The inspiration behind Pheasant Plucker & Son September 13, 2016 08:17
Today is International Roald Dahl day, which this year marks the centenary of the author’s birth. Pheasant Plucker is a bit of a bookworm and read Dahl’s books voraciously as a child – the excitement of receiving a hard backed copy of Matilda the year it came out for a birthday present somehow became ingrained in our DNA and has been a marker for judging all other gifts we’ve been given later in life.
Our favourite Roald Dahl book is his collection of short stories Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, which includes an early outline of Danny Champion of the World, where a lovable poacher hatches a plot to poach all the pheasants in a wood using only raisins and sleeping pills.
This book, and this story in particular, is one of the main inspirations behind Pheasant Plucker & Son as, having been away from the countryside and lived a city slicker existence for a few years, we picked it up again and were reminded of the wonderfully eccentric characters we knew and of all the scrapes and adventures we got up to as children on our farm in Lincolnshire.
The book resonated with us as it paints an idyllic picture of country life without shying away from some of its darker aspects, which chimed exactly with our own understanding of it. One story tells of a hayrick infested with rats and of the rat catcher coming to exterminate them – the rat catcher is described as a twitchy little man with a rodent’s nose who seems to have taken on the characteristics of his prey. At the end of the story, the grim, unpleasant source of the rats is discovered and it’s this angle that struck a chord with us. For all our wonderful experiences, we knew without being told, that there’s a cycle to life and that it can often be hard. Witnessing the devastation after a fox got in the chicken coop and killed 30 hens or seeing a puddle of blood in the yard after a horse had to be shot left an undeniable understanding that country life, for all its perks, could be cruel and incomprehensible.
However, as in the book, we were never far from a joke or doing something fun and we learned to take the rough with the smooth. There is a sense of eccentricity, solidarity and friendship running through the book and we’re lucky enough to have those in spades to this day. We try to appreciate what we have and we make the most of it. So today, we're toasting Roald Dahl, not just for all his wonderful stories, but in appreciation for making us remember our childhood again – without him, there would be no Pheasant Plucker & Son.