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Carnaby - The Yarn SpinnerFull name: Carnaby Street Characteristics: A natural storyteller, a keen observer and a patient host. Least likely to say: My relatives are rather dull. Most likely to say: Of course you are my favourite animal, Alice. Favourite animal: The aardvark Because: Alice would sulk if she had any other favourite. Least favourite animal: The python Because: Alice would sulk if she had any other least favourite. Favourite word: Kith and kin (and Aardvark) Because: It means family Least favourite kind of person: a humblebrag That’s: Someone who pretends to be humble but who can’t help boasting.
Oxford - The BrabblerFull name: Oxford Shirley Street Characteristics: A modern-day wordsmith who knows how to sing Happy Birthday in many languages and who otherwise says very little out loud. Most likely to say:‘Hmmmm’, whilst thinking a great many very clever things, inside his head, which he has no wish to share with the rest of the world. Least likely to say: Innit, wotcha, or catch ya later. Favourite animal: The border collie Because: There’s one in the United States that can recognize over 1,000 words. Least favourite animal: The howler monkey Because: It is the loudest land animal (its call can be heard up to three miles (4.8 km) away) but it has nothing sensible to say. Favourite word: Logophile Because: it means someone who loves words Favourite insult: Hoddypeak Which means: Fool
Carter – The QuesterFull Name: Carter Henry Able-Street-Macadm Characteristics: Cool in a crisis and inventive, whilst remaining deeply distrustful of poor road construction. Most likely to say: What we need here is a widget; I think I just happen to have one in my pocket. Least likely to say: Let’s forget the safety check and see how things pan out. Favourite Animal: The elephant Because: They have the largest brain of any land animal, they move slowly, and they use tools. Least favourite animal: The clam. Because: They have no brain at all, they move with the tide (which Carter feels shows a sorry lack of forward planning) and they never use tools. Favourite word: Engineered Because: It refers to something that is designed before it is built, as opposed to a ‘lash-up’ which refers to something that is built before it has been designed. Favourite tool: a whatchamacallit (similar to a thingamabob or a doodah) Because: No matter what the job, the chances are that you are going to need one.
Flo – The JargoglerFull name: Florence May-Street-Macadam Characteristics: An enthusiastic collector for all things colourful and decorative. Flo loves to add to her outfit – sometimes so much so that she disappears under the weight of what she is wearing. Most likely to say:Flowers, spangles, stripes and swirls suit me to a T. Least likely to say: I prefer to work a simple look. Favourite animal: The magpie Because: They too are collectors of all things shiny. Least favourite animal: The blowfish Because: They are very ugly, they never wear glitter and they rarely collect anything shiny. Favourite word: Bedazzle Because: It’s a captivating word like gleam, glitter, spangle and astound Favourite sound: Rickety-rackety Because: It sounds like the wheels going around on her scooter.
Aunt Sylvia – The FlibbertigibbetFull name: Sylvia Ivy Street-Macadam Characteristics: A hopeless romantic who finds everything to do with road construction irresistible and who loves to be surrounded by other people at all times. Most likely to say:Let’s all nine of us spend six weeks in a three-person tent. Least likely to say:I want to be alone. Favourite animal: The rosy-faced lovebird Because: Because they are affectionate and look like they are blushing Least favourite animal: The skunk Because: They are potentially smelly, prefer to live alone, and aren’t in the least bit affectionate. Favourite word: Romeo Because: It’s even more romantic than snookums, tootsie-wootsy and schnooky lumps. Most likely to cause: a kerfuffle Which is: a great deal of fuss.
Dad – The AnonymuncleFull name: Gerrard Street Characteristics: Hard-working, sometimes gruff, a book writer who finds himself surrounded by eccentrics. Most likely to say:We must get the locks changed Least likely to say:How lovely to see you Aunt Maud Favourite animal: The beaver Because: They don’t take up much space and they keep working, no matter what. Least favourite animal: Humans Because: They keep appearing on his doorstep expecting to be housed and fed. Favourite word: Adieu Because: It means goodbye forever. Favourite opening remark to new guests: Vamoose! Because: It means ‘let’s go’ and it sounds like something one of his characters in a book would say.
Grandfather Frederick II
Dad’s father, who lives in India and London N1. A keen defendant of the rights of animals, plants and eggs. Particularly fond of mains drainage and a lifelong sufferer of asthma.
Favourite saying: Codswollop!
Which means: Rubbish! Nonsense! Rot!
Mum’s younger cousin and former beauty pageant judge, who has turned her hand to wigs for cats and yoga for dogs.
