Link

Ho ho ho! Storytime With Old Father Christmas

Old Father Christmas at Saltram House Photo by Steve Hayward

Old Father Christmas at Saltram House
Photo by Steve Hayward

Ho ho ho!

Well, would you believe it? All fifty performances of Storytime with Old Father Christmas at Saltram House were SOLD OUT!

But don’t worry folks, if you missed it this year he’ll be back in the stables at Saltram for Christmas 2017.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/saltram/features/storytime-with-father-christmas

Meanwhile, here’s a little snippet …

Suzanne Loved A Snowman sung by Old Father PiGmas

Photo by Steve Hayward

Photo by Steve Hayward

Talking Turkey

PiG in Turkey

PiG in Istanbul before The Maiden’s Castle

So, following a four day tale telling trip to Bangkok, just back from a four day tale telling trip to Istanbul, thanks to Authors Abroad. Two days at Üsküdar American Academy and two days at Enka Schools.

We were delighted with Clive’s visit to our school on Monday & Tuesday.
He is a very professional and consummate performer, pitching at the correct level for our 14/15 year old, second language English, high school students.
He was a great lunch companion for a small group of students who were chosen to host him, showing a genuine interest in them and their writing.
On a business level, I could not have wished for a more eager & willing gentleman, taking the minor hiccups with good grace, in his stride.

Lesley Lee | Head Librarian Üsküdar American Academy

As you can imagine (unless your name is Imogen and you’ve lost your imagination) this was an intense whirlwind experience. Whisked by taxi from Ataturk airport past forty men playing football at 1.30 on Monday morning, zooming past the Blue Mosque and then across the bridge to Asia. Up at 6am for Turkish breakfast in the library and then facilitating storytelling and creative writing workshops, followed by cocktails at the Pera Palace Hotel (built for the passengers of the Orient Express) with Lesley and the wonderfully connected Gail who together blagged us a personal visit to the Ataturk Room.

Lesley and Gail in the first lift ever used in Turkey and some say built by Oscar Schindler's company, others say it wasn't.

Lesley and Gail in the first lift ever used in Turkey and some say built by Oscar Schindler’s company, others say it wasn’t.

In Ernest Hemingway’s short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the main character, writer Harry, stays at the Pera Palace hotel while serving in the military during the Allied occupation of Constantinople (Istanbul) in World War I.
Henry Pulling and his aunt Augusta Bertram, protagonists of Graham Greene’s 1969 novel, Travels With My Aunt, stay at the Pera Palace during their Istanbul adventure.

Detective writer Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was allegedly written in the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author.

So, less of the self indulgency and let’s have a story? OK.

Nasreddin Hodja

Nasreddin Hodja

Once Nasreddin was invited to deliver a sermon. When he got on the pulpit, he asked, ‘Do you know what I am going to say?’ The audience replied ‘no’, so he announced, ‘I have no desire to speak to people who don’t even know what I will be talking about!’ and left. The people felt embarrassed and called him back again the next day. This time, when he asked the same question, the people replied ‘yes’. So Nasreddin said, ‘Well, since you already know what I am going to say, I won’t waste any more of your time!’ and left. Now the people were really perplexed. They decided to try one more time and once again invited the Mulla to speak the following week. Once again he asked the same question – ‘Do you know what I am going to say?’ Now the people were prepared and so half of them answered ‘yes’ while the other half replied ‘no’. So Nasreddin said ‘Let the half who know what I am going to say, tell it to the half who don’t’, and left.

Had a great time at Enka Schools thanks to the amiable Teacher Librarian ,George Duvoisin. Another highlight of this second half of my flying visit was my stay at Fuat Pasa Hotel at Büyükdere-Sariyer and my evening walks along the Bosphorous. Doubly excited when I realised I was by the clashing rocks Jason and The Argonauts navigated through on their way to the Black Sea and Colchis.

The Clashing Rocks

The Clashing Rocks

And just for your information (courtesy of Wikipedia):
The original name of the channel comes from an Anglicization of the Ancient Greek Βόσπορος (Bosporos), which was folk-etymologized as βοὸς πόρος, i.e. “cattle strait” (or “Ox-ford”, from the genitive of bous βοῦς “ox, cattle” + poros πόρος “passage”, thus meaning “cattle-passage”, or “cow passage”. This is in reference to the mythological story of Io, who was transformed into a cow, and was subsequently condemned to wander the Earth until she crossed the Bosphorus, where she met the Titan Prometheus, who comforted Io with the information that she would be restored to human form by Zeus and become the ancestress of the greatest of all heroes, Heracles (Hercules).

This folk etymology was canonized by Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound (v. 734f.), where Prometheus prophesies to Io that the strait would be named after her. The site where Io supposedly went ashore was near Chrysopolis (present-day Üsküdar), and was named Bous “the Cow”. The same site was also known as Damalis, as it was where the Athenian general Chares had erected a monument to his wife Damalis, which included a colossal statue of a cow (the name Damalis translating to “calf”).

So, arrived Monday morning, flew back Thursday evening and reached Newton Abbot at  5am Friday morning. Taxi driver en route to Ashburton response when I tell him about trip to Turkey is, ‘ you’ve still got your head?’

Continue reading

Dead Whale At Dawlish

Photo by Vicky Talbot

Photo by Vicky Talbot

So, it’s Friday and I’m at Heathrow Airport after a lightning 4 day tale telling trip to Thailand sharing tales at St. Andrews International School Bangkok and Ascot International School, when I read about a fin whale washed up at Dawlish. Rush to the beach on Saturday and stand on the cliff with fellow curious spectators and a lovely lady who lends me her binoculars and catch an awesome glimpse of the hairy fibres and the long pink tongue in the mouth of this spectacular leviathan. Next day in Exeter I’m telling tales for Poppy’s fifth birthday party and learn that she and her family went to the beach on Thursday and her mum took the picture above.

Clive and Roselyne  Masselin many years ago

Clive and Roselyne Masselin many years ago

The Whale