Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

Nanny Piggins tells 'The Elves and the Shoemaker'

March 03, 2021 R.A. Spratt Season 1 Episode 54
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
Nanny Piggins tells 'The Elves and the Shoemaker'
Chapters
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
Nanny Piggins tells 'The Elves and the Shoemaker'
Mar 03, 2021 Season 1 Episode 54
R.A. Spratt

Nanny Piggins tells the story of her distant cousin Matilda Piggins, a shoemaker who struggled against the pigism in the shoe industry to make enough money to eat the enormous volume of cake her athletic metabolism required.

Support the show (https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=5478&awinaffid=714853&clickref=podcast+link1&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bookdepository.com%2Fauthor%2FR-A-Spratt)

Show Notes Transcript

Nanny Piggins tells the story of her distant cousin Matilda Piggins, a shoemaker who struggled against the pigism in the shoe industry to make enough money to eat the enormous volume of cake her athletic metabolism required.

Support the show (https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=5478&awinaffid=714853&clickref=podcast+link1&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bookdepository.com%2Fauthor%2FR-A-Spratt)

Hello and welcome to bedtime stories with me, R.A. Spratt.

 

This weeks episode was supposed to be a live record from Writers Week at the Adelaide Festival, which is where I was over the weekend. I wrote a story specially for the festival. Because they requested a fairy tale. So I wrote something especially for that audience.

 

Unfortunately the microphone at the festival was really buzzy headset microphone so the sound quality isn’t really good enough. It’s a shame because it was such a great crowd with wonderful energy and I would have loved to have shared that with you. But trust me, the buzzing reverb and popping p sounds would drive you nuts. So to save your sanity, now that I’m back home in my own office, I’m going to re-record the story for you. 

 

Of course the local council has decided this morning would be a terrific morning to mow the lawn along the creek near where I live, but there’s nothing I can do about that. 

 

The Elves and the Shoemaker as told by Nanny Piggins

 

‘Did I ever tell you the story about my cousin the cobbler?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

Nanny Piggins, Boris and the children happened to be eating apple cobbler at the time. Apple cobbler is a delicious dessert make with stewed apples and sweet dumplings baked on top. Nanny Piggins version of Apple cobbler was particularly delicious because she had tweaked the recipe. Instead of just apples, she added chocolate. 

In fact, 5 kilos of chocolate for every 1 kilo of apple. She said this was necessary to ‘balance’ the flavour. And the children did not argue, after one serving they were too sugar addled to say anything rational anyway. 

So when Nanny Piggins said she was related to a cobbler, this did somewhat confuse poor Michael.

‘You’re related to a fruit based dessert?’ he asked.

Which was not such a ridiculous question. Nanny Piggins was a pig and yet she managed to be related to a bear (her brother) and they had recently discovered a goat (a distant cousin). To be related to dessert might seem strange for a normal person, but Nanny Piggins was in every way so extraordinary, it was just the type of thing she’d find some way of doing.

‘No, of course not,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I do have a distant aunt who claimed to be a pavlova, but it turned out that she was simply the ballet dancer the pavlova was named after so we stopped being impressed.’

‘Right,’ said Michael. Although he still did understand in the least.

‘No, this relative was a cobbler, as in a person who makes shoes,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Ooooh,’ said the children, catching on.

‘Of course, her life was terribly hard,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Was she bad at making shoes?’ asked Derrick.

‘No, quite the opposite,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No, her life was hard because of the rampant pigism in the shoe industry.’

‘The what?’ asked Samantha.

‘Pigism,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You’ve got to understand that back in the olden story days, people were not as forward thinking as they are today. People were so narrow minded that they preferred to wear shoes that had not been made by a pig.’

The children thought about this for a moment. Nanny Piggins had raised them to know that pigism was wrong. But that said, they could understand someone having a preference for a shoe made by an animal with opposable thumbs. But they realised that saying this to Nanny Piggins would not be wise.

‘So anyway, my poor cousin Matilda and her husband struggled year-after-year to make ends meet,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘It got to the point where they had so little money, they could not even afford to buy…’ Nanny Piggins got emotional here and struggled to continue.

‘It’s alright Nanny Piggins,’ said Samantha kindly. ‘If it’s too hard for you to go on we don’t need a story.’

‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Poor Matilda’s story needs to be told. It may be brutal, heart breaking and distressing for young ears as such as yours to hear, but you cannot be sheltered from the grim reality of life forever. Matilda and her husband were so poor – they could not afford cake.’

Boris broke down and wailed, ‘That’s terrible!’

‘It gets worse,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because they could not afford cake they were reduced to eating this dreadful sugar free substance that people say is food but I’m not entirely convinced it is – it was called brrreeead.’

‘Briieeed?’ asked Derrick. He had never heard this word before.

‘Do you mean ‘bread’?’ asked Michael.

‘Yes, that’s it!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Disgusting stuff. Just plain solidified flour with air in it. It’s the food equivalent of eating dishwater.’

‘Couldn’t they put a nice bit of honey on it?’ asked Boris. He was partial to a honey sandwich himself. And when I say ‘partial’ I mean he passionately loved honey sandwiches with every ounce of his considerable frame.

‘They couldn’t afford honey,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Oh dear chocolate!’ wailed Boris. ‘This story is horrendous. I can’t bear to listen. And I’m a bear so I’m usually good at bearing.’

This was not true. Boris was not good at bearing in the sense of tolerating something unpleasant at all. But he was a bear and therefore good at that, so close enough.

‘It was terrible,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s so exhausting being poor and hungry. Especially for pigs.’

‘It is?’ asked Derrick.

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You see we love food so much that when we don’t get any it’s so much more dreadful.’

The children thought about this. They guessed it kind of made sense.

‘Matilda and her husband only had enough leather left to make one pair of shoes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If no one came in and ordered a pair of shoes, they would starve. Or have to grow vegetables and eat them. Which just sound so dreadful I’m sure they’d rather starve.’

‘This story is awful!” wailed Boris.

‘Don’t worry, I’m coming to a good bit,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Matilda and her husband were just despairing and bemoaning their wretched lives when the shop bell tinkled. They looked up to see - that a man had entered.’

‘A customer had not entered in so long they assumed it was someone who was lost, or perhaps a bank robber who was looking to hide from the police. But no it was an actual customer for them, wanting to buy shoes.’ 

Matilda rushed forward and measured his feet. Her husband showed the customer pictures of the styles he could choose from. He picked what he want and said he would be back in the morning to collect his shoes.

Matilda and her husband were overjoyed. They would have jumped up and down with glee except they were so exhausted from starvation.  Matilda got out her tools and started preparing the leather and cutting it into the necessary shapes. But it had been such a long day that she soon became too tired. Plus it was getting dark and there were no candles. Matilda decided to go to bed and wake up early the next morning to sew the shoes together. So they wet to sleep.

But the next morning. They overslept. I’m not sure why. The village cockerel must have got a frog in his throat. Perhaps literally. I suppose cockerels do eat frogs. I’ll have to ask the next one I meet.

Matilda and her husband were awoken by the tinkle of the shop bell.

‘Oh no,’ said Matilda. ‘It’s the man returning and I haven’t made his shoes.’

‘We shall have to plead with him to have mercy on us,’ said the husband. 

‘Or bop him on the head with a frying pan if the opportunity presents itself,’ suggested Matilda.

She hurried out to the shop, grabbed up a frying pan just in case and threw open the door. Bracing herself for the inevitable onslaught of abuse. 

But as soon as the man stepped into the shop his eyes lit up and he gasped with pleasure.

‘Why they are the most magnificent shoes I have ever seen!’ exclaimed the man.

Matilda turned around and saw that the shoes, as if my magic, had been made. And they did look beautiful. She was a very fine shoe-maker and these were every bit as good as a pair she had made herself. 

‘Of course, yes, these shoes that I made earlier,’ said Matilda handing them to him. The man paid for them and left.

Matilda and her husband were overjoyed. They hadn’t had any actual money in such a long time. They rushed straight to the nearest bakery and bought a celebratory cake.

‘Was that a responsible way to manage their finances?’ asked Samantha.

‘Of course not,’ declared Nanny Piggins. ‘Matilda was a Piggins! She wouldn’t dream of behaving responsibly when there’s cake to be eaten.’

‘So they lived happily ever after?’ asked Derrick.

‘No, sadly they got carried away and ate lots of cake, spending all the money,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So they were right back where they started. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon they were starving.

‘Hadn’t they just eaten cake?’ asked Derrick.

