Dangan, That Dress and a Diamond Duck
I am seeking to raise funds to independently publish the first book of a series of childrens' books, that have a cricket theme.
The stories, aimed at girls aged 9-12, are told through the eyes of thirteen year old Olivia - an enthusiastic cricket player.
The first book - 'Dangan, That Dress and a Diamond Duck', introduces Liv as she and her family relocate from London to Nottingham to look after her dangan (grandad), who has been diagnosed with dementia. Her first goal is to find a cricket club to join. She is astonished to discover that the club she chooses has no other female members. Liv works hard to be accepted and prove that she is just as good as her team mates. Whilst all this is happening she also has to cope with the everyday trials and tribulations of adolescence : emotional and physical changes, an annoying brother, a bridezilla sister and boys.
The book(s) aims to be a funny and entertaining read centred on family and friends with the added element of a passion for cricket. It also shows the inclusivity of the sport, the opportunities for progression and the ethos of cricket, (community, integrity, respect, team spirit and competativeness), all important in life as well as sport.
I hope that the book(s) will inspire readers to get involved in the sport, or give those who already play, a story that they can identify with.
What your donations will enable.
From quotes that I have received, donations will be used for the following.
- Pre production costs (isbn number, typesetting and more).
- Cover illustration and design.
- An initial print run of 2000 books.
- Trade and media marketing.
- Sales representation.
The following is the first three chapters of the book.
Dangan, That Dress and a Diamond Duck
I have been a teenager for almost four months.
I don’t feel any different now that I am thirteen. Nothing teenagerish, (Is that a word? Probably not), has happened to me yet. I haven’t started my period yet. I still don’t need to wear a bra, (unfortunately), and I haven’t woken up with a face full of spots, (luckily). My best friend Tammy started her period two years ago, and she wears a bra that is bigger than my Mums.
Most of the time, I am mistaken for my brother Josh. We aren’t even twins. He is a year older than me, but he wants to be a rock star so he has grown his hair. Now it is the same length as mine. Even Mum and Dad get us mixed up sometimes.
Tammy would never be mistaken for a boy. I’m not jealous. That’s just the way it is. Tammy is my best friend, (she has been since she and her family moved in next door twelve years ago). We went to the same nursery, same infant and junior school and eventually the same secondary school. We played cricket at the same club. We even had joint birthday parties because Tammy decided that it wasn’t fair that I never got to have a party because my birthday was on Christmas Eve.
I don’t care if we moved hundreds of miles away last month – Tammy is still my best friend. We still see each other everyday (on our phones) and tell each other everything. Like the other day, Tammy said that Mario tried to kiss her at Katie’s party last Friday, but she pushed him away. Apparently, he smelt like cheese and onion crisps. She saw him kissing Brittany half an hour later. Brittany must not mind cheese and onion.
That was the first party I have missed since we moved. It won’t be the last.
I was so angry and sad when Mum and Dad told us we had to move to Nottingham.
I stomped around the house for weeks and burst into tears whenever anyone mentioned the move.
Josh told me to stop acting like a baby, but I saw that he had red eyes on more than one occasion.
Dad bought me a new cricket helmet to “cheer me up”. Mum told me that he doesn’t know how to talk to teenage girls. He is fine talking in front of two hundred people at a conference, but apparently my (much) older sister, Pippa, was a ’handful’ (Mum’s words, not mine) at my age, so Dad has been dreading me becoming a teenager.
Mum just hugged me when I got upset. She told me why we were moving. My Grandad has dementia. She gave me a booklet explaining what dementia was and what would happen to Grandad now.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia. Grandad and Grandma are going to move in with us, once the extension to our new house is built. Mum is not going to work, so that she has more time to look after us all.
Honestly, since we moved I have visited Grandma and Grandad lots. I haven’t noticed any differences that the booklet talked about. Grandad always remembers who I am. He tells the same old jokes (and they are still not very funny). He still puts on his jazz records (really loud), and sings along, pulling Grandma out of her chair to dance with him. If her knees are bad though, she asks me to dance with him. I’m not very good. I step on his toes, a lot. He doesn’t seem to mind though.
