Nanny Piggins is shocked to learn that the children will be performing Shakespeare's famous play 'Romeo and Juliet'. She knows the real story of what happened all those years ago in Italy, because it just so happens that a distant relative or hers was involved.
Support the show http://www.buymeacoffee/storiesrasprattSupport the show
Hello and welcome to Bedtime Stories with me, R.A. Spratt.
Today’s story is…
Rome and Juliet as told by Nanny Piggins
Here we go…
Nanny Piggins, Boris and the children had just got home from the police station. None of them had been arrested. Not this time. Nanny Piggins had been dropping off a bribe.
The Police Sergeant was fond of her short bread cookies (and by fond, I mean powerlessly in the thrall of their deliciousness), so she liked to drop of a batch with him periodically as a pre-emptive bribe before she had even done anything wrong.
Then on the occasions when she did slightly stretch the limitations of legal behaviour - such as blasting herself out of a cannon into the local swimming pool for the amusement of all the neighbourhood children (which was delightful to them, but not so much for the octogenarians doing laps in the slow lane who had not anticipated a pig cannon balling into their midst) – on occasions such as this, she rarely had any short bread cookies on her (sadly swim suits rarely have water proof cookie pockets – a design flaw they really should look into) So she had not to give the police sergeant when he arrived.
Therefore, it was better to just regularly drop some cookies off so that his blood sugar never dipped low enough for him to be angry with her.
Anyway, they had just returned from such a trip, when Samantha went to her nanny with a question.
‘Nanny Piggins, are you familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet?’ asked Samantha.
‘Yes, why?’ asked Nanny Piggins. ‘Surely your school can not intend to put on such a morally bankrupt play.’
‘Well, actually, yes they are,’ admitted Samantha.
‘Good gracious me, quick fetch me some chocolate,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’ve never been so shocked in all my life. And I once accidentally walked into the clowns’ tent after they had taken off their makeup so I’ve seen some deeply shocking things.’
‘They’re getting us to perform it for the end of year concert,’ said Samantha. ‘They thought it would be educational.’
‘Only in the way that getting hit by a bus is educational because it makes you never want to set foot out of your house ever again,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘What’s wrong with Romeo and Juliet?’ asked Michael. ‘I thought it was a famous, well-regarded play.’
‘Huh, piffle-sticks!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘That’s just what theatre critics and literary experts say. Anyone with half an ounce of common sense, which excludes all theatre critics and literary experts because they didn’t even have the basic good sense to get a proper job, anyone with common sense can tell you that it is a dreadful play about dreadful people doing dreadful things.’
‘So is the Young and Irritable,’ said Derrick. ‘And that is your favourite TV show.’
‘True,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘But everyone knows that day-time soap operas are dreadful and morally bankrupt. When high brow theatre geniuses like Shakespeare do it, it’s just plain wrong.’
‘So you’re offended by the immorality of Romeo and Juliet?’ asked Derrick. He wanted to clarify, sometimes it was hard to understand why Nanny Piggins was upset about something. It might seem that she was morally offended but then turn out she was just upset because she hadn’t had a slice of cake for two hours.
‘Of course, it is a dreadful morally bankrupt story about how that wicked young man Romeo tormented my poor cousin, Juliet,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Your cousin?’ asked Michael.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Juliet from Romeo and Juliet was your cousin?’ asked Michael.
‘Yes, that’s what I said,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Her full name was Juliet Piggins.’
‘I thought Juliet was Juliet Capulet,’ said Samantha.
‘Well you know what we Pigginses are like,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘When you are this staggeringly good looking, gorgeous, and good at baking cake – you constantly have to change your name to evade the agencies.’
‘The crime prevention agencies,’ asked Derrick.
‘No, the modelling agencies,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Constantly wanting you to model the very latest outfits from all the leading designers in Europe.’
‘So Juliet was a cousin of yours?’ said Michael.
‘Yes, of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Think about it. Romeo fell head over hills murderously in love with her at first sight, married her withing 24 hours and was dead within a week. You have to be seriously good looking to make a man do that. So of course, she was a Piggins.’
‘It sounds a bit grim,’ said Samantha.
‘That’s what Juliet thought too,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Which was why she didn’t want a bar of him.’
‘She wasn’t interested in Romeo?’ asked Michael.
‘No at all,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘You’d better tell us the real story of Romeo and Juliet then,’ said Derrick.
‘Alright,’ agreed Nanny Piggins. ‘It’s probably for the best. You don’t want to wind up in that predicament yourselves. If you ever find yourself having a love affair so astonishing that a playwright wants to take notes on you, that’s a very good sign that you should run away and join the French Foreign Legion immediately.
