November 24th – The Puce Goose Chase

Have you seen my puce goose?
My puce goose is loose!
I just went out to buy juice,
now my puce goose is loose!
Have you seen my puce goose?
         - from Where’s My Goose?

In 1998, Jinnie Borassa got into something of a boasting match with her friend Charles Emptyglass. Both were authors, fairly unsuccessful ones at that (although this was not something either party cared to admit), but they were fairly good libertines, and were wont to get into extended drinking sessions together. It was whilst drinking an old bottle of Dancer’s Poison, a particularly potent brew that Emptyglass had found in his mother’s basement, a drink that Borassa now curses on a regular basis, that the boasting match began. It ranged over most aspects of human endeavour, before settling on writing, as their boasting often did. This time the crux of the matter was who would write the best children’s story, if they wanted to do a thing that they considered so beneath them. Pens were flourished, and by the end of the night, Borassa had written Where’s My Goose?

As Emptyglass had also written a children’s book (a book which resembled more of an extended prose poem), the only way to find out whose was better was to submit them both to a publishing house, and see if either made any progress. Twinkle Star Books had open submissions at the time, and so it became the target of these hastily-penned pieces. Emptyglass never got a response about his work, so presumably they threw it out pretty much straight away. Borassa got a bit more than a response; Where’s My Goose? was an overnight success, becoming one of the best selling children’s books in less than a month.

Whilst today’s festival is a testament to the success of Borassa’s writing talents, she has never attended it, even to say a few words or talk to the organisers. It’s not that she is shy, not at all: she’s never been because, very soon after Where’s My Goose? was published, she denounced it, publicly declaring that she wished she’d never written ‘the damn thing.’ It was Borassa’s first taste of being a published, successful author, with everything that entailed, and it galled her that it was for a book she wrote in a couple of hours, when she’d spent years working on an enormous epic poem, and written three novels that had garnered no interest whatsoever.

It is the publishers, Twinkle Star, who are in charge of organising the main part of today’s festival (it is the anniversary of the book’s release), where, across the City, thousands of small children and their parents will attempt to catch a white goose which has been dyed puce. Generally it is let loose in one of the parks in the early hours of the morning, but exactly where it ends up is anybody’s guess. Anyone who actually catches the goose will get a prize (three golden eggs, like the ones the eponymous puce goose lays at the end of the story), but for those who don’t want their children getting too close to a potentially angry avian, there will be several spots around the City where some poor soul will dress up in a puce goose outfit and be chased around by toddlers.

Whilst Borassa does not attend this festival based on her work, she does host her own, separate festival in Merelake Hall, where she showcases her current projects, and tries to sell copies of her various novels. Due to the name she made herself through her goose book, a small number of people do turn up, although some of these are ejected from the premises when they produce their copy of Where’s My Goose? and ask her to sign it.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Jinnie Borassa Fair
  • Castlemark and the Swinnow Day
  • Whelk and Cockle Day