After our last visit, a few days ago, I told Mum that Grandad seemed fine, the same as he had always been. Mum smiled, but her eyes were sad. Then she warned me that at the moment Grandad has more good days than bad days but eventually he will get worse and only have bad days. Hopefully it will be ages before that happens.
So, three weeks ago we moved from London, hundreds of miles north to a small village on the outskirts of Nottingham.
Our new house is huge, much bigger than our old house, even though Dad said that the extension was being built with ‘some’ of the money left over from selling our small house in London.
I started at my new school last week. It is much smaller than my old school. There are only twenty two people in my form, fourteen boys and eight girls, and we are the only Year Nine class in the school. My old school had four Year Nine classes and over thirty people in each class.
My form tutor is nice. Her name is Mrs Henderson. She asked a girl called Paige to buddy up with me and help me find my way around school for the first week.
Paige is really quiet. I don’t know much about her yet except that she doesn’t really like any sport. She prefers to read a book or practise playing the guitar which, she has told me, she is teaching herself to play.
I don’t think we will end up being best friends, not like Tammy and me. Paige doesn’t play cricket, for one thing. Apparently, no girls in our form play cricket.
The first thing I did when we moved here was get my Mum to phone up the cricket clubs in the area to find one for me, (and my brother), to join. Josh plays cricket too. I’m better. He will never admit it, but it’s a fact. I played in lots of his matches last year, even though I was a year younger than the rest of the team.
We chose Chantry Mill cricket club. It was the club nearest to home and Dad told me that Grandad played there when he was younger.
That’s where I am now, standing just inside the doors of the clubhouse.
The sun is hot on my back, making my skin prickle under my school shirt.
And we are late.
Mum had to come straight from Grandad’s doctors appointment. Josh and I waited outside school for almost an hour. Then Josh made my Mum stop at a drive-thru for a burger. Apparently, he was starving. I just had a milkshake, mmm. Chocolate of course.
Luckily, Mum put our kit bags in the car this morning as we didn’t have time to go home for them.
I take a few steps into the clubhouse, to escape the sun. I am not sure what to do. I can hear noise – talking and laughter coming from doors to the left and right of me, along with the smell of armpits and sweaty socks.
A tall man, with a ginger beard, appears from a door on the opposite side of the room. He looks at the large bag in my hand, then approaches, smiling widely.
“Aah, you must be Olivia, your mother rang, yes?”
I glance over my shoulder, willing Mum to appear. She had gotten a phone call as we were getting out of the car, and told us to go ahead.
“Your brother is here too?” He continues.
Josh is outside talking to some boys that he recognised from school. We have only been there a week but he seems to know everybody already.
The bearded mans forehead creases.
“Err, slight problem,” he chuckles uncomfortably. “The boys that you are training with are in there,” he points to the door on the right, where the most noise is escaping from. “And, this week, the Senior A team are using that room.” He points to the door on the left. “Extra training for a cup match,” he explains.
He twists his beard between his fingers.
“Are you alright getting changed through there,” he asks, sounding hopeful.
I look past him and follow the line of his pointing finger. My eyes find a dark blue door with a gold plaque.
My heart sinks.
Written on the plaque is one word – ‘TOILETS’.
“Sorry,” he adds.
“It’s fine,” I hear Mum say.
I feel her hand on my back, gently nudging me forward.
“Go on Olivia.” She has used my full name and put on her posh voice.
I pull my bag, past the man, to the door. It squeaks loudly as I push it open. Honestly, I am not expecting much.
The door opens into a corridor. I pass the men’s toilet. When I reach the ladies toilet, I notice a disabled toilet further ahead. I carry on to it – more roomy, normally.
Inside, I open my bag and take out my ‘whites’.
I don’t know why cricket trousers and tops are called ‘whites’. They are actually cream. Mine are cream and green. Green with grass stains that refuse to budge.
