Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

'Tom Thumb' as told by Nanny Piggins

October 05, 2022 R.A. Spratt Season 5 Episode 4
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'Tom Thumb' as told by Nanny Piggins
Show Notes Transcript

After a long day destroying report cards and chasing an ice cream van, Nanny Piggins settles the children down to sleep by telling them a story about her distant cousin 'Tom Thumb'

And this episode has a bonus story - 'A Tall Tale about Haircuts and Ninjas'

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‘Tom Thumb’ as told by Nanny Piggins.

 

It was late and the children should have been in bed, but they were too full of adrenaline to fall asleep. You see, it was report card day. This was always a high energy day in the Green household. At least it was, since Nanny Piggins had come to live with them. 

Nanny Piggins believed that it was wrong for a government institution to send secret letters to parents, reporting on their child’s behaviour.  She considered it tantamount to espionage and snitching. So as a point of principle she never let Mr Green see any of the children’s report cards. 

At least, not their real report cards. She did allow him to get a glimpse of a fake report card, made out of peanut brittle, once. But aside from that one occasion she always went to great lengths to make sure that the reports were removed from the letter box and destroyed before he knew they had arrived. 

This was harder than you might think, because Nanny Piggins often destroyed Mr Green’s mail. Either to punish him for irritating her (this happened most days) or so he’d never find any written complaints about her behaviour (the man at the health food store had been writing to Mr Green weekly begging him to stop her from yelling boo every time she walked past his store). 

The children actually got very good report cards. Solid B+ averages. They might have got A’s in history if they hadn’t been taught so much of that subject by Nanny Piggins herself, and her account so rarely aligned with the official written record.

When the post was delivered Mr Green usually sprinted up the front path to get to it first before Nanny Piggins could interfere with his correspondence. 

But on this day, when she knew the reports would be coming, she went to even greater lengths to thwart him. Three blocks away she had intercepted the postman and bribed the postman with a sticky date to lend her his uniform and delivery bicycle. 

Then she’d got the retired army colonel from around the corner to pretend to be the postman and delivery a fake letter. Mr Green had snatch up his letter and run back into the house. If he’d had any common sense, he’d have realised it was a fake because why else would the Queen of Denmark be writing to him for tax advice. 

But Mr Green had no common sense so Nanny Piggins knew she would get away with it. As a result, when the report cards were put in the letterbox, Mr Green didn’t realise they were there. He was too busy looking up grovelling adjectives in his thesaurus for his return letter to the Queen of Denmark.

Now that the report cards were in the letterbox, Nanny Piggins couldn’t destroy them herself. That would be wrong, and being wrong was against her principles. But she had spent six months training fifty garden snails to eat letters. She now released these snails into their new home – the letterbox. If snails could squeal with delight they would have done as they tumbled onto the delicious report cards. 

‘But what if father finds out?’ asked Michael.

‘If the snails eat the report cards that’s not my fault,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. The report cards weren’t destined to survive if they weren’t fit enough to fight off a few snails.’

‘Fifty snails,’ amended Michael.

‘I could have trained sixty,’ said Nanny Piggins, ‘But I wanted to give the reports a sporting chance. Now what shall we do to celebrate?’

‘Um,’ said the children.

Fortunately, the choice was made for them, because at that point an ice cream van drove past the end of the street. So Nanny Piggins leapt on the bicycle, ordered all three children to jump up on the handle bars and she took off after it.

Chasing an ice cream van is not an easy task when you’re a four-foot-tall pig with one foot long legs. The ice cream van had tried to outrun them because Nanny Piggins always abused him for the stinginess of the chocolate in his chocolate dipped cones. 

But as he’d been swerving to avoid a blow from her handbag, he hit a fire hydrant. It erupted like a volcano of water.  And this had resulted in a spontaneous water fight of all the neighbourhood children. 

Eventually the police had arrived and the ice cream van man tried to press charges. But the police sergeant could not be convinced that ‘riding a bicycle in an intimidating manner’ was a crime that would hold up in a court of law. 

Then the police sergeant pointed out that the ice cream van man had been driving in a reckless manner. So to avoid jail time the ice cream man had bribed the police sergeant by giving him, the constable, Nanny Piggins and all the neighbourhood children double scoop cones. Then he had given up and joined the water fight himself, having a marvellous time.

As you can imagine, after spending the day in such a manner, the children were tired but also too excited to drift off to sleep. Probably all the sugar in the multiple double-scoop cones hadn’t helped either.