Least likely to wear: polyester
Which is: far too shiny and sweaty on her delicate skin.
Amber Slumber’s daughter, who is desperate to win a major beauty pageant. She can say ‘hello’ in several modern languages, her ambition is to work with orphaned animals, and she would desperately like to see world peace.
Would most likely name a kitten: Quaintly Cute
Which is: A ridiculous name for a kitten (especially if it’s a boy).
The Flying Crescendos
Highly competitive, accident prone, elderly twins who have plunged from the trapezes of the world’s leading big tops. A mass of spangles and missing body parts.
Favourite circus stunt: A clangourous lollapalooza
Which is: Nosiy and very impressive.
The jarred travelling companions of Great Aunt Maud, which accompany her wherever she goes. Constantly hungry and hoping for shallow water and a pulse.
Brenda the Rescue Fish
An unusually small murrell fish that Grandfather Frederick II saved from being swallowed alive during a mass healing event in Hyderabad, India.
Mimi La Minque
Treasured pet mink of Angel Slumbers, who is trained to sit at the table, whilst wearing outfits that compliment those of her owner, and gaze mysteriously into the middle distance.
Mobster pets of the Flying Crescendos, who are not only as competitive as their owners but who display distinct criminal tendencies.
Graah – The TrailblazerFull name: Great Aunt Amelia Characteristics: old but adventurous, highly eccentric, unworried by germs, a former spy, an ambitious cook and an eternal traveller. Most likely to say:Must get packing, my train to Kathmandu leaves first thing. Least likely to say:I’ll just sit down and have a rest. Favourite animal: The python Because: She understands their grumpy ways. Least favourite animal: The mongoose Because: She doesn’t understand why they keep picking on pythons. Favourite word: peregrination Because: It means travelling about.
Mum – The MathematicianFull name: Abbey Street Characteristics: A sun-worshipping, award-winning engineer who solves complex mental maths puzzles for fun, whilst avidly reading her gossip magazine. Most likely to say:I’m just going to lie in the sun for a minute or two. Least likely to say:What is two plus two? Favourite animal: Those living in the wild. Because: They are responsible for themselves. Least favourite animal: Those living with her. Because: They leave mess all over the place and expect her to feed them. Favourite word: logarithm Because: It’s a mathematical term that always makes her giggle. Thinks she is: Forswonk
Which means: Overworked and underpaid.
Uncle Ken – The BoonfellowFull name: Ken Street-Macadam Characteristics: A man of few words, who prefers to let his wife and children do the talking. He has many hidden qualities and talents but prefers not to shout about them. Most likely to say:Cheers mate Least likely to say:I feel I should share the story of my life with you… Favourite animal: The giraffe Because: Although not actually mute, they generally don’t say much beyond a cough, grunt, growl or the occasional sneeze. Least favourite animal: The Congo African Grey Parrot Because: They are among the most talkative of the parrot family. Favourite word: Cheers Because: It’s brief and to the point. Most likely to eat: Slumgullion stew
Which is: pretty tasteless but doesn’t cost much.
Pete The Milkman – The BreedbateFull name: Pete Characteristics: Sneaky, cunning, furtive and threatening. Spends his time trying to think of ways to lure Carnaby’s animals away. Most likely to say:Why don’t you tortoises come for a ride on my milk float. Least likely to say:You are better off staying at home Martin. Favourite animal: Those belonging to other people. Because: He can’t find a pet of his own. Least favourite animal: The Aardvark Because: Alice keeps catching him trying to steal the other pets. Favourite word: skullduggery Because: It means tricky and sneaky. Least favourite drink: Milk
Alice - The AardvarkFull name: Alice Orycteropus Characteristics: Generally loving but highly distrustful of reptiles. Prone to zigzagging to escape predators and known to bury her droppings in a shallow ditch.
Josie - The PythonFull name: Josie Shranks Characteristics: extremely aged, cantankerous snake that has been Amelia’s travelling companion for decades. Constantly at loggerheads with Alice over the aardvark cucumber.
Martin – The FelineFull name: Martin Characteristics: A very greedy marmalade cat who goes off to train as a milkman. Scheming and untrustworthy.
Ten Tiny Tortoises – The CreepFull name: Ten Tiny Tortoises Characteristics: a tightly knit creep that tends to stick together. Have been known to consider life with the Milkman.
Great Aunt Maud – The HypochondriacFull name: Great Aunt Maud Characteristics: Crotchety and aged survivalist aunt who is highly fearful of being poisoned and eats canned food only. Most frequent complaint: the collywobbles Which are:nervous churnings in the stomach, like you get on a rollercoaster ride.