When detained by the police for starting a riot at the local supermarket, Nanny Piggins tells the children a story about two distant cousins of hers called Hansel and Gretel.
When detained by the police for starting a riot at the local supermarket, Nanny Piggins tells the children a story about two distant cousins of hers called Hansel and Gretel.
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Hello, and welcome to Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt. Today's story is...
Hansel and Gretel as told by Nannny Piggins
Here we go...
Nanny Piggins and the children were locked up in jail. Well strictly speaking it wasn’t actually jail. It was the holding cell at their local police station. And they hadn’t actually been arrested. They were being held for their own safety, because Nanny Piggins had started a riot at the supermarket when she had discovered that a chocolate manufacturer had changed the recipe of one of her favourite chocolate bars without writing to her and asking permission first.
The supermarket manager had begged her to stop yelling and weeping, because she was scaring the other customers. But Nanny Piggins hated being told what to do at the best of times, and she absolutely could not stand it when she was delirious from hunger because she had gone on a hunger strike the moment she had realised the travesty that had taken place. And hunger striking did not suit Nanny Piggins temperament. Just 30 seconds into her hunger strike she was swinging her hand bag in loops about her head and bellowing war cries as she chased the shopping centre security guards up and down the ailses.
Luckily the police sergeant was a dear friend of Nanny Piggins and he was eventually able to talk her down from her toilet paper fort, that she had built on top of the baked beans in the canned vegetable aisle. The sergeant knew that the best was to handle Nanny Piggins was not with threats, or even tasers, but with extreme politeness and tossing a packet of really chocolatey chocolate biscuits into the fort.
Seventeen packets of biscuits later Nanny Piggins was beginning to feel her old self again. True she was covered in biscuit crumbs and chocolate stains, but she almost always covered in crumbs and stains, so it was a comforting return to normality for the children.
Now they were just biding their time until Mr Green came to pick them up. They needed to be picked up by a responsible adult and since they didn’t know any, they had opted to be picked up by Mr Green instead. Obviously it was going to be a long wait, because Mr Green was suffering under the misapprehension that he was important and that his time was valuable. As so many men who wear suits do. Also, he found it relaxing to, for once, know exactly where his nanny and children were, so he was in no hurry.
Nanny Piggins was just beginning to look around herself wondering how they could while away the time.
‘There isn’t a lot of scope for the imagination in this jail cell,’ said Nanny Piggins. The children were sitting either side of her on the narrow bed. The only other thing in the cell was a toilet.
There’s not much you can do with a toilet,’ continued Nanny Piggins.
‘Except go to the toilet,’ observed Michael.
‘Or we could try and escape through it,’ said Nanny Piggins peering into the bowl. ‘Can any of your children dislocate your shoulders?’
The children all shook their heads, hoping their Nanny wasn’t going to make them try. ‘I knew a contortionist at the circus who could squeeze her way through an s-bend,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Really?’ said Derrick. Apart from being S shaped, the s-bend of a toilet is also very narrow. He would have been very intrigued to see a person squeeze their way through it.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She used to do it five times a night at the circus. Until one night, when it all went tragically wrong.’
‘What happened?’ asked Michael.
Nanny Piggins bit her lip, it was a sad memory. ‘She got stuck. She ate a guinea pig for lunch and it didn’t digest in time.’
‘She ate a guinea pig?’ asked Samantha in alarm.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Swallowed it whole.’
‘Wow!’ said Michael.
‘What sort of person eats a guinea pig whole?’ asked Derrick.
‘Oh, I never said she was a person,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was a boa constrictor.’
‘A snake?’ asked Michael.
‘Oh, you never refer to a boa constrictor as a ‘snake’,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They don’t like it. And you don’t want to irritate a boa constrictor, not if you like breathing.’
Now you have to understand that Samantha was a worrier. And she was seriously worried that if Nanny Piggins continued this description of her friend, the boa constrictor, that the mental images it was conjuring in her imagination would traumatise her for life. And she would never be able to sleep again. As such, she was desperate to change the subject and so Samantha said, ‘Nanny Piggins how about we forget about the toilet and you tell us a story instead.’
‘I suppose that would while away the time,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Oh yes, please,’ said Michael.
Nanny Piggins always told the most amazing stories. Michael was actually enjoying story about the snake and the toilet, but he would be happy to hear another one as well.
‘Let me see,’ said Nanny Piggins rubbing her snout thoughtfully. ‘I know so very many good stories. It’s hard to pick.’
‘One without snakes or boa constrictors or serpents or legless lizards, please,’ said Samantha.
