Nanny Piggins tells the story of the time her no-good brother Bramwell became a tailor and got in trouble with the local royalty.
Nanny Piggins tells the story of the time her no-good brother Bramwell became a tailor and got in trouble with the local royalty.
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Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt. Today's story is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ as told by Nanny Piggins. Alright, there we go...
Did I ever tell you the story of the time my brother Bramwell decided to become a tailor,’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘No,’ said the children.
‘But I thought he was…’ Samantha paused as she tried to think of a polite way to put this, but there wasn’t one. ‘I thought he was really really lazy.’
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘There is no pig, or even human, lazier than Bramwell.’
‘Then why did he decide to become a tailor?’ asked Derrick. ‘I’m sure it’s hard work making suits and clothes for people.’
‘You’d prick yourself all the time with the needle,’ added Michael.
‘You’re quite right,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘But you see Bramwell isn’t just lazy, he’s also ignorant. He didn’t know what a tailor was. He thought it had something to do with tails. And since he had a tail. All be it a small curly one, he thought he was qualified to take on the job.’
‘And he wasn’t?’ asked Michael.
‘Not at all,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He didn’t know the first thing about sewing, or cloth or sewing cloth.’
‘Being a tailor can’t have gone very well for him then,’ said Derrick.
‘No, it was terrible,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Barely anyone came to buy clothes from him, and those who did immediately rushed to tell their friends to steer away. He soon had absolutely no customers. Which to be fair, was exactly the way Bramwell liked it, so he was happy and content to be completely lazy.
‘So he lived happily ever after then?’ asked Michael.
‘NO of course not,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘People as lazy and useless as Bramwell never end happily in any story, and particularly not this one.’
‘So what went wrong?’ asked Derrick.
‘Well at the time Bramwell was living in a rather eccentric European Kingdom,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘In fact, this Kingdom didn’t have just a regular King, they had an Emperor!’
‘Gosh,’ said Michael.
‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You know a fellow really has tickets on himself when being a king isn’t good enough, he decides he’s going to call himself an Emperor instead.’
‘Was he a nice Emperor?’ asked Samantha.
‘You’re thinking of handsome Princes again, aren’t you?’ accused Nanny Piggins.
‘It’s not your fault,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Story books are full of them. The poor ugly princes, of which there are a fast many more, never get a mention. Well this emperor was not young or handsome. He was middle aged and overweight. He may have been good looking at one point but it was SO long ago that nobody remembered.’
‘Oh dear,’ said Michael.
‘But the really sad part was he didn’t know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because he was the emperor and everybody he met all day long always flattered him and paid him outrageous compliments about how splendid he was. And he was such a fool he believed them. He sincerely believed that all the women were in love with him and all the men were in awe of his manly athleticism. In fact, that became a burden in its own right.
You see he was so convinced that everyone adored him, that he thought it was very important to maintain high standards with his appearance. He would spend hours styling his hair, ages choosing what to wear and many a secret minute practising impressive facial expressions in the mirror. He barely had any time to run the country, he was so consumed with the massive task of being deeply impressive at all times.’
‘But how did this involve Bramwell?’ asked Derrick, trying to get his Nanny back on track.
‘I’m getting to that,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You see, the Emperor’s birthday was coming up. And every year on his birthday there would be a majestic parade down the main street and across the grand square in the centre of town. Every citizen in the land would come to see him. They always did. He thought it was because he was so impressive. In reality it was just because there was terrible television reception in this kingdom and there was nothing else to do.
Anyway, the Emperor thought it was terribly important that for the occasion he should wear the finest clothes he had ever owned. So he could really dazzle the people and make them even more grateful he was their Emperor. So he called upon the best tailor in the whole land.’
‘And that was Bramwell?’ asked Derrick.
‘Goodness no!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins. ‘He was a marvellously talented man called, Steve. Steve crafted a wonderful handsome suit and presented it to the Emperor. The emperor tried it on and he was not happy.’
‘Why?’ asked Michael.
‘The suit was comfortable, it looked good,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But when the emperor tried it on, he thought he looked a little bit pudgy. So he fired that tailor and ordered the second best tailor in the all the land to come and make him a suit.’
‘And that was Bramwell?!’ asked Michael.
‘Gosh, heaven forbid,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No the second tailor was marvellously talented too. He soon whipped up a dazzling tuxedo that made the Emperor look very dashing. It was comfortable, the material was the finest, but when the Emperor looked in the mirror he thought he still looked a little bit pudgy.
