Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

'Icarus' as told by Nanny Piggins

April 07, 2021 R.A. Spratt Season 1 Episode 59
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'Icarus' as told by Nanny Piggins
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'Icarus' as told by Nanny Piggins
Apr 07, 2021 Season 1 Episode 59
R.A. Spratt

When Derrick leaves his homework at school, Nanny Piggins helps him by recounting the famous story from Greek mythology - the story of Icarus. Which she just happens to know because her (great times 48) aunt Daedulus Piggins was Icarus' mother.

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Show Notes Transcript

When Derrick leaves his homework at school, Nanny Piggins helps him by recounting the famous story from Greek mythology - the story of Icarus. Which she just happens to know because her (great times 48) aunt Daedulus Piggins was Icarus' mother.

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Hello and welcome to bedtime stories with me, R.A. Spratt. For today’s story we are going back in time to ancient Greece for the story of… 


‘Icarus’ as told by Nanny Piggins


It all started when Nanny Piggins attempted to make bombe Alaska for dinner. If you don’t already know, bomb Alaska is a delicious dessert involving ice cream and sponge cake that is covered in merangue and quickly baked in an oven at a high temperature to caramalize the merengue but not melt the ice cream. 

Unfortunately what Nanny Piggins did not realise, was that Bombe Alaska doesn’t not in any way involve a bomb. Not the sort of bomb that involves explosives any way. So 5 minutes after putting her Bombe Alaska in the oven, the oven exploded, shot through the roof of the house and the kitchen caught on fire. 

Now this was no where near as bad as it sounds because Nanny Piggins was dear friends with the chief at the fire station. So the fire truck rushed straight over to put out the fire and there was minimal damage to the house. Except for the hole in the roof. 

But Nanny Piggin just put a rug over that and hoped Mr Green wouldn’t notice. He still hadn’t noticed the hole Boris had put in the roof, when he was demonstrating a dance from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, much to the delight of the neighbours. And that had been three years ago.

The tragic part of the incident was that there was now no dinner. Nanny Piggins was not entirely sure where the oven had ended up. It had actually landed in the duck pond of a park 60 kilometres away. But she had no way of knowing that. And since the bombe Alaska was still in the oven – they had no dinner.

 ‘Come along children,’ said Nanny Piggins, fetching Mr Green’s credit card from under the insole of her shoe. ‘We’re going out to dinner. I know we had our hearts set on flaming hot merange cover ice cream with sponge cake. But perhaps we can go to a restaurant that serves meriange, ice cream and cake, with candles on the table, we could assemble one ourselves. 

Samantha, Michael and Boris hurried to get ready. But Derrick didn’t move.

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Nanny Piggins. ‘Are you still upset about the Bombe Alaska. I am too, let me tell you. But the best way to deal with dessert related grief is by eating another almost as delicious dessert. It’s what the Bombe Alaska would have wanted.’

‘It’s not that,’ said Derrick. ‘It’s just – I don’t think I can go out to dinner with you. I’ve got homework.’

‘Homewhatwhat?’ asked Nanny Piggins. 

‘Homework. It’s like school work except you have to do it at home,’ explained Derrick.

‘What?’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s bad enough they force you to do school work at school. How dare they force you to do even more at home as well.’

‘It’s actually quite common,’ said Samantha.

‘All kids have to do it,’ agreed Michael.

‘You’ve never had homework before,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘Well actually,’ said Samantha. ‘We do most days. But we know you feel strongly about the dangers of child strain related brain injuries, so we always do our homework on the bus ride home.’

‘That way we have more time for adventures with you,’ said Michael.

‘That’s very wise,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But it saddens me to think of all the adventures you’ve been missing out on, on the bus ride. To think you’ve been doing your homework, when you could have been making rude faces at passing motorists.’

‘I would have done it on the bus too,’ said Derrick. ‘But I left the book we are studying at school. So I don’t know what to do.’

‘What was the homework?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

‘I had to write a report on a story from Ancient Greek mythology,’ said Derrick.

‘Which story?’ asked Nanny Piggins. 

‘The story of Icarus,’ said Derrick.

‘Well that’s easy,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I know all about that one. I can tell you the story.’

