Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

Nanny Piggins tells 'The Little Match Girl'

October 14, 2020 R.A. Spratt Season 1 Episode 34
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
Nanny Piggins tells 'The Little Match Girl'
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
Nanny Piggins tells 'The Little Match Girl'
Oct 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 34
R.A. Spratt

After a particularly exhausting morning avoiding the truancy officer and eating ice cream, Nanny Piggins entertains the children by telling them the story of her long distant Danish cousin Hannah Christian Anderson Piggins and the Normal Sized Match Girl.

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Show Notes Transcript

After a particularly exhausting morning avoiding the truancy officer and eating ice cream, Nanny Piggins entertains the children by telling them the story of her long distant Danish cousin Hannah Christian Anderson Piggins and the Normal Sized Match Girl.

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Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with me, R.A. Spratt

Today's story is...

The Little Match Girl as told by Nanny Piggins


Nanny Piggins and the children were exhausted. The truancy officer had obtained a bicycle and they had had to run twice as fast to get away from her. Luckily after only several kilometres of sprinting they had run past a traffic accident where a truck carrying nails had tipped over and spiled it’s load all over the street. The truancy officers bicycle tyres hadn’t stood a chance. By the time she lost control, smashed into the traffic barrier and toppled head over heals into the adjacent ravine – she’d sustained 52 punctures to her inner tubes.

The truancy officer was alright. Luckily the ravine dropped into the sewerage works so she’d had a nice soft, if smelly landing. Th only injury she’d sustained had been when the bicycle fell in on top of her and she got a bruise to the top of her head.

But Nanny Piggins and the children were exhausted. They’d gone straight to the park, where the ice cream van always parked on Mondays and needed to eat three triple scoop cones each to recover. Now they were lying on the grass and recovering from the double ordeal of physical exhaustion and digestive exhaustion. It would be some time before they would be in a fit state to do anything. 

‘What are we going to do children?’ asked Nanny Piggins. ‘I’ve a good mind to go down to the truancy officers workplace and put in a formal complaint to her superior. Do you think she has a superior or she is some sort of roving vigilante?’

‘I think she works for the council,’ said Samantha.

‘Well then, I’ve a good mind to complain to the council,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘How dare she chase us all across town when I had told her you had Yellow Fever.’

‘We don’t have Yellow fever,’ Derrick pointed out.

‘That’s just a technicality,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She doesn’t know that. And what if you did have yellow fever. Now that you’ve had to do so much running, you are going to be so much worse. There’s no way you’ll be able to go to school tomorrow if you have a relapse.’

‘How can you have a relapse of something you’ve never had?’ asked Michael.

‘I don’t know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’m not an epidemiologist! But I know for a fact that they don’t go round intensive care units in hospitals making the patients go for a jog.’

‘I think perhaps,’ suggested Samantha. ‘That she suspected that we might not have yellow fever, or the bubonic plague, or rickets or any of the things you’ve told her we’ve come down with since term began.’

‘Just because something is not true, doesn’t mean it couldn’t be true,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She shouldn’t punish us just because she has a nasty suspicious mind.’

It was starting to hurt Derrick’s brain trying to follow along with Nanny Piggins reasoning. So he thought he had better change the subject. ‘It’s actually quite nice lying here on the grass,’ said Derrick. ‘Why don’t you tell us a story while we recover ourselves.’

‘Oh yes please,’ said Michael. ‘A good one please.’

‘I only tell good ones,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘I know,’ said Michael. ‘So any one would do.’

‘Alright, let me see,’ said Nanny Piggins as she rubbed her snout thoughtfully. ‘I could tell you a story from one of my distant relatives.’

This made the children perk up. Nanny Piggins distant relatives were always impossible glamorous, incredibly brave and often unnecessarily violent. So they were confident that this story would be good.

‘She came from the Danish branch of the family,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘Her name was Hannah Christian Anderson Piggins.’

‘Was she related to Hans Christian Anderson?’ asked Samantha.

‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was Hans Christian Anderson.’

‘What?’ said Derrick.

‘No way,’ said Michael.

‘It’s true,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She published under a man’s name because two hundred years ago the Danish literary elite did not take women seriously, especially when they were pigs.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Derrick. Not being able to think of anything better to say.

‘There is so much prejudice in the world, children,’ said Nanny Piggins dabbing a tear from her eye. ‘I dream of a day when we can live in a society free from piggism, where all pigs can be recognised for what they are – better than humans.’

‘Don’t you mean equal?’ asked Michael.

