Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt

'The Midas Touch ' as told by Nanny Piggins

September 01, 2021 R.A. Spratt Season 1 Episode 80
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt
'The Midas Touch ' as told by Nanny Piggins
Show Notes Transcript

Nanny Piggins lures Derrick down to the kitchen where she is baking a cake, by promising to tell him the true story of 'King Midas' and what really happened in the Ancient Story Days.

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‘King Midas' as told by Nanny Piggins


Here we go…


‘Derrick, come quickly!’ cried Nanny Piggins. ‘There is an emergency.’

Derrick leapt up from his desk and ran to the corridor.

‘What is it?’ he asked.  When Nanny Piggins is your nanny, her idea of an emergency could be very serious indeed. It could be that…

A fully grown African elephant has just walked through the front wall of the house, causing irreparable structure damage that could lead to the storey of the building collapsing at any moment…

…Or that the ringmaster from the circus is short staff and at this moment climbing in through the upstairs bathroom window, looking for people to kidnap and train to be a trapeze artist… 

Or that police are converging on the house because Nanny Piggins behaviour at the sweet shop on 10% off day was so disgraceful - she is going to be arrested for causing a one woman (or rather one pig) riot.

But on this occasion, none of these things had happened.

‘I’ve got a tea cake in the oven and it’s only 15 minutes until it will be ready!’ cried Nanny Piggins. ‘You must come now. If you’re not there the moment it comes out of the oven Samantha, Michael and I may not be able to resist eating it without you. And if Boris emerges from his shed you’ve got no chance.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Derrick. ‘I can’t come. I’ve got too much homework. I’ve got an essay on Greek mythology to write by tomorrow morning. I’ve got to keep working on it.’

‘Greek mythology!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins. ‘Greek mythology?! Your teachers want you to learn about Greek mythology when you could be eating cake?!’

‘Yes,’ said Derrick. His teachers expected him to learn about a great many things when he could be eating cake. This is pretty much what teachers are trained to do. Deprive children of cake, while forcing information into their heads. It’s more complicated process than you might imagine which is why they have to go to University for so many years to study how to do it.

‘Which bit of Greek mythology?’ demanded Nanny Piggins.

‘The story of King Midas,’ said Derrick.

‘Oh I know that one,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Come downstairs, I’ll tell you the whole story while we watch the cake bake.’

‘Okay,’ said Derrick. Hearing a story from Nanny Piggins was a much better way to learn about it. Her details did not always (in fact, very rarely) matched with the versions written down in books. But they were much easier to remember. Because her versions were always spectacular. Besides, Derrick could smell the tea cake now and it did smell really good.

He followed his Nanny down to the kitchen. Samantha and Michael were already there, sitting on the kitchen floor in front of the oven. They often did this when Nanny Piggins was baking. 

The only cleaning Nanny Piggins insisted on doing meticulously was the cleaning of the oven door, because she loved watching cakes bake.

To her mind, watching a cake transform from wet glutannous liquid into a light fluffy delicious dessert was magical. And no matter how many thousand times she observed the process it still made her “ooh” and “ahh” in delight, then weep soft tears of joy throughout the heart breakingly beautiful finale – the eating of the cake. Then weep more tears – this time of sadness at the ultimate conclusion when the cake was gone.

‘Look at it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Isn’t she beautiful?’

Derrick looked in through the oven door. All he could see was a cake tin with brown cake batter sitting at the bottom. He knew from experience not to say this out loud, ‘Gorgeous, Nanny Piggins. Stunning.’

Nanny Piggins sighed with contentment. She inhales a deep breath.

‘And it smells as good as it looks,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘If it tastes as good as it looks and smells, we are going to have a wonderful afternoon. You know some Nanny’s make their children go to art galleries and theatres to experience art – but you don’t have to endure that. I create art right here in our very own stove.’

The children were used to Nanny Piggins idea that cake was a high art form, so they didn’t question this statement.

‘In fact you are much luckier,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Because so many of the greatest paintings are in Italy and France and great theatre is in New York and London. Whereas the greatest cake in the world, is right here in your kitchen.’

‘I thought you said Hans the baker made the greatest cake in the world,’ said Michael.

‘That’s just what I say to his face to encourage him,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The greatest cake in the world is always the one that is closest to you at that moment. And that tea cake is only 50 centimetres from my snout – so it is a very fine cake indeed.

‘Nanny Piggins,’ said Derrick. ‘You said if I came downstairs with you, that you’d tell me the story of King Midas.’

