Welcome to Whittiford - County of Mirth.
In this collection of short stories, Chris Perera takes us on a humorous excursion around the fictional county of Whittifordshire. Populated with mild eccentrics, seemingly mundane situations soon turn into riotously funny farce as an East End thug tries to identify indigenous flora in the dead of night, patrons of an elderly care home war over whether Celebration Day is anything to celebrate, a trendy Gay couple bicker furiously along small country lanes and a teacher leaves her class at the mercy of a presumptuous old grand dame. With an eye for the surreal in the most unlikely of places, Perera creates a believably topsy-turvy county with occasional serious twists that dangle tantalisingly at the periphery of your memory; so much so that you will swear you have visited Whittiford at some point in your life. If you enjoy the pithy humour of Saki, or the wry human observations of David Sedaris, there’s every chance you’ll enjoy this rustic ride around an obscure little English county.
Whittiford is tucked away somewhere in the Midlands. You may even have visited it once, or somewhere very like it, when you were little. There are lots of fields. There are lots of trees. There is livestock in the fields. And leaves upon the trees (unless it’s winter or the trees are coniferous). Whittiford itself is small enough to be a town and the towns are mostly small enough to be villages. Maybe you grew up somewhere like it? In this collection of thirteen humorous short stories, you will read tales that may remind you of people you have known. Or heard family and friends discussing. Stories of eccentric behaviour that get resurrected around the dinner table during those dreaded family reunions. If you stayed in Whittiford for any length of time, it is just possible that you spotted a wild-looking tramp predicting the end of the world. The world didn’t end, of course. Or it hadn’t the last time you looked. Fortunately, this inconvenient truth did nothing to hinder the tramp’s enthusiasm for prediction. When The End inconveniently failed to materialise, the tramp merely predicted it again. And again. And, well, you get the idea. A simple solution and definitely not cheating because maybe, one day, his prediction will come true after all? Perhaps, when you were at University, somebody told you about a gipsy girl who came from Whittiford? You would definitely remember her if they had because there will still be a photograph of her up in the reception area standing next to a Neanderthal in an ill-fitting suit. She was the one who embarked upon a highly unusual game of bingo in a bid to get her dad to allow her to apply for a place on the course. Not everybody, however, tries to abandon Whittiford in order to seek out the bright lights of the big city. Sometimes, the reverse can happen. Where else, for instance, could an East End thug experience the great outdoors? Where else could he enjoy the simple rustic pleasure of wandering through a forest? Where other than Peogh Woods? Lost, alone and at night. For those born to the soil, the thought of the great outdoors may not be enough to tempt them outside if it can be avoided. When an ageing farmer from Much Porley joins the Cyber Age, one of the first things he does is attempt to round up his sheep - from the comfort of his large double bed. Despite its largely rural environment, Whittiford can occasionally boast rare and exotic temptations. Unfortunately, temptation can be irresistible for all the wrong reasons, particularly when two schoolboys playing truant for the first time, tangle with rival gangs of birdwatchers in search of a rare visitor.
With a cast of eccentric characters and a host of peculiar situations, you’ll laugh your way through this collection of short stories: all set in an obscure little English county that you may, or may not, have once visited.