‘Why don’t you tell us a story,’ suggested Derrick.

‘Alright,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If you hadn’t been there yourselves, I could tell you the story of today because it’s been quite marvellous and I’m sure it will go down in the history books as one of your best report card days ever.’

‘At least nothing caught fire this year,’ said Samantha.

‘Why don’t I tell you the story of my distant cousin,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Tom Thumb.’

‘Was Tom short for Thomasina?’ asked Michael. ‘Because your distant cousin was actually a girl and a pig?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Well, naturally she was a pig. But what on earth made you think she was a girl?’

‘That often seems to be the case when you tell your stories,’ explained Derrick.

‘Well not in this instance,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No, Tom was a Piggins. But he came from the no-good branch of the family. In fact, his real name was Bramwell. Bramwell Piggins the 3rd.’

In case you don’t recall, dear listener, Nanny Piggins herself had a brother called Bramwell and he was the worst of all her siblings, which was really saying something because she had 13 identical twin sisters who were all evil in entirely different ways.

‘So the Bramwell we’ve met, your brother,’ said Samantha. ‘Which Bramwell is he?’

‘Bramwell Piggins the 157th,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Sadly, each generation in history has been cursed with a Bramwell, each one is every bit as no-good and useless as the last.’

‘Wow, that’s unlucky,’ said Michael.

‘Luck has nothing to do with it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s genetics. It’s the dioxyribose nucleic acid in their chromosomes. It forces them to be useless wastrels from the day they’re born.’

‘So how come this Bramwell was known as Tom Thumb?’ asked Samantha.

‘He had to change his name,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He’d forgotten to return a library book and the librarian was hunting him down.’

‘He changed his name to avoid a library fine?’ asked Derrick.

‘Oh, this was the 15 hundreds,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Books were hand-written in beautiful calligraphy by monks back then, which meant they were worth a lot more money. So in those days, when a librarian hunted you down, they really hunted you down - with a bow and arrow and sack to tie you up in as they dragged you back to the library to work of your fine in the dungeon.’

‘Surely libraries didn’t have actual dungeons,’ said Samantha.

‘Of course, they did,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’m sure they still do. Where did you think they imprison the people who fold over the corner of the page to mark their spot?’

‘I didn’t think they are allowed to do that,’ said Samantha.

‘Hmmpf,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You have a listen next time you’re in a library. If you hear the muffled sound of moaning, that’s some poor soul who got caught dog-earing a copy of Pride and Prejudice.’

‘Gosh,’ said Michael.

‘Anyway, if you’ve all done enough interrupting,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’d better start my story. It all began with Tom’s mother. A delightful woman, a former snake charmer, you know. 

Snakes would do whatever she wanted because she always paid them the most charming compliments. But when she retired from the circus she fell on hard times and she was dreadfully lonely. She longed to have a child of her own to keep her company. 

One day a fairy came to the door, probably looking for teeth. Fairies are always on the look out for teeth. They’re supposed to only take teeth that have fallen out, but some more immoral fairies are not above knocking them out themselves.

‘Nanny Piggins, I don’t think that’s true,’ said Michael.

‘I’ve never actually seen it happen,’ conceded Nanny Piggins. ‘But I’m always on the ready to slap a trotter across my mouth just in case, when I see a fairy coming.’

 ‘Anyway, Tom’s mother had a nice cup of tea with the fairy and she started telling the fairy all about her troubles, as you do when you’re dreadfully lonely.

‘It turned out this fairy was one of the good ones. She was so grateful for the lovely cup of tea she said, ‘Don’t worry love, I’ve got just the thing for you. For fifty cents, you can buy this poppy seed.’

‘Fifty cents for a poppy seed,’ cried my great aunt. ‘That is not a very market appropriate price.’

‘Trust me,’ said the fairy. ‘It’s a bargain at the price. Because you’ll get something much better you’ll get the child you’ve always longed for.’

‘Well that does sound good, but I don’t have fifty cents said my aunt. What will you give me for… an old button, a tooth pick and one cent?’

‘A much smaller baby,’ said the fairy.

‘That would probably work better, said my aunt. ‘A baby that is a fiftieth of the size of a regular baby would be much easier to make clothes for. And I wouldn’t have to buy a bed for them. I could just stuff them in a match box. Okay, deal.’

So the fairy gave her the grain of wheat and told her to plant it in the garden. 