Because of moving house we have not had time to go shopping. As I haven’t grown since last season, Mum said that my old whites will do for now, (unless I want a pair of my brothers old ones. No thank you!).
I don’t really care about what I am wearing though, especially when I spot my brand new bat peeking out from under my pads, (cricket pads that protect my legs from the ball when I am batting I mean, not sanitary pads. Though I do keep a few of them in a pocket in my bag, just in case).
My bat was a birthday present. It was all I wanted, so I got a really good one.
I haven’t had time to try it out properly yet. I knocked it in when I got it. I sat hitting the face and edges of the bat repeatedly with an old cricket ball, to prevent any damage when I finally get to use it. It is really boring to do, but I watched a film while I was doing it, so it wasn’t too bad.
I’ve used the bat in our old garden, just to get the feel of it, but Mum wouldn’t let me use a hardball. She was worried that I might break the neighbours windows, or our own.
That shouldn’t be a problem now. Our new house has a much bigger garden and our nearest neighbours are a ten minute walk away. I can practise all I want.
Now I am ready.
I zip up my bag and drag it out of the toilet, and down the corridor.
I feel a fluttering in my stomach. I am not sure whether it is excitement or nerves. Maybe, a bit of both.
I’m not shy, usually the opposite with people I know, but I am at a new cricket club, in a new area. Everyone else knows each other AND I haven’t even seen another girl yet.
I hear the noise from the other side of the door before I reach it.
I push the door slowly, hoping to get through it unnoticed. Not very likely.
The squeaking door seems to have got worse in the last ten minutes. It sounds like a scream from a horror film.
The mass of people, now taking up most of the space in the room, all turn their heads at the same time.
I feel the redness flood into my cheeks and stare at the floor as I cross the room, trying not to catch peoples legs with my kitbag.
Out of the doors, from the balcony, I spot Mum sitting at a picnic table next to the boundary. As is tradition, she has a slushy romance novel and a flask of coffee in front of her.
My bag bangs down the steps as I head over. I sit down opposite her. She is tapping on her phone.
“Give me a sec,” she stops me before I can say anything. “Your sister,” she adds.
That is explanation enough.
My sister Pippa, who is much older than me, is getting married in a few months, and there is a different crisis everyday. Well, that’s what it seems like anyway.
It’s been even worse since we moved. Pippa went to Nottingham University. That’s where she met Jason, her fiancé. When they graduated they both became teachers and found jobs in Nottingham. Luckily, neither of them teach in the school I go to. That would be awful.
It does mean that she now lives close enough to turn up at the house at any time, and I have to hear about every impending disaster regarding the wedding.
“Everything alright?” Mum asks me, putting her phone down.
“Yes fine. What is the matter with Pip?” I ask.
“Your sister has now decided that one wedding cake is not enough. She needs two.” She sighs.
“Who has two cakes at there wedding? The chocolate cake is enough, surely.” I say.
My mouth waters at the thought of it (it has four tiers, Four!). It is the only part of the wedding that I have any interest in. I helped Pippa pick the cake. I was the one who encouraged her to have the extra tier. Not at all because there could be more left over, honestly.
Chocolate is my most favourite thing in the world – well probably second favourite. Cricket just beats it to top spot. Though, if I have a bad game, chocolate definitely steals the top spot, for a short time anyway.
“Quite a few of the guests are vegan apparently.” Mum sighs again.
I pull a face, wondering how nice a vegan cake would actually be. No eggs, no butter, no cream. No taste?
“Liv,” my brothers gruff voice calls above the noise that has spilled out of the clubhouse.
Josh’s voice is at that point where you never know whether he is going to growl or squeak when he speaks. It is hilarious, though he does not think so.
“Come on.” He points across the ground.
I look and see a herd of boys, with kitbags, walking across the pitch to the cricket training nets in the furthermost corner of the ground.
“Have fun,” Mum says, opening her book.