‘You can?’ asked Derrick. He hadn’t taken Nanny Piggins for being a scholar of ancient Greek folklore.

‘Oh yes, of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I know all about Icarus. Because one of my relatives was there.’

‘Really?’ said Derrick.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘My great great great great great times 48 greats aunt Deadulus Piggins was Icarus’ mother.’



‘Icarus’s mother was a pig,’ said Derrick.

‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They were both pigs.’

‘Okay, we didn’t learn about that bit at school,’ said Derrick.

‘Typical,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Pigs are always being erased from the history books. It’s because we’re too busy being impossibly brave and glamorous to write the books ourselves.’

‘I’m so confused,’ said Boris. ‘I don’t know who you’re talking about.’

‘Never mind, dear,’ said Nanny Piggins, kindly to her brother. ‘I’ll tell you the whole story from the beginning. So – Icarus is the famous one from the story. But really Icarus was just a silly boy.’

‘I thought you said he was a pig,’ said Michael.

‘Yes, a boy pig,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Do stop interrupting.’

‘It was his mother Daedulus who was the impressive one,’ continued Nanny Piggins. 

‘Okay,’ said Derrick. ‘But in the book I was reading, Daedulus wasn’t just a human he was also a man.’

‘Pah,’ said Nanny Piggins, ‘That would be right. It was probably a typo. They didn’t have spell check back then you know. It was all pigment on papayrus, so easy to smudge and get a word wrong.’

‘Anyway, Daedulus was a great inventor. She invented a sewage system for the entire city of Athens,’ said Nanny Piggins..

‘Wow!’ said Michael.

‘And she made it entirely out of rock candy,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘What?’ said Derrick.

‘Why?’ asked Samantha.

‘She was a Piggins,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Her genius was for  dessert based inventions. She made a bridge across the River Styx out of sugar cubes, a catapault to attack Sparta out out of licorice straps and she made the Parthenon entirely out of peppermint sticks.’

‘But the Parthenon is still standing and it isn’t made out of peppermint sticks,’ said Derrick. ‘It’s made out of marble.’

‘The current one is,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘But only because the original one, made by my aunt, was so delicious everybody ate it. That’s why the replacement was made out of marble. Much harder to chew.’

She was beloved and admired by all the people of Greece. But that became a problem when the King of Crete found out about her brilliance for dessert based engineering.

The next thing you know a messenger arrived on her doorstep asking her to pay the king a visit. Now when Kings ‘ask’ you to pay a visi.t it isn’t like a normal person asking, “would you pass the salt”. No when a king asks - he sends a great big burly messenger with a super sharp sword and a grumpy face. The type of person you would not feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to.

‘But wasn’t it an honour to get to meet the king?’ asked Samantha.

‘Pish,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘An honour for the king maybe. It’s never a good thing to have to go and see a king. Kings never ask you over to shoot the breeze or to have a nice slice of cake. No they always want something. Often something bizarre and sometimes something painful. And this was no exception. ‘Daedulus,’ said the King. ‘I want you build for me – a prison.’

‘Okay,’ said Daedulus. This didn’t sound too bad.

‘But not just a regular prison,’ said the King. 

‘Ugh,’ said Daedulus. ‘I know there would be a catch.’

‘I want you to build me – a Labyrinth!’ said the King. ‘An ingeniously complicated prison - that is impossible to escape!’

‘Are you sure that’s what you want?’ said Daedulus. ‘Wouldn’t it be easier for me to just build you a regular prison. You know, a room with a door. Then put a really good strong lock on it.’

‘No!’ snapped the King. Royalty never like it when someone points out, quite accurately, that their idea is stupid. ‘I require a Labyrinth. An intricate maze so complicated it will bamboozle the mind.’

‘Why?’ asked Daedulus. She knew the King might kill her for asking. But his idea was so stupid. And she did have a curious mind. So she was interested to hear his explanation.’

‘I need to imprison a – minatour!’ announced the king. He had a habit of saying things in the most dramatic way possible.’

‘What’s a minatour?’ asked Michael.

‘A monster that was half man, half bull,’ said Nanny Piggins. 

‘Huh?’ said Michael.