‘This seemed like an odd way to create a baby,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But it was a fairytale so she decided to ask no follow-up questions. She planted the wheat and the next morning when she went to check on it, it had already grown to full size and there was a flower bud. Then, right in front of her eyes, the bud opened, a tiny little baby boy was revealed. 

‘Crikey,’ said my aunt. ‘That went better than I expected.’ So she took the boy in and looked after him and loved him dearly. Unfortunately, being a Piggins who does everything to extremes, she may have loved him too dearly. Because the boy grew up spoiled and lazy as so many Bramwells do. He was totally incapable of resisting a dessert.

‘So are you,’ Derrick pointed out.

‘Yes, but I am four foot tall,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘My appreciation of fine dining does not have so much potential for disaster.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Samantha.

‘Tom Thumb loved dessert so much,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘One day when his mother was making one, he snuck over to help himself to a bite. She was making a delicious chocolate pudding. But as he leaned over to get a bite he toppled in and got stuck inside. The pudding set before he could escape and he was totally encased. 

Which would have been fine if his mother had eaten the pudding. She would have stuck in her spoon, found her son and they would have had a good laugh about it. 

But as the pudding was sitting on the counter a tinker came to the door. He had a really fantastic cooking pot my aunt fancied so she traded him, the pudding for the pot. Not realising her son was embedded inside. 

‘Why didn’t he cry for help?’ asked Samantha.

Because he was a nincompoop,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He thought it was a great adventure to be carried off in a pudding. He never got to go anywhere normally, because his legs were only one centimetre long, so even if he walked all day he never got to the end of the front path. And here was a tinker carrying him off on an adventure to see the world. Tom thought this was marvellous. 

The problem came when the tinker came to a style,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘What’s a style?’ asked Michael.

‘It’s a step built into a fence to help you climb over it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They were very common in the olden story days for people who were too lazy to open gates. Anyway, the tinker came to the style, put his foot on the step and swung his leg over the fence. 

Unfortunately, in this moment as you use a style, you have to swing your leg very high, and the tinker was not wearing active wear.  Lycra leggings and stretch fabrics had not been invented yet. So as his leg swung over, the seam in the bottom of his trousers split open in a big tear. 

Inside the pudding, Tom heard what happened and burst out laughing. The tinker was so horrified to find himself be laughed at by a dessert, so he dropped the pudding and ran away. 

Tom chortled and chortled. He wasn’t worried. He would simply spend the afternoon eating his way out of the pudding then the next three weeks walking home. 

Unfortunately, he had only just conceived this plan when a passing raven had an entirely different idea. It spotted the pudding which really was delicious, my aunt used only the finest chocolate, butter and sugar in the recipe. The raven couldn’t resist. He swooped down and swallowed the pudding whole.  Now Tom was inside the pudding which was inside the raven. But as the raven flew and the pudding began to digest in its stomach, the raven began to realise there was something much less pleasant in its stomach as well. 

Tom was not a great believer in bathing, you see. Or washing his clothes. So having Tom in its stomach began to make the raven feel ill. 

The raven’s stomach started to convulce. It’s throat started to gag. And it couldn’t hold it in any longer. The raven was sick, spewing out Tom. 

‘Gross,’ said Michael.

‘Did he die when he hit the ground?’ said Derrick.

‘No, luckily they were flying over the sea at the time,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So he fell into the water.’

‘Pheuw,’ said Samantha.

‘Where he was eaten by a fish,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘He wasn’t having a good day, was he?’ said Michael.

‘The fish was used to eating raw prawns and seaweed, so it didn’t mind the taste of Tom. It swam along happy to have a stomach full of him. The fish was just going home for a nice nap when it spotted a delicious worm dangling in front of its face. 

Worms are just like after dinner mints to fish,’ explained Nanny Piggins. ‘The perfect way to end a meal. So without thinking, the fish opened its mouth and swallowed the worm. 

Not realising that the worm was attached to a fishing hook, which was attached to a fishing line which was being held by a fisherman. By that evening the fish was on a plate being served to King Arthur.’

‘King Arthur!’ said Michael.

The King Arthur, king of all the Britains?’ asked Derrick.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Wasn’t she a cousin of yours too?’ asked Samantha. 

‘Yes, it was quite a coincidence, wasn’t it?’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She instantly recognised her no-good cousin Bramwell. Told him off for ruining her dinner. And marched him home to his mother. Where she made him promise never to impersonate a royal dinner again. The end. Time for bed.’