He first came to me when he was 9½. I was daydreaming through a patch of savannah woodland in Belize, which was quite appropriate really, because Gordon is an Aisling wizard.
If you haven’t read Book 1 yet, it is likely that you won’t have come across the word ‘aisling’ or ‘aislinn’ before. Dream is the nearest one-word in the language we now speak; but it falls short of all that ‘aisling’ means. According to Gordon’s sixteen greats grandmother, “an Aisling wizard finds and tames wild things that wander through the tangled world of dreams. He travels in the wonderland of wishing. He goes wherever truth has found a cunning place to hide.” Of course, the same can be said of an aisling witch. You meet one of those towards the end of Book 1.
Early one morning in the spring of 2010, I was out walking our dogs, Bamford and Cookie, through the savannah woodland near our house at 14½ Miles Western Highway (now renamed George Price Highway) …
… and I came across Gordon and his alter-ego Zack engaged in earnest conversation. Gordon had just asked Zack an important question. “Where did I come from?” He seemed to take it for granted that Zack would know, and I got the impression that Zack knew things like that.
But I was amazed when he casually let slip the fact that he’d been with Will when he wrote those astounding plays and poems around 400 years ago. Obviously he meant Shakespeare, he’d just quoted him.
The dogs had gone haring off after an agouti (which is a kind of Belizean jack-rabbit) …
… so while I waited for them to charge back and find me I tuned in to the rest of what Gordon and Zack were saying, and I realised a number of things. Zack could not be “human” in the normally accepted sense, because human beings live for a finite amount of what we casually refer to as “time”. I didn’t think Zack could have been around for ALL of it (common sense told me he couldn’t be 13.75 (to the nearest 0.11) billion years old). But could he have been around when language was evolving among the apes we used to be? Might he in fact have had a part to play, even then, in the honing of that immensely powerful tool we casually refer to as “language”? Was he bound up in those beginnings? Was he was some sort of manifestation of genius?
He’d been with Gordon from Gordon’s beginning (at any rate on this planet), as you will know if you have read the opening chapter of this very long story. That had to mean that Gordon was no ordinary boy. I left them talking in the woods, and turned for home with my alert, panting dogs. We were all looking forward to breakfast. It had been an intriguing, apparently chance encounter, but nothing more than that. However, that remarkable boy, whose name I now know is Gordon Bennett, began to turn up more and more regularly. Sometimes he’d show up during the day when I was out walking. Other times, I’d be letting my senses drift for a while just after lunch and there he’d be. Quite often I would wake up in the middle of the night to find him wandering through my wonderland of wishing. He was looking for truth, I suppose. It nearly always finds a cunning place to hide.
Zack was always with him, which was how I first found out that Zack could bend time. On one occasion I found myself watching Gordon’s teddy doing the can-can when Gordon was only five months old.
Gordon had just amazed his mother with his first three words: MA-MA, DA-DA and ZACK. I wasn’t completely surprised when at the age of 2½ he told his mum he wanted to be a palaeontologist. My grandson had told me exactly that when he was that age. He had also corrected my pronunciation of the word “diplodocus”. “A lot of older people say diploDOCus, Grandad, but it’s pronounced dipLODocus nowadays.”
(He read Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London, and once assured me that choosing such an awesome science option wouldn’t stop him writing his first novel. But that’s another story.)
I am pleased that Gordon is good at dealing with bullies, because I wasn’t good at dealing with them when I was at Gray Street Primary School in Bootle, or even at Bootle Grammar School for Boys (though I got better at it after my dad took me to Boxing Club and I learned how to duck and weave, and smash a straight one into a flailing toe-rag’s nose).
I admire Gordon’s love of learning and the wide open windows in his mind, and I thoroughly approve of his positive mental attitude. His mother told me he’d never been bored, and she was sure he never would be.
Things got really serious when I heard Myrddin (English people know him as Merlin) tell Gordon that he was his heir, and that he had been born to make the world a better place. That was when I began to think that maybe I had been chosen to tell Gordon’s story to the world. Maybe telling his story was somehow part of the overarching plan to make the world a better place? If the world is ever to be made a better place, it has to know how, and why.
Here’s a bit of good news about the problems that stand in our way. They’re nearly all man-made. That’s a sexist remark, but I stand by it. And of course, you don’t make the world a better place in a week. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes me a day, when I even it out, to write a thousand fairly careful words.
The things that Gordon’s already done (worth telling you about) have filled six books, and I’m only a few days days past his twelfth birthday. I suspect the things he has yet to do will fill a fair few more. I fear for him sometimes, but I know he is never alone.