After eating a massive sticky date pudding, Nanny Piggins tells the children the classic Grimm's fairytale - the story of 'The Wolf and the Seven Kids', while they wait for the sugar to wear off and the feeling to return to their legs.
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Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with me, R.A. Spratt.
Today’s story is
The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids as told by Nanny Piggins.
Here we go…
‘Nanny Piggins,’ said Samantha. ‘Would you mind terribly telling us a story.’
Nanny Piggins had just eaten a particularly fine sticky date pudding. The best thing about it had been that this sticky date pudding was the size of a wheelbarrow. In fact, they had used a wheelbarrow to carry it home from Hans Bakery.
Obviously, the whole sticky date pudding had not made it all the way home. They’d had to eat a portion to sustain them on the journey. They had stopped at least a dozen times for these sustenance breaks on the 1km journey from the bakery.
But the sticky date pudding had been so huge that even with a pig, a bear and three growing children enjoying 12 portions each, there was still some left over to eat of actual plates when they got back to the house.
Nanny Piggins had been planning to spend the next couple of hours napping so she could dream dreams about how good the sticky date pudding had been. But she was not a lazy pig. She took her nannying responsibilities seriously, and telling stories was to her mind, one of the most important duties of a child care worker. So she fought the somnalence wafting over her and asked a follow up question.
‘What story would you like?’
‘Well, our teacher at school wants us to learn about Grimm’s fairy tales,’ said Samantha.
‘Oh dear,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘You know them?’ asked Samantha.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘When I heard about Grimm’s fairy tales, I at first assumed that they would be grim. Because grim was in the title. And upon reading them I discovered I was entirely right. These fairy tales are full of horrific violence to children and worse, animals.
So I was astonished to later learn that the fairy tales are in fact called Grimm’s fairy tales because the people who wrote them now were called Grimm. It was their surname. Which just goes to show you must be very careful how you name children.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Michael.
‘Well, have you ever noticed how anyone called ‘Joy’ is always miserable?’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Anyone called Harmony is borderline violent. And don’t get me started on children called Grace.
Really if a parent wanted a nice child they would be much better off naming their baby – Dangerous, Llunatic or Psychopath. Then they’d get a lovely angel who was a pleasure to be around. But anyone who names their child after virtue is doomed to suffer the exact opposite. Irony is so cruel.’
‘But you know the Grimm’s fairy tales?’ asked Samantha.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Most of them are about my relatives. Gross misrepresentations of their characters in almost every case. Except for the one about Donkey Cabbages. They hit the nail on the head there.’
‘The one I have to read is ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids,’ said Samantha.
‘Ahh, that’s exactly what I’m talking about,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Shocking inaccuracies.’
‘Really?’ asked Derrick.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘They say it’s about ‘kids’ but it’s not at all. It’s about goats.’
‘Baby goats are called kids,’ said Derrick.
‘Ridiculous,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The name is already in use. It’s what some people call children. People who are too lazy to use the full two syllable word ‘children’. Goats should come up with their own name. Besides the whole thing is an outrageous lie.’
‘In what way?’ asked Samantha.
‘It never happened to a goat,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I don’t know why there are so many fairy tales about goats.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
The Golden Goat.
The Goat and the Hedgehog.
The Wolf and the Seven Kids.
The Goat Who Cried Wolf.
But in real life - when have you ever met a goat who’s done anything interesting?’
‘A goat ate the sleeve of my park once,’ observed Michael.
‘That would be right,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No taste at all. Which is why you should never take a goat to a Michelan star restaurant. They’ll just eat the menus.’
‘But if you do know the story…,’ said Samantha. ‘It would be terribly helpful if you could tell it to me. It would save me having to go to the library and read it for myself. I mean, I like going to the library. But I’ve eaten so much sticky date pudding, I don’t think my legs will work.’ Samantha looked at her legs, they were still there attached to her body. But there was so much sugar coursing through her veins she could barely feel them.
‘Yes, my limbs have ceased to function too,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘That’s the sign of a truly good dessert. When your bodily functions start shutting down so they can devote more energy to metabolizing the sugar. Alright, gather round. Or rather, lie where you already are, and I’ll tell you a tale.’
The children and Boris made themselves comfortable and Nanny Piggins began.
