by my side with my dog and his fleas”

The Gint just stood silent, as stiff as a rock

Then she gazed at the cook and his green smelly sock

“I will be your wife” , was her short sharp reply

“If you bring me the shoes from the Snufflebug fly”

(Find out what happens to the Pot Bellied Cook and  the The Legged Dog in 2011)

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Is the HPM right for the BBC....... hell yeah!!!!!


In terms of success for the HPM, I would place this week pretty high on the list.  Starting off with a low key Monday spent mostly ringing round stockists.  I did sign a music publishing deal with Gulliver Music Publishing, which should bring in some royalties if some big multi national company want to use my music to advertise their " stuff".

 I woke up early on Tuesday to appear on the coffee hour at BBC Radio Manchester.   This time I gave a better account of myself and had more confidence when placed on the spot to give opinions about diets, sibling rivalry and nettles.  Hopefully I will get the chance to go on again, and again, and again....

Being a writer, isn't a lucrative job, and the time has come to go out and find a proper job, because after almost two years since its creation, the HPM is still bubbling under the radar. So on Wednesday, I had an interview with a firm that were advertising management positions......management positions  pah!!!!

It became immediately apparent that this wasn't the job for me...not that I am work shy but one thing I could never do is knock on the doors of the innocent and ask them to sign up for something that they don't want.  Its a pity though that when people advertise jobs they don't tell the whole truth.

This didn't put me off looking though, and on Thursday I applied for a job as a museum supervisor.  To land a job like that would be perfect for me, especially as the museum is adjacent to the gallery as well.  I will know next week if my application was good enough to at least get me an interview.  I was also asked to apply for a job as a call centre manager in Stoke...which I did, not because I love call centres - but it would give me the financial leg up to clear some debt and also give me 1 hour commuting everyday on the train, where I should still be able to write.

Later on Thursday I received an email from a lady called Mavis.... it seems that Kul had met her in a shop and passed over a book to her.  More importantly, she then passed the book over to her daughter - Michelle, who works as a researcher for Blue Peter.  The e-mail went like this

"Just so you know I am going to be doing a Cbeebies storytelling session at half 8 tomorrow morning.
Its where I sit with a group of kids and tell them all a story. I'm going to tell them the story of the hairy plug monster."

Michelle then went on to say,

" I will make sure I read it with loads of expression / enthusiasm and gauge how they react to the story and the pictures. I'm sure they will like it. They gave me some other books to chose from but The Hairy Plug Monster is best hands down."..

I am waiting for feedback from the even and will let you know. 

On the downside however, Zombie Aid 3 has been cancelled due building work at the proposed site, but the planned walk in October is still going ahead.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Faith, Hope and Charity,


I did my first proper charity event last week for Oxfam in Cheadlle Heath, and although they were advertising it for weeks as part of their own book week, the turnout was slightly disappointing.  Amongst the children who did manage to drag their parents down to the shop were Sophie and Maya, who were part of the workshop group the previous Thursday. 

They were eager to listen to The Hairy Plug Monster again and even more so to Golden Arm... as the morning went on I hung around and managed to sell a few more books to the odd customer, and one person even bought two, just because the were signed by the Author.....me!!!

Due to the fact that I hung around trying to sell more books, (the proceeds of which went to Oxfam,) I ended up being 8 minutes late back to the car and subsequently got a parking ticket....

Now, although I am not a believer, I like to hedge my bets and generally live a very good, clean life doing little to rattle my conscience.  Subsequently I like to believe that although I have not bought a ticket, they still might let me in just because I am the type of person they would want up there, (besides if I am wrong at least I can still party)..I would also like to think that doing a good turn like supporting Oxfam and donating the proceeds to the shop would earn me extra brownie points in the great scheme of things.

You might say that the 'lord moves in mysterious ways',....... which again is fine,  but I want to know why he is moving around my car and checking the time on my ticket before slapping me with fine?

Perhaps it was a sign........

So off I went looking for the over zealous warden who obviously didn't know of my mission in the hope to reason with their better nature.  I tracked them down in the adjacent car park and presented my case.

 At first I thought I was in luck as the warden was a lady, and I figured that with my cheeky grin, a smile and a wink and hey-ho "job's a gud'un".  However as I drew near and saw the short cropped hair and several facial piercings (all of which looked like they hurt a lot) I knew that boyish charm alone is not going to get me off the hook lightly.

I changed tack straight away and presented myself as a really apologetic, sycophantic man whose only crime was to stay a little longer than he ought.... in order to raise a little bit of money to help build a library in Afghanistan.....

I even showed her the book, which she declined to buy on the grounds that she didn't have any kids and even turned down the offer of an "Xtra Strong Mint".  She did however invite me to present my case to the local council and wished me good luck....

So with regards to the title of this blog.   I am now putting Faith in my fellow man, in the Hope that on this occasion I am not going to be penalised for supporting Charity....

Anyone who wishes to donate to a specially set up fund can visit www.hairyplugmonster.com and leave a deposit with paypal and in return for your generosity I will send a signed copy of The Hairy Plug Monster..... ( traffic wardens are especially welcome).