‘I did?’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Oh yes, I did. I always make such rash promises when the scent of cake is in the air.’ She sighed. ‘I suppose being a responsible adult, I will have to carry through on my promise.’

‘That is what responsible adults are supposed to do,’ agreed Samantha.

‘Being a responsible adult is just so awful,’ complained Nanny Piggins. ‘When I was at the circus no one ever expected it of you – we were all irresponsible adults. It was a job requirement. Reckless self involved behaviour was a career necessity.’

‘But you weren’t happy at the circus,’ Michael reminded her. ‘You ran away.’

‘True,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘The ringmaster was shockingly remiss when it came to restocking the chocolate biscuits in the break room. I couldn’t stand it anymore.’

‘Father never buys chocolate biscuits,’ Samantha observed. ‘And you’ve never run away from here.’

‘Yes, failure to supply chocolate biscuits is perhaps your father’s most serious character flaw and there are quite a few to choose between,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But he makes up for that, by leaving his credit card in a place I can easily find it, like the wallet in his back pocket, so I can purchase my own.’

‘So anyway, back to my homework, what is the story of King Midas?’ prompted Derrick.

‘King Midas was a bit like your father actually,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Dreadful man. Totally misguided sense of self importance.’

‘But sure if he was a king he was important,’ said Samantha.

‘Oh no, not at all,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Royalty never are as important as they like to believe. All they do is wear really expensive clothes, live in really fancy house and live really expensive lifestyles while bossing lots of people about. Anyone could do that. No, the really important people in life are ones who make great breakthroughs.’

‘In medicine?’ asked Michael.

‘Yes, like the first pig to discover that vitmin c boosted the immune system and therefore it was a medical necessity to eat lots of lemon cake,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Now that was a vital breakthrough by a very important person.’

‘I thought you said they were a pig?’ said Samantha.

‘Oh yes, all the most important people are pigs,’ agreed Nanny Piggins.

‘So what did Midas do?’ asked Derrick.

‘Well he was very rich,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He lived in Turkey. Although, not turkey the bird. He lived in Turkey the place. Although it wasn’t called turkey back then. Probably because they had the good sense not to name their homeland after a delicious bird. 

‘Anyway, he had a great big palace and spent all his time bossing people around, beating people in wars, stealing all their things and then buying ridiculous ostentatious things so he could rub  every ones noses in it.

‘Like Michelle Brampton,’ muttered Samantha. ‘She won’t shut up about pencil case with the build in stapler and pencil sharpener.’

‘Exactly,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘That was what he was like. He had to have the most beautiful rose garden in all of turkey. Not because he liked looking at roses or smelling roses, or dancing the tango with a rose between his teeth. But because he liked making other people come and look at his roses and realise how much nicer his garden was than theirs.’

‘Anyway, one day Midas was walking in this lovely rose garden,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was admiring how rich he was to afford such fancy flowers, and a horde of gardeners to look after them. When he came across someone collapsed face down in his rose bed snoring.’

His first thought was - of course - that this was a disgusting oaf. Who else would think it was okay to fall asleep in the most beautiful rose garden in the whole world and ruin it by snoring in such a disgusting manner? 

But then Midas noticed this person’s legs. Specifically he noticed that they weren’t a person’s. They were the legs of a goat. So it was the top half of a person and the bottom half of a goat.

‘Huh?’ said Michael.

‘I know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘There was a lot of this sort of thing in Ancient Story Times. Half bull people, half goat people. It sounds crazy – I know. 

But really - it’s no sillier than talking wolves, or running gingerbread or witches making their homes out of candy and we all accept those stories without question. 

So with these ancient Greek stories when you get a weird crazy bit it’s best just to breeze straight by it without thinking about it too much or you’ll never get on with the story.

‘Okay,’ said Michael. It was hurting his head to think about it, so he was very happy not to.

‘So a half goat person is called a satyr and when he took a closer look Midas recognised this old satyr,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was the tutor of Dionysus.’

‘Who was Dionysus?’ asked Michael.

‘Basically, the god of partying,’ explained Nanny Piggins. ‘Revellry, over eating, dancing – all the fun stuff – he was the god in charge of that.’

‘Now obviously, it is a smart idea to be on the good side of a god,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Particularly the god of partying. So Midas treated the half goat oaf in his rose garden with the utmost respect and returned him safely to Dionysus palace. Dionysus was so grateful.’

‘Really?’ asked Michael. ‘He was grateful to get his teacher back?’ 

‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Think about it – if you had a teacher who thought it was a good idea to wander off and nap in the middle of the school day – would you love that teacher?’

