Yesterday, a family friend inquired about the creative process I follow while structuring fictional characters within narratives. They also enquired what time Binks’ butchers on Bradford Road shut on a Friday. I was able to answer the first question but, as I’m not a chuffing opening time directory, I told them they’d have to research the latter online….. I also pointed out the day was Sunday not Friday.
One of the most enjoyable elements of penning whimsical fiction is building and evolving characters to the juncture where they augment the plot line. That being said, it’s fair to say finding a name which isn’t too silly and building robust personality and behaviour traits occasionally brings with it challenges and self doubt.
For instance, this week I constructed an eponymous character for a literary offering titled Hilda Chinwag. However, due to my misgivings and hesitancy regarding its creative worthiness, it’s currently filed under the ‘Maybe’ tray within yours truly’s muddled neurological corridors.
Although, with this personification bearing potential to be moulded into a rounded jocular part, GJ Strachan’s loathed to completely discount ever utilising Hilda Chinwag’s character within future prose.
Anyhow, below in bold, I forward a summary of the elderly lady’s psyche in it’s current iteration:-
Name – Hilda Chinwag
Main behavioural trait– A pernicious gossip who resides in the fictional village of Ainsley Scragg.
Uninvited, Hilda Chinwag often surreptitiously enters follower villagers houses to check the contents of their fridge, generally when they are watching TV. Information she later clandestinely cascades to villagers when gossiping over manicured hedges and amid the aisles of her local store.
The first victims of Hilda’s nosiness becoming aware of their privacies theft at The Clarion pub. The game given away when half-witted barman Eric Merrick proffered to customers “I see you’ve let the coleslaw go out of date again, Archie!”; along with “I didn’t realise you still consumed full fat butter, Marge!”
Footnote – To clarify, Marge was the customer name, not the spreadable alternative to butter…… Forgive my inadvertent pun…… As you were!
Failing to get a role as a MI6 agent in her younger years due to being over-qualified, a bitter Hilda became a self-appointed people’s champion. Making it her duty to ensure karma is swiftly administered to perpetrators of any village misdemeanours.
Admonishments dished out for ‘evil’ crimes such as allowing buddleia shrubs to grow unkempt, excessively loud playing of The Archer radio show, along with utilising the word footage without due care and attention.
All ‘felons’ receiving hasty unyielding retribution. Uncompromising justice which includes her tutting disapprovingly when passing guilty parties on Ainsley Scragg’s narrow lanes….. Along with spitefully deceiving villagers with unkempt hedges which colour bins were due to be emptied during that particular weeks refuse collection.
A darling of the Ainsley Scragg Women’s Institute (ASWI), she often give talks (none under 5 hours) surrounding the history of the village. These anecdotes engrained with local folklore, such as the day Frank the farmer’s tractor wouldn’t go into reverse gear; resulting in his driving forward 400 miles to Penzance.
A further yarn relating to the only functioning gear on Frank’s tractor being reverse, meaning a journey driving backwards 400 miles from Penzance, also popular with the jam making hordes of the ASWI.
In 1975, Hilda was briefly married to a orchid plant. A union which didn’t last long after the orchid, like Archie’s coleslaw use-by date, expired due to wanton carelessness……. The death blamed on the nosey termagant’s pastime of investigating villagers fridge contents at the expense of an adequate orchid watering regime.
An advocate of the adage “If you can’t say something horrible about a person, then don’t say anything at all!”, the village gossip’s curriculum vitae proudly boasts:-
Breaking up four marriages; …… Publicly shaming ten people for their horticultural procrastination;…… Haranging scores of people into consuming coleslaw in a timelier fashion;…… Disclosing news of Bernadette’s boob reconstruction to her fellow ASWI busy bodies;…… And never being within four foot of a naked male appendage since a sherry-fuelled dalliance with Benedict Grabbag at the 1953 village ceilidh.
I’d like to think the character of Hilda Chinwag is one I could nurture over time……. Oh Bollocks, I best conclude this now, I’ve just realised the coleslaw in my fridge is two days past it’s ‘use-by’ date!!
Relax Gary, you don’t live in Ainsley Scragg, they’ll be no repercussions from Ms Chinwag for your side dish eating tardiness!!…… And breath.