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Children's Literacy Workshops

The literacy workshop went better than I could have ever imagined. Not being a teacher, I wasn't quite sure on the form it was going to take, but it became apparent straight away that providing you have good material and the pupils want to be there, the workshop will work itself.

 Pupils from years 4,5 and six were chosen to listen to the readings of The Hairy Plug Monster and the other stories and ask questions just like in previous readings.  However, for the last half an hour I read them the opening verses of "Miss Carr's pies" and then invited them to construct the next verse themselves working in small groups.

I was very impressed with the work that they did with more than one group not only constructing some brilliant prose but  also getting the "meter" as well. 

I think as well that the subject matter was appealing and they came up with many ingenious ways of disposing of a body in a pie. 

Hi Leighroy

Thank you very much for your visit yesterday. The children really enjoyed it and were full of enthusiasm for poetry in the afternoon. I asked some of them to write a sentence about what they thought. I hope this is useful to you.

I loved listening to the poems which told a story and enjoyed finishing his poem for him. It was interesting. .....Ellie C Year 6

The hairy plug monster was cool and I loved the spooky poems. I didn't think i'd jump when he told us we would but I did. Leeroy was brilliant he's a cool author. .....Haris Year 5

It was very kind of you to go into school. Your storys were great. I car't wait till zombliner comes out. Car't wait to see you at oxfam.

Georgia Year 4

I enjoyed listening to the hairy plug monster . it made me jump in the golden arm story.I had a really good time.thank you ....... Maya year 4

Thank you for your time


Diane Diamond

It came as no surprise that "Golden Arm" was a clear favourite, although the first few verses of Zombelina also went down really well.  Due to the time though, I wasn't able to finish - much to the dismay of the class.

Going of the response from Cheadle Primary School it may be another way forward for reaching a larger audience. 

And now for the sales pitch at the end of the blog....(in the form of an email spam letter)

Hello',  my name is Leighroy Marsh and I am a brilliant children's writer from the North West of England, and for a limited time and a staggering 95% cheaper than Charles Dicken's would have charged.  I am offering to visit YOUR school and read a selection of my work to the pupils and work with them to produce works of literary genius.  To take advantage of this amazing offer visit the www.hairyplugmonster.com website send or email to info@hairyplugmonster.com. -   and while your there, why not buy one of the best young children's books written in ages?

Thank you

Leighroy Marsh

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Distractions, distractions

Following my holiday in Tuscany, I have found it hard to focus on The Hairy Plug Monster.  Not because I had better things to do....far from it.  Instead I have been glued to either the radio or the T.V. following the events in South Africa, for almost 3 painful weeks I have been watching the "world's best" battle it out - and to be truthful have had to endure some pretty dire stuff.

 Thankfully the Germans put me out of my misery at the weekend by inflicting a fatal blow to the hopes and dreams of the nation.  Much as I would like to rant on about the "who's, whats and whys" of the result, I am going to leave that for other much more informed bloggers to do.  Suffice to say....we were pants.

So with the need to waste my life in front of the T.V. now removed you would think I should be able to focus back on The Hairy Plug Monster and the other projects for HPM Media Ltd without any further distractions..........but again not so.

My trusty modem of many years finally keeled over and died leaving me without an Internet connection and subsequently felling like I was on the moon.  Without the Internet, I couldn't ring shops, or send emails or update the blog.  Life seemed to stop (briefly). 

Thankfully I remembered that the computer could do other things even when it wasn't talking to the rest of the world. I loaded up a music program and wrote 2 fantastic tunes in the space of two days.  It was a major breakthrough  moment because I know have enough good material to take out on the road and play live with. 

I even treated myself to a selection of blank CD's and created an 11 track album of sorts, and early reviews have been quite promising.

Without the Internet, I have also been able to reduce the distractions of Facebook, and chess which, I play on a regular basis....I did have a go at Miss Carr's Pies to see if I could get the final 8 verses but to no avail...I seem to have hit a wall with The Pot Bellied Cook and the Three Legged Dog.  ( This is slightly disturbing, because I have a literacy workshop on Thursday at Cheadle Primary School and no new material.

The Hairy Plug Monster has now been published for over a year now, and its about time I had a new book to tout around.  Perhaps more heartening is that the Gruffalo took 4 years to gain any sort of recognition...and I still agree with many of my readers that The Hairy Plug Monster is easily on the same level albeit at least 5 million sales behind.....but there is still plenty of time to catch up....

If you still haven't got a copy of The Hairy Plug Monster, you can order by visiting http://www.hairyplugmonster.com/

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Hairy Plug Monster is now very popular in Bury and the surrounding areas

Typically everything seems to happen all at once, and by the time I get chance to write about it - it seems that a few weeks have gone by and some of the information doesn't seem that relevant.

Firstly, The Magic Sponge's Do it Again in 2010 didn't make it through to the XFM final three and wasn't chosen to be the official England World Cup song for the radio which meant that there wan't going to be an opportunity to mention the book.  Personally I think that there was some "Eurovision"style voting going on although I have to admit that the song that eventually won wasn't that bad - (even though it had none of the football jingoism that The Magic Sponge seem to ooze with each verse)......

never mind there is always next time.