‘You’ve got to remember that this wasn’t just the olden story days,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘This was the ancient olden story days. And there were some very weird things back then. The King had a minatour. He didn’t like it. And he wanted to imprison it a complicated prison.’

‘But wouldn’t the animal rights activists at the RSPCA have something to say about that?’ asked Boris. 

‘Normally they would,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘But the minatour was only half animal. It was also half human and the RSPCA didn’t care about that half, so they couldn’t do anything for him.

‘Daedelus knew there was no getting out of it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘So she set to work. She got her son Icarus, a very silly teenage boy, to come and help her with the construction work. Carrying the bricks around - that sort of thing. Nothing too difficult. Icarus wasn’t up to it. He was more interested in playing computer games.’

‘But surely in Ancient Greece there were not computer games,’ said Derrick. ‘It was two and a half thousand years ago.’

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Which is why Icarus was at such a loose end. Imagine only being interested in something that didn’t exist yet. If his mother had not set him to work - he would have just lounged around the house doing teenage boy things. Like wearing ill-fitting trousers and a ridiculous haircut. It was for the best really.’

Even though Daedulus had no interest in building prisons she was brilliant so she built the most amazing prison ever. She made it entirely out of marzipan.

‘Marzipan?’ asked Derrick.

‘Yes, it was brilliant,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because there is no harder substance on earth than out-of -date marzipan that has been left in the sun for too long. And Crete is a very sunny island. So the walls of the Labyrinth were unbreakable. There was no way a bull/man could escape no matter how bad a temper tantrum he was having.’

‘So the King was happy?’ asked Samantha

‘No,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘King always have tremendously short fuses. Daedulus was packing up all her inventing equipment when the King’s daughter came by and asked if she could borrow a ball of string. Daedulus was an inventor so of course she had dozens of balls of string. Very handy things for trying baking paper around cakes and important things of that nature. She handed one over and kept packing.

But what Daedulus didn’t realise was that this girl was up to mischief. It turns out the King had put her boyfriend in the Labyrinth.’

‘With the minatour?’ asked Michael.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Like most fathers, the King did not approve of his daughter’s boyfriend. But unlike most fathers he just happened to have a brilliantly complicated prison and a minatour with which to imprison him.’

‘Anyway, long story short,’ the daughter used the string to lead her boyfriend out,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘And the King got cross?’ guessed Samantha.

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was one of those kings who seemed to spend a great deal of time being cross. He threw Daedulus and her silly son Icarus into the Labyrinth and locked them in.’

‘Daedulus was really annoyed. She never would have built such a brilliant prison if she knew she was going to get locked in it herself. But now she was. So she had to think of an even more brilliant method of escape. 

Luckily, she was a genius so she came up with a plan. She collected feathers and built two pairs of wings, for herself and Icarus, so they would be able to fly out of the Labyrinth like birds. 

It took forever. Because while you do see a feather lying on the ground from time to time, you don’t often see a whole truck load of them lying about. And while pigeons and seagulls did come and land on the windows of the Labyrinth occasionally, it was very hard to persuade them to part with their feathers. 

So the wings too an age to construct. And the whole time Icarus didn’t have anything to do. Because computer games hadn’t been invented. And he was locked in prison. So he just spent the long months licking the marzipan walls.

Finally the wings were finished. But there were no hot glue guns, or super glue, or even gaffer tape back in the ancient olden story days. 

The feathers were held to the wings only with wax. And wax isn’t really a terribly effective adhesive. Daedulus really wanted to use caramel or a nice sticky fudge. But all she had was the wax from the candles in the Labyrinth. 

Still Daedulus figured they only have to fly from Crete to mainland Greece, which was 150km. The wax should hold for that long. What could go wrong? She gave Icarus very simple instructions.

‘Icarus, listen to me,’ said Daedulus. ‘I’ve made you some wings.’

‘Cool,’ said Icarus.

‘Yes,’ said Daedulus. ‘Although to be strictly accurate they are more room temperature. But I understand that you mean ‘cool’ as a superlative not as a measurement of thermal dynamics.’

‘Huh,’ said Icarus, who rarely understood what his mother was saying, especially not when she used big words.