‘Equal to what?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

‘You want pigs to be treated as equals to humans?’ said Michael.

‘Oh no, I think we deserve to be treated better,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘How many wars have humans started?’

‘Umm, a lot?’ said Michael.

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘How many wars have pigs started?’

‘None,’ suggested Derrick.

‘Just right,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because we’ve got the good sense to lie around in mud eating all day. We’re much more sensible creatures and deserve to be treated as such.’

‘So you were going to tell us a story,’ prompted Derrick. Before his Nanny could start going on about pigs voting rights, an issue she felt very strongly about. Not only did she think all pigs over the age of 3 should have full voting rights. She thought that any human that ate a bacon sandwich should lose the right to vote. And she was not afraid of stopping their local member of parliament in the street and telling him all about this.

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘My story takes place many years ago in the olden story times in Denmark. Have you ever been to Denmark, children?’

‘No,’ said the children.

‘Remind me to take you there one day,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The Danish, despite their pigism do know a lot about some very important things.’

‘Like what?’ asked Samantha. She imagined that they had uncovered a secret for sustainable power or curing goosebumps.

‘The Danish invented a pastry dessert so good,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘That they called it the ‘Danish’. It is the national emblem of their country.’

‘Is that true?’ asked Michael.

‘It must be,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘What greater honour could you bestow on a dessert than naming your whole country after it? And Danishes have fruit in them!’

The children gasped. They knew that their nanny rarely approved of fruit.

‘So to have fruit and still manage to taste delicious is an amazing accomplishment for which the entire nation should be proud,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But I digress. If you ever go to Denmark the first thing you will notice, after you spend 3 or 4 days appreciating how wonderful the local baked goods are, you will notice that it is cold.’

The children nodded.

‘Now I know you think you know what cold is,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘because we have winter here and it gets very nippy and if you get wet when it’s cold we all get very unhappy. But the Danish, indeed all the Scandinavians, take coldness to the next level. It is seriously mind numbingly finger freezingly cold in their country. Have you heard of Santa Claus?’

‘Is hee Danish?’ asked Michael.

‘No of course not,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Although now I think about it. Perhaps he is. That would explain his weight issues. If he had been eating all those Danishes. But no, Santa lives at the North Pole and we all know how cold that is with the reindeer and the ridiculous fur lined clothes he wears. Well the North Pole is practically next door to Denmark, so they have it just as bad there.’

‘So in short,’ said Samantha. ‘Denmark is cold.’

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So the story I’m going to tell you is a famous story written by my dear great great great great great cousin, Hannah Christian Andreson Piggins. And it is the story of The Normal Sized Match Girl.’

‘Don’t you mean ‘The Little Match Girl?’ asked Derrick.

‘No, I don’t,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I don’t understand why books about girls they have to specify that they are “little”. The Little Match Girl, the Little Mermaid, the Little Princess, Little Women, the Little Miss books… There are millions of them. Why ‘little’? Why is ‘little’ so important?’ I’ll tell you why. It’s because people want girls to take up a little amount of space. They want their girls to be small and quite and polite and little. It’s outrageous. Napoleon didn’t like it when people pointed out that he was little.’

‘But he was,’ said Michael.

‘But it was rude to say so,’ said Nannhy Piggins. ‘Eeryone knew it. So no one said it to him. So why do we only admire girls for being little. It’s not like they have much control over their height. Unless they’re unfortunate enough to have a piano fall on their head and really you shouldn’t be encouraging girls to do that sort of thing.’

‘So your story is about the Normal Sized Match Girl?’ asked Derrick.

‘Oh yes, I was telling as story wasn’t I? The Normal Sized Match Girl,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘As is so often the way in these stories. She had an absolutely beastly father.’

‘Like our father?’ asked Michael.

‘Even worse,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The Normal sized matchgirls’s father never had any money. Probably because he lived in Denmark and he couldn’t resist spending all he had on Danishs. Can’t say I blame him for that. He was only human after all. So since he didn’t have any money he couldn’t afford to buy his normal sized daughter a coat or shoes. So she was not dressed for the weather, and then to make matters worse, because this was the olden story days, before child labour laws were introduced. Her forced her to go out and work!’ 

‘At a law firm?’ asked Michael. That was what their own father did for a living and Michael was only 7 so he didn’t know about the great range of possible professions.

‘No, he was a bad man but he wasn’t that bad,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He forced her to go out into the street and sell matches. Every morning he would give her a big handful of matches, and she wasn’t allowed to come back that night until she had sold them all.’

