While stuck in a wrought iron fence, Nanny Piggins tells the story of her amazing relative, Jack Piggins and the time she swapped a cow for some cacoa beans.
While stuck in a wrought iron fence, Nanny Piggins tells the story of her amazing relative, Jack Piggins and the time she swapped a cow for some cacoa beans.
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Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt. This weeks story is 'Jack and the Cacao Beanstalk’ told by Nanny Piggins.
Here we go...
Nanny Piggins, Boris and the children were waiting for the police to arrive. Normally Nanny Piggins would flee as soon as heard the police siren. It was instinctive for her.
When you live most of your life in the circus, you are trained to run, leap and tightrope walk away from all law enforcement agents. But on this occasion she couldn’t. Indeed, she didn’t want to because the police were coming to help her.
You see, Nanny Piggins had got her head stuck in the railings of a fence. It may sound silly, but I assure you it is very easy to do.
Nanny Piggins and the children had been walking to school having a lovely conversation about the comparative benefits of using a bain marie to bake cheesecake, a topic Nanny Piggins could and would discuss at great length, when something had caught her eye. A quick silvery glimmer. Her head had instantly snapped round for a closer look.
And when Nanny Piggins looked she didn’t just look with her eyes, she also looked with her nose. Because she was a Pig and a pig’s snout to a human nose is like an electron microscope to a human eye. It has inconceivable sensory power.
As Nanny Piggins peered, she took a great long sniff and that’s when she identified the source. The glimmer was golden ray of sunlight shimmering off the most precious substance known to pig - a chocolate bar rapper.
And if her snout was correct, as it always was. At the bottom of that wrapper there was still a portion of chocolate. So naturally Nanny Piggins did the only thing she could do, she lunged for it.
Unfortunately, this was where things started to go wrong. Because there was a large wrought iron fence between her and the abandoned chocolate bar. It was the type of fence made in the previous century when rich people really knew how to construct barriers to keep burglars out. A ten tonne rhinoceros could charge this fence and not make a dent in it. So a 40kg nanny Piggins stood no chance.
It was amazing that she managed to get her head through the bars at all. It is a tribute to the bullet shape of her head. And the determination with which was sought to get her mouth to that chocolate bar. Sadly it was not to be.
The chocolate bar was a good two metres inside the fence, and her head was only 20centimetres from the tip of her snout to her ears when she became lodged. Even extending her tongue as far as she could she was well over a metre and a half short of her goal. Nanny Piggins shed bitter tears. And yet, these tears did not provide enough lubrication to facilitate her release.
She had not wanted the children to call the Police Sergeant. She was a trifle embarrassed to be in this predicament. What self respecting circus pig gets stuck? She had esxcaped from a straight jacket inside a locked safe at the bottom of an acquarium full of sharks. But with these steel bars she had met her match.
‘The Police Sergeant said he’ll be about 15 minutes,’ said Derrick as he jogged back to his Nanny from the pay phone. ‘He’s sorry he can’t be quicker. But there’s an armed robber holding up the bank and the Sergeant wants to try and arrest him first before he comes over.’
‘That would be right,’ said Nanny Piggin. ‘They say the police are meant to ‘protect and serve’ the community, but as soon as there is something more fun happening they’re not interested in helping a poor pig in distress.’
Boris wailed as he heard this. He hated seeing his sister come to harm. He had terrible anxiety about what he would do if he had to cope without her. He’d been banned from all the honey shops in a 500kilometres radius so he’d probably starve.
‘Why don’t we do something to take our mind of things,’ suggested Derrick. It was one thing for a pig to get stuck in a fence, but if a ten foot tall 700 kilogram bear had a total emotional break down the residents were sure to complain.
‘Like what?’ asked Nanny Piggins. ‘Eat a cake?’
‘We don’t have a cake,’ said Samantha.
‘You could bake me one,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘We don’t have an oven or cake ingredients either,’ said Samantha.
Nanny Piggins sighed, ‘Young people today. They’re so ill prepared for life. When I was a girl my mother never let me leave the house unless I had all the ingrediants to make a chocolate mud cake in my pockets.’
‘Really?’ asked Michael. ‘But wouldn’t the butter melt.’
‘Indeed it did,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Which made it lovely and soft and ready to mix with the sugar I kept in my other pocket. Mother was such a practical woman. Although sadly, her coture gowns always had butter stains.’
‘If we had a stick of butter we could rub it on your ears so you’d slip out,’ said Derrick.
‘There, you see!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Having cake ingredients in your pockets is tremendously useful.’
‘If you had cake ingrediants when you left the house this morning you would have eaten them by now,’ said Michael.
‘True,’ conceded Nanny Piggins. ‘But if I’d eaten a cake perhaps I wouldn’t have been so desperate to eat that chocolate bar.’