‘It all began, several hundred years ago in Italy when my dear cousin Juliet was doing nothing much at all. Just sitting around the pensione looking fabulously beautiful, as you do. When her parents decided to throw a party. Obviously, she wanted to go to the party because party means cake. But at the party as Juliet was shoving people out of the way, and kicking people over to get to the buffet table, unbeknownst to her she had been spotted by a young man called…
‘Romeo!’ said Samantha.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘And he was a particularly weak-minded nitwit.’
‘I thought he was meant to be a passionate idealistic romantic,’ said Samantha.
‘You say tomato I say tomato,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Romeo stood there – right between Juliet and the buffet table - blocking her way! So, he either had a serious brain injury or a personality deformity, or both, if you ask me.’
Juliet was a lovely genteel with very good manners - so she didn’t immediately kick Romeo to the ground and march right over his prostrate form to get to the cake - as was her instinct. She smiled and stepped around him.
And that was where she went wrong. You see Juliet was staggeringly good looking at the best of times. But when she smiled her face turned in to a super nova of beauty. It’s a wonder Romeo’s brain didn’t explode. Although, perhaps it did. Because he immediately lost his mind and fell head over heels in love with her.
Juliet tried to carry on with the party, and eat as much cake as possible, but she couldn’t enjoy herself. Romeo kept following her around like a great gormless drip.
When she went to bed that night, to get some much-needed rest after a hard night of cake eating. There was Romeo, hanging on the trellis outside her window saying some of the most ridiculous things she’d ever heard. And to make matters worse it was all in rhyming couplets.’
‘Like what?’ asked Michael.
‘He compared her to a summer’s day!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins. ‘I mean, she was a pig! So of course, she was a thousand times better than a summers day, or a rose or any of the other ridiculous twaddle he came up with it.
It was most vexing. It is ever so hard to get your full eight hours of sleep when a man deranged with love is outside your bedroom window spouting poetry.’
‘What did she do?’ asked Michael.
‘What any sensible girl would do,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Go outside and agree to marry him?’ said Samantha.
‘Please,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No, she rang her lawyer and applied for a restraining order. Because if hanging on a trellis outside a girl’s window isn’t stalking - I don’t know what is.
But Romeo wouldn’t take no, niet, nine, non, nei, iie, bú or any other variation on the negative for an answer.’
‘Because he was so in love,’ said Samantha.
‘Yes, perhaps -ß in love with himself!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘He was so proud of how much he loved her. More than anyone ever loved anyone. It was just Narcissism. It was sickening. He kept hounding Juliet telling her how much he loved her and wanted to marry her.’
‘Juliet wasn’t interested in getting married,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘She hadn’t even seen all the movies in the MCU yet. She’d never been to Paris and eaten her entire body weight in chocolate eclairs. She’d barely lived. She didn’t want to settle down and get married yet. But she knew Romeo wouldn’t take no for an answer. So she needed to come up with a cunning plan.’
‘Did it involve taking poison,’ asked Samantha.
‘No, that’s just the melodramatic nonsense Shakespeare came up with,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Juliet was much more sensible than that. She took a potion that would make her go to sleep. So that she could sleep through Romeo’s tedious poetry whenever he came over to tell her how much he thought he loved her.’
The problem was when Romeo saw Juliet asleep on her couch he leapt to conclusions. He was not a terribly bright boy. I think all the poetry had had a corrosive effect on his brain. He thought she was dead. He also saw that she had drunk from a vial of potion, so he took the vial and drank the rest himself.
‘Oh no,’ said Samantha.
‘No, it was a good thing,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘It sent him right off to sleep. He did snore a great deal which was unpleasant. But far preferable to poetry.’
When Juliet woke up, she discovered Romeo’s sleeping body.
‘Then she realised that she actually loved him?’ guessed Samantha.
‘No, then she realised this was her chance to make a run for it while he was fast asleep,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘She got a train to Interlaken in Switzerland,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Where she got a job as a ski instructor, and she lived happily ever after teaching rich people how to plummet down mountains at breakneck pace, then recover from the shock by drinking hot chocolate. So she lived happily ever after. The end. Time for bed.
‘But that isn’t the version Shakespeare told,’ said Samantha.
‘No, Shakespeare was a bit of a scoundrel himself,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Never did any research. I strongly suspect he was actually totally illiterate.’
Then how did he write all those famous plays?’ asked Derrick.
‘He had a very talented secretary,’ said Nanny Piggins.
‘Really?’ said Michael.
‘She was also a relative of mine as it happens,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Anne Hathaway Piggins. She didn’t care for the limelight though. She preferred to concentrate on her cake baking, so she let Shakespeare get the credit. But that’s another story. Right now. It’s time for bed. The end.