‘I could tell you a story about two cousins of mine,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They were from the German branch of the family. Their names were Hansel and Gretel.’
‘Oh, I’ve heard this story,’ said Michael.
‘You have?’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘It’s about a boy and girl who get lost in the woods,’ said Michael.
‘Well you’re wrong already,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘What a ridiculous premise. Who would be interested in that? A boy and a girl lost in the woods. Blah blah blah. All very tedious. No my story is much better. In my story Hansel and Gretel were pigs.’
‘That must have been left out of my version,’ said Michael.
‘It doesn’t surprise me,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Did a human tell it to you?’
‘Um… yes,’ conceded Michael.
Nanny Piggins shook her head sadly, ‘Humans are a very pigist species. Not you three, obviously, because I have raised you to be good open minded humans. But the vast majority of humans do not give us pigs the respect we deserve.’
Derrick could see that Nanny Piggins was starting to work herself up again, so he tried to get her back on track.
‘Please do tell us about your cousins then,’ he prompted.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The poor unfortunate piglets. There mother had gone.’
‘Where?’ asked Samantha.
‘I don’t know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s a story. It’s traditional to get rid of one or both of the parents right off the bat, do you really want to get bogged down in the back story.’
‘No,’ said Michael. ‘Just keep telling it.’
‘There mother had gone,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Which was bad enough in itself. But it was extra bad in their case because their father was completely hopeless.’
‘In what way?’ asked Derrick.
‘He was a tax lawyer,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Just like our father!?’ said Michael.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If funny how all the worst ones are tax lawyers. It wasn’t much of a problem, because he was off at his office all day lawyering away, and leaving Hansel and Gretel to do whatever they like. Until one dreadful day when their father committed an absolutely diabolical act.’
‘What was it?’ asked Samantha, this story was already terrifying her and she was seriously considering asking if they could go back to the story about the snake in the toilet.
‘Their father got married,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Oh,’ said Derrick. He couldn’t see what was wrong with that, but he didn’t like to say so in case Nanny Piggins got angry.
Michael’s impulse control wasn’t as good as his brothers, ‘And their new stepmother was a witch!’ guess Michael.
‘Oh no,’ said Nanny Piggins, ‘Much worse than that. A thousand times worse than that.’
‘What’s worse than a witch?’ asked Derrick.
‘Was she a maths teacher,’ asked Samantha. Her own maths teacher gave her nightmares.
‘Was she a librarian?’ guessed Michael, he had several extremely overdue adventure books and he was terrified of the fines.
‘No no, a thousand times worse than any of those, there new stepmother was…. A supermodel!’ declared Nanny Piggins. She sat back and gave the children a moment to come to terms with the abject horror of this revelation. But the children did not quite follow.
‘A supermodel?’ said Michael.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘You mean, an incredibly beautiful woman who poses for photographs in magazines and earns millions of dollars just to wear beautiful designer clothes,’ said Samantha.
‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins nodding.
Derrick couldn’t hold out any longer he had to ask, ‘And what’s so terrible about that?’
‘What so terrible about that?!’ demanded Nanny Piggins. ‘She was a supermodel. Her job was to look beautiful and skinny so she could wear clothes.’
‘So?’ said Michael.
‘So she ate health food!’ declared Nanny Piggins.
‘Ooooh,’ said the children, finally catching on. They knew for their Nanny nothing was more horrifying than health food. In fact, to her, just the idea of a carrot stick was a thousand times more terrifying than the idea of a boa constrictor in the s-bend was to Samantha.’
‘But that was not the most diabolical part,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She tried to make the children eat health food as well!’
‘Oh good gracious no!’ exclaimed Boris. He didn’t wear clothes himself, so he buried his face in Samantha’s sweater to he wouldn’t have to look.
‘It was unendurable,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The children knew their only chance of survival was escape.’
‘But wait a minute,’ said Derrick. ‘Isn’t that a bit drastic? Couldn’t they just sneak in food?
‘Oh they tried,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They had a pizza delivery man deliver ten super supreme pizzas to a bush down the back of their backyard. But their stepmother found them. Admittedly they were enthusiastic eaters, so the sound of their guzzling may have given them away.’
‘And she threw the food out?’ guessed Samantha.
‘If she did that at least she would be sticking to her principals,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But she didn’t throw their food out.’
‘What did she do then?’ asked Michael. Although he dreaded to hear what would be worse than throwing out perfectly good pizza out.
‘She ate it, she ate it all!” declared Nanny Piggins. ‘Every time they snuck in a pizza, a cup cake, even just the tiniest scrap of a pretzel crumb – she would guzzle it up.’
