Chapter 1


A-Little-Fish, Derek Fish and the Surprise - A Chidlren's Book

Standing just shy of three feet eight, Derek Fish was small for his age – very small in fact. Most people who met him thought he was about five – almost half the age he actually was. He would have to grow nearly twelve inches in order to be, what the experts say, was the correct size for his age.There was no medical reason for his short stature. In fact, all the doctors, consultants and the best minds in the medical profession were at a loss as to why he was so small.
‘The pituitary gland appears to be functioning properly!’ said Mr Bentley, the latest in a long line of consultants, as he pored over Derek’s case notes. Derek didn’t need an explanation as to what the ‘pituitary gland’ was. The pea-sized object that controls growth and is found in the base of the brain had been discussed on countless occasions. ‘Dwarfism, ruled out. Kidneys okay,’ the consultant continued, sucking on the end of his pen. ‘Well, it’s a bit of a mystery, young man. I’m sure you’ll grow soon,’ he summed up with a feeble smile.
‘I knew it would be pointless,’ Derek growled as he stormed, red faced, down the hospital corridor. ‘I’m never going to grow, am I?’ He burst through the double doors that led to the street.
‘DEREK!’ shouted his father. The black blur of a speeding taxi narrowly missed the boy as he raced out into the road.
Derek had a tendency to do this sort of thing. His rage would be so intense that once the red mist had settled he would find himself in odd and sometimes dangerous places. It wasn’t unusual for him to suddenly realise that he was in the centre of a busy road, or blushing in the girls’ toilets at school. Once, he’d even found himself face down in a large hole dug by gas engineers investigating a leak! The cuts and bruises had been his parents’ call to action and they promptly made an appointment with the doctor.
‘My nickname was Titch when I was your age!’ said his father as he pulled him back to the safety of the pavement. ‘Just look at me now!’
Derek began to calm down. He looked up at his dad. True, he wasn’t vertically challenged in any way. In fact he could be described as tall – a giant in Derek’s eyes.
‘I’m afraid it’s….’
‘The blasted curse of the Fish family!’ said Derek, interrupting his father. ‘I know, I know, I know! You’ve told me hundreds of times!’
‘Then you’ll know I shot up when I hit fourteen. I’m telling you it was like someone had flicked a switch. I virtually grew a foot overnight! You’ll be as tall as me one day.’
‘That’s easy for you to say,’ moaned Derek. ‘You’re not the one wearing the short trousers anymore!’
‘Fourteen, Derek. Things will change. Trust me and stop worrying about it.’
But Derek couldn’t stop worrying about it. He worried all the time. The thing was he couldn’t escape it. Virtually everyone he met would have something to say. When friends of the family visited, comments would be bandied about like: ‘Put some Baby Bio in his boots!’ or ‘Manure in his shoes might work!’ Derek’s brave smile hid the fact that he wanted to scream. As soon as the visitors left, he would skulk off to his bedroom and peer impatiently at a wall chart he’d started six months earlier when he’d turned ten.
‘Only one thousand, two hundred-and-seventy-seven days to go before I’m fourteen,’ he whispered under his breath as he gazed at the enormous mass of numbers that covered the chimney breast. Fourteen was the age his dad maintained that he’d shot up. If there was such a thing as a family CURSE and it lifted at fourteen, then that was the age that Derek wanted to be. And the faster he got there, the better.
Along with being infuriatingly small in height, Derek was also slight in build, his narrow shoulders causing his head to appear a lot bigger than it actually was. A thick mop of curly, dark brown hair didn’t help either. Derek would apply large helpings of gel to keep it as flat as possible.
He was, however, a handsome boy, with expressive eyes that changed from blue to green depending on the light that fell on them. They were so dramatic that people would stop him in the street and comment on them, embarrassing him no end.
Derek lived in a large, three-storey terraced house in North London. His father worked in the city doing something with money and his mother ran a successful blog from the small attic room at the top of the house. He had no brothers or sisters, which meant that he had plenty of time to dwell on his short stature and the fact that all the male members of the Fish family went through this stunted period. Surely there must be a reason for it? Some dark secret, maybe? Some evil-doing way off in the distant past, perhaps?
The curse of the Fish family was often mentioned and blamed, but no one actually knew what the curse was and why it had been cast. His dad certainly didn’t at any rate – but his grandfather, well he was a different matter.
Derek made a mental note to quiz him the next time they visited – and he wouldn’t take any fobbing off at all. He was determined to get to the bottom of things.

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Salty Old Fish - Derek Fish and the Surprise, a Children's Book