‘Once upon a time, in the olden story days, there was a pig.’
‘Not a goat?’ asked Samantha.
‘No,’ said Nanny Piggin firmly. ‘I know it says that in that Grimm book but those brothers were deeply lazy. You see - in German, ‘pig’ is a seven letter word whereas ‘goat’ is a five letter word. So they made the story about goats to make it easier for themselves because they were bad at spelling. But it doesn’t make any sense once you get into the narrative as you will soon see.’
‘Now where was I – oh yes, this pig was incredibly beautiful and glamorous,’ continued Nanny Piggins.
‘Was she a Piggins?’ asked Michael.
‘Most probably,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s hard to know. So many Piggins have to change their names to outwit law enforcement officers and men determined to marry us.’
‘Have you ever had a different name, Sarah?’ asked Boris.
‘I could tell you,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But then I’d have to erase your memory. And it takes 18 hours to bake a cake with enough sugar to do that, so I’d rather not.’
‘Anyway, there was this pig,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And she was being badgered by a modelling agency to come in and do a photo shoot for some knew wildly over-priced French perfume. She didn’t want to, but she did want to encourage humans to smell nice, so she agreed. The problem was she had seven children. Piglets you might call them.’
They were wonderful children. Enrolled in all the best extra-curricular activities and after school science projects, so she knew she could trust them to take care of themselves for a few hours while she went to the big city and posed for photographs of herself looking impossibly glamorous in designer clothes.
‘As she left the house, the mother pig gave her children a simple warning,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Children’ she said, ‘I must go to the big city to dazzle less fortunate people with my extreme beauty. While I am gone be wary of the wolf. He is always hungry and he likes nothing more than a bacon sandwich for breakfast.’
The piglets gasped. ‘Bacon’ was the rudest of all rude words in their household. They knew they mother must be in deadly earnest to use such a foul descriptor.
‘Rest assured,’ said the mother. ‘If he does come, you will soon know him by his horrible rough voice and black paws.’
‘Never fear mother,’ said the piglets. ‘We will be vigilant.’
So the mother pig went off to the pig city assured that her intelligent children would be safe in her absence.
She had been gone barely five minutes when there was a knock at the door.
‘Who could that be?’ wondered the piglets.
‘Open the door,’ came a gruff voice. ‘This is your lovely mama. I have brought you each a fine gift from the big city.’
‘But our mama does not believe in material possessions,’ said one of the piglets. ‘She says her company is gift enough.’
‘Just let me in you ungrateful brat! I’m your mother and do as I say!’
‘You know,’ said one of the piglets. ‘That doesn’t sound like Mama.’
‘No,’ agreed her sibling. ‘You don’t sound like someone who has been to a Swiss finishing school. We know you’re not our mama, your voice is too rough.’
So the wolf ran off to the beekeeper and asked for a jar of honey to soften his voice. The beekeeper distrusted the wolf and said ‘no’. So the wolf ate the beekeeper and the honey as well. Then ran back to the house of the seven little piglets.
‘Oooh honey,’ said Boris. Jealously. Even though he was borderline catatonic from too much sticky date pudding, just the mention of his favourite food – honey man his mouth water.
‘It’s very soothing on the voice,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘On the stomach too,’ said Boris.
So the wolf got back to the house and said in a lovely honey softened voice. ‘Lets me in my dears, for I am your dear mama,’ said the wolf. But as he said this, he propped his feet up on the window and the piglets could see that they were black.
‘No, you have black feet you are the wolf, go away,’ cried the piglets.
So the wolf ran straight to the baker and demanded that he rub flour on his paws. The baker refused. So the wolf ate him and did it himself. But baker does not taste as good as bacon, so the wolf immediately ran back to the house of the piglets.
‘My dears,’ he said in his soft voice, while placing his whitened paws on the window ledge. ‘Do let me in, I don’t have lovely gifts from the city. I just want to hug each of you and really listen to how you feel.’
‘That does sound like our mama,’ said one piglet.
‘And the paws look like our mama,’ said another piglet.
‘And I would like a hug,’ said a third piglet.
‘Let her in, let her in!’ they all cried.
