AMONG the guests you might expect to encounter in a vicarage, a
yak is unlikely to feature. A bat in a belfry is par for the
course, but vultures building nests are certain to raise a few
eyebrows - to say nothing of a python "poised to pounce" in the
All are creatures depicted in Animal House, a
children's book of comic verse, written and illustrated by the Revd
Rick Williams. It is the tale of a home filled with exotic
creatures whose "endless racket" eventually forces the narrator to
take up residence in a zoo: the one place where "the bars keep all
the animals away."
On Monday, Mr Williams, who was Vicar of St Saviour's,
Westcliff, in Essex, until 2010, when he took time out to complete
the book, said that his daughter had provided the inspiration.
"It started when my daughter was one year old. She was at the
bottom of the stairs and growled, and I said 'There is a tiger at
the bottom of the stairs,' and thought 'That is a good line for
start of poem.'
"I wrote it originally just as made-up poems to entertain the
children and, as it grew and became a fully fledged story, I
thought it would be good to get it published, but I realised it
needed illustrations and wasn't going to let anybody else do
Mr Williams, who gained a degree in art and design before going
to St John's College, Nottingham, to study theology, published the
book himself, and it is now on sale at Waterstone's in
He is already "halfway through" another illustrated comic poem
and has also created comic poem versions of Bible stories for
assemblies and church services. Lewis Carroll, A. A. Milne, and
Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, are among his
inspirations. He will take up the position of chaplain of Havens
Hospices in Southend next month.
Mr Williams's children, now 15 and 17, are, he suspects,
"extremely embarrassed" by their father's endeavours.