The children looked at the chocolate bar on the other side of the fence. The wrapper was still winking temptingly in the sun.
‘Who am I kidding,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Nothing could have stopped me wanting to eat that chocolate bar.’
Derrick checked his watch again, ‘Well we’ve got at least 12 minutes, why don’t you tell us a story? That would take your mind of things.’
‘I suppose I could,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But my spirit isn’t really in it. I’m feeling dangerously weak from lack of nourishment.’
‘You just ate 23 croissants at Hans bakery,’ Samantha reminded her.
‘That was just a light snack,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘If I get that chocolate bar for you,’ said Michael. ‘Do you think that would give you enough energy to tell us a story?’
Nanny Piggins sniffed, ‘From the smell of it, it’s half a square of dairy milk chocolate. So yes, I think that would give sufficient energy to tell a crackingly good yarn.’
‘Okay,’ said Michael. He stood up, walked three metres along the sidewalk, reached up and unlatched the gate and stepped through into the garden.
‘There was a gate?’ gasped Nanny Piggins.
‘And it was unlocked this whole time?’ asked Derrick.
‘I wish I’d noticed that earlier,’ said Nanny Piggins.
Michael popped the half square of chocolate into his Nanny’s mouth, then handed her the wrapper so she could lick it thoroughly.
‘Mmmmmm-mm-mmmm-mm,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’ll admit it is a trifle embarrassing for a pig of my calibre to be trapped by a mere fence. But having now eaten that chocolate it was certainly entirely worth it. Now what story should I tell you?’
‘A good one please,’ said Michael.
‘All my stories are good,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The question is which one… I know. I’ll tell you the story of my great aunt Jack Piggins.’
‘She was a woman called Jack?’ asked Samantha. ‘But isn’t Jack a boy’s name.’
‘It was short for Jacaranda,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But no one could spell that. Including her, so she shortened it to Jack. It made it much easier to fill out forms. Anyway my story begins one dreadful day when her mother became lactose intolerant.’
‘Huh?’ said Derrick.
‘Someone had challenged her mother to give up chocolate for an entire month,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Remember children, if any of your friends ever challenge you to do something so dangerous and foolish - they are no friend – say no right away!’
‘How is giving up chocolate dangerous?’ asked Michael.
‘Don’t they teach you anything at school?’ demanded Nanny Piggins.
‘Not much,’ said Michael. ‘I’m only in year 2.’
‘Chocolate is full of so many different types of essential goodness,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘There is calcium for stronger bones and teeth, vitamins for enabling enzyme reactions to take place at a cellular level, fats that are necessary for fingernails, hair and the mebranes of organeleles and carbohydrates to fuel your body.’
‘I thought chocolate was full of sugar,’ said Derrick.
‘It is!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Which is why it tastes so good! Something doesn’t have to taste like fungus scraped form the back of the kitchen sink down pipe to do you good, you know.’
‘But how is not eating chocolate dangerous?’ asked Samantha. She was a worrier and didn’t like to think that there was something she should be worrying about that she didn’t know about yet.
‘Well you see,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If you don’t eat chocolate for a prolonged period of time your body forgets how to process it. All the microorganisms in your gut that digest chocolate die away.’
Boris wailed louder, ‘This story is so said.’ Samantha gave him a comforting hug as he sobbed into her shoulder.
‘Then your body can’t digest chocolate at all,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘To eat chocolate would make you bloat up and feel painfully uncomfortable. You might even explode.’
‘Is that true?’ asked Derrick.
‘Well, no,’ admitted Nanny Piggins. ‘But you should never let the truth ruin a good story. So anyway, Jack’s mother had gone for so long without chocolate that she could no longer tolerate it. So, since she couldn’t eat chocolate or drink milk or eat butter, she told Jacquie to sell their cow.’
‘Wait a second,’ said Samantha. ‘This story sounds familiar. Are you telling us the story of Jack and the Beanstalk?’
‘I am not,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I am telling you the story of Jack… and the cacoa bean stalk. Sadly it all too place back in the olden story days when people weren’t as familiar with cacoa as they are today, so the nincompoop who wrote it down got the type of plant wrong.
He said it was a beanstalk. But that is clearly ridiculous. No one would climb a beanstalk. Why on earth would they? No one would want to eat a bean. But a cacoa plant, that makes sense. If a gaint cacoa plant, with giant cacoa beans grew overnight in your garden, You’d immediately want to make giant chocolate bars, so you’d climb it as quick as you could.’
Nanny Piggins stopped and started sucking on the already licked clean chocolate bar wrapper, just to try and ingest every last microparticle of deliciousness.
‘What happened next?’ asked Michael.
‘What happened where?’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘In the story about Jack and the Cacao Bean Stalk,’ sadi Michael.