‘Now I will stop here and explain. Because I don’t want you to think badly of Steven or Brian. They tried their hardest and they were talented men. The reason that the Emperor looked a little pudgy in the mirror was because he was very very very pudgy, and there is only so much a new suit can do to hide that.
But the Emperor was vain, and as dim as the ceiling light in a car that has had its headlights left on all night. So he tried again and again and again… until he worked his way through every tailor in the entire kingdom and he came to the absolute very worst.
‘And that was Bramwell?’ guessed Samantha.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The one thing my brother truly excels at is incomptetance. But to be fair to Bramwell he is well aware of his incompetence. So when he was summoned before the Emperor he was quite terrified.
He hoped that the emperor was summoning him to punish him in some way. He did wicked immoral things all the time so the Emperor could have got wind of any them. Perhaps he would be banished for parking his bicycle in the disabled parking space so he wouldn’t have to exhaust himself walking too far to the supermarket front door. Or he’d been caught out on a CCTV camera, stealing candy from a baby while it’s mother was looking the other way.
‘I thought it was meant to be easy stealing candy from a baby?’ said Michael.
‘Oh it is,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The hard part is getting the baby to shut up long enough to make your getaway. So Bramwell was desperately hoping he was going to be punished for something wicked. His worst nightmare would be if the Emperor asked him to actually make clothes.’
But of course, his worst nightmare was about to come true. Two guards, armed with pikes (they’re sort of long knifey sticky things that look very painful) marched Bramwell in through the palace, across the grand entrance all, up the great staircase and along the imperial corridor. Bramwell as you know is not a fit pig, so he was gasping for breath and practically on the verge of a heart attack when he was finally led in the Emperors throne room.
‘Pig,’ said the Emperor, because he wasn’t just vain, he was also rude. ‘I command you to make me the finest suit in all the land.’
Bramwell wasn’t sure how to respond to this so he simply gasped, ‘Okay.’
One of the guards poked him hard in the foot with the stump of his pike. ‘Ow,’ said Bramwell, before remembering his manners, ‘Okay, your majesty.’
He bowed so low his snout touched the floor. ‘This was evidentally all the instruction he would get because the guards led him away, back along the corridor, down the stairs and across the entrance. Bramwell was soon standing in the courtyard feeling very confused.
‘Oi,’ called a man behind him. It was the Prime Minister, the man in charge of making sure all the Emperors pronouncements actually happened. ‘He needs the suit by tomorrow.’
‘What?!’ exclaimed Bramwell. ‘That doesn’t give me much time.’
‘Well you’re the 57th tailor he tried,’ said the PM. ‘Here…’ He threw a velvet sack to Bramwell. Bramwell of course didn’t catch it because he had no hand eye coordination but when he picked it up from the cobble stones he soon saw that it was brimming with gold coins. ‘What’s this for?’ asked Bramwell.
‘Buying the cloth to make the robes,’ explained the Prime Minister. ‘You’ll get ten times that in payment if you get the job done right.’
Bramwell was speechless with delight. The bag contained a fortune. But with ten fortunes he could do so much.
‘He could help the needy,’ said Samantha.
‘He could save for his future,’ said Derrick.
‘He could buy a cool car,’ said Michael.
‘Yes, but this was Bramwell,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And Bramwell is a Piggins, so when he thought of what he could do with ten fortunes his mind immediately went to chocolate. With that much money he could do more than buy a lifetime’s supply. He could buy a whole chocolate factory and make a life time’s supply every single day, and best of all he could eat it all himself without selling any to any customers. Bramwell was delirious with joy. It was such a wonderful prospect. Just thinking about all that chocolate made him hungry.
Now normally, when Bramwell was hungry he had no money, so all he could do was go around the back of restaurants and go through their rubbish looking for scraps. But right now, he had a whole purse full of gold. He could actually buy himself proper chocolate that wasn’t even passed it’s used by date yet.
But he needed that money to buy cloth for the emperor’s robes,’ said Samantha.
‘My dear girl,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You are thinking like a human. No pig thinks like that. A pig thinks chocolate, then every other thought rational or irrational alike is wiped from their mind and their entire being becomes totally focused in like a laser on achieving that one goal – shoving chocolate in their mouth. So, with a spring in his step, Bramwell made his way to the nearest chocolate shop. Nanny Piggins paused.
‘What happened next?’ asked Derrick.