So they did and the wolf burst in to their home. They immediately realised their dreadful mistake and tried to hide – under the table, in the bread bin, behind the curtains, in the laundry basket, inside the sofa cushions and in the clock case. But it was no good the wolf hunted each piglet down and ate them whole.
‘Good gracious,’ exclaimed Boris. ‘This is a terrible story. If my tear ducts her incapacitated by eating so much sticky date pudding I would cry.’
‘I know,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘Those Grimm brothers were grim by name and grim by story preference. But hang in there, things get better.’
Soon after the mother returned, carrying a huge bouquet of flowers because she’d done such a super job at the photo shoot. When she walked into her house she was horrified. It looked like a tornado had gone through. And all her children were missing. And annoying as many children are, she was a good mother who actually loved her children – so she burst into tears.
‘Oh woe is me,’ cried the mother pig. ‘Where are my beautiful children?’
And a voice did reply, ‘I don’t know about the others, mum. But I’m in the clock case.’
One child had survived. The youngest piglet had hidden in the clock case and the wolf having no opposable thumbs had not been able to open that.
The mother let this one piglet out, hugged him tight and wept all over him. The piglet explained about his poor brothers and sisters.
‘Oh woe is me,’ cried the mother. ‘It’s bad enough that six of my seven children are gone, but now I have to go out into the woods and seek vengence for their souls, which is exhausting after a full day of being a super glamour super model.
But she was a good mother so she did it. The pig set out into the forest with her surviving piglet and they soon found the wolf. He had eaten so much that he fell asleep in the first sunny clearing he’d come too.
Derrick, Samantha and Michael could empathize with this - after eating so much sticky date pudding they’d quite like to fall asleep in a clearing too.
When they got closer the mother could see that the wolf’s huge belly was still writhing.
‘Could it be…,’ she said. ‘…that this wolf ate my dear children in such haste that they are still alive in there?’
‘It doesn’t seem possible,’ said her surving piglet. ‘A stomach is full of acid and there would be no oxygen.’
‘Shush,’ said the mother. ‘This is a fairy tale. Anything is possible if you just go with it. Now run back to my hosue and fetch my good scissors.’
‘Your good scissors!’ exclaimed the piglet. ‘But you never let us touch those.’
‘Just this once, I will,’ said the pig.
So the piglet soon fetched them, and the mother used the scissors to cut the wolf’s stomach open as he slept.
‘What? Without using anaesthetic?’ asked Boris.
‘Just remember how wicked this wolf had been,’ reminded Nanny Piggins. ‘Also it was the olden story days, anaesthetic hadn’t been invented yet.’
‘So she cut open the wolf’s stomach and each of her dear children sprang out to hug her.
‘Oh children,’ said the mother. ‘I am so pleased to see you. But before we celebrate. I must first ask you to perform a simple chore. Each of you go to the creek and fetch the biggest stone you can carry.
When the piglets brought back the stones, the mother put them into the wolf’s stomach and used her needle and thread to sew it back up again.
Then she took her children home to watch a movie, and eat ice cream and perhaps consult a child psychologist to help them come to terms with the traumas they’d endured that day.
Later that night, the wolf awoke. But he didn’t feel as good as he expected after such a big meal. With all the stones in his stomach he felt very thirsty. He lumbered down the river. But as he walked his stomach made strange clanging noises. It was the rocks bashing together. And when he leaned over the river to drink he fell in and sank to the bottom with all the other stones. The end. Time for bed.
‘That’s a horrible story,’ wailed Boris.
‘Yes, I know,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Horrible for the wolf. But the piglets learned a valuable lesson about not opening the door to strangers or parents if you aren’t sure of their identity. Really if the mother had just carried her own house key the whole dileman could have been averted. Which is the real lesson to us all. If you are going to leave seven children unattended in your house, make sure you remember to lock the door take your key with you. The end.’
‘Still not a great ending,’ said Samantha.
‘It’s not my fault if people were immoral in the olden story days,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Obviously I have raised the bar for childcare in my own life time and now the standards of the past are unimaginable.’
The children could certainly agree with this. Nanny Piggins might be unorthodox, and she might let them eat more sugar than dieticians recommended (in fact more than would be recommended for an entire academy sumo wrestlers) but she had never left them unattended to be eaten by a wolf. And they loved her for that.