‘Gosh,’ said Samantha.

‘I know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘People say I’m an irresponsible child care worker. But I could have gotten away with way more back in the olden story days.’

‘You’d never make us sell matches, would you?’ asked Michael worriedly.

‘Of course not!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If we ever became so poor one of us had to go door to door selling tiny flammable sticks, I’d make your father do it. It would do him good to get more exercise. And he would meet the neighbours, which they would love after all the stories I’ve told them about him over the years.’

‘So this matchgirl set out into the streets of city. It was very cold as you can imagine without shoes or a cost. She held her shawl tight about her, but the wind blew and seemed to go straight through the thread bare material. She kept walking to try and stay warm that way, but it was no use. The icy wind got right into her bones

‘This story is so dreadful! Wailed Boris. ‘Why didn’t she just grow fur.’

‘Humans can’t grow fur,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Except on their heads… and their faces if they are men… or bearded ladies from the circus. But this was a young normal sized girl, she wasn’t old enough to become a bearded lady and grow a beard. She trudged the street going door to door trying to sell her matches. But no one would buy them.’

‘Why not?’ asked Michael.

‘Because it was Denmark!’ said Nanny Piggins.  ‘And it was freezing cold and they weren’t all ninnyhammers, so they all had plenty of matches already. When they opened the door to find a normal sized girl with a handful of something they already had, they couldn’t shut the door quickly enough, after all it was cold outside and there was a terrible draft. So eventually it grew dark and the normal sized matchgirl had still not sold any. And she was frightened to go home, for fear of what her father would do. 

‘What would he do?’ asked Michael.

‘He force her to clean out the ubend under the sink,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Ew said the children,’ 

And not the kitchen sink which just gets filled with rotting food. But the ubend under the bathroom sink, the one that gets clogged with all the hair and gross things people spit out,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘That’s disgusting!’ exclaimed the children.

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘There was no way she could return home. But the girl was so so cold. She became delirious with exhaustion and cold. So she found a corner between two houses where she was shelter from the wind, and she lit one of her matchsticks. The match flashed a light and the tiny orange flame let out a small warm glow. It didn’t just feel beautiful to her exhausted body, it looked beautiful as well. The golden light danced in the air, against the snow decked streets. The flame almost looked alive. She stared right into the heart of it. And she started to see a wonderful vision, a warm fire place, a delicious roast banquet with potatoes and gravy and stuffing balls, steaming hot mugs of hot chocolate – then suddenly splash!

A great bucket of water flew through the air and hit her lit match putting it out instantly. 

‘Aaagghh!’ screamed the normal sized match girl.

‘What on earth do you think you are doing!’ demanded my cousin Hannah Christian Andreson Piggins.

‘I was just trying to stay warm,’ said the girl, now shivering even harder because her hands were wet.

‘But you’re a child!’ declared Hannah. ‘And children should never play with matches. It’s dangerous. That’s how fires start.’

‘I was just dreaming of a fire,’ said the girl. ‘And how nice it would feel warm again.’

‘Well it wouldn’t feel nice when you got a third degree burn,’ said Hannah.

‘I’m so cold, I just wanted a moment of warmth,’ said the girl.

‘A naked flame in the street is ridiculous,’ scolded Hannah Piggins. ‘This is the olden story days, the streetlamps are lit by gas. You could start an explosion’. 

‘What am I to do?’ said the girl. ‘I’m so cold.’

‘Put some shoes on,’ urged Hannah. ‘This isn’t the beach.’

‘I don’t have any,’ said the girl.

‘No, shoes!’ exclaimed Hannah Piggins. ‘That’s outrageous. I’d offer to give you some of mine, but I’m a pig, so I don’t have great huge galumping feet like a human. I have elegant tiny trotters like a lady. But I’m sure we’ll find something that will do.’

So Hannah Piggins took the normal sized match girl into her home and sat her down at the kitchen table as she disappeared into the pantry.

‘The pantry?’ said Samantha. ‘I thought she was going to find her a shoes.’

‘She was a Piggins,’ said Nannh Piggins. ‘All her creativity flowed from the kitchen. She emerged with great long reels of licorice.’

‘I got this in because I was going to make licorice bullets that I could fire at wicked old lady next door using my pea shooter,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But I suppose I could make do with peas instead. Here, let’s make you some shoes. She set to work wrapping the licorice around and around the girls feet until they were completely encased in the black licorice. 

‘Now we’ll just stick your feet in a moderate oven for 5 minutes,’ said Hannah Piggins.