‘Oh yes, I forgot I was telling you that one,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You children really must learn to stop interrupting. It’s hard to enough to concentrate with the scent of chocolate in the air. Where was I...?
‘She took the cow into to town to sell,’ prompted Samantha.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So she did.’
‘For just a handful of beans?’ asked Michael.
‘Of course not!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins. ‘The cow produced the very finest, richest, creamiest milk in all the land. She sold it for a fortune!’
‘So they made lots of money and lived happily ever after,’ said Samanth.
‘Not quite,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Jack was a Piggins. Once she had thousands of gold coins in her trotters she did fully intend to return home and give them to her mother, unfortunately the route home took her past a chocolate shop.’
‘Oh no,’ said Derrick. He knew his nanny and he knew if his nanny’s great aunt was anything like her, she was not physically capable of walking past a chocolate shop.
Her trotters drew her in through the front door. And a few short hours of intense gluttony later, and all the money was gone. She had nothing to show for the sale of the cow. When she realised what she had done, Jack sat down and wept. Much like Boris is doing now.
He was still sobbing softly into Samantha’s shoulder. ‘Oh woe is me,’ said Jack. ‘I have sold my mother’s only cow and I have nothing to show for it.’
‘The chocolate shop owner too pity on her,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It is easy to take pity when you’ve just sold thousands of dollars worth of stock.
‘Here,’ he said, he scooped up a handful of cacao beans he used to decorate his shop. ‘Give these to your mother.’
‘What is she going to do with this?’ asked Jackie.
The shop keeper shrugged. ‘It’s better than nothing.’
‘Not much better,’ grumbled Jackie. But she tucked the beans in her pocket and trudged home anyway.
Now Jackie’s mother was a good woman, really, despite her intolerance to chocolate. But how could she not be incensed by a child who has apparently swapped a perfectly good cow for a handful of shrivelled old beans? She was horrified by the terrible deal her daughter had struck. She ordered Jackie to go to her bedroom and read several long and boring books about business negotiation. Then she angrily threw the beans straight out the window. Which, as you know, is very wrong of her because just because you are angry is no excuse for littering.
‘But surely it’s not littering if it’s beans,’ said Samantha.
‘If you leave beans lying around on the ground it will only attract pests,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Rats?’ asked Derrick.
‘No, worse, vegetarians,’ said Nanny Piggins with a shudder. ‘So anway - Jackie went to sleep, very quickly as it happens because the business books were so boring. And when she awoke the next morning feeling very refreshed. As she looked at her alarm clock she realised she had over slept by two hours, because it was still dark outside. This was very puzzling. There was no solar eclipse, no storms were forecast, something was blocking out the light. Jack went to the window to see what it was and she spied it – a massive cacao plant.
‘You mean a beanstalk?’ said Michael.
‘Technically cacoa grows on a bush,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Sadly early story tellers were not sticklers for accuracy, writers can be so lazy that way. But if you must refer to it as a beanstalk because that’s what you’re used to I suppose that’s okay.’
‘Naturally on finding a massive cacao beanstalk in her garden Jack had to climb it. You don’t get to be a lead character is a fairy tale unless that sort of instinct is fundamental to your character.
Jack grabbed her grappling hook, vaulted out her window and set to work climbing. She climbed and she climbed. It was an incredibly big bush. It reached right up into the sky, all the way into the clouds. And as she climbed through the clouds, she was startled by what she discovered.
‘That the clouds were made of cotton candy?’ asked Michael.
‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Don’t they teach you anything at school? The clouds were made of sherbet puffs.’
‘Yum,’ said Micahel.
‘And there - amidst the sherbet puffs…’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘…was a huge castle. Jack tentatively approached the building. She pushed open the massive front door and called out… ‘Yoohoo! Any body home?
And the response she heard was, ‘honk.’
‘Honk?’ said Derrick.
‘Honk,’ confirmed Nanny Piggins. ‘Honk, honk, honk. Jack followed the honking and soon came to a massive chamber. In the middle of the chamber was a cage, the cage contained a goose and the goose said ‘honk’. Much like the horn on a motor car, only scarier. There is something intimidating about geese. They are bigger up close than you would think.
‘And it was the goose that laid golden eggs?’ asked Derrick.
‘Oh, no,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Much better. This was the goose that lay chocolate eggs.’
‘What?’ said Samantha.
‘Right before her eyes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Jack saw the goose honk three times, then lay a chocolate egg.’
‘With coloured aluminium foil wrapped around it?’ asked Michael.
‘Don’t be silly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The goose had the amazing magical power to lay chocolate eggs isn’t that enough? You want them wrapped in foil as well?’
‘Sorry,’ said Michael. ‘It’s just that chocolate eggs made me think of the easter bunny.’
