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Louis, the firefighter.

Before I tell you about Louis I have something else to say:

If you have enjoyed It’s Raining in Moscow and I Forgot my Umbrella, please tell your friends and family about it.

That’s all. Thank you.

Louis, of course, is an absolute hero.

The elderly ladies at Autumn Days Care Home love him. They all pat their hair down and Beryl practically swoons when he walks in, but then Beryl also has five Spurs calendars open at different months on her bedroom walls!

Billy worships Louis. After all, he saved Billy’s life and plays football with him, what more could a boy want in a hero!

Everyone had gone quiet. Everyone was looking at me. Most of them had their mouths

open and their eyes wide. Even Mrs Beaman.

“D…do you know him Billy?” she stuttered.

“Yeah, that’s my mate Louis” I replied.

Firefighters are strong and brave and it was a gift to be able to put one so easily into It’s Raining in Moscow and I Forgot my Umbrella. Firefighters work in a highly demanding, sometimes dangerous and widely respected profession. Lots of young children dream of becoming a firefighter, but most don’t’ even get past the application process. There are always far more applicants than available jobs, so to be selected you have to stand out from the rest.

This is one piece of advice given to potential firefighters before they start their training:

“To be successful in the process, you need to be one step ahead of the next candidate, and be better prepared than they are. The fire and rescue service only take on the best.”

Of the lucky few who are selected for the training, plenty drop out before the end due to the intense physical endurance tests and the mental exhaustion.

The few who pass the tests and become firefighters have to remain incredibly fit. Their job frequently entails climbing the stairs of high rise buildings, pitching heavy ladders and handling heavy hydraulic cutting equipment at road traffic collisions. These tasks are already physically demanding, but on top of that, they are often wearing full firefighting clothing and breathing apparatus set.

A firefighter’s night shift is usually fifteen hours! That’s fifteen hours staying awake through the night, driving out to potentially risky situations while the rest of us are safely asleep in our beds.

How do I know all this? Because I know a real firefighter and he gave me all the information I needed to make the fire in my book authentic.

I am going back to pre-Covid - those lost days where we were allowed to do exciting things like playing footgolf. It’s when you kick a football round a short golf course and get the ball into a big hole in as few kicks as possible. It’s great fun even though I’m particularly hopeless at it! In our group was our fire fighting friend (I shall continue to call him Louis), and he is rather good at footgolf. He had to kick his ball over a tree to get to the green. Most people would have gone under the tree, or around it, but not Louis. He likes a challenge and took a big swipe with his right foot. The ball sailed up into the air…and landed in the tree.

That’s the end of the game for Louis, we all thought. But no! In a magnificent feat of recovery, and in true firefighting style, Louis retrieved his ball. I still can’t quite believe he did it, but it gave me a marvellous scene for my book:

So a big shout out for all our brave firefighters. Next time you make way for one of those magnificent red fire engines with its siren blaring, give them a thumbs up. You never know, you might need their services one day.

Thank you to all the lovely people who have read It’s Raining in Moscow and I Forgot my Umbrella, especially those who have left a review on Amazon. If you haven’t read it, why not? There’s a poor, lonely copy sitting there in the bowels of the Amazon warehouse with your name on it. A couple of clicks away. And to make it even easier, here’s your first click! 😊

One last thing - I had such a lovely review this morning, I wanted to share it with you.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 February 2021

A thought-provoking and enjoyable tale of two characters - seemingly worlds apart - who share a surprising connection. Shedding light on Autumn Days’ residents and Billy’s Gran’s struggles with dementia in a light-hearted and touching way, It’s Raining in Moscow and I forgot my Umbrella is a great way of introducing children and adults alike to a sensitive issue. What’s more, in a land far from Billy’s, Manya’s story will keep you intrigued right up until the grand reveal!

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