S J Norbury
S J Norbury lives in Herefordshire.
Her debut novel Mrs Narwhal's Diary was published in May 2021.
S J's favourite novels are The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald and Let's Kill Uncle by Rohan O'Grady. Her top poet is Louis MacNeice.
Photo: Liz Gillham
Mrs Narwhal's Diary
Published on 16 May 2021.
Paperback copies, signed when available, are on my website bookshop.
Please enjoy the opening lines of Mrs Narwhal's Diary...
Despite the reassurances Ian gave me last week about the Tree House, the minute we were all up there today I was quite certain none of us would make it back down again. Not alive anyway. I barely heard a word of Hugh’s speech as my ears were far too busy listening out for cracking timbers, falling family members, and other signs of imminent disaster. Rose had somehow managed to get up the ladder in the most unbelievably high heels, spiking away at all that rotten wood, though at least she doesn’t weigh much. The piper meanwhile looked to be very much the wrong side of seventeen stone, and therefore by far the most likely of us to plummet through the floor to certain death. I put him right at the front under the gable, ostensibly for dramatic effect (“The Mist Covered Mountains of Home” echoing movingly across Grandpa Hugh’s patch of green and pleasant land, etc, etc), but in reality because that’s where Ian told me to put the fattest person. Did feel guilty mentally weighing everyone as we made our way up there as it seemed so judgemental, and I was supposed to be thinking about Grandpa. Billy at least looked appropriately sombre, hands clasped, eyes down, but Pete kept fiddling with the bell rope, as I bribed him yesterday with the promise of doing the actual Ringing, while Rose was motionless and inscrutable behind her black glasses; she could just as easily have been asleep as overcome by emotion at this year’s memorial to her father.
It’s not exactly a well-known means of honouring a dead relative, is it, really? Not exactly laying flowers on a grave, raising a toast, observing a minute’s silence. But that’s the Narwhals for you. Why do something simple and low key when there’s a perfectly good, mad, and over-elaborate alternative?