On the 3rd of June ( which does seem a long time ago now)  I was invited to Radcliffe to perform a reading for the newly opened children's centre on Coronation Road.  The team there, led by the lovely Norma made me feel really welcome, and plied me with endless cups of tea and some rather good homemade soup.

It was the first time I have done an outdoor reading - and despite having to contend with the passing traffic, the stories went down really well.

During one of the tea brakes, I started talking to Norma about the other projects on the go such as Spooky Stories and the animation.  I couldn't believe it when she said that she had heard of "Zombelina" and that her son was involved.

It turned out that her son was the actor Steve Garry who had lent his voice to the reading of Zombelina earlier this year.....(fancy that)

During the reading we were joined by Tim Power from the neighbouring Radcliffe Primary School who also seemed to like the stories, so there may be a good chance of a return visit on the horizon.  All in all it was quite a successful day with quite a few mothers and carers buying a copy of The Hairy Plug Monster of me and the centre taking another 10.

On the following Saturday, Bury Waterstones were holding an event called " Big Kids Day" and invited myself, and four other children's authors to appear throughh out the day.

Diane Shaw   aauthor of  the Septimus Smythe Spectre Detectives  series

Nick Webb  author of the recently published Lyme Hall

Joseph Delaney author of the Spooks Apprentice
I embarrassed myself by not knowing who he was - but it seems he is just about to be shot into the stratosphere by Hollywood and has had gazillions of books published over the last few years.)

Their was another author present who I must apologise to because I have lost his contact details that he gave me and can only remember him as Nick - never the less he was a  children's poet like myself who has had two of his books published.

My individual reading was at 10.30 in the morning and yet again there seemed to be a severe shortage of kids to read to.  In fact the only audience I got was when Nick turned up at 11.30 and allowed me to read to his kids.  I was feeling a bit unloved and unwanted when Nick threw me off the table(no, not literally)  when his slot arrived and I was in two minds whether to go home or not.  Instead, I opted to hang out at the back of the store with my book in a bid to catch some passing trade - as the shop was starting to fill up a bit.

Diane came and introduced herself to me, so we spent the next hour "talking like authors do" I suppose.  It was coming up to 1 o'clock and after only selling 2 books I decided it was time to call It a day.  Rachel the event coordinator asked the three of us if we wanted to take a table outside the shop with some books and see if we could sell more that way.

I have to say, what a brilliant idea, between the four of us, we covered all the age groups from 2 - 13 and I sold 17 books within the next hour - leaving the shop with only one.  It seems like another avenue I should entertain especially as none of us were standing on the toes of the others.  It seemed a lot more sociable as well. 

Oops there I go again I have told you my life story and about how much people have enjoyed the Hairy Plug Monster, and forgot to mention how humongously entertaining it is for a young child to have It read to them, over and over and over again. 

It is now available in over 40 Waterstones stores, and if the one near you doesn't stock it then demand to know why....... if you still cant find a copy visit http://www.hairyplugmonster.com/ where you can buy a personally signed copy.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Me and the Children's Laureate

I got a rare glimpse of  a superstar this week as Stockport art gallery played host to Anthony Browne - the Children's Laureate.  I was quite excited at the prospect of meeting one of the leading figures in young children's literature, and even more so with the possibility of thrusting one of my books at him. 

It was quite an exciting evening, especially as the girls got really involved, asking questions and taking part in the "shape game" ( the game where somebody draws a shape, then another person tries to turn it into a picture)... At one point Maya interrupted Anthony in mid flow to say.

" Actually, my daddy is a writer as well, and he's written The Hairy Plug Monster, Golden Arm and Zombelina",

And then she turned round to me with a big smile as if to say " there you go dad. your in there now."

At the end of the night, I grabbed an opportunity to speak not only to Anthony and give him a book, but also his publicist and a few of the officials from the library service.  While I was hob-nobbing with the "hoy-poloy" Arisha and Maya were getting there photo's taken for the council...All in all a good PR exercise for the Marsh's

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

My Book - The Hairy Plug Monster is "ace", (if you agree please leave a comment on this blog, because there are a lot of people out there who still dont know about it.)

June 3rd   Radcliffe Lending Library
June 5th    Big Story Weekend   Waterstones Bury
June 24th  Cheadle Primary School

Apparently I am not being brash enough with my posts and have been advised to be

 "a bit more up front about the fact that I have one of the best children's stories written in ages, but nobody knows about it because I am too busy waffling on about "world cup songs, recipes, events and other stories I have written  etc. and not doing what the blog was originally intended to do

telling people to BUY MY BOOK"

 So this is me telling you - the reader, to buy my book because if you haven't bought it yet and you have young children... you are missing out on a real experience.  There are so many children's books out there which, for want of a better word .... are utter rubbish..I despair sometimes when I go into a bookstore and see the same old tosh again and again.

The Hairy Plug Monster is a book which you will never read only once to your kids....since its publication, I have had hundreds of parents tell me how much they like the book and how often they have had to read it to their kids.

