On Conception, Characterization and Consistency

Since this story took around twenty years to develop from a vague idea to a complete work of fiction, it's hardly surprising to find things that don't quite add up. 

When I started on the story, for example, no one had heard of the internet. 

If they existed, mobile phones were regarded as yuppie toys rather than the almost ubiquitous items they are today.

Various parts of this story were written at different times over twenty years. 

It should not be surprising to find the odd inconsistency in the text. 

A nit-picker might, for example, take issue with the sires of a specific string of racehorses. 

Still, those were moderately successful sires when that part was being composed, so there they are.

The story itself owes its origins to a series of conversations in the corner bar at the Grandview. 

Anyone familiar with my social circle at the time may be able to identify several characters in the story. 

Obviously, Gordon Jeffrey equates pretty well to the late John Lester. David Herston shares interests and character traits with the author.

There are reasonably obvious real-life equivalents for Hopalong Cassidy, Sandy McNab, His Lordship and The Duchess, Dagwood and Blondie and various other characters scattered through the narrative. 

How those characters are portrayed reflects an entirely fictional plotline's needs. 

Conversations about winning the Lotto were commonplace in that particular environment. 

The means through which it happens in the plotline was one that I floated as a possibility at the time. 

Lack of computer programming skills stopped that concept in its tracks. Still, the idea was there and started me wondering what would happen if such a mechanism had paid off.

Those thoughts led to a scenario that owes a great deal to the Blandings novels of P.G. Wodehouse. 

Additional alcoholic elements come from a series of paperbacks titles MASH Goes To (Insert Exotic Location Here) which found their way into my library during the seventies. 

Having worked out a basic premise, fleshing things out by turning to familiar figures would probably come as no great surprise. 

In most cases, the roles they play are incidental to the unfolding narrative. 

However, I should note some significant departures from anything resembling reality.

Given the two blokes with a pile of money scenario, it's easy to develop two or more parties interested in getting a share of it. 

In this case, it's a mother and daughter looking at a double wedding. 

In a future instalment, it could be a pair of lesbians intending to take over The Crossroads and establish a wymmins cooperative. 

They would look to expropriate a large part of the Jeffrey/Herston fortune to fund the enterprise.

Some of the characters who turn up along the way were inserted to see what happens. 

The crew from the tug boat, for example, get far more coverage than they need. However, the crew were part of a couple of intrigues I'd pencilled in. 

At one point I thought that Jeffrey might avoid the wrath of a vengeful Olga by escaping to sea as an unofficial passenger on a tug. 

They also provide an excuse for Jeffrey to overhear certain confidences.

Sascha and The Butch, the duo that plays in the Palace Beer Garden, have real-life models. 

To the best of my knowledge, those models have never actually performed together. 

A possible Herston-Sascha-Boris The Backdooring Bastard tussle for Bernelle's affections was shelved so Boris could host a sea-borne party (because someone needed to).

Boris the Backdooring Bastard was initially meant to add a degree of three-way intrigue to the musical beds' side of things.

The inspiration for the original version was a character from the MASH Goes To books. 

A Russian opera singer named Boris Alexandrovitch Korsky-Rimsakov, a backdooring bastard of the first, second, and possibly third water. 

I envisaged an imposing bearded figure with a rich baritone and an unctuous manner that would almost cause women's underwear to slide themselves down.

I was more than slightly bemused when an acquaintance claimed the character was based on him. 

He did not appear to have any difficulty with that, so the character changed slightly to fit that supposition. 

Of course, he may have changed his mind over the intervening period. If that is the case, those details will simply disappear, and he'll be replaced by someone entirely different.

Readers may well have suspicions about Olga and Bernelle's identities. I can categorically state that there aren't any, at least not in a mother and daughter combination. 

You could find the prototype for Bernelle in a couple of blonde students in Hughesy's classes over the years. 

Anyone looking for an actual model should start with a Jean Kittson character from the mid-eighties' The Big Gig.  

Candida has morphed into someone with a fair resemblance to a Lara Bingle (and not necessarily the Lara Bingle). 

If any of my ex-students now resemble that amalgam, I'd like to have met them, around thirty years ago.

Olga, to the best of my knowledge or recollection, is entirely fictional,.

The northern European extraction is necessary to throw in the requisite genetic material that produces the daughter. 

It also allows the daughter to change her name by deed poll from Bernelle Butler to Marilyn Mundsen. 

Mundsen is Mum's maiden name. Echoes of Hollywood identities it would be a marketing tool for an emerging media personality.

I also found echoes of Marilyn Manson amusing.

Then there are the Terrible Twins. 

As players in a musical beds tug of war, they needed an occupation that would allow them to appear and disappear from the stage. 

The mid-week publication schedule of the local paper worked nicely. 

They needed to work together, and regular shift work, with its week by week schedule didn't quite fit. 

The Twins' journalistic role could have added another plotline to the developing intrigue.

While that didn't turn up this time, it's always a possibility in a sequel. 

It always helps to have a semi-domesticated journo hanging around a fictional environment. 

Two would be even better. 

Make them female, with a taste for the high life and the possibilities open up further.

The reader may also come up with a model for D'Artagnan, and the reader would probably be wrong. 

He is an amalgam of various professional kitchen operatives I've known with personality traits boosted to the particular situations' requirements. 

A doctrinaire approach to the culinary arts would bring him into frequent conflict with an assertive supervisor with her own version of those issues and an inclination towards an eclectic or fusion cuisine. 

Making him a French chef and giving him three apprentices in the kitchen bring the Three Musketeer references. 

It may also open opportunities for various subplots in subsequent instalments.

There's a reasonably apparent real-life model for Gilhooley. 

However, he never mastered the art of computer programming to the best of my knowledge. 

His wife was the long-suffering almost diametrical opposite of the character who appears here as The Iron Maiden. 

That character needed to be a shift worker so Gilhooley could slip surreptitiously back into town in daylight hours without fear of being detected. 

The Iron Maiden side of things also offered possibilities to complicate the plotline that was unnecessary this time around. 

Forensic accountants working through Gilhooley's financial records at her behest is a highly likely element in any sequel to this effort.

Anyone familiar with the times may identify a prototype for Scott Waddington. 

The character who appears here combines traits of four or five would-be high profile punters I have known in a body large enough to incorporate at least three of them. 

His entirely fictional relocation to Sydney provides a source for a used red Mercedes convertible who could accompany our protagonists to the races at Randwick.

Wally Matthews the jockey is an incidental character who needed a name. 

Little Tony, the Mafia man is an imaginary construct. I based him on an account by a car salesman who had done a little commission betting for a Townsville businessman. 

The latter was part of the template from which Scott Waddington was cut. However, Waddles has a much more substantial physiognomy.

Throughout the story, the reader will come across references to several of Herston's erstwhile cricket acquaintances, convenient ways of explaining things away and resolving side issues. 

I've borrowed from real, life and modified to fit whatever the circumstances require in such cases.

The two cricket teams also have the odd real-life equivalent but have been through several transformations. 

The events within the game, like all the major elements of the plot line, are entirely fictional.

© Ian Hughes 2017