One Saturday morning, when forced to take over her local library's storytime or be arrested for verbal abuse, Nanny Piggins tells the tale of her distant relative Annabel Piggins. The pig who inspired the famous Danish folk tale 'The Snow Queen'. Suffice it to say, the original version got just about everything wrong.
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Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt.
Today’s story is ‘The Snow Queen’ as told by Nanny Piggins.
Here we go…
It was Saturday morning at the local library, and Nanny Piggins was sitting in front of a group of young children who were waiting impatiently to hear her tell them a story.
Nanny Piggins had not set out from the house intending to do this. But she was being forced to take over the Library’s story time, because the junior librarian who usually read to the children had gone home crying. And Nanny Piggins had been the one to upset her.
To be fair, Nanny Piggins had been upset herself. She had come to the library to get some scandalously good romance novels, and nail-biting crime fiction, and also to see if they’d acquired any new cake cookbooks (she’d already memorized all the ones the library had).
And this is where things went terribly wrong.
Nanny Piggins was scanning through the shelves when she noticed a new cookbook – ‘101 Way to Cook Pork’.
Nanny Piggins was scandalized. She had taken the offensive literature to the circulation desk and demanded it’s immediate destruction - on the grounds that such a cookbook - was pigist and encouraged hate crime.
She had said this with such passionate vehemence that the young librarian, fresh from librarian school, had become frightened and fled.
The head librarian had a long history with Nanny Piggins and was not so easily intimidated. She threated to call the police and have Nanny Piggins arrested for verbal abuse.
Nanny Piggins countered that if she was going to be arrested for verbal abuse anyway, she had many more things that she’d like to say. The Librarian countered her counter by threatened that if Nanny Piggins said anything else rude - she would ban her, Boris and the children from every entering the library again.
‘What, even the alcove by the front door?’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘Especially, the alcove by the front door,’ said the Head Librarian.
This alcove was important to Nanny Piggins because it is where they sought shelter if they were ever caught in the rain on the way home from the shops.
‘Very well,’ Nanny Piggins conceded begrudgingly. ‘I will accept my punishment. What is it?’
‘You have to read a story to the children,’ said the Head Librarian.
‘Urgh,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Do I have to read one. Can’t I just make one up.’
‘If she does,’ said Boris. ‘It will be a thousand times better than anything written in a book.’
‘Fine,’ said the Librarian. ‘So long as you get all the children to sit in the far corner of the library, while I have my cup of tea in peace, I don’t care what you do with them.’
And that is how Nanny Piggins came to be sitting in front of this group. She didn’t want to be there. There was cake to be cooked at home.
The children didn’t want to be there. They would much rather be at home watching TV or playing in mud.
But this was an implacable group of children - whose parents dragged them to the library once a week, because it was free, and they hoped that their child would become smarter just by being in a room with lots of books.
‘What story would you like to hear then?’ asked Nanny Piggins, for she was a circus pig - so she knew it was important to cater to the crowd. If they had a preference for terrifying ghost stories or disgusting medical dramas she would be prepared to oblige.
‘Tell us Frozen,’ said a little girl at the front.
‘Tell you what?’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘Frozen is a movie,’ Samantha explained. ‘Based on a Danish folk tale - ‘The Snow Queen’.
‘Oooooh,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I know that story. It’s a load of old rubbish.’
The little girl in the front row looked like she might start crying.
‘I know what really happened all those years ago in Denmark,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Was one of your relatives there?’ asked Michael.
‘Yes, actually,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The whole story was based on my cousin Annabel.’
‘What a coincidence,’ said Derrick.
‘It’s not coincidence,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘When you are as fabulous as the entire Piggins family, people are bound to write about you.’
Anyway, it all started with my cousin Annabel when she was very young. She was friends with a boy who lived next door. His name was Peter.
‘You should explain to these children,’ said Derrick, ‘That Annabel was a pig.’
‘Why?’ asked Nanny Piggins.
‘All the kids here will be used to fairy tales where the characters are people,’ explained Derrick.
‘Really?’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Even the brave and heroic characters?’
‘Yes,’ said Derrick.
‘I’m amazed they’re able to suspend their disbelief,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But anyway, for those who can’t figure these things out for themselves. Annabel was a dear sweet pig.
Peter was not. But Annabel didn’t hold that against him. He was a nice boy. It wasn’t his fault he was human and therefore shamefully inadequate at eating his whole body weight in cake.
In every other respect, he was nice and jolly good fun to play with, and they got on tremendously well.