So if you have a copy of the book, please take a moment to leave a comment underneath this post to let everybody else know, because the best way of spreading the news is by word of mouth.

If you haven't got a copy, then you can order one through Waterstones (if they don't already stock it) and any other respectable bookseller throughout the World ( you may have to wait for a few days mind).  If you want a personalised signed copy then order through the website http://www.hairyplugmonster.com/

You might be wondering why I have changed the writing style of my blog to a more direct approach?.  Well the answer is quite simple, we have another 3 books to publish including the much awaited Spooky Stories, which may never happen until we sell more copies of The Hairy Plug Monster. 
5000 books is about 76 cardboard boxes and if we bring out the next three books, we just won't have anywhere to put another 15,000 the combined weight alone is about 4 tons, which would severely test the floor of the office where we currently store them.


The Hairy Plug Monster is .....Still doing it

I went on the radio (again) to promote my World Cup Song   Do it Again (in 2010) last Thursday, and apart from being pulled up on the fact that 'Lions' doesn't really rhyme with 'Crying',  It seemed to go o.k.  

(I think though that XFM may have got wise to the fact that occasionally I will send a text in for a song or just to make comment on the radio and sign it The Hairy Plug Monster, which gives the children's book another free mention).  They seemed very reluctant to ask me what I did for a living - as if they already knew the answer.  However not all the DJ's are that savvy,  I did manage to get Clint Boon, formerly of the Inspiral Carpets and now the afternoon DJ on XFM Radio to mention The Hairy Plug Monster about three times in the same show using my marketing guerrilla tactics.

The song itself has made it though to the next stage and is available to listen to by clicking on the link and leaving a comment underneath  www.xfm.co.uk/onair/shows/manchester/xfms-england-house-band-mondays-selection   

The more comments we get then the more of a chance we will have of getting through to the final.  As I see it, it is between Me and two others;  Shine on England and the Accumulator.  If I had to choose between the two of them I would probably give the edge to Shine on England....so now its a waiting game until they announce the finalists towards the end of May.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Magic Sponge qualifies for the group stages


I know I should write more, but there always seems very little to say.  Most of this week has been spent pushing "Do it Again (in 2010) out over the internet and we have had some fantastic response.  In a fit of delusion, I even sent a copy to Max Clifford (yes the) who represents Simon Cowell (yes the) in the hope that they would jump at the chance to make a quick buck.  However I got a rather polite letter back from his PA explaining that they are already involved with another World Cup Song and couldn't take on the project.  So they have had their chance, I suppose I am  going to have to do it on my own. 

All week I have been eagerly awaiting the XFM breakfast show to listen to what the competition have to offer, and unfortunately the standard is pretty high - so it is not going to be the cakewalk that I anticipated.. 

Today I got the call from Jim Salveson who is the producer for the morning show asking me if I wanted to be interviewed for tomorrows show .....er......hell yeh.  So it looks like the song has at least qualified for the group stages.  Paul didn't seem as enthusiastic when I told him that we might even win, which would mean writing another set to perform for the duration that England are in the World Cup.

Speaking of sets, there is a strong chance that I may be doing a gig with "Bez" from the Happy Mondays on July 23rd at Jabez Clegg's in Manchester.  Although as the people organising the gig have yet to come through with anything tangible for me I choose to remain ambivalent for the time being.  My own Static Island set is almost ready with the music complete and just the need to sit down and focus on writing some lyrics.

The HPM sales remain slow but I had an enquiry this week to conduct a workshop for pupils at Cheadle Primary School, which would be a bit different from just hosting a reading, as there would be a need to produce something there and then for and with the children.  Unlike a lot of writers I sometimes find it hard to spontaneously produce anything of any merit, which is why I am behind on my goal of one story a month.

 Finally, Barclays Bank are holding a competition to find the best regional start up business, which we entered yesterday.  We basically needed to have a business plan in place with targets and aims.... which we have - together with products all ready to bring to market. What we don't have is the finance to make this happen, but with a 50k first prize being up for grabs.........keeeer - ching!!!!

As part of our entry we needed to make a two minute video for the judges, which in turn meant that I needed to create an original soundtrack to go with it.   Imagine my surprise when I "nailed " in 2 hours, sometimes everything just falls into place.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYRkhgqVOFI

Friday, 7 May 2010

The World Cup Song. Do it Again (in 2010) by The Magic Sponge

Local Radio Station XFM Manchester, are holding a competition at the moment to find a band which can come up with an iconic World Cup Song to be sang in the bars and pubs throughout the land.  Not being one to pass up on a challenge, I got together with a former "jamming"buddy Paul Vallance and came up with a fair attempt at a "football song".  Admittedly it's not in the same league as E is for England or 3 Lions for that matter, but it would give Fat Les a run for his money. 

Its full of the necessary ingredients that a football song should have...simple rhythms, anthemic chants and lots of samples of John Motson et al singing the praises of England legends throughout the past decade or so.

Should we win, we get to perform live before Englands games on the 12th, 18th and 23rd. in Manchester....which will give me a huge opportunity to mention "The Book"...so there is a method to my madness. 