I get up, grab my kitbag and follow him. Josh ignores me and talks animatedly to a tall boy, with floppy hair, about a video game.
I reach the practice nets and drop my kitbag next to a mass of others already scattered on the grass.
I join the group of boys, standing at the back, out of the way. There are three men, well two men and a boy, who doesn’t look much older than Josh, facing us.
The man with the ginger beard, who spoke to me in the clubhouse, clears his throat loudly. The crowd quietens.
“Welcome back to our first outdoor training session of the year. It looks like the sun got the memo.” He laughs. “It is great to see so many familiar faces, but we also have some new comers, so I will introduce us.”
He pauses to take a breath.
“My name is Geoff. I coach the Under Fifteens. We are short of players at this age though, so even if you are younger, I may steal you for our games.” He smiles and points to his right, to a tall, wide boy with a shaven head.
“This is Liam. He is the Under Fourteens coach and Captain of our Senior B team.”
Liam grins at us, revealing a gap between his front teeth.
Geoff turns to his left.
“And last but not least, this is Bill. Under Thirteens coach, Senior B team wicketkeeper, club treasurer, chief fundraiser and event planner. In fact he just about lives here. I think his wife has forgotten what he looks like. I’m not sure if that is actually a bad thing.”
There is a ripple of laughter, the loudest coming from the short, bald man with a large belly that Geoff has just told us, is Bill.
“So,” Geoff continues over the laughter, “can any first timers come to the front so I can introduce you to everyone. Don’t worry,” he reassures, “no one bites.” He pauses. “Well only Joey and that was only once.”
I see my brother and two boys moving through the crowd. I weave my way to the front, my stomach doing somersaults. Geoff smiles reassuringly as we line up in front of him. He begins with the boy at the other end of the line. I suddenly realise that he is a boy from my form.
“This is Freddie. His dad has joined our Senior side this year, so Freddie has decided to have a go too. You’ve played hardball before though?” he asks Freddie.
“At school,” he tells Geoff.
“Freddie will be in the Under Fourteens.”
Geoff moves to the next boy, who is nearly as tall as he is.
“This is Samit. Some of you may recognise him from last year. Samit has moved from Threeacres Cricket Club. He will be in the Under Fifteens.”
There is a loud groan from the crowd at the mention of the clubs nearest rival. When I was looking for a club to join Threeacres was my other choice. It seems to win everything at every age, but this club was nearer and my Grandad played here.
“We won’t hold that against Samit though, will we.”
It is a statement, not a question.
“I seem to remember that he bowled some beauties last season and got a good few of you out.” He continues. “I think that we would rather have him on our team than against us, don’t you agree?”
The crowd of boys all murmur in agreement.
My nervousness is increasing. I am about to be introduced and I can see, for sure now, that I am literally the only girl here.
“Finally,” Geoff says. “We have Olivia and Joshua. They are brother and sister, who moved to the area last month. Joshua is also with me. Olivia will be with the Under Fourteens.”
I stare at my feet, self consciously. Out of the corner of my eye I see Josh holding up his hand as a greeting, grinning at the crowd.
“Well I am sure that you have heard enough from me already.” Geoff says. “Lets get on. Left to right, Under Thirteens, Under Fourteens, then Under Fifteens. Line up in the net that you need to be in.”
There is an escalation of noise as everyone starts to move to where they are meant to be. I join the group of boys in the middle net.
Liam walks over to us.
“Lads, quiet down,” he shouts above the noise.
There is an instant hush.
“Right, Harry go and get your pads on, quickly.”
Harry runs towards the kitbags.
“Adi, go to the front of the line. You can have a few bowls then pad up ready to go next.” He turns to the group. “The rest of you, line up behind Adi and that’s the order that you will bat in.”
As I watch the boys jostle for position, I realise that Adi is in my form at school too, I slink to the back of the line. In front of me is a boy with a mass of curly ginger hair playing on a hand held games console. He either doesn’t notice me or he chooses to ignore me.
Suddenly a loud, agitated voice booms across the crowd.
