Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

'The Princess and the Pea' told by Nanny Piggins

September 23, 2020 R.A. Spratt Season 1 Episode 31
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'The Princess and the Pea' told by Nanny Piggins
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'The Princess and the Pea' told by Nanny Piggins
Sep 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 31
R.A. Spratt

Nanny Piggins tells her version of the classic story 'The Princess and the Pea' with her own strongly held views on the subject.

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Show Notes Transcript

Nanny Piggins tells her version of the classic story 'The Princess and the Pea' with her own strongly held views on the subject.

Support the show (

The Princess, the Pea and the Prince with a brain the size of a Pea.


‘Once upon a time there was a very stupid Prince’, Nanny Piggins began.

‘Nanny Piggins, you can’t say someone is stupid,’ protested Derrick.

‘What? Not even if they are?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

‘Especially if they are,’ said Michael.

‘It’s rude,’ explained Samantha.

Nanny Piggins scowled, ‘Oh heaven forbid that someone think I am rude.’

‘You’re the one who is always telling us we shouldn’t be superficial in our judgments of others,’ Samantha reminded her.

‘Yes, that’s because you always want me to tell you stories about handsome princes and beautiful princesses,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So for once, when I decide to mix it up, you complain!’

‘We don’t want people to think you’re rude,’ said Michael. ‘Not when you’re so wonderful.’

Now listeners - this was obviously a piece of blatant sucking up, but Michael loved a good story and he really wanted his nanny to get on with hers, so he was prepared to be shameless in his flattery.

‘Very true,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. 

It may sound conceited that she was agreeing she was wonderful. But it was factually true. Nanny Piggins did any number of physically amazing things that filled the children with wonder on a daily basis. She was a firm believer that while it was nice to be modest it was wrong to lie.

‘So this prince was not the most accomplished academically?’ prompted Samantha, diplomatically.

‘I have no idea about his academic results,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I doubt he even went to school. Not many people did in the olden story days. People were too busy running away from wolves or towards animated gingerbread men. They led busy lives. But this prince was a poor specimen of a man.’

‘In what way?’ asked Derrick.

‘He was totally hopeless at getting married,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘I think a lot of adults are,’ said Michael. 

The children had no idea how their own father had managed to woe their mother. They always assumed it had something to do with temporary amnesia, perhaps as the result of having an anvil accidentally dropped on her head.

‘Yes, but he was so hopeless at it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘That he asked his mother to help him find one.’

‘Find what?’ asked Derrick.

‘A wife,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Oh,’ said the children. 

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Now as you know, mothers are the most wonderful people on the planet. It’s perfectly fine to ask them to help you tie your shoelace if you’re four years old, or ask them to teach you how to juggle chainsaws if you’re seven and you’ve never done it before.’ 

Nanny Piggins had grown up in a circus where this was the type of life lesson young people turned to their parents for. 

‘But for a 29 year old man, a prince no less, heir to an entire kingdom, ruler of a country for him to ask his mother to help him find a wife that’s just sad. Some might say stupid. If they were allowed to by the mean children they look after.’ Nanny Piggins glowered at the children as she said this. She did not approve of censorship, especially not of her.

‘Perhaps his mother was really good at matchmaking,’ said Samantha.

‘What?’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She couldn’t make matchsticks at all. She was a Queen. She could barely do anything. She had servants for everything, including blowing her nose. So unhygienic.’

‘No, I mean perhaps she was good at helping couples meet,’ said Samantha.

‘Ooooh,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No, she was hopeless at it. Royalty generally are. Which is ironic really, because in fairy stories about princes and princesses they always live happily ever after. But in real life with princes and princesses, they usually sulk and eat too much cake, and ride horses around the countryside brooding their whole life.’

‘So what happened with this prince?’ asked Derrick.

‘Well his mother, and I don’t blame her,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s not her fault her son was hopeless. Although, I suppose in a way it was. Anyway, she came up with a cunning scheme to test any girl who wanted to become the royal princess.’

‘That’s horrible,’ said Michael. He was thinking of maths tests. He thought it was abominably cruel is the queen was to force some girl to do one of those. ‘Did they have to do fractions or something?’

‘No worse,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You see they’d had a problem with just run of the mill stunningly beautiful women coming to the palace and claiming to be princesses. They needed a way to weed out these regular people out.’

‘What’s wrong with a regular person becoming a Princess?’ asked Samantha.

‘They’re not prepared for it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You see royalty have to spend all day shaking hands with people, great long lines of them, everywhere they go. To cope with that you need to start training from birth. To build up the wrist strength. Otherwise your hand drops off.’