Life is too short to take yourself too seriously and if I did that then I probably wouldn't have written The HPM at all.....anyway have a listen and make your own minds up, I would love to know what you think.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bookings...for the festival season www.hairyplugmonster.com

Dates for your diary

5th June                           Bury Waterstones     
10th July                         Oxfam Bookfest  Cheadle branch
22nd August                    Just So Festival  Stafford.

Its the festival season again, with an official invite from the "Just So" organisers coming in the mail this week.  They did ask me to specify any requirements that I may have....I was almost tempted to play "
 Prima Donna" and ask for Evian on the table ... with fresh cut flowers blah blah blah,  but as it will be the middle of summer - outside in a field, its probably wiser to ask for an umbrella more than anything else.

The Just So Festival looks like it is going to be well worth a visit www.justsofestival.org.uk - from what I can gather the weekend camping tickets sold out almost immediately which is not surprising given the wealth of talent that's on display.

 People who are not interested in me this year are the Edinburgh Book Festival..and surprisingly Lymm ( I thought I was in there), who passed me over for the highly talented Craig Bradley. 

So there are a few stars to aim for in the coming months.

The "Spooky Stories Collection" is coming on strong with "Miss Carr's Pies" getting the thumbs up from the gang on Facebook, and a couple of private readings over the phone gave me more encouragement.  Given the age group for the stories, I have decided to double up the content to eight tales as opposed to four - ( the main reason being that you cant fob an 8 year old off with as many pictures.)  This in itself has given me a bit of a dilemma because I need story matter for at least three of them.

I am toying with a friendlier style for the fifth called " Its Hard Being Brave When Your Only Eight", all about an evening walk in the park and all the "Monsters" that hide in the shadows.

Oxfam are holding their 2nd annual book festival in July 10th and have invited me to be the "guest author" as their store in Cheadle Village on the outskirts of Stockport.  From what they were saying it gets really "rammed" in the morning so they have booked me for 10 - 12.
Finally Bury Waterstones are holding a "Big Kid's Day"  which has been billed as their biggest children's event EVER!!!! 

I am sharing the billing with Joseph Delaney who will be signing his book " Spooks" and the emphasis for the event is on "dark tales" so it seems like the perfect place to give " Spooky Stories " a test drive before it goes to print.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Radio Star


With most of Britain either avoiding the election or loitering around at airports waiting to either arrive or depart, I managed to get myself on the radio again via Michele and her superb PR skills. This time it was on BBC Radio Manchester on the Heather Stott Coffee Club, sharing the hour with Ruth Daniel who runs Fat Northerner Records and Sharon Peak - the Northwest Hairdresser of the Year.  It was a really good experience and I was a lot more relaxed than before, to be honest I have not listened back to it so you will have to let me know...the ladies on the show seemed a lot more at home chatting together, but I suppose the art of conversation is one of those skills that improve the more times you do it.  ( I think I need to jump back onto Google and look up how to sound good on radio....or just get out more)

We went through the papers and picked up on a few stories that made the news including rather uncomfortably, an article on debt...(which I seemed to have more of than the other independent women in the room) An article on honesty, and an article on reading in bed to your partner...( again not much to talk about there, not being one of the 7 in 10 who reads in bed.)

The rest of the week has been spent trying to write a solo set for Static Island (me ..as a musician) having become disillusioned with Swerve I am  now actively seeking other projects, labels and producers.  Strangely enough as soon as I had made the concious decision to go for it, I may have got myself an audition with Resist - a "Goth-Rock" band based not too far away and as I mentioned earlier I bumped into Ruth Daniel who I passed on a link of my earlier tracks to.. (still not heard a reply).  It shouldn't be too long though before I get myself a "gig". 

I did spend a rather unproductive morning emailing about 40 schools in the Trafford area asking if they would like me to visit, but have had no response as yet.  I have to admit it gets really frustrating when that happens, as at the start of the year it seemed like the way forward, but it has been over a month since I last performed my work, and I feed of the energy that it produces.  

I suppose in a way - it's a good thing, at least I will have more time to prepare for "celebritydom"


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Media Darlings

On Good Friday ( about two weeks ago now) I was invited onto Shine -T.V. to talk about my book with the girls. Even though it was only for 15 minutes it's still longer than any other tv appearance I have done. The invitation came via our brand new PR manager Michele Hart who managed to achieve in 2 minutes what we have been trying to do since the launch of the book - and that is get more people to realise we exist.

I shared the show with a real hero Alison Halstead who despite having a rare diabetic condition - has not let it get in the way of supporting the Rays of Sunshine Children's Charity and raising over 16 thousand pounds to help other childrens dreams come true.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rays-of-Sunshine-Childrens-Charity/60569121064 .

Before the show I got to meet both her parents and sister, and after Maya and Arisha turned on the charm  in no time at all we were all sat off screen digging in to coffee and biscuits.  The girls and I signed a copy of the HPM and donated it to the charity and I offered to come and visit at some point in the future, which I hope comes true because rumour has it that there is a rather good chip shop.