‘They were pigs!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins. ‘They had the metabolisms of elite athletes. They were ravishingly hungry again.

‘Don’t you mean ravenously hungry?’ asked Samantha

‘No, I mean ravishingly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Matilda was a Piggins after all so she wasn’t just good at making shoes. She was staggeringly beautiful as well.’

They were just starting to moan with hunger and despair, when the doorbell tinkled. This time two women customers walked in. Matilda and her husband were shocked. They’d never had two customers in their shop simultaneously before. 

Apparently, the women had seen the man dancing down the street in his fabulous new shoes and asked where he got them, now they wanted some as well.’

Matilda set to work cutting out the leather, but what with all the cake eating and the excitement, it was getting late in the day. It was too dark to keep working. So they went to bed. Planning to get up early and make them in the morning.

‘But they overslept again?’ guessed Michael.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It was the frog the cockerel had eaten the day before. It was poisonous. So the cockerel was sick and slept in himself.’

Instead they were awoken by the tinkle of the shop bell.

Matilda rushed out, frying pan in hand, ready to defend herself from the angry customers. But as soon as they stepped into the shop the two women were delighted. There were the beautiful shoes finished and waiting on the counter. They gave Matilda the money and left. 

Matilda and her husband couldn’t believe it. Two days in a row the shoes had been finished as if by magic. There was only one thing they could do.’

‘Eat cake?’ guessed Samantha.

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They rushed to the bakery and spent all the money on cake. And by 2.15 in the afternoon they were starving, again. It took a little longer because that day they had eaten twice as much cake.

They had just staggered back to the shop. Distraught because there was no way their amazing luck could continue, when four customers walked into the shop. All wanting shoes!

And so it continued. Day after day. More and more customers. More and more shoes miraculously made. And best of all - more and more cake. 

After about two weeks of this, Matilda became slightly less hungry and she began to think about what was going on.

‘Whoever is making up these shoes for us is doing us a very good deed,’ she said.

‘Yes,’ agreed her husband.

‘Tonight,’ said Matilda. ‘Let’s hide in a closet and see who it is.’

So they did. They cut out the leather and pretended to go to bed. Then secretly crept back into the workshop and hid in a closet. Where they waited and waited. 

Fortunately, they’d had the foresight to pack supplies. They’d filled the cupboard with coffee cake so they were neither hungry, nor tired. 

Eventually, just as the village clock struck midnight, there was movement in the workshop. They were astonished to see - three tiny elves climbed up on the workbench. These little elves looked just like regular pigs except they had worn and ragged clothes.’

‘Wait a minute!’ said Michael. ‘The elves were pigs?’

‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘All elves are pigs.’

‘But they are always drawn as tiny humans in children’s books,’ explained Samantha.’

‘Typical,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And I bet these children’s books were illustrated by humans too?’

‘I suppose so,’ said Samantha. 

‘Humans are so pigist they can’t even see their pigism,’ muttered Nanny Piggins shaking her head. ‘No, in real life elves are tiny pigs.’

The children worked hard to try and imagine what this looked like. They couldn’t really.

The tiny elves were so hard working, and they made such fine shoes, and yet they look so ragged themselves. It broke Matilda’s heart to see them that way.

‘They have been so good helping us in our time of need,’ said Matilda. ‘We must do something to help them.’

‘But what?’ asked her husband.

‘I know,’ said Matilda. ‘Let’s make them a fine suit of clothes each.’

And that’s what she did. Matilda made each elf a smart outfit with trousers and shirts, waistcoat and jackets. 

That night - they lay the elves clothes out on the workbench and then hid in the cupboard full of coffee cake ready to watch.

Again, at midnight the elves appeared. They climbed up on the bench. And when they saw their new outfits they were overjoyed. 

‘Look at these fine clothes!’ exclaimed the elf.

‘So beautifully made,’ said the second elf.

‘We’ll get a fortune when we sell them,’ said the third elf.

On hearing this Matilda burst out of her closet in a rage. ‘How dare you! You can’t sell those clothes. I made them with love and gratitude in my heart. They are a gift.’

‘And they’re a lovely gift,’ said the elf.

‘But not as lovely as a big slice of chocolate cake,’ said the second elf.

‘That’s what you want to spend the money on?’ asked Matilda.

‘We love cake,’ confessed the third elf.