But this was the olden story days, which means things were very strange. So brace yourself for a plot twist - because there was also an evil troll king.
‘I thought trolls were nice,’ said the little girl, she was thinking of her movie again.
‘Not this one,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was so diabolically wicked. He would wake up every morning and spend all day trying to think of the nastiest possible things to do.
And he was good at it. He had really creative ideas. One day he had the idea of making a beautiful big lollipop, but anyone who looked at the lollipop would so desperately want to lick it that they would become dreadful people instantly.
They would do whatever selfish mean thing they could to lick it.
The troll thought this was the funniest thing ever. He would travel round with his giant beautiful lollipop making otherwise civilised people turn into greedy monsters.
He did it to regular people in the street, he did it to school teachers in front of their classes, he did it to prime minsters and kings and queens.
But of course, being evil he took it too far. He got the Secretary General of the United Nations to declare war on everyone in the world - unless they let her have first lick of the lollipop. This made him laugh so hard that the lollipop fell out of his hands and shattered into a million tiny microscopic pieces.
A powerful gust of wind blew up and these tiny pieces spread everywhere around the world on the wind, getting into people’s hearts and turning them into greedy lolly guzzlers - ruing their own lives and the lives of people around them. It was dreadful.
And that is what happened to sweet little Peter. He was outside playing with Annabel in the yard, when ‘ow’. He got something in his eye.
Annabel went over to help. But it was a tiny shard of the evil lollipop. And now that it was in his eye it made him see the world differently. Anything that wasn’t a lollipop seemed stupid to him. So he pushed Annabel to the ground and walked off.
Annabel was devasted she ran after Peter to see what was wrong. But the shard of lollipop had quickly travelled from his eye, into his blood stream and into his heart. Now his heart was only interested in lollipops.
He ignored her cries and ran off up into the mountains to be with the Lollipop Queen.
‘That bit is like Frozen,’ said the Little girl. ‘The running up in to the mountains.’
‘Ironically that is the least believable bit in the story,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No one runs up a mountain. You trudge unhappily. Or get a cable car. Or better yet, stay in a nice warm café at the bottom of the mountain sipping hot chocolate.’
But why was the Lollipop Queen on top of a mountain?’ asked Samantha.
‘I don’t know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘For dramatic purposes. If she’d just lived in a shed around the corner, it wouldn’t have made for a very dramatic journey, would it?’
‘No, it’s a fairy tale so of course there has to be a lot of trudging and meeting lots of talking animals, strangely wise wood land creatures and kind and generous farmers wives along the way – blah blah blah.’
‘So finally Annabel arrives at the Lollipop Queen’s Castle, built on top of the highest mountain – in complete disregard for the safety of others.
At the castle doors, two enormous chocolate bunnies stood guarding the entrance, refusing to let anybody in.
But it just so happened that the kind farmers wife, Annabel had met along the way, had given her a thermos full of hot milk. Annabel had thought this was an extremely odd gift, but now that she was confronted by two violet chocolate Easter treats – it gave her an idea.
She took out the hot milk and threw it on the chocolate bunnies. They melted into the milk, making hot chocolate which was delicious and really cheered her up.
Then Annabel went inside. The Lollipop Queen was sitting on her throne, made entirely of candy canes. And Peter was on the ground writing something on the floor.
‘What are you doing?’ asked Annabel.
Peter ignored her.
‘He is doing a spelling test,’ laughed the Queen.
Annabel gasped, ‘But that is so cruel.’
‘I can make anyone do anything,’ boasted the Lollipop Queen. ‘Once they are under the power of my lollipop.’
‘Oh poor Peter,’ said Annabel. ‘I know that getting a piece of lollipop in your eye has somehow, in defiance of common sense and all medical science, transformed you into a horrible boy. But to be forced to endure a spelling test is too terrible believe.’
She ran forward, clutched Peter in a hug and wept.
But it just so happened that one of her tears, hit Peter in his eye, where the lollipop had gone in. It passed through his blood stream, down into his heart where the shard of lollipop was lodged and melted it - instantly curing him. Which was good, but also dreadfully unhygienic and why you should always carry a handkerchief.
So they all lived happily ever after. The end. Time for Bed.
‘We’re in the library,’ said Michael.
‘So we are,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You’d better not fall asleep here, someone might stick a barcode on you and think you were a library book.’
I know, let’s all pretend to be pirates. The tea room is an enemy ship. And we’re going to raid it for chocolate biscuits. Bonus points to anyone who gets the head librarian to walk the plank.
Thank you for listening