‘Listen to me,’ said Daedulus. ‘We are going to use these wings to fly to freedom. But there are two rules you must remember. One - don’t fly too high, or you will get too close to the sun, and it will melt the wax, and all the feathers will drop off. 

Two - don’t fly too low, or you will get too close to the sea and your wings will get wet and the feathers will be too heavy to fly.’

‘Okay,’ said Icarus.

‘What did I just say?’ asked Daedulus, Who was used to her son and had a shrewd sense of whether he was listening or not.

‘Um…’ said Icarus. ‘Fly high so I get a good suntan and then fly low so I can cool off in the sea?’

Daedulus took several deep calming breaths so she would not lose her temper then tried again. ‘No, I said, don’t fly too high, and don’t fly too low,’ said Daedulus.

‘Got it,’ said Icarus. ‘Fly up and down, up and down.’

‘No,’ said Daedulus. ‘You have to flying in a straight even line not too high and not too low.’

Icarus just looked at her blankly.

Daedulus gave up. ‘Just follow me,’ said Daedulus. ‘If you just follow me exactly, you’re going to be okay.’

‘Got it,’ said Icarus.

So Daedulus and Icarus put on their wings, climbed up on the window and leapt out. Which by the way, is incredibly dangerous. Do not try this at home. Daedulus was a genius. And quite possibly fictitious. So unless you are an ancient Greek fictitious genius, do not try this at home. Even if you are – do not try this at home. Just live in the Labyrinth. It can’t be that bad. If you stay down there long enough some girl with a ball of string is bound to fall in love with you eventually.

So anyway, Daedulus started flying and she couldn’t believe how well the wings worked. She knew she was a genius, but she’d never invented anything so amazing before. This was even better than the rock candy sewage system. 

It was really good fun flying. It was a clear day and she could see the mainland up ahead. She just had to maintain her steady course and they would get there. So Daedulus looked around to check how Icarus was doing. 

‘What was he doing?’ asked Derrick, sensing there was about to be a turn in the story.

‘He was soaring all over the place like an aerobatics pilot who’d had too many coffees for breakfast. He soared high, he soared low, he did loop de loops. 

Now to be fair, Icarus had just spent months - first building a jail and then being imprisoned in a jail - so he had been unimaginably bored for a long time. 

To suddenly have his Mum. telling him to jump out of a window because she’d invented working wings was mind blowing. It was the most fun ever. He was having a  fantastic time. 

He was just dive bombing down towards the sea when he heard his mother yell out ‘Oi, Icarus don’t fly so low.’

‘Now Icarus, despite all his many faults, dearly loved and respected his mother,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘On hearing these words he immediately did as he was told. He flapped hard. Pointed towards the sky and rocketed up. Closer and closer to the sun.

‘No!’ cried Daedulus. ‘But her cry was lost on the wind.’

‘Icarus was having such a fantastic time,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He didn’t notice that the wax was melting and that his feathers were dropping away. Not until he started to plummet downwards. Only then did he realise that his wings were nothing more than a collection of bamboo chopsticks that his mother had collected from all the Uber eats they’d had in prison.

‘Oh dear,’ said Icarus. Which was the last thing he said before crashing into the ocean.’

‘This is a horrible story,’ wailed Boris.

‘Yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘Because it is from Ancient Greece which was so long ago, before the happy ending had not been invented yet.’

‘So Icarus died?’ asked Michael.

‘Yes,’ confirmed Nanny Piggins. ‘But don’t be too sad. He was fictional. And this did all not happen over two and a half thousand years ago.’

‘It’s still sad,’ said Samantha.

‘Yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘You see this is how the Ancient Greeks taught their children. They would tell them stories about crazy inventions and ridiculously foolish boys, then say that this was a lesson.’

‘To not fly too close to the sun?’ asked Samantha.

‘To listen to your mother?’ asked Michael.

‘I suppose,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Although I think the main lesson is that wax is not an effect adhesive. One tube of super glue and this story would have had a very different ending. The end.’

‘Did you get all that down?’ Nanny Piggins asked Derrick, who had been taking notes. 

‘Yes,’ said Derrick. ‘Are you sure it’s accurate though.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Much more accurate than any version you’ll read that was written by a human. Come along, let’s go to dinner.’


The End.