‘She stuck the girls feet in an oven!’ exclaimed Michael.

‘The normal sized matchgirl didn’t mind,’ Nanny Piggins assured him. ‘She was very cold remember. Five minutes later the oven timer pinged. She pulled her feet out and the licorice had moulded to them perfectly. They were divinely comfortable, water proof, thick and sturdy shoes. Best of all, if she ever got a little bit peckish she could always lick them. The normal sized match girl was delighted.

‘Thank you very much,’ she said. ‘I suppose I’d better go home now.’

‘But where’s your coat?’ asked Hannah Piggins.

‘I don’t have one,’ admitted the normal sized girl.

‘Don’t have one, in Denmark, in winter, preposterous!’ declared Hannah Piggins. ‘Wait here.’ She disappeared into the pantry again and reappeared a few moments later with a massive sack full of marshmallows.

‘Marshmallows,’ marvelled Michael. He loved a marshmallow himself, particularly when it was bobbing up and down in hot chocolate. ‘What was she going to do with those?’ 

‘You’ll see,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘My great cousin new a thing or two about thermal dynamics. Do you know what a puffer coat is?’

‘Yes,’ said Samantha. ‘They’re those big puffy coats filled with down feathers or polyester stuffing to keep you warm.’

‘That’s what they’re made out of now,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But it was actually my cousin Hannah who invented the puffer coat. She wasn’t just a literary genius. She had a good deal of practical common sense as well. So rare for a writer. That night she made the world’s first puffer coat but she didn’t fill it with feathers or polyester stuffing, she filled it with another light and airy stuffing material – marshmallows.’

‘The kind you eat?’ asked Micahel.

‘Yes, she got an old pillow case filled it with marshmallows, so that it was like a doona, then used that to fashion a coat,’ explained Nanny Piggins. ‘It looked lovely and it smelled even better. The normal sized match girl was getting to be as warm as toast now.’

‘Thank you so much,’ said the girl. ‘I really should go now.’

‘But you haven’t got a hat,’ said Hannah Piggins. 

‘No,’ said the girl. ‘It blew away in the wind.’

‘Blew away,’ exclaimed Hannah Piggins. ‘It can’t have been much of a hat. Wait here. She disappeared into her pantry again. She came out a moment later with a sheet of pastry. 

‘Stand still,’ ordered Hannah Piggins. She shaped the puff pastry around the girls head, bathed it in an egg wash and popped it in the oven.

‘While it was still on the girls head?’ asked Michael.

‘Don’t’ be ridiculous’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s one thing to put your feet in the oven, but you can’t put your head in the oven. How could you eat biscuits and drink hot chocolate while you wait for your hat to bake?’

Michael felt like a fool for asking.

‘20 minutes later,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘The oven pinged and the normal sized matchgirl had a beautiful, toasty warm gold brown pastry hat to wear.’

The girl was delighted. ‘How can I ever thank you? ’

‘I’ve got a deadline tomorrow,’ admitted Hannah. ‘I don’t suppose you’ve got any ideas? I’ve got to have 3000 words fairy tale for my editor first thing in the morning.’

‘Why don’t you write a story about a poor normal sized match girl freezing in the snow, with nothing to keep her warm except her matches,’ suggested the normal sized match girl.

‘That might work,’ said Hannah Piggins. ‘But what if instead of the normal sized match girl I made her the little match girl. Readers are unnatural obsessed with diminutive girls. And frankly I must pander to the masses. If my stories don’t sell I won’t be able to afford to keep cupboards full of confectionary that I can brilliantly transform into winter wear for passing strangers.

‘That’s fine with me,’ said the girl. She went home very happy indeed.

‘But wasn’t her father beastly when she got home and she hadn’t sold any matches?’

She didn’t care what he had to say about anything,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She was wearing the first ever puffer coat in the history of the world. She copied the design, set up a factory and started selling them all around the world. She hired all the matchgirls (of various sizes) in Denmark to come and make them so they wouldn’t have to wander the streets with dangerously flammable sticks anymore. 

‘The only thing was she did have to change one thing about the design. She swapped the marshmallows for feathers, because the match girls kept eating them and the coats weren’t as warm as they should be. Once she’d sorted that out she became a huge international hit. And Hannah became a house hold name, sadly not using her real name. And they all lived happily ever after, except for the beastly father who got corns on all of the toes on his feet and was forever stubbing them, the end. Time for bed.

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 and click on the Book Depository banner. They have all my titles and free international shipping. Check them out. Until next time. Goodbye.