For a relatively shy person, I am finding this crowd-funding malarkey all a bit of a trial, but one thing I realise I just can't stop doing is thinking about, writing about and talking about this project, The Underwater Bike and Other Stories, which is proving so much fun to do, delving through my stepfather's notebooks, learning of inventions and ideas I never knew he had and revisiting memories I had almost forgotten about. What about the day, for example, that three policemen and a large dog turned up in our garden to test some training gear:
Or the day that Midlands Today came to film Douglas with his new animal handler pretending to catch Bertie, our fat labrador, in his dog boots:
Or the day we tested the underwater bike in Ludlow swimming pool?
One of the things that strikes me is how much Shropshire was a part of the story of Douglas and his inventions. Douglas chose to live in or near Ludlow for the last 30 years of his life, probably the longest he lived anywhere, and something of the beauty of the place, and the freedom that comes from living somewhere with space to think will have affected his ideas and designs as well as his ability to produce the things he did. Douglas particularly adored birds, and regularly stopped to watch kingfishers from his workshop window in an old converted mill, as well as topping up the bird feeders in our garden and watching with delight as we attracted nuthatches, owls, woodpeckers and more to our garden. He was so charmed with the gaggle of rooks in neighbouring trees that he created his own rook character Frank, who was going to be in a series of children's books that he started writing. Here's Douglas's drawing of Frank:
I think it looks a bit like Douglas...
Anyway, the point of this is that clearly I love this project, and I can get over my personal shyness when I start talking about this clever man and his wonderful ideas, and if anyone wants to hear me in full flow, I will be on Radio Shropshire tomorrow morning (Thursday 26 January) at 10.10am, talking about The Underwater Bike and Other Stories with the lovely Jim Hawkins. Tune in if you can!
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