‘But you said she was into healthy eating,’ said Derrick, feeling very confused.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But as with so many people who claim to be on diets. As soon as she saw, smelled or heard the crunch of something delicious she would swoop, snap it up and shove in her mouth. She couldn’t help herself.’
‘Wow,’ said Michael.
‘In a way, I almost feel sorry for her,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She had been without tasty food for so long, it had probably altered her blood chemistry causing brain damage. Vegetables have been known to have that effect on people.’
‘Really,’ said Derrick, sceptically. ‘Has that been scientifically proven.’
‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Have you ever met anyone who claims to like Brussel sprouts that wasn’t stark raving mad?’
The children had never met anyone at all who liked Brussel sprouts so they really couldn’t say. They just nodded, hoping that this would be the quickest way to get their nanny to continue with her enthralling tale.
‘So they decided to escape,’ prompted Derrick.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They didn’t want to but they had no choice. Their stepmother had threatened them.’
‘With violence?’ asked Samantha.
‘Oh no, much worse,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She threatened them with… tofu! She announced that she would be serving it for dinner that evening.’
‘Gosh,’ said Samantha. She had actually once eaten very tasty salt at pepper tofu at a Chinese restaurant, but she didn’t like to point this out in case Nanny Piggins got side tracked from the story.
‘Hansel and Gretel waited until their parents lay down for an afternoon nap,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘When their father and stepmother were in the deepest sleep. They’d had kale for lunch so it could have been sleep or they could have lapsed into a coma from malnutrition, either way, the children were able to force open their window, tie a chain of leeks together, slide down this makeshift rope and run off into the forest.
‘The forest?’ asked Michael.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Did I forget to mention, they lived right next to a forest. Children in stories always seem to live right next to forests. It’s quite unfortunate really. If their parents don’t want their children to encounter wolves and trolls they’d be much better off buying a home in a built-up area, perhaps near a cake shop.’
‘So in the forest,’ said Samantha. ‘Did they leave a trail of bread crumbs, so they wouldn’t get lost?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They’d been forced to eat kale, bean sprouts and lettuce for weeks. If they’d had breadcrumbs they would have eaten them.’
‘Oh,’ said Samantha.
‘They left a trail of turnips,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No one wants to eat a turnip. So they knew they could leave them lying around and no one would dream of touching one.’
Hansel and Gretel found a nice snug cave, and had a lovely night’s sleep. When they woke up the sun was shining. They knew it would be safe to go back to their house. The tofu would be gone, and while whole grain high fibre cereal was pretty bad, they were hungry enough to be able to endure that. So they set out to head home. But they did not know which way to go – because the turnips were gone!
Someone ate them? Asked Derrick.
‘Goodness no!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Someone threw them away. You see, they lived in a very nice neighbourhood. The local council took its responsibilities very seriously. They always cleaned up litter straight away. A garbage patrol had spotted the turnips and taken them away to be vegetably destroyed immediately.
‘How can something be vegetably destroyed?’ asked Derrick.
‘It’s like being humanely destroyed,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Only for vegetables.’
‘What did Hanzel and Gretel do?’ asked Samantha.
‘Well be this stage they were ravenous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They hadn’t had a proper meal since their father remarried. And now they hadn’t eaten at all since breakfast the previous day. So they were very weak and delirious. They tried to find their way back. But it had been dark when they walked there. They had no idea which path to follow. They stumbled about through the forest all day, only getting more and more lost.’
‘This is dreadful,’ wailed Boris. ‘I can’t bear it, and I’m a bear. So I should be good at bearing.’
‘It was getting late,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It would not be long until sunset. The children were desperate. They were seriously considering eating bark off a tree. They figured it couldn’t be worse than boiled cabbage. When all of a sudden they caught the wiff of a wonderful smell.’
‘What sort of smell?’ asked Boris. ‘It wasn’t my body odour was it? It’s not my fault if I get sweaty when I’m ballet dancing.’
‘No, the smell they smelt was gingery,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And spicey. And bready. They started to rush forward, their weakened limbs propelling them towards the wonderous aroma. Until they stumbled in to a clearing and right in front of them was a gingerbread house.
And I don’t mean the type of ginger bread house you see at Christmas. The type that is about the size of a shoe box and decorated with little lollies all over the roof. No this was a full sized 8 bedroom luxury home complete with a swimming pool full of jelly, a fountain of lemonade and a waterfall of chocolate in the back garden. The roof tiles were made of chocolate freckles as big as dinner plates. The windows weren’t made of glass, but multi coloured boiled lollies. The building frame was made of peppermint sticks as thick as tree trunks. It was the most amazing sight to behold.’