I look around to see Geoff, his smile replaced by a glare, staring at the boy in front of me.
“Put that stupid thing away. Now!”
The boy lifts his head. I realise that underneath the hair and all the freckles, the boy is a mirror image of Geoff.
Zack doesn’t reply. He notices me staring at him and his cheeks go bright red. He storms away.
He returns to the line, his hands stuffed in his pockets, a scowl on his face.
I step back, offering him his place back in the line. He shakes his head, not making eye contact and moves behind me.
The boy in front of me turns and grins. He leans in towards me.
“Don’t expect him to talk to you,” he whispers. “Zack doesn’t want to be here. I don’t think that he even likes cricket. His Dad makes him play, says that he spends too much time playing video games.”
“Mm,” I reply, feeling uncomfortable that the boy in front of me is talking about the boy behind me in a very obvious way. Its rude. My concern grows when I hear a voice behind me.
“Shut up Joey. Mind your own business.” Zack growls.
“I was just being friendly to a new club member,” Joey replies. “Maybe you should try it sometime. No wonder you’ve got no friends,” he sniggers.
I wince at Joey’s meanness and decide that even if he is the only person at the club to speak to me, I will avoid him in the future.
“So, Olivia is it, or do you prefer Liv?” He asks, ignoring Zack and turning his attention to me. “Are you a bowler or a batter?”
He continues speaking without waiting for a reply to either question.
“I’m an all rounder.” He tries to puff his skinny chest out self importantly. “Top wicket taker for the Under Thirteens last season. We could have won the League and the Cup if the other batters had been better.”
He says the last sentence loudly, making sure that all the boys in the line hear him.
“Shut up Joey.” I hear a few of the boys say.
Joey leans in to me, his voice a whisper again.
“If the club didn’t have a stupid fair play policy, where everyone gets to play matches no matter what their skill level, we would have easily won stuff. Some of the team are rubbish.”
Now I know that I really don’t like Joey. I have a feeling that not many other people here do either.
I look past him, smiling politely, not wanting to get involved in the discussion. Luckily, the line is beginning to move as the boys in front start to bowl at the batsman, Harry, who is now padded up and taking his guard at the far end of the net.
Joey steps slightly out of the line to watch. He tugs on my arm, pulling me with him.
“That’s Harry,” he points to the boy in the nets. “He was top batsman last season, even played a few County games. I would have played in them too, but I was away at the start of the season so my name wasn’t put forward for it.”
The ball whizzes past us at shin height and hits the fencing behind us.
Joey runs to pick it up. I see it flying past my head into the hand of the boy at the front of the line.
The line moves forward and people re-join behind me as more balls are bowled. Harry consistently drives the ball low and straight, causing us to scatter at regular intervals rather than stopping the ball with our shins and ankles. That is not advisable. It is very painful.
I’m near the front soon enough. The boy in front of Joey, Freddie, bowls. It goes very wide. Harry reaches with the bat, but doesn’t get to it.
“Don’t stretch for them,” Liam calls to him. “If it is wide, just leave it ok.”
Harry nods, then picks up the ball awkwardly with his gloves on and throws it back.
Freddie has already gone to the back of the line leaving Joey, now at the front, to catch the returned ball.
Joey turns to face the line and motions with his hands for all of us to move back.
“I like a long run up,” he tells me, with a lazy, confident grin.
Once we are back far enough, Joey turns to face Harry. He starts his run, getting quicker with each stride. His arm comes up behind him and over his head. The ball fizzes straight to Harry. There is a loud crack as Harry skilfully blocks the ball.
“Nice ball Joey, nice block Harry.” Liam says.
Harry pushes the ball back down the net with his bat. Joey picks it up and tosses it to me.
“Let’s see what you can do then,” he says, louder than he needed to, gaining the attention of some of the boys in the line.
I realise that he is trying to embarrass me. He is hoping that I am rubbish and everyone will see. I hold the ball, my stomach churning. I can feel people watching.
I take a deep breath and start my run up.