The idea for my next book in the kids’ series of rhyming tales, The Beggar And The Gourmet Rat, came via two headline stories in my local newspaper during late 2017. The first story was a warning, from the police, not to give money to the increasing numbers of beggars in the town centre. This was becoming a growing problem and it had been discovered that not all of those claiming to be homeless were being honest. Sympathisers were being advised to offer sandwiches and hot drinks instead and donate money via local charities who administer to the homeless.
The second story contained an oblique warning aimed at council tax payers which alluded to austerity measures and possible cuts in services. Dustbin collections every three weeks, instead of two, was one possibility being considered. Naturally, to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, reading this announcement was like waving a red rag to a bull. The growing rat population, which had vastly increased since collections changed from every week to every fortnight, could soon outstrip the number of residents in certain areas.
I have absolutely nothing against street beggars, any poor soul can find themselves in a dire situation. Nor do I have anything against the common brown rat, they are intelligent and resourceful creatures who are just carrying out what nature intended — remaining out of sight whilst cleaning up discarded and rotting foodstuffs. So having gleaned a good idea from the above headlines, I couldn’t resist giving each character a taste of the limelight, where a solid friendship develops between rat and beggar. And, an intriguing alliance which proves to be very beneficial to them both.