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Vicar tells tale of zoo quest

02 November 2012


From Animal House: left: "the prev­alence of ele­phants was a matter of irrel­ev­ance"; the aardvark (below) "base[d] his right of resid­ence on alphabetic precedence"

From Animal House: left: "the prev­alence of ele­phants was a matter of irrel­ev­ance"; the aardvark (below) "base[d] his right of resid­ence on alp...

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 loo.

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 them."

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 Southend.

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.



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