‘What did they do?’ asked Samantha.
‘Hansel and Gretel launched themselves at the house with open mouths,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They starting chomping the walls, guzzling the guttering, licking the doorframes, nibbling the eaves, and chewing the window boxes. They ate and guzzled and chomped greedily for hours.’
‘That must have been wonderful,’ said Derrick.
‘It was at the time,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Until the home owner returned.’
‘Was she a witch?’ asked Michael.
‘Why yes she was!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘How did you know?’
‘Just a guess,’ said Michael. ‘Usually in these stories, a wicked witch turns up eventually.’
‘Oh well she wasn’t a wicked witch at all,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was a lovely witch. Yes, she had turned a few children into toads, and princesses into narcoleptics. But we’d all do that if we could. No, over all she was a lovely person. She was just coming up after volunteering at the retirement home for old deaf war veterans when she came across the scene. At first she thought an incredibly specific tornado must have hit her home, there was such massive structural damage to the exterior. She whipped out her phone and was about to call her insurer, when she noticed the two piglets lying on the ground.
‘Why were they lying down?’ asked Samantha.
‘They were exhausted from gluttony,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’ve always enjoyed gluttony myself. But to be gluttonous requires training. If your digestive muscles aren’t fit enough to handle multiple times your own body weight in sugary food, you need to build yourselves up to that level. Hansel and Gretel were in terrible shape. Their kale ravaged bodies couldn’t handle it.’
Hanzel and Gretel tried to run away. But stupidly they ran into the house. They darted through the living room, down the hall to the kitchen. They knew the witch was close behind them. They needed a place to hide. Hansel had an idea. He threw open the oven, ‘quick in here,’ he said. Gretel climbed in with him and they shut the door. The witch ran into the kitchen the next moment.
Now you have to understand this was a sophisticated witch with a wonderful job as a school vice principal. She had a good salary, and had invested wisely. As such, she had a lovely kitchen with all the latest appliances. Her stove wasn’t some cast iron lump of metal. It was the very latest Italian design electric oven – with a glass door.
She could clearly see the two vandals, smugly hiding in her own appliance. So she decided to teach them a lesson in guest etiquette. She turned the oven on, 200 degrees celcius for 45 minutes. ‘That ought to do it,’ said the witch.
‘Were the children alright,’ asked Samantha.
Inside the oven they were actually quite comfortable. There was plenty of space for both of them and it was lovely and warm. But soon it became a little too warm. And then positively hot.
The witch was happily humming to herself as she sliced bread, chopped tomatoes and rinsed lettuce.
‘What was she making?’ asked Derrick.
‘She was making a BLT,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And Hansel and Gretel were going to be the B.’
‘I don’t understand,’ said Michael.
‘L stands for lettuce, T stands for tomato and B…’ Samantha hesitated because she knew the word she was about to say made Nanny Piggins very angry. ‘…stands for… bacon.’
‘Now you weak willed humans like the smell of bacon,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But you must understand that to a pig it is the most terrifying horrific smell of all. And as Hansel and Gretel were curled up in that oven, they began to smell this dreaded stench.’
‘Oh my gosh,’ said Hansel. ‘I smell bacon!’
‘No,’ cried Gretel, clutching her trotter to her snout. ‘Where’s it coming from?’
They both sniffed about and then the realised.
‘It’s coming from us!’
They burst out of the oven and fled as fast at their trotters could carry them. The witch tore after them firing spells and curses at them as they ran. Kapow! Pow! Zing! But as they ran out the front door, Gretel could not resist pausing for one last bite of the peppermint doorframe.’
‘She was being chased by a vengeful witch and she stopped for a snack?’ marvelled Derrick.
‘That snack saved her life,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She chomped a bite and kept on running. But that one bite compromised the structural integrity of the doorframe just enough to make it collapse. Which make the wall collapse. Which made the entire second story rumpus room cave in on the witch’s head.
Hansel and Gretel ran as fast as they could, stumbling through bushes and around trees until they burst out of the forest. They found their way home. And they never ever complained about their stepmother’s cooking again.
Because they’d learned their lesson and appreciated healthy food now?
‘No, because while they were away their step mother had discovered Mexican cuisine,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She completely gave up tofu, kale and lentils and every night they had cheese laden nachos, tacos and burritos instead.’ So they all lived happily ever after, except for the poor witch who never could bring herself to trust children again, the end. Time for bed.
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