The show itself was a bit of a blur, and I was looking forward to posting a link - but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a DVD of the show anywhere as the station one was having "tech probs" on the day, so for all you know I could be making this up.

Last week I had an altogether different booking after being invited to be part of a live guest audience to comment on the political debate for the forthcoming elections....blimey talk about being out of my depth, I was told by the producer that there would be a cross section of the public in the room.  But when I got to Dukes bar in Manchester and entered the Brindley Rooms upstairs, I almost wanted to turn around.

As well as Tony Livesy  from Radio 5 live, there were a host of other leading political analysts and commentators from several newspapers to ensure "fairness and then the audience was made up of graduates, professionals etc, and on my table there was a medical pharmacist, a language and speech therapist, a professor of politics..........and me.

It was quite strange because normally you would think that spending at least 6 hours in a room solely focussing on political debate would be enough to put you to sleep....but I manage to concentrate for almost all of it.  And although I had made up my mind to refrain from making any outlandish comments or jumping into an arguement that I would obviously lose, I couldn't help voicing an opinion on the fact that the three leaders did look a bit like they were on Blind Date with their opening statements.  I had come to the conclusion that making a non political statement would hurt sales - afterall a voter is a potential "bookbuyer"

Inbetween the Radio and T.V show came Easter and again I wasn't really able to do anything worthwhile with the HPM...there was a brakedown in communication with the director of Zombelina, which is now resolved and I spat my dummy out at the Swerve Record label owner at his apathy - which is now also resolved. 

Perhaps one of my major achievements is the fact that I have learnt to embed HTML code onto the blog, so for the first time you are able to hear a very rough recording of "Theme Music to the Hairy Plug Monster"... while on our sisterblog http://zombelina.blogspot.com/ you can hear the opening bars of what is going to be a moving soundtrack.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The thing's that dreams are made of......


I have to admit, that following last weeks foray into the world of film and "Zombelina" taking her first tentative steps......I did allow myself to be distracted slightly.

After all its not everyday that one of your stories gets animated. to follow the development of the project, I have set up another blog http://zombelina.blogspot.com/ there is not much there at the moment but there will be some images and regular updates as and when I get them.

Meanwhile back at home, the kids are off again for two weeks, and the weather has taken a turn for the worse, leaving me housebound with the two girls bouncing off the walls looking for something to do. This has made writing almost impossible as each time I get into character, I am interrupted by " Dad - can I have?".

We did manage to get out a couple of times to the woods and go foraging for wild flowers which resulted in building up a generous supply of nettles and Herb Robert for tea drinking ( full of all the nutrients you don't seem to find in today's vegetables. Herb Robert is also known throughout folklore as a medicinal herb and has many properties that you should really look into).

I did manage to start on another story for the "Spooky Story Collection" about a chef in a countryside inn who has a novel way of dealing with unruly travellers.

Miss Carr's Pies

The pies of Miss Carr were the nicest by far,
the filling was rich and so tasty
The mouthwatering smell, that the town knew so well of the short crusted savoury pastry

But who knew the truth, why Miss Carr kept her youth
And could pass off for anyone’s daughter
Using secrets passed down from mother and gran, And the usual flour and cold water.

That's all there is so far, as it has been hard to get any time alone with the computer. Another major distraction has been my keyboard which has been out of its box all week, and has received more than its fair share of TLC.

It should be noted that when I was 12 one of my favourite bands were The Human League, and a recent airing of Synth Britannia followed by a short documentary of the band on BBC 4 rekindled a whole host of emotions as they went through the history of the synth-pop legends.

Thirty years on, they had been reduced to performing as part of an 80's tour before being signed up by Wall of Sound Records to release another album.

What has this got to do with anything?

Well, being a songwriter and a bit of a "keyboard whizz" myself, I convinced myself that I could possibly join up with the band and write some tunes for them.

( a bit like a young lad turning up with his boots at Old Trafford in the hope the SAF might ask him to come on in the second half.)

I then set about trying to track Phil Oakey down by joining various sites on Facebook and My Space and sending out random emails to him, before finally plucking up the courage to contact the record label direct.

Unfortunately the new album has already been written but has not yet been recorded - they did ask me to send some songs in, so you never know.........one of them may get included.

I can but dream

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Zombelina -

I have been keeping a low profile this week, firing off the odd e-mail here and there to bookshops and the like.

Instead, my energies have been thrown towards the development of a new project which has coincided with the collection of "spooky stories" I have been writing.

The project is quite simply " Zombelina", the sad story of a lonely Toymaker who wishes for a companion and makes a life size doll which he then brings to life with the help of a witch and a second hand spirit. Compared to all the other stories that I have written, this one is very dark and bereft of even the slightest bit of humour - so I don't quite know how its going to sit with the other material.

Because there are a lot of things in the pipeline for "Zombelina", which for the moment I am going to keep to myself, I have decided to start a new blog to track the progress of the story right up to Zombie Aid 3 and beyond....

Here are a few verses just to get your interest....

