Nanny Piggins tells story of the time her no good brother, Bramwell, got a job as a night shepherd. It did not go well for him, the sheep or the townspeople.
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Nanny Piggins tells story of the time her no good brother, Bramwell, got a job as a night shepherd. It did not go well for him, the sheep or the townspeople.
Hello and welcome to bedtime stories with me R.A. Spratt. Today’s story is…
The Bramwell Who Cried Wolf
‘Did I ever tell you the story of the time my no good brother Bramwell cried wolf?’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘Was he being attacked by a wolf at the time?’ asked Michael.
‘Not the Big Bad Wolf,’ said Boris. ‘I’ve heard so many stories about him and they’re all terrible. If I saw him I wouldn’t cry wolf I’d just scream and run.’
‘If only Bramwell had done that,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He wouldn’t have got himself in the predicament he did.’
‘I’m already confused,’ said Michael.
‘Maybe you should start telling us the story from the beginning,’ suggested Derrick.
‘I suppose I could do it that way,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Chronological storty telling is traditional, but film makers get to use flashbacks so I don’t see why I shouldn’t get to as well.’
‘But how did he get in a position where there was a wolf?’ asked Samantha. ‘I thought Bramwell was so lazy he never left the house except to go to the chocolate factory where he worked in waste disposal.’ Bramwell had a job licking the equipment clean at the end of the day.
‘Well he got fired,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Ironically for being too good at his job. He licked the chocolate making machines with so much enthusiasm that he swallowed a crucial part of the equipment. They had to order a replacement spare part from Germany, and they lost a week of chocolate production in the meantime.’ Nanny Piggins stifled a sob. ‘It was a tragedy. I’m surprised it wasn’t all over the news. So much chocolate left unmade.’
‘There there, Sarah,’ said Boris comfortingly. ‘It’s over now. Let it go.’
‘Yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘So this story all started when Bramwell left the chocolate factory in disgrace and got a job looking after mountain sheep.’
‘What?’ said Michael.
‘Was he qualified to do that?’ asked Derrick.
‘Not at all,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But you see the thing is, so few people want to spend all night on a freezing cold mountain top watching filthy stinky sheep.’
‘That’s a bit harsh, Sarah,’ chided Boris.
‘I know, darling,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But you’ve met sheep, you have to concede it’s true.’
‘I assume your father has never allowed you to keep sheep as pets?’ Nanny Piggins enquired.
The children shook their heads.
‘They are well meaning sweet natured beasts,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But very stupid and very filthy. It’s not really their fault. You see humans grow them for their wool. So they get all big and fluffy as they dutifully fullfil this task. But sheep to not have apposable thumbs, they’ve barely got bendable limbs. So when they go to the toilet they have no way of wiping their bottoms.’
‘Ew,’ said Michael.
‘I don’t want to listen,’ said Boris covering his ears.
‘I know,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘I don’t like to talk of such matter, especially when we’re so close to the next meal time.’
‘We just finished breakfast,’ said Derrick.
‘I know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So it’s only 45 minutes to second breakfast and I don’t want to spoil your appetite. But the fact remains that sheep have poor personal hygiene. They smell. Now imagine that smell children. Now think, sheep gather in large groups. Hundreds altogether. So imagine that smell hundreds of times worth.’
‘It’s horrible,’ wailed Boris. He clapped his hands over his nose now.
‘So when the job of night shepherd was advertised in the local newspaper no one was rushing to apply,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘But why did Bramwell apply,’ asked Samantha. ‘I thought he was unimaginably lazy.’
‘Oh he is,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But he is a Piggins. And we all have very fast metabolisms, so we have to eat a lot of chocolate cake to survive. And that costs money. He had to get a job and he thought night shepherd would suit him.’
‘Why?’ asked Michael.
‘Well he figured it would be night,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Everyone would be a sleep. Even the sheep would be asleep. So all he had to do was sit and do nothing. Bramwell has many faults. But he is excellent at doing nothing. One could even say that it was his one great talent.’
‘I thought running away was his one great talent,’ said Derrick.
‘Oh yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘I never realised he had two great talents. Well I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised he is a Piggins after all.’
‘So anyway,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He set to work on his first night. Sitting down on a rock, watching the sleeping sheep. Down below him in the town, the lights went out one by one as all the residents went to bed. And Bramwell was all alone with nothing but the moonlight to see by. Fortunately sheep are white, well whiteish if you ignore the poo stains. So they are easy to spot in the dark. But I’m sure you can see the problem…’
Nanny Piggins looked around at the children expectantly.
They looked back unsure what to say. They could see any number of problems.
‘Well what happens if you count sheep?’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘Oh I know!’ said Boris. ‘You fall asleep.’
‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s what ridiculous people tell you to do if you’re having trouble falling asleep – you count sheep. Although it is farcical advice. Every pig knows – if you want to fall asleep - it is much more effective to eat three times your body weight in cake. I challenge anyone to stay awake after doing that. There’s a reason why Praying Mantis’ fall asleep after eating their mates.’
‘The calories,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Bramwell’s eyelids started to droop, his head started to flop, his limbs felt heavy,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘I’m surprised he didn’t’ just lie down and take a nap,’ said Michael.
‘You’ve met Bramwell,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He isn’t just lazy. He is very self indulgent. He would never lie on damp rocky ground. No, he was looking down into the valley where there were all those snug warm homes, and comfortable fluffy beds. That’s where he wanted to fall asleep. But he knew he’d get in trouble if left the sheep unattended. So Bramwell had a brilliant idea.’
He ran down into the town crying ‘wolf, wolf, wolf!’ All the townspeople leapt out of bed and ran up into the hills to protect the sheep. It didn’t even occur to them to lock their doors. So Bramwell found a nice cosy house, went inside and tucked himself up in bed. It was still warm from where the occupant had just got out. The townspeople spent all night searching for the non existent wolf. And Bramwell had the best nights sleep of his life.
Of course when the townspeople came back to town and found him asleep, they realised what he’d done, beat him with sticks and sent him back up into the hills to go back to work.
‘Why didn’t they just hire another shepherd?’ asked Michael.
‘It’s so hard to find good help these days,’ explained Nanny Piggins. ‘You know how much trouble your father had finding a nanny.’
‘He found you,’ said Samantha.
‘Not really,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I found him. He’s lucky I took him on.
‘The next problem was that Bramwell started to get hungry,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘And the thing about remote mountains slopes is there are not shops, not even vending machines. So there was nothing for him to eat.’
‘Didn’t the townspeople give him food?’ asked Samantha. ‘It seems harsh to send a shepherd up into the hills without supplies.’
‘Oh of course they gave him a month’s worth of food,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Very tasty it was too. But of course Bramwell was a Piggins. He has the cast iron self dislocating stomach. So he ate all that in the first half hour. It didn’t even make it up onto the hill. He sat in the gutter outside the employment agency and ate it all so he wouldn’t have to carry it anywhere.’
‘No wonder he was sleepy when he got to work,’ said Derrick.
‘Exactly,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘So he was up on the hillside considering how pechish he was when he started to think about the lovely little chocolate shop he’d seen in town. It was day time now and wolves only attack at night, so he reasoned he had plenty of time to nip back down to town, pick up a few essential supplies.’
‘Chocolate bars?’ guessed Michael.
‘Yes, chocolate bars, chocolate blocks, chocolate drops,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘All the bare essentials.’
‘Didn’t he get tired of walking back and forth to town?’ asked Samantha.
‘He didn’t mind going down the hill,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because he didn’t walk. You’ve met Bramwell, so you know what shape he is. He is literally as wide as he is tall. He has been since he was a piglet. So to get back down to town he would just lie on the hill and roll. He was there in seconds. He did pick up a lot of broken twigs and possum poop on his clothes, but it actually was a very effective way of getting from A to B.
When he walked into the chocolate shop he was very pleased with himself and how clever he was, but this is where Bramwell struck his next problem.
‘They’d run out of chocolate?’ guessed Derrick.
‘They refused to serve pigs?’ guessed Michael.
‘It wasn’t a chocolate shop and they only sold vegetables,’ guessed Samantha.
‘Urgh,’ shuddered Nanny Piggins. ‘What horrible suggestions. You children do have the most disturbing imaginations. But the truth was even worse than any of those options. The shop was fully stocked with all the most delicious types of international chocolates but there was an enormously long queue. Bramwell would have to wait ages to be served.’
‘And he was worried he would be gone from his flock of sheep so long?’ asked Derrick.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was standing in a chocolate shop. All thought of job responsibility and reasonable behaviour had entirely left his mind. He was distressed because he couldn’t bear waiting to eat the chocolate.’
‘I know how he feels,’ whimpered Boris. ‘I feel the same when I’m in a honey shop.’
‘Yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘But you are always polite and wait your turn, or at least help yourself to everything then politely pay for all stock destroyed and property ruined. Bramwell did no such thing.’
‘What did he do?’ asked Samantha, dreading the answer but no being able to bear not to know.
‘He remembered what had worked so well the night before,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He cleared his throat and loudly yelled – Wolf, wolf a wolfe is eating all the lovely sheep up on the mountain side.’
