Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

'The Tortoise and the Hare... and the Pig' told by Nanny Piggins

June 17, 2020 R.A. Spratt Season 1 Episode 17
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'The Tortoise and the Hare... and the Pig' told by Nanny Piggins
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'The Tortoise and the Hare... and the Pig' told by Nanny Piggins
Jun 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 17
R.A. Spratt

Late one night, after eating an incredibly large amount of ice cream Nanny Piggins tells the children the story of her distant relative from Ancient Greece, Aesop Piggins and the time she got in a foot race with a tortoise and a hare.

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Show Notes Transcript

Late one night, after eating an incredibly large amount of ice cream Nanny Piggins tells the children the story of her distant relative from Ancient Greece, Aesop Piggins and the time she got in a foot race with a tortoise and a hare.

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Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with me, R.A. Spratt. Today's story is ‘The Tortoise and the Hare… and the Pig’ 

Here we go...

It was late in the Green House. The children should have been in bed hours ago. But they had been in a high speed chase with an ice cream van. A chase which they’d won, so they had eaten a lot of ice cream. And now, thanks to the adrenaline of the chase and the sugar of the ice cream they weren’t at all sleepy.

‘How shall we while away the time?’ asked Nanny Piggins. ‘I know, let’s make prank calls to the headmaster!’

‘No,’ said Derrick. ‘He blocked your calls, remember.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Such a spoilsport. And I found a thesaurus the other day so I know lots of new synonyms for nincompoop.’

‘We could go bed,’ said Samantha.

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You can’t possibly eat 18 litres of ice cream and then go to bed. Your legs won’t have it. They’ll get restless. Then you’ll need to get up and jog on the spot. And no one likes jogging, so it’s best we all stay up.’

Now listeners, I want to assure you that Samantha was a sensible girl. She had not eaten 18 litres of ice cream. She had only eaten one. But having a weak human digestive system, even this moderate amount was making her feel a little ill and giddy with all the carbohydrates flowing through her blood stream.

‘Then what are we going to do?’ asked Michael.

‘After all that ice cream,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘We need to eat something healthy to calm our stomaches. I wonder if there are any doughnut vans driving around the neighbourhood that we could chase.’ She looked out the window optimistically to check.

‘I don’t think there are such things as doughnut vans,’ said Derrick. ‘And if there were I doubt they would be driving around at 2 o’clock in the morning.’

‘Yes,’ said Michael. ‘Someone would have warned them that you live here.’

‘And doughnuts aren’t health food,’ Samantha pointed out. ‘She had a particularly miserable PE teacher who had gone to great lengths to ruin eating doughnuts for her students by teaching them exactly what was in them.’

‘Of course, they’re healthy,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘There’s absolutely no calories or sugar or fat in the middle of them.’

It was late and the children’s brains were not operating at full efficiency. They looked puzzled as they struggled to come to terms with their nanny’s reasoning.

‘Plus,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘Doughnuts have a much higher surface area to volume ratio than regular cake, and a greater surface area means greater calorie leakage.’

‘What’s calorie leakage?’ asked Derrick. He didn’t really want to know. But now the idea had been put in his head, he couldn’t not enquire.

‘It’s where calories get exposed to the atmosphere,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Which makes them evaporate.’

‘They do?’ asked Samantha.

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s just like rust on a car. Except the opposite. Rust builds up. Calories disappear. That’s why you always weigh less in the morning than you do when you go to bed. Calorie evaporation.’

All three children were 100% convinced that this was not a scientific fact. But they didn’t like to say so. Never correct someone who has just run down and forced to stop a fully loaded ice cream van using nothing more than a designer handbag.

‘Since there are no doughnut vans in the street,’ said Michael sadly glancing out the window just to check and be sure. ‘Why don’t you tell us a story instead?’

‘I suppose I could,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘All the running we did today actually reminds me of one of my distant relatives.’

‘It does?’ asked Samantha. Nanny Piggins had so many impossibly glamorous and incredibly interesting relatives. If it was a story about one of them, it was sure to be good.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was a great great great great….’ She started counting the greats on her trotters, then realised she didn’t have enough ‘…let’s just say great to the power of 37 cousin. Her name was Aesop Piggins.’

‘Aesop!’ exclaimed Derrick. ‘The great story teller from Ancient Greece?’

‘You’ve heard of her?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

‘Everyone has heard of Aesop,’ said Derrick. ‘He wrote hundreds of famous stories. The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Tortoise and the Hare…

‘But wasn’t he a man?’ interrupted Michael.