In the light of the moon, she stood tall above him, the smell of old leather and hops filled the air
She watched as a cloud of stale breath exhales gently
Excitement and thrill seemed to grip her intently

His unshaven face and the dirty complexion, contrasts with the snow as he lay on the ground
Her mouth filled with fresh flesh of newly killed meat
As she gorged all alone on the side of the street.

Her heart like a pocket watch, frantically beating – the minutes passed by as she feasted in rage
She’s only halted by footsteps behind her
And voices of drinkers that suddenly find her.

As I said its not really for kids - but it is a damn good story.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Hairy Plug Monster learns Telesales.

Following my brief flirtation over the previous week and at Blackpool - the next two days were spent trying to convince independent booksellers to at least give me their email addresses so I could send them an information fact sheet.

" Hello my name is Leighroy Marsh and I am a children's author based in Stockport, (quick breath - but no pause)..I have just published my first book which has been compared with The Gruffalo and the Cat in the Hat and I wondered whether I could send you a quick email with more details on it"

Thankfully the majority of the booksellers, were fairly receptive to my cheeky approach, although I was surprised to find a few booksellers with a fairly elitist attitude,

" I haven't heard of it, so it cant be that good", ....hmmm

Unfortunately there is nothing more you can say to people like this, especially if they don't want to pass over their email address.

After initially exhausting the first 200 shops on my google search for booksellers in England, I returned to my database of Waterstones booksellers and have started to patiently and alphabetically collate telephone numbers and addresses, and again ring them up.

Having my book in 9 of their stores has helped and with the offer of SOR from Gardners, it should be a bit of a no brainer for the managers.

Time will tell.

Anyway after drawing

Sunday, 14 March 2010


After almost feeling like a real author the previous week, the last 5 days were a bit like " the day after the lord mayors show". I had bookings for Tuesday and Friday, but with not much else in between.

Monday was International Womens Day, and so I decided to take a day off and head out to the countryside with Yulia, before returning home for a rather large tea with the girls. I have realised that, when there are people in the house it is almost impossible to focus on writing - as I am easily distracted. It would be nice to have a shed at the bottom of the garden just like Roald Dahl where I could hide for the day with a flask of tea and a pouch of tobacco, but I suppose I am just going to have to wait.

Lynne had arranged for me to return to Blackpool on Tuesday morning for several readings throughout the day. The first was at Boundary Library where I read to two schools, and received praise from the teachers and kids....( it goes without saying that Golden Arm was unanimously requested for an encore - with The Hairy Plug Monster hardly getting a look in when Lynne held a ballot amongst the pupils). We made our way across town to Bispham Library where we managed to cram another two classes into the children's section and gave another hours performance before taking lunch.

It was fun working with Lynne as I realised that over the course of the two days, we had developed an understanding which meant that the performances had strong continuity and the pauses were not too long. She was also able to advise when my voice became too quiet or was lost amongst the high ceilings.

Following on from a prawn cocktail we then moved across to the newly built, state of the art Devonshire Primary School, which is possibly the "coolest school" I have ever been to. Huge wide corridors, minimalist design, rooftop gardens and playgrounds, hexagonal assembly halls and an inspirational library all made for a memorable visit. We were performing in the "Studio" where they even had a story-telling chair.

At first I said I need to earn the right to sit in it, and needless to say, the kids demanded that I sat in the chair after entertaining them for half an hour- before scaring them senseless. Raaaaaaaaagh!!!!

The day came to a close with a reading at the Revoe Library, where they even had worked on a collage of Hairy Plug Monsters to promote the reading to a small group of older children as part of the after school "Chatterbooks" club.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

World Book Week - My Diary,

What a fantastic week, World Book Week turned out to be..It almost feels that we are there...well almost.

On March 1 I kicked of the tour with a visit to Armitage School in Ardwick Manchester and had a really enjoyable morning reading to the pupils and teachers...it was the same format as before, starting off safe with a reading of the HPM before hitting them right between the eyes with Golden Arm. I have noticed that three stories and questions fills about 30 mins, and it was possible to visit at least 5 classes in the morning...with the elder children being treated to a reading of Commander-in-chief-of the-World. ( Which raised a few eyebrows amongst the teachers). Unfortunately there was also a booking at the school with a drama teacher, so use of the hall was restricted as was reading to the Year 6's...regardless it still went well....I couldn't help smiling as one of the year 4 girls, asked me :

"how famous are you?, cos I've never heard of you"...as I walked into the classroom, and at the end she surprised me by asking for an autograph

March 2nd and I had my first library session for the week in Warrington, where I managed to find the central library with only seconds to spare. In I raced, and immediately set about my repertoire with gusto. Honor Giles (the story teller and Lymm Festival Coordinator) came down to "check out my wears" and to see if "I could walk the walk" with regards to the material being suitable for a festival, and hopefully I made the grade...in all the excitement I forgot which school came to visit - but Chris Everette - The Children's Library Coordinator did manage to get some pictures which I will post as soon as they are forwarded on to me. After another successful reading we moved over to Padgate Library, only to find that they had booked the school in for Thursday instead of Tuesday. C'est la vie..