‘Really?’ asked Michael.

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Why do you think Napolean always had his hand tucked in the front of his jacket in portraits?’

‘His hand was cold?’ said Michael.

‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins.’ It’s because he wasn’t born emperor of France. So when he got the job, his hand dropped off. He kept it tucked in his shirt front so no one would notice.’

‘Is that true?’ asked Derrick.

‘I assume so,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s the only explanation that makes sense. Unless he had a very itchy chest for twenty years. But that’s too far-fetched.’

‘So how was the Queen going to test a woman’s royal status?’ asked Samantha. She was wondering if this would be a test she could herself pass, and that perhaps she was secretly a princess who had been kidnapped at birth. 

‘With a pea,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Because princesses don’t like vegetables?’ guessed Michael.

‘Probably,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But that’s not what the Queen had in mind. You see, she reasoned that a true princess is so pampered and super sensitive if you put a pea under her mattress she would not be able to get a wink of sleep because she would be so uncomfortable.’

‘Huh?’ said Michael. Scrunching up his forehead as he tried to process this.

‘I know it’s not very logical, is it?’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘But royalty never are. These are people who think it’s a good idea to wear ten kilos of gold and precious stones on their heads, then wonder why people start getting ideas about chopping their heads off.’

‘Anyway, a pea in the bed was the Queen’s brilliant idea,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was so proud of having thought of it that she decided to take it a step further, well actually twenty steps further. She got twenty of the finest softest comfiest mattresses, stacked them one on top of the other, and then put a single pea under the bottom one.’


Princesses were always dropping by. And they always had  bizarre excuses for needing to stay over. 

‘Oh sorry, I just sprained my ankle in your front garden can I spend the night?’


‘My horse just tossed me off right outside your palace. Can I spend the night?’


‘My Netflix isn’t working, can I spend the night?’ 

They were all desperately trying to get engaged to the Prince and would come up with the most outrageous excuses.

So the next princess to come over, the Queen put her to the test. She put her in the bedroom with the twenty mattresses and the pea. And of course a very long step ladder so she could get to the top and go to sleep.

The next morning when this Princess came down to breakfast, the Queen stared at her attentively.

‘So tell us, Princess,’ said the Queen. ‘How did you sleep, my dear.’

‘Well, I don’t like to complain,’ said the Princess.

‘I don’t care what you like,’ said the Queen. ‘I’m telling you to complain. I’m demanding that you complain. If you have a complaint I want to hear it.’

‘Well, there was something horridly uncomfortable under my mattress,’ said the Princess. ‘It has bruised my back. I may have even broken a rib, and slipped a disc. I going to require physiotherapy for this for the rest of my life.’

‘You’re kidding,’ said the Prince. ‘A bruise, a broken rib and a slipped disc?!’

‘Show us,’ said the Queen.

‘Mother,’ said the Prince.

‘This is a serious accusation,’ said the Queen. ‘We need evidence.’

‘You do?’ asked the Princess.

‘Yes, so we can take it to the mattress manufacturer,’ lied the Queen.

‘Alright then,’ said the Princess, and she turned and showed them her back. Luckily she was wearing a dazzling ballgown with a plunging back so they could quite clearly see her skin from her first thoracal vertebrae all the way down to her 3rd lumbar vertebrae and there was a massive bruise, with horrible discolouration entirely consistent with a broken rib and slipped disc. The poor girl looked like she had been kicked by an elephant, that was really angry, perhaps because its internet provider was so unreliable.

‘It’s true, you are a real princess!’ exclaimed the Queen. ‘That’s good enough for me, you have my blessing to marry my son.’

‘Woe, hang on a minute,’ said the son. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I devised a test,’ explained the Queen. ‘Only a true princess could detect the presence of a pea under 20 matrresses.’

‘What type of pea did you use?’ asked the Prince. ‘A diamond point pea with hammer action?’

‘No, just a regular green pea,’ said the Queen. ‘I had cook fetch me one from the garden.’  

‘This is a terrible way to choose a wife!’ exclaimed the Prince. ‘I don’t want someone so sensitive they get a severe injury from sleeping on a vegetable.’ He turned to the princess. ‘No offense, I’m sure you’re lovely. But you should really see a doctor. No one should bruise that easily. I think you might have haemophillia and that is a serious medical condition.’

So the Prince did not marry that Princess. That night, the doorbell at the palace rang again. It was pouring rain outside and they hadn’t been expecting any visitors. 