‘Humpf,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Men are forever claiming the work of pigs.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said Samantha. ‘So you’re saying that not only was Aesop a woman, she was also a pig!’

‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Aesop wrote her stories 2000 years ago. It has to be a really good story for people to still remember it all this time later. You don’t think an average human could do that, do you?’

‘But a pig?’ said Derrick.

‘It makes much more sense,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘What sort of things did Aesop write about? The Lion and the Mouse, The boy who cried wolf, the goose that lay the golden egg… they’re all stories about animals aren’t they. So it only makes sense that they were written by an animal. Humans are too vain and self absorbed to write about other species. It’s one of their many flaws.’

It was at this point that the ice-cream combined with their nanny’s logic and the lateness of the hour began to make the children think that this reasoning actually made sense.

‘I will tell you her most famous story,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The tortoise and the hare… and the pig.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said Derrick. ‘Aesop’s most famous story is the tortoise and the hare. There’s no pig in it.’

‘Not in any published copies,’ admitted Nanny Piggins. ‘But that is because when it was written down. It was written by humans, and as you know they’re dreadfully lazy.’

Michael nodded. He was certainly lazy himself, especially when someone asked him to make his bed or wash behind his ears. He always found something better to do. Like sit still and do nothing.

‘No, the real original story as first told by cousin in 2590 BC was about the tortoise, the hair and the pig,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It all started when the hare got all puffed up and proud of himself and was boasting about how fast he could run. He was telling all the woodland creatures about how deeply impressive he was and how fast he could run from here to there and back again when his story was interrupted by snoring.’

‘Snoring?’ said Michael.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The tortoise had fallen fast asleep right in the middle of his anecdote. 

Now I know this is dreadfully rude. But you have to understand it was a lovely hot sunny day, the type of weather where you just want to close your eyes and relax and the tortoise had had a busy night the night before finalizing his tax return so all that talk of running. Which after all is the most boring topic on earth, put him fast asleep. 

The hare did not like this one little bit. He was offended that the tortoise wasn’t deeply impressed. So he challenged the poor tortoise to a running race. 

The tortoise didn’t know what to say. One moment he was having a lovely nap and dreaming of eating lettuce leaves, I know that sounds disgusting but it’s what tortoises like. They don’t even dip it in chocolate first, can you believe it?

Anyway, the suddenly he finds himself entered in a long distance foot race with a chattering bunny. The tortoise was so horrified he was speechless. Which was a shame because if he had thought of something to say, like ‘I’ve got to go my house is on fire’ or ‘Oh no, I’ve just remember I’ve got to fly to Brazil’, perhaps he could have gotten out of it. 

So the next morning the hare and the tortoise met for their race. Hundreds of other animals had gathered to watch. Which was why my cousin Aesop Piggins was there. She was running a chocolate stand and selling it to the spectators. She was quite the entrepreneur.

‘Wait a minute,’ said Derrick. ‘Had chocolate even been invented 2600 years ago?’

‘Oh goodness yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘We just didn’t let humans know about it until the 16th century. We knew they didn’t have the willpower to be able to resist it and eat it in reasonable amounts.’

‘You don’t eat it in reasonable amounts,’ Michael pointed out. 

‘No,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘No pig does, that’s how we know humans couldn’t either.’

When everyone was gathered, the Hare couldn’t resist some more speechafying so he said, ‘Today I will prove who is the fastest animal once and for all, me or the tortoise.’ Everyone laughed because they thought it was so clearly the hare. But mid speech the hare was interrupted.

‘Hah,’ scoffed Aesop Piggins. ‘Neither of you is the fastest animal. I’m much faster than both of you put together and multiplied by ten.’

‘What are you talking about?’ asked the Hare. ‘You’re just a pig.’

‘I beg your pardon,’ said Aesop Piggins. In a really threatening way. It’s amazing how much menace you can put into four polite words if you summon every ounce of your inner rage and put it into them.

‘Well you’re not exactly built for speed are you?’ said the Hare.

‘What are you trying to say?’ asked Aesop Piggins.

‘Well you’re you know, f…’

‘He didn’t say it?’ said Samantha. ‘Not...’ She couldn’t say it. She knew it was offensive to many, but especially Nanny Piggins.

Nanny Piggins shook her head and dabbed away a tear, ‘I can’t say the exact word he used but suffice it to say it rhymed with bat. And it is a nasty way of describing someone who was born with big bones.’

Michael squeezed his nanny’s trotter to be supportive.

‘Obviously, Aesop Piggins could not stand for that,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She climbed straight over the top of the counter of her stall and said.