Nanny Piggins didn’t speak, she just shook her head.
‘Come on Nanny Piggins, tell us,’ urged Michael.
Nanny Piggins dabbed a tear from her eye, ‘I can’t. You are too young to hear. It was horrific. Gross. Disgusting. Your minds are too pure to be sullied by the imagery, I dare not describe to you the events of that night. But suffice it to say, when Bramwell awoke the following morning, he found himself lying in the gutter outside the chocolate shop, chocolate stains over his face, body and clothing. And covered in scraps of candy wrappers. He was such a digusting sight, and stench, that even the rats skirted around him as they scurried about the alley.
‘And the money?’ asked Samantha.
‘Gone. All gone,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘In fact he owed the chocolate shop keeper hundreds more gold coins, because at one stage he had managed to smash through the shop’s window when he was grabbing to snatch a particularly delicious looking chocolate bar out of another customers hand.’
‘What about the robes?’ asked Derrick. ‘Had he started work on the Emperor’s robes.’
‘Hah,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He didn’t even have his own robes anymore. When he ran out of gold he swapped his own jacket and pants for a bite of a child’s milky way bar. He was destitute, dressed in his underwear and about to get in a lot of trouble with the most powerful man in the kingdom.’
‘Did he run away?’ asked Michael.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Bramwell was too lazy to run anywhere. He trudged dejectedly back to his home, put on his next door neighbours clothes. Which incidentally is why you should never leave your laundry out on the line overnight if you live next to an immoral pig. And made his way back to the palace.
The guards led him across the entrance, up the stairs and along the corridor. The whole time Bramwell felt sicker and sicker. And not just because he’d eaten several times his own body weight in chocolate, but because he was seriously worried how much trouble he was about to get into. The guards threw open the doors of the throne room and Bramwell was face to face with the Emperor.
‘Well said the Emperor, ‘Where are they?’
Now Bramwell is never honest even at the best of times, so there was no way he was going to start now. When asked, ‘Where are they?’ the last thing he would dream of saying was the truth, ‘They’re not here.’ So his brain automatically said the opposite of the truth, he said, ‘Here.’
‘Where?’ said the Emperor feeling confused.
Bramwell held his hand palm up in front of him and said, ‘Right here.’ Now Bramwell assumed that the Emperor would have him immediately arrested and dragged off to some dank dungeon to be tortured, perhaps by being forced to listen to German opera while eating Brussel sprouts. But instead, there was a look of confusion on the Emperor’s face. And nothing gladdens the heart of an accomplished liar like the sight of confusion, he knew he was in. Bramwell took his simple little falsehood and he began to weave a tapestry of deceit’.
‘Why it’s here in arms,’ said Bramwell. ‘It’s so silky and luxurious in the light it looks nothing like any other cloth.’
Which was actually true. It was nothing like any other cloth, because it didn’t exist.’
‘Oh yes,’ continued Bramwell. ‘Only the cleverest people can see it.’
‘Really?’ said the Emperor. Of course he didn’t want to admit that he wasn’t clever so he said, ‘Yes it’s lovely a very pleasing appearance.’
‘Indeed,’ said Bramwell. ‘No feel it for yourself. Go on, your majesty. Touch it.’
The Emperor leaned forward and tentatively poked the air between Bramwell’s hands.
‘I can’t feel anything!’ exclaimed the Emperor.
‘Exactly,’ said Bramwell. ‘The cloth is so fine. It’s made of silk from only the best looking silkworms in the world. It’s practically weightless.’
Which was also close to the truth. The truth was it was entirely weightless.
‘Only people with good judgement can feel it,’ added Bramwell.
‘Indeed?’ said the Emperor. He didn’t want anyone to think he didn’t have good judgement. ‘Yes yes, very smooth and fine. I feel it now.’
‘But to appreciate it you need to wear it,’ said Bramwell. ‘When it is against your skin this cloth is so light and airy, you feel like you’re barely wearing anything at all. Try it on.’
‘You’re kidding,’ said Derrick. ‘Surely he wouldn’t fall for that.’
‘Of course, he would,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Never underestimate the vanity of a vain person. Especially when they are a member of a royal family, and they’re suffering under the delusion that their vanity is entirely justified.’
‘So the Emperor stepped behind a screen, took off the robes he was wearing and put on the robes Bramwell had made. Then he stepped out from behind the screen.
‘And he was naked!’ exclaimed Michael.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Didn’t someone say something?’ asked Samantha.
‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You see, everyone else in the room was motivated by conflicting factors. The two guards standing closest were trying not to be ill because he really did look unsightly in the nude.
The Prime Minister didn’t say anything because the Emperor had forgotten to buy him a Christmas present 17 years in a row and he had been holding a grudge that whole time.
The Coutiers were desperately trying not to laugh.
And the Emperors court advisors, didn’t want to sound like idiots claiming that his robes didn’t exist when everyone else seemed to think they did. So altogether no one said anything.
And at that moment, the clock began to strike. Bong, bong, bong…
‘Ah,’ said the Emperor. ‘It is time for my procession. Guards, open the great doors!’
And so the Emperor stepped out of his castle. The main square was packed full with thousands of people. They fell away leaving a path for him. The Emperor stepped out into the sunshine. The people gasped and dropped their eyes. His chest swelled with pride. They were even more awed than usual at the sight of him. The king strode forward daintily stepping his way across the square.
‘And he was completely naked the whole time?’ confirmed Michael.
‘The only thing he wore was the 72 carat gold crown upon his head,’ said Nanny Piggins.
As he passed among them, the crowd shuffled back. The King liked this mark of respect. He proudly held his chin high and gave the smallest nods of acknowledgement to the crowd.
When a pretty young maid cringed and looked away, he smiled smugly that he had awestruck her.
He made all to the very centre of the great square when a little girl, who was below average height and so hadn’t seen the Emperor until that moment suddenly let out a loud yelp of shock, ‘Wah!’ she cried. ‘Mummy, that man is in the nudy. He is a naughty naughty man!’
The Emperor looked down. And suddenly he had a terrible realisation. The silky lighter than air robes were not silky or light at all. He had been tricked.
Now that the little girl had pointed it out, everyone else thought it was safe to respond. The entire crowd burst out laughing, great heaving guffaws, chortles and gasping breathes as all the people roared with hilarity greater than they had ever known.
The Emperor was utterly embarrassed for about half a nano-second and then that embarrassment transformed into rage. ‘Where is the tailor?’ demanded the Emperor. He spun around just in time to see Bramwell’s curly tail disappearing across the square. The Emperor took off sprinting after him. He ran and he ran, determined to catch Bramwell and punish him thoroughly.
‘Poor Bramwell,’ said Samantha. ‘I know he’s wicked and lazy. But the Emperor must have done something dreadful too him when he got hold of him.’
‘Oh the emperor never caught him,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because my brother has only one true talent, his ability to run away. The Emperor chased him through the city for hours, then out into the farmlands surrounding the city for days. And finally across the woods and mountains for weeks. But having consumed so much chocolate during his night of gluttony, Bramwell was full of energy and he just kept running and running. Thus the Emperor never caught him.
When the Emperor finally trudged back to town, months later and still completely naked, he was utterly dejected and humbled. He had humiliated in front of his people and outrun by a pig. He was despondant.
He just wanted to slink back into the city, hide in his castle and sulk for a good many years. But as he passed in through the city gates, he was spotted immediately. And a cry went out, ‘the Emperor has returned. People burss out of houses and shops to see. The Emperor held his head high and walked through the crowd. He was ashamed but he didn’t want his people to see it. He just wanted to get back to his castle. But as he made his way through he heard a voice say, ‘Check him out, isn’t he a hottie.’
The Eemperor looked about to see who she was talking about and he spotted and incredibly athletic wiry, suntanned man nearby. Then he realised that it wasn’t just any man. It was his own reflection in a window.
You see, chasing Bramwell across the countryside for weeks had been fantastic exercise. The Emperor wasn’t pudgy any more. He was muscly. And living off the land, drinking water from mountain streams and eating the vegetables and mushrooms he could find had made his skin healthier and his hair shiny. He had been transformed into an Adonis.
‘From that day forth,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The Emperor was a humbler and genuinely good looking man. The people adored him and he lived happily ever after.’
‘Thanks to Bramwell,’ concluded Samantha.
‘I wouldn’t go that far,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘What happened to Bramwell?’ asked Michael. ‘Did he get thin and athletic too from all the running?’
‘Of course not,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He hid in a cave on the first day, letting the Emperor run past. Then slowly ambled over to the next town where he decided to become a candlestick maker. So they all lived happily ever after, except for Bramwell. Who was soon run out of that town in the great blackout of the following month. The end. Time for bed.
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