Chris and I decided to visit the school instead and give an impromptu reading, rather than miss the opportunity altogether - so after gatecrashing a maths lesson, we rounded up 2 year 5 classes and read the HPM and the two Ghost Stories to the unsuspecting pupils. Again they lapped it up and again were left with the shivers.

After the reading I met up with Mum, and we went for some dinner - before meeting up at Orford Library to read again to some Year one classes from a nearby school.....(apologies again because I have forgotten the name). I even brought out Be Careful Ethel, which I had omitted from my "set" because I thought it was a bit tame, but everybody seemed to like it, and the children found it quite amusing.

Wednesday March 3rd was my big trip to the seaside and spend the day with the delightful Lynne Cowat-French, the Children's coordinator for Blackpool Library Services. Our first stop was at Thames Primary School, situated directly behind the pleasure beach and they even had one of the ancient roller-coasters bordering the playground, which must be quite surreal in the summer months.

Thames was originally an old Victorian school, and the acoustics in the hall were superb and added to the suspense. As Lynne was the ex-headteacher for nearby Arnold School, she had organised for them to attend as well, so the small hall looked really packed. Thankfully, they were not disappointed as over the course of the hour, I read the HPM and HPM G2Town, Be Careful Ethel and Golden Arm.

At the end of the reading, Lynne conducted a poll for a repeat performance and the result wasn't really a surprise. The children all wanted Golden Arm again - I was a bit worried that reading it to the children again may not have the same impact, but I was wrong, in fact I was very wrong....even though every one in the room new what was coming, I raised my voice slightly and paused the punchline for about 5 seconds longer......and guess what?

We then went a mile further down the road to Hawes Side Primary School and repeated the performance to another 100 or so children with an encore, and had exactly the same results. I have to admit, I was feeling rather "awesome" knowing that over the week I had perfected a performance formula that enthralls and entertains children for nearly an hour. 4 poems interspersed with the occasional anecdote and an open question and answer session.

I was even treated to lunch with Lynne, before making my way to Our Lady of the Assumption RC School for the afternoon session. Just like before the reading went well although the kids in the hall were taking advantage of the fact that there were no teachers (only supply teachers) and it was left to Lynne to impose a bit of order on the children - saying that though...Golden Arm got their attention with little effort.

It seems all I have to do is say " Who wants to hear a ghost story?"

We did have a walk in session at Palatine Library, scheduled for 3.45 and although I turned up, there was a distinct shortage of children, so in the end I only read to about three children individually before Lynne suggested that we call it a day and go and get a cup of tea.

Thursday 4th March and this time I was at Manley Park in Whalley Range Manchester, for World Book Day, I had been looking forward to this as the booking was made in January and after getting the girls ready in their fancy dress costumes, (Arisha as "Miranda" complete with a home made dress she had designed totally out of socks, while Maya had snakes made out of material weaved in her hair to look like Medusa). I had overlooked the fact that I hadn't got a costume.

This became more obvious, when I arrived at Manley Park and saw that everyone, even the teachers had dressed up - leaving me to think fast on my feet and tell them that I had come as "Charlie Bucket"

The readings at the school had been scheduled for 20 minute slots and I was ushered through about 6 classes in the morning and 2 performances in the neighbouring upper junior school before at least 200 pupils (some of which were bigger than I was).

I knew straight away when the older kids came in that reading "The HPM" and other material wasn't going to cut it so I relied more heavily on The Commander-in-Chief of the World and Golden Arm to bail me out.

It was also strange to note that one of my usual answers I give to people when they ask about why I became a writer got possibly more interest than questions about the stories themselves.

When they ask "Why do all your stories rhyme?" I tell them about spending 25 years as a songwriter and writing over 200 songs - which are all "rubbish" ( this isn't true of course - because a lot of my songs are pretty damn good - but I will save that for another blog) and I tell then that I decided to cheer up and write songs for children, which then turned into stories in a rhythmical form.

Anyway the children at Manley Park were very much interested in my career as a wannabe "pop star" ,

Friday 5th March, after one week of solid readings all over the North West, my final appearance was in the charming village of Tottington just on the outskirts of Bury, where Alison Davies was my companion for the day - joined briefly with Alison Bond in the morning. I started off reading to Tottington Nursery and found that two stories is more than enough for pre-schoolers before being treated to a brilliant rendition of " Baby Sharks" by Alison Bond.

Mid Morning we were joined by year 4's from the nearby Tottington Primary School and without wishing to repeat myself - it was a resounding success....during the telling of Golden Arm I even made on of the kids jump so much that he literally fell over. Proof in anyone's eyes that the story is definitely destined for bigger things..

We then paid a visit to Tottington Primary in the afternoon and gave reading to another 5 classes starting from the nursery - reception and on to years 1, 2 and three.

my efforts were rewarded with the Head asking me to sign 71 books before I left. Amusingly I sat in the staffroom repeating the mantra;

"I must not write popular children's books if I want to go home early on a Friday".

Finally to round off a very busy week in anyone's eyes, I headed off to Waterstones in Bury to give a reading, only to find that there wasn't any children - so after an hour of reading "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" to myself in the corner, and selling a few books to the store owner Rachel, I finally got to go home and pour myself a well earned glass of wine.