‘Right that’s it,’ said Aesop Piggins. ‘I am going to teach you a lesson. Actually two lessons! One about who actually is the fastest animal. And another about why you should never ever be rude to a lady. Especially a lady pig, because we have standards.’

She took her place alongside the other two athletes.

The only animal who had brought a handkerchief was a hedgehog so he was elected the starter. He held up his handkerchief and announced, ‘on your marks… get set… ‘

He didn’t even get to say ‘go’ before the hare took off running. He whizzed across the clearing and down the path deeper into the forest.

The tortoise was a little slower off the mark. He actually waited for the word ‘go’ and for the handkerchief to come down, then he took off jogging at his own personal best pace. Which is faster than a slug but almost nothing else. 

Meanwhile Aesop Piggins stood absolutely stock still. She just watched the other two runners run away.

Why?’ asked Derrick.

‘Because she was determined to not just beat them but to utterly crush them,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘And how did not running help with that?’ asked Michael.

‘Motivation,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Summoning all your rage, right from the bottom of your trotters is an important part of any competitive endeavour. She wanted to vibrate with the need for revenge, so watching the other two leave was necessary. Once they were out of sight she turned. All the other woodland creatures were watching her to see what she would do. Well she showed them. She went back to her stand, sat down and started eating chocolate.

‘What?’ said Michael.

‘She opened a chocolate bar and started eating,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘She didn’t run at all? Neither quickly or slowly and steadily?’ asked Derrick.

‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Oh, the hare and the tortoise did that. The Hare took off and ran really quickly, got so far ahead he was bored then stopped for a rest and fell asleep. The tortoise diligently jogged at his very slow pace. And that all went on for some time. It was very tedious.’

But that’s the bit of the story we know,’ said Samantha.

‘Yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘For some reason human storytellers always focus on the boring bits. But while all that was going on Aesop Piggins was eating chocolate. It took her a while to eat her entire stock.’

‘Because she ate them slowly and steadily,’ guessed Michael.

‘Gosh no,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was a pig. She scoffed rapidly and enthusiastically with absolutely no nap breaks let me assure you. After her 300th chocolate bar she was just starting to feel reall good. She threw the last wrapper in the bin. Because Piggins never litter, and strode out to the start line. 

All the animals were still watching her. They hadn’t been able to tear their eyes away because her eating performance had been breathtaking. The hare and the tortoise had been gone for at least 20 minutes at this stage. They were expecting the hare to race back any second now. 

Aesop Piggins took a deep breath. After all that chocolate she had reached a higher state of mental clarity – or sugar delirium, which is much the same thing - and was feeling very philosophical. ‘I know it is petty of me to want to best these poor deluded animals. But sometimes the kindest thing you can do for another is to vanquish them with superior athleticism. 

She turned to the hedgehog, ‘Are you going to say on your marks set go?’

‘I did that once already,’ said the hedgehog.

‘Fair enough,’ said Aesop Piggins with a shrug. ‘I’ll just go then.’ And with that she took off.

‘Running?’ asked Michael.

‘I suppose so,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Although no one could really tell. She took off so fast it was more like a rocket launching. You see, she had fuelled herself up with so much chocolate she was an unstoppable force. She blasted through the forest. Trees were bent over by the suction of her whizzing past. At one point she reached such high speeds, she created a sonic boom that could be heard as far away as Tokyo. 

She shot past the sleeping hare. Past the trudging tortoise. And was back at the finish line just seconds after she’d started. And the only reason she stopped there was because she’d just remember that she’d hidden an extra chocolate bar up the tent pole of her marquee. The end.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said Derrick. ‘But this is a fable. Aesop’s fables always have an ending with a moral or a lesson to be learned.’

‘This story does have a lesson,’ said Nanny Piggins. 

‘What lesson?’ asked Michael.

‘Never challenge a pig to a foot race when you know she had a large supply of chocolate nearby,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘That’s a very specific lesson,’ said Samantha.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But from that day to this, that is why pigs have always been excluded from all the running races at the Olympics.’

‘Is that the actual reason,’ asked Derrick. It occurred to him that no other animals were allowed to compete either.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because the Olympics were invented thousands of years ago in Greece weren’t they? And those ancient Greeks can really hold a grudge. The end. Time for bed.’

Thank you for listening. To support this podcast just buy a book by me, R.A. Spratt. There's plenty to choose from across the Nanny Piggins series, Friday Barnes Girl Detective books or The Peski Kids books. You can order them through your local bookstore or by going to my website and clicking on the Book Depository banner. They have all my titles and free international shipping. Until next time, goodbye.