‘The customers were horrified,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They all ran out of the shop. Even the shopkeeper ran out of the shop, grabbed pitch forks and other implements of destruction and ran up the mountain side to do battle with the wolf. Leaving Bramwell to help himself to whatever chocolate he liked at his leisure. He ate and ate and ate. It takes a village full of people wielding pitch forks a lot longer to run up a hill than it takes a pig to roll down it. By the time they returned to the village hours later the chocolate shop had been completely stripped bare, the cake shop too, and the ice cream shop. And Bramwell was lying flat on his back in the middle of the square groaning.
‘From stomach ache?’ asked Derrick.
‘No, from pleasure,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because he’d had such a wonderful afternoon, eating so much he could no longer walk.’
‘So anyway, Bramwell was sitting back up on the mountainside with the smelly sheep feeling very pleased with himself after such a lovely meal when he struck his third problem,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Heart attack?’ guessed Derrick. ‘From a high fat diet leading to arterial cloggage?’
‘No, he was fit as a fiddle,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘His problem was it began to rain. Now Bramwell didn’t care for rain. Because rain is water and water can cause clothes to shrink, and when you are as big as Bramwell you can’t afford to let your clothes shrink any smaller. So he had to find somewhere dry. He did at first think of rolling down to the town, but he had begun to suspect that the townspeople were not terribly fond of him. So instead he sought shelter in a cave. Now caves are generally tremendously over rated. I can’t imagine what cavemen saw in them. It’s probably why you don’t get many cavemen anymore, there are a lot more three bedroom, two bathroom family home men and women these days, because a dwelling with a bathroom and doors has so many advantages. But you’ll notice – you never meet cavemen. And that is because on the whole caves of grotty.
Anyway this particular cave was no exception. It was dark and dirty and no doubt full of bats and other horrid bitey creatures. But Bramwell went down to the back of the cave where the cave opened out and was a little larger and here he found a surpisingly comfortable spot.
This spot in the cave was soft and warm and furry. Bramwell was just settling in to have a little nap when he noticed that the spot he was settling in to was snoring. At first Bramwell naturally assumed he was the one who was snoring, because he does snore when he’s asleep.
It’s a dreadful sound - like a chainsaw trying to cut through bag pipes.
But when he thought about it - Bramwell realised he wasn’t actually asleep. Something else was snoring. It appeared to be the floor. But then Bramwell began to wonder if the floor was in fact, not floor.
‘He’s not terribly bright is he, Bramwell?’ asked Derrick.
‘There’s a reason that he didn’t become a rocket scientist,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And it wasn’t just because he couldn’t find a white coat that fit.’
Anyway Bramwell began to feel around this floor. Most of it was furry, but then he found a bit that was damp and had lots of small sharp things all in a row.
‘Oh no, teeth!” exclaimed Boris.
‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins.
Bramwell had his hand in the mouth of a sleeping wolf. Now, no matter how tired a wolf may be, if you stick a delicious trotter of pig in it’s mouth it will always wake up quick smart. Which it did. The wolf snapped awake and tried to leap to its feet.
Of course it couldn’t because Bramwell was sitting on it. But then Bramwell leapt to his feet and took of running. And the wolf went after him - running fast behind.
Bramwell screamed as loud as his lungs would allow ‘Wolf Wolf, help Wolf!’
‘Did the townspeople here him?’ asked Michael.
‘The townspeople in every town in a 100 kilometre radius could hear him,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘But they ignored him because he had lied the last two times and they didn’t believe his cries for help,’ guessed Samantha. ‘And all the sheep were killed.’
‘Oh no,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No self respecting wolf would be the least interested in eating a stinky pooy sheep, not when it could have a great big pig to munch on. The sheep got safely away, while the wolf chased after Bramwell desperate to catch him.
Bramwell kept yelling ‘wolf help wolf.’
‘And the townspeople ignored him?’ guessed Derrick.
‘Oh no,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They all went out to look. They were all so thoroughly fed up with Bramwell, they took enormous pleasure in watching him get chased around and around the mountain side by the wolf. It was wonderful entertainment. The townspeople brought out picnic food and drinks, and cheered on the wolf. Eventually the wolf got a stitch and gave up, and Bramwell was able to run away.’
‘To the next village?’ asked Michael.
‘No, he was so afraid of the wolf he kept running straight through the next village, and the next city, and three more countries before he felt safe enough to slow down.’
‘But wasn’t there a happy ending?’ asked Boris.
‘There was,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The townspeople were all so impressed by the wolf. They offered him a job.’
‘Minding the sheep?’ asked Derrick.
‘Don’t be silly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was a wolf!. He’d just eat them. No they gave the wolf a job as a PE teacher at the local high school, teaching the children how to run the cross country. Well, not really teaching so much as chasing. He was the most terrifying PE teacher in the all the land, which as you know is quite an achievement because all PE teachers are terrifying, and the towns cross country teem were regional champions for the next fifty years. The end time for bed.’
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