Michael nodded.

‘There you go. So to reward Midas, Dionysus said he was give Midas anything he wanted,’ ‘Midas’ eyes lit up with delight. A free wish from a god. Someone with the power to give him absolutely anything he could think of. This was his dream come true. He knew instantly what he wanted.’

‘Give me the power to turn anything I touch into gold,’ asked Midas.

‘Really?’ asked Dionysus. ‘Are you sure about that?’

‘Yes,’ said Midas.

‘100% certain?’ asked Dionysus.

‘Definitely,’ said Midas.

‘Okay,’ said Dionysus. ‘You asked for it.’

And Kapow. Midas was given the power.

Midas rushed home to try it out at once. The first thing he tried it on was a twig. Instantly it was transformed into solid gold.

‘Wonderful!’ Midas squealed with delight.

He rushed out into his rose garden and touched a flower. And it transformed to a solid gold rose. He was ecstatic.

Just then Midas’ daughter came out into the rose garden. ‘Daughter! Look at this,’ cried Midas. ‘I’m going to be so rich.’

‘You’re already rich,’ said the daughter. ‘You’re the king. You’ve got more money than anyone. And when you want more you just go to war and take more.’

‘I know, but this is even better. Look,’ said Midas. ‘Everything I touch turns to gold.’

He demonstrated by touching another rose. It instantly transformed.

‘Oh,’ said the daughter.

‘You aren’t impressed?’ asked Midas.

‘Well I’m sure it’ll be handy for solving any budgetry problems you may have,’ said the daughter. ‘But I’ve always preferred red roses.’ She leaned in and sniffed the gold rose. ‘And roses that are made of – you know – rose petals smell nice. They smell of roses – which is literally an expression because people like the smell so much. This gold one smells of nothing.

‘But it’s gold!’ exclaimed Midas. ‘It’s worth a fortune.’

‘I’m just giving you constructive feedback there’s no need to get snarky,’ said the daughter. She handed back the gold rose. But as he reached out to take it, Midas’ finger brushed his daughter’s hand and instantly it turned to gold. 

‘Dad, what have you done?’ asked the daughter.

Midas looked on in horror, as the gold had spread up her arm to her body and her head. In seconds his daughter was a 5 foot 6 solid gold statue gold. 

At first Midas did some mental calculations and worked out that his daughter was now worth millions. But then his mind went further and realised that he would not longer be able to talk to his daughter or hug her, and she was going to find it hard to get married and settle down and give him grandchildren now. And for the first time Midas began to suspect that he may have made a terrible mistake.

To cheer himself up, Midas ordered for a slice of cake to be brought to him. A nice slice of chocolate cake always made him feel better.

But as he reached out to pick up the delicious baked treat, as soon as his fingers touched the crust, the slice turned to solid gold. He grabbed for the rest of the cake but every last crumb was now tastless inedible gold.

‘What did he do?’ asked Samantha.

‘He rushed back to Dionysus.

‘What do you want now?’ asked the god.

‘Please, I beg of you,’ asked Midas. ‘He wasn’t all puffed up any more. He had been humbled by his terrible life decision. ‘Please return my daughter to how she was.’

‘Done,’ said Dionysus, instantly restoring the daughter.

‘And,’ continued Midas. ‘Remove from me this curses power of the golden touch.’

‘Not as much fun as you had imagined, is it?’ said Dionysus.

‘No,’ agreed Midas. ‘It was foolish of me to ask for such a thing. What I should have asked for is the cake touch.’

‘Huh?’ said Dionysus.

‘The power to turn everything I touch into chocolate cake!’ declared Midas. ‘Could I have that instead?’

‘Um… I suppose so,’ said Dionysus. 

And Kapow! It was so.

‘From that moment on, everything Midas touched turned into the most delicious light fluffy chocolate cake, garnished with chocolate icing and chocolate sprinkles. He was very careful not to touch any people or beloved household pets. And his kingdom became the happiest in the world as every citizen got as much chocolate cake as they could eat all day every day. And so they all lived happily ever after the end.

‘I’m pretty sure that’s not the version my teacher knows,’ said Derrick.

‘Yes, if only your teacher spent more time napping in rose gardens,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Perhaps they wouldn’t pester you so much with pedantic details.

Just then the oven timer pinged.

‘It’s ready!’ cried Nanny Piggins. ‘Now we’re going to have a history lesson. We’re going to find out how lucky the people of Ancient Turkey the place were to live in Midas’ kingdom with a ruler who had the cake touch.


The end