‘Who could that be?’ asked the Queen.

‘Probably another nutty princess wanting to get married,’ grumbled the Prince.

‘We’ll see,’ said the Queen.

And it turns out the Prince was 100% correct. There was a girl standing on the doorstep. And she did claim to be a princess, but she didn’t look like a Princess at all. She looked more like a drowned rat. She was soaked to the skin. Her nose was red and she was in a thoroughly bad mood. It’s hard to be in a good mood when you are soaking wet and cold.

‘Sorry to disturb you,’ said the Princess. ‘But I’m on my way to the neighbouring kingdom and I got caught in a rain storm. I need somewhere to sleep the night. Would you mind terribly putting me up as one royal family to another.’

‘This could be the one!’ said the Queen excitedly.

‘I doubt it,’ said the Prince.

‘I’ll test her,’ said the Queen.

‘No way,’ said the Prince. ‘You’ve had your turn. I’ve got a much better test. You keep her talking in the drawing room for ten minutes. I’m going to slip something under her mattress that will soon let us know if she would make me a good wife.’

Later that night, after a 17 course dinner, and a 2 hour folk dancing display, the princess went off to her room and the Queen took the Prince aside. ‘What did you put under her mattress? Something bigger than a pea, a carrot, a turnip perhaps?’

‘What is it with you and vegetables?’ asked the Prince. ‘I did much better than that. I put a porcupine, a bucket of pine cones, a pineapple, a rake laid prong side up, a bunch of long stemmed roses, a lawn mower and a pile of broken glass in her bed.’

‘Under her mattress?’ asked the Queen.

‘No, I threw the mattresses out the window,’ said the Prince. ‘And just lay a canvas sack over the top.’

‘Not a canvas sack!’ exclaimed the queen.

‘That was infested with fleas,’ said the Prince.

‘But that’s just cruel,’ said the Queen.

‘It’s genius,’ said the Prince. ‘If she can sleep through that, she can put up with anything. That’s the woman I want to be my queen.’

The following morning at breakfast they waited for the Princess to emerge. They were expecting the same bedraggled girl as the night before, but when she came into the room she looked totally different. She was stunning. Her hair was perfect, her skin flawless, her posture regal. 

‘How did you sleep?’ asked the Prince.

‘Very well, thankyou,’ said the girl.

‘Ahah!’ exclaimed the Prince. ‘I knew it! You are the girl for me. If you can put up with a porcupine, a pineapple and a bucket of broken glass under a flea infested sack then you are the wife for me.’

‘You put all that in my bed?’ asked the girl. ‘On purpose?’

‘You noticed did you?’ asked the Queen.

‘Of course, I noticed,’ said the girl. ‘It’s a serious health and safety hazard!’

‘But how did you sleep so well?’ asked the Queen. 

‘I came downstairs and slept on the couch,’ said the Princess. 

‘So practical,’ said the Prince admiringly. ‘You’re going to make me an excellent wife.’

‘I’m not marrying you,’ said the Princess.

‘Why not?’ asked the Prince. ‘I’m a Prince.’

‘I don’t even know your first name,’ said the girl. ‘And I don’t want to. What sort of weirdo sticks stuff under a girls mattress as a matrimonial test? It’s not very romantic is it? What about giving me flowers, or chocolates? I’m pretty sure this constitutes assault.’

 ‘If I apologised would you reconsider?’ asked the Prince.

‘Frankly no,’ said the Princess. ‘I haven’t got time to get married now anyway. I’m going to grad school next semester. I’m going to researching applications for nano technology in cardio vascular surgery, so I don’t want the distraction.’

So the princess left and they all lived happily ever after the end,’ said Nanny Piggins.

What?’ cried Samantha. ‘But there was no wedding. Not even any kissing.’

‘Of course there was no kissing,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Kissing is dreadfully unhygienic. Especially if you haven’t brushed your teeth.’

‘But what happened to them?’ asked Michael.

‘The princess made several vital breathroughs in surgical technology,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Saving countless lives.’

‘I suppose that is okay too,’ sulked Samantha. 

‘But what happened to the prince?’ asked Derrick.

‘He was fine,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He did what he should have done in the first place. He took an evening college coarse in cake baking and met a lovely young woman called Bertha. And they fell in love over their shared passion for cheesecake. They lived happily ever after and they had a particularly delicious wedding cake that they made themselves.’

‘Awww,’ sighed Samantha happily. ‘Now that’s a happy ending.’

‘Time for bed,’ ordered Nanny Piggin. The end.