‘Ahh,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘As well they might. Because the next moment Jackie her huge clomping foot-thumps.’
‘Don’t you mean footsteps?’ asked Samantha.
‘No, I mean foot-thumps,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Of a giant?’ asked Derrick.
‘Of a giant bunny,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Fe fi fo fig, I smell the blood of a tasty pig,’ said the Easter Bunny.
‘Wait a minute,’ said Samantha. ‘But the easter bunny is a rabbit and rabbits are vegetarians.’
‘Oh you know lots of giant cloud living rabbits do you?’ asked Nanny Piggins. ‘You regularly dine with giant magical rabits and take notes on their culinary preferences?’
‘No,’ admitted Samantha.
‘This was one very big and very unpleasant bunny,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Jack immediately made a snap decision. She couldn’t leave such a glorious chocolate making goose in the care of a wicked rabbit for a moment longer. If this giant bunny was capable of threatening to eat a pig, who knew what it might do to the goose!’
‘So what did Jack do?’ asked Derrick.
Jack picked the lock on the cage, which took less than a second, because she was a Piggins and we all have a natural talent for that sort of thing. She then presented a series of reasoned arguments to the goose on why she would be a much better choice for room-mates than the power crazed bunny. The goose agreed and they both fled from the case.
‘The giant bunny bounced after them, each time it landed the clouds of sherbet puffs shook and quivered beneath it’s giant feet. Jacke was seriously worried they might fall right off the cloud and tumble to the ground hundreds of metres below. Of course the goose would be fine because it could fly. But Jackie was not a flying pig. Cannons had not been invented so she didn’t know any of the correct landing techniques.
Your technique is just to aim for a backyard swimming pool.
Yes, agreed Nanny Piggins, ‘And that is a jolly good technique, I highly recommend. If you are going to plummet hundreds of metres out of the sky, a backyard pool is a much nicer landing place than a concrete tennis court or worse an avant guarde steel scultpture depiciting mans inhumanity to man.
Anyway, the giant was thundering down the beanstalk towards them and being a bunny rabbit it moved rapidly. It didn’t climb down the bush, it leapt from leaf to leaf.
Jack called out to her mother, ‘Mum help!’
‘Now, luckily at that moment Jack’s mother was pruning a particularly overgrown part of their hedge, so she just happened to have her chainsaw with her. It took her half a second to take in what was going on, and with the mighty power of a protective mother she pulled on the starter cord and the chain saw roared to life.
‘Stop enjoying the sound of the chainsaw and quick cut down this beanstalk!
Mum didn’t have to be told twice. With two quick slices she cut through the base of the stalk and the whole thing toppled over with a huge crash.
‘And the Easter bunny died?’ asked Samantha.
Boris wailed at this thought.
‘No, the Easter Bunny fell and hit his head very hard,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘When he woke up he had complete amnesia.’
‘Who am I?’ asked the bunny. ‘What am I doing here?’
‘You are the Easter bunny,’ said Jackie. ‘It’s your job to deliver easter eggs to boys and girls around the world.’
‘Really?’ asked the bunny. It did not sound like a very believable story.
But at that exact moment the goose honked and popped out a chocolate egg.
‘Gosh,’ said the giant bunny. ‘I must be then.’
And so that’s what happened. From that day forth the goose laid chocolate eggs, and the bunny delivered them, but only after Jackie had rigorously tested a large sample for quality.
‘You mean, she scoffed lots every day?’ guessed Michael.
‘Well, she was a Piggins,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘But the Easter bunny isnt’t a giant,’ said Michael.
‘No, not any more,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Hopping around the world every year has been wonderful for his fitness he is very trim and lean these days. And Jack’s mum persuaded him to become a vegetarian so he doesn’t eat bacon sandwiches anymore. So they all lived happily every after, the end.’
Just then they heard the sound of a police siren getting closer.
‘Oh, here’s the police sergeant,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Sorry, I took so long Nanny P,’ called the Sergeant. ‘The bank robber won’t surrender. I don’t suppose you’d come down and have a word with him.
‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins standing up and walking over to the car.’
‘You’re free,’ said Derrick. ‘How did you get unstuck.’
‘It must have been all that talking,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It must have worked my jaw loose. Let’s go and get this bank robber. But we must stop at the sweet shop on the way. If I’m going to persuade him to give up I’ll need a large block of dairy milk chocolate to bribe him, and another one for me to reward me for my hard work.
Thank you for listening. To support this podcast just buy a book by me, R.A. Spratt. There are plenty to choose from across the Nanny Piggins, Friday Barnes and Peski Kids series. You can order them through your local bookstore or go to my website, raspratt.com and click on the Book Depository banner. They've got all my titles and free international shipping.
That's it for now. Until next time goodbye.