‘So do we!’ exclaimed Matilda. ‘Let’s make more fancy elf clothes and shoes, so we can get even more cake!’ 

The elves cheered with delight. 

Then they all sat around stitching fine miniature clothing and beautiful shoes all night. And the next day the shoe shop didn’t open at all! Because they were all too busy eating lots and lots of cake. So they all lived happily ever after. The end. Time for bed.’

‘It’s 11 o’clock in the morning,’ said Samantha.

‘Oh yes, so it is,’ said Nanny Piggins checking her watch. ‘Time for a nice slice of cake then.’

 

 Hello and welcome to bedtime stories with me, R.A. Spratt.

 

This weeks episode was supposed to be a live record from Writers Week at the Adelaide Festival, which is where I was over the weekend. I wrote a story specially for the festival. Because they requested a fairy tale. So I wrote something especially for that audience.

 

Unfortunately the microphone at the festival was really buzzy headset microphone so the sound quality isn’t really good enough. It’s a shame because it was such a great crowd with wonderful energy and I would have loved to have shared that with you. But trust me, the buzzing reverb and popping p sounds would drive you nuts. So to save your sanity, now that I’m back home in my own office, I’m going to re-record the story for you. 

 

Of course the local council has decided this morning would be a terrific morning to mow the lawn along the creek near where I live, but there’s nothing I can do about that. 

 

The Elves and the Shoemaker as told by Nanny Piggins

 

‘Did I ever tell you the story about my cousin the cobbler?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

Nanny Piggins, Boris and the children happened to be eating apple cobbler at the time. Apple cobbler is a delicious dessert make with stewed apples and sweet dumplings baked on top. Nanny Piggins version of Apple cobbler was particularly delicious because she had tweaked the recipe. Instead of just apples, she added chocolate. 

In fact, 5 kilos of chocolate for every 1 kilo of apple. She said this was necessary to ‘balance’ the flavour. And the children did not argue, after one serving they were too sugar addled to say anything rational anyway. 

So when Nanny Piggins said she was related to a cobbler, this did somewhat confuse poor Michael.

‘You’re related to a fruit based dessert?’ he asked.

Which was not such a ridiculous question. Nanny Piggins was a pig and yet she managed to be related to a bear (her brother) and they had recently discovered a goat (a distant cousin). To be related to dessert might seem strange for a normal person, but Nanny Piggins was in every way so extraordinary, it was just the type of thing she’d find some way of doing.

‘No, of course not,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I do have a distant aunt who claimed to be a pavlova, but it turned out that she was simply the ballet dancer the pavlova was named after so we stopped being impressed.’

‘Right,’ said Michael. Although he still did understand in the least.

‘No, this relative was a cobbler, as in a person who makes shoes,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Ooooh,’ said the children, catching on.

‘Of course, her life was terribly hard,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Was she bad at making shoes?’ asked Derrick.

‘No, quite the opposite,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No, her life was hard because of the rampant pigism in the shoe industry.’

‘The what?’ asked Samantha.

‘Pigism,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You’ve got to understand that back in the olden story days, people were not as forward thinking as they are today. People were so narrow minded that they preferred to wear shoes that had not been made by a pig.’

The children thought about this for a moment. Nanny Piggins had raised them to know that pigism was wrong. But that said, they could understand someone having a preference for a shoe made by an animal with opposable thumbs. But they realised that saying this to Nanny Piggins would not be wise.

‘So anyway, my poor cousin Matilda and her husband struggled year-after-year to make ends meet,’ continued Nanny Piggins. ‘It got to the point where they had so little money, they could not even afford to buy…’ Nanny Piggins got emotional here and struggled to continue.

‘It’s alright Nanny Piggins,’ said Samantha kindly. ‘If it’s too hard for you to go on we don’t need a story.’

‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Poor Matilda’s story needs to be told. It may be brutal, heart breaking and distressing for young ears as such as yours to hear, but you cannot be sheltered from the grim reality of life forever. Matilda and her husband were so poor – they could not afford cake.’

Boris broke down and wailed, ‘That’s terrible!’

‘It gets worse,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because they could not afford cake they were reduced to eating this dreadful sugar free substance that people say is food but I’m not entirely convinced it is – it was called brrreeead.’

‘Briieeed?’ asked Derrick. He had never heard this word before.

‘Do you mean ‘bread’?’ asked Michael.

‘Yes, that’s it!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Disgusting stuff. Just plain solidified flour with air in it. It’s the food equivalent of eating dishwater.’

‘Couldn’t they put a nice bit of honey on it?’ asked Boris. He was partial to a honey sandwich himself. And when I say ‘partial’ I mean he passionately loved honey sandwiches with every ounce of his considerable frame.

‘They couldn’t afford honey,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Oh dear chocolate!’ wailed Boris. ‘This story is horrendous. I can’t bear to listen. And I’m a bear so I’m usually good at bearing.’

This was not true. Boris was not good at bearing in the sense of tolerating something unpleasant at all. But he was a bear and therefore good at that, so close enough.

‘It was terrible,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s so exhausting being poor and hungry. Especially for pigs.’

‘It is?’ asked Derrick.

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You see we love food so much that when we don’t get any it’s so much more dreadful.’

The children thought about this. They guessed it kind of made sense.

‘Matilda and her husband only had enough leather left to make one pair of shoes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If no one came in and ordered a pair of shoes, they would starve. Or have to grow vegetables and eat them. Which just sound so dreadful I’m sure they’d rather starve.’

‘This story is awful!” wailed Boris.

‘Don’t worry, I’m coming to a good bit,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Matilda and her husband were just despairing and bemoaning their wretched lives when the shop bell tinkled. They looked up to see - that a man had entered.’

‘A customer had not entered in so long they assumed it was someone who was lost, or perhaps a bank robber who was looking to hide from the police. But no it was an actual customer for them, wanting to buy shoes.’ 

Matilda rushed forward and measured his feet. Her husband showed the customer pictures of the styles he could choose from. He picked what he want and said he would be back in the morning to collect his shoes.

Matilda and her husband were overjoyed. They would have jumped up and down with glee except they were so exhausted from starvation.  Matilda got out her tools and started preparing the leather and cutting it into the necessary shapes. But it had been such a long day that she soon became too tired. Plus it was getting dark and there were no candles. Matilda decided to go to bed and wake up early the next morning to sew the shoes together. So they wet to sleep.

But the next morning. They overslept. I’m not sure why. The village cockerel must have got a frog in his throat. Perhaps literally. I suppose cockerels do eat frogs. I’ll have to ask the next one I meet.

Matilda and her husband were awoken by the tinkle of the shop bell.

‘Oh no,’ said Matilda. ‘It’s the man returning and I haven’t made his shoes.’

‘We shall have to plead with him to have mercy on us,’ said the husband. 

‘Or bop him on the head with a frying pan if the opportunity presents itself,’ suggested Matilda.

She hurried out to the shop, grabbed up a frying pan just in case and threw open the door. Bracing herself for the inevitable onslaught of abuse. 

But as soon as the man stepped into the shop his eyes lit up and he gasped with pleasure.

‘Why they are the most magnificent shoes I have ever seen!’ exclaimed the man.

Matilda turned around and saw that the shoes, as if my magic, had been made. And they did look beautiful. She was a very fine shoe-maker and these were every bit as good as a pair she had made herself. 

‘Of course, yes, these shoes that I made earlier,’ said Matilda handing them to him. The man paid for them and left.

Matilda and her husband were overjoyed. They hadn’t had any actual money in such a long time. They rushed straight to the nearest bakery and bought a celebratory cake.

‘Was that a responsible way to manage their finances?’ asked Samantha.

‘Of course not,’ declared Nanny Piggins. ‘Matilda was a Piggins! She wouldn’t dream of behaving responsibly when there’s cake to be eaten.’

‘So they lived happily ever after?’ asked Derrick.

‘No, sadly they got carried away and ate lots of cake, spending all the money,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So they were right back where they started. By 2 o’clock in the afternoon they were starving.

‘Hadn’t they just eaten cake?’ asked Derrick.

‘They were pigs!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins. ‘They had the metabolisms of elite athletes. They were ravishingly hungry again.

‘Don’t you mean ravenously hungry?’ asked Samantha

‘No, I mean ravishingly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Matilda was a Piggins after all so she wasn’t just good at making shoes. She was staggeringly beautiful as well.’

They were just starting to moan with hunger and despair, when the doorbell tinkled. This time two women customers walked in. Matilda and her husband were shocked. They’d never had two customers in their shop simultaneously before. 

Apparently, the women had seen the man dancing down the street in his fabulous new shoes and asked where he got them, now they wanted some as well.’

Matilda set to work cutting out the leather, but what with all the cake eating and the excitement, it was getting late in the day. It was too dark to keep working. So they went to bed. Planning to get up early and make them in the morning.

‘But they overslept again?’ guessed Michael.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It was the frog the cockerel had eaten the day before. It was poisonous. So the cockerel was sick and slept in himself.’

Instead they were awoken by the tinkle of the shop bell.

Matilda rushed out, frying pan in hand, ready to defend herself from the angry customers. But as soon as they stepped into the shop the two women were delighted. There were the beautiful shoes finished and waiting on the counter. They gave Matilda the money and left. 

Matilda and her husband couldn’t believe it. Two days in a row the shoes had been finished as if by magic. There was only one thing they could do.’

‘Eat cake?’ guessed Samantha.

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They rushed to the bakery and spent all the money on cake. And by 2.15 in the afternoon they were starving, again. It took a little longer because that day they had eaten twice as much cake.

They had just staggered back to the shop. Distraught because there was no way their amazing luck could continue, when four customers walked into the shop. All wanting shoes!

And so it continued. Day after day. More and more customers. More and more shoes miraculously made. And best of all - more and more cake. 

After about two weeks of this, Matilda became slightly less hungry and she began to think about what was going on.

‘Whoever is making up these shoes for us is doing us a very good deed,’ she said.

‘Yes,’ agreed her husband.

‘Tonight,’ said Matilda. ‘Let’s hide in a closet and see who it is.’

So they did. They cut out the leather and pretended to go to bed. Then secretly crept back into the workshop and hid in a closet. Where they waited and waited. 

Fortunately, they’d had the foresight to pack supplies. They’d filled the cupboard with coffee cake so they were neither hungry, nor tired. 

Eventually, just as the village clock struck midnight, there was movement in the workshop. They were astonished to see - three tiny elves climbed up on the workbench. These little elves looked just like regular pigs except they had worn and ragged clothes.’

‘Wait a minute!’ said Michael. ‘The elves were pigs?’

‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘All elves are pigs.’

‘But they are always drawn as tiny humans in children’s books,’ explained Samantha.’

‘Typical,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And I bet these children’s books were illustrated by humans too?’

‘I suppose so,’ said Samantha. 

‘Humans are so pigist they can’t even see their pigism,’ muttered Nanny Piggins shaking her head. ‘No, in real life elves are tiny pigs.’

The children worked hard to try and imagine what this looked like. They couldn’t really.

The tiny elves were so hard working, and they made such fine shoes, and yet they look so ragged themselves. It broke Matilda’s heart to see them that way.

‘They have been so good helping us in our time of need,’ said Matilda. ‘We must do something to help them.’

‘But what?’ asked her husband.

‘I know,’ said Matilda. ‘Let’s make them a fine suit of clothes each.’

And that’s what she did. Matilda made each elf a smart outfit with trousers and shirts, waistcoat and jackets. 

That night - they lay the elves clothes out on the workbench and then hid in the cupboard full of coffee cake ready to watch.

Again, at midnight the elves appeared. They climbed up on the bench. And when they saw their new outfits they were overjoyed. 

‘Look at these fine clothes!’ exclaimed the elf.

‘So beautifully made,’ said the second elf.

‘We’ll get a fortune when we sell them,’ said the third elf.

On hearing this Matilda burst out of her closet in a rage. ‘How dare you! You can’t sell those clothes. I made them with love and gratitude in my heart. They are a gift.’

‘And they’re a lovely gift,’ said the elf.

‘But not as lovely as a big slice of chocolate cake,’ said the second elf.

‘That’s what you want to spend the money on?’ asked Matilda.

‘We love cake,’ confessed the third elf.

‘So do we!’ exclaimed Matilda. ‘Let’s make more fancy elf clothes and shoes, so we can get even more cake!’ 

The elves cheered with delight. 

Then they all sat around stitching fine miniature clothing and beautiful shoes all night. And the next day the shoe shop didn’t open at all! Because they were all too busy eating lots and lots of cake. So they all lived happily ever after. The end. Time for bed.’

‘It’s 11 o’clock in the morning,’ said Samantha.

‘Oh yes, so it is,’ said Nanny Piggins checking her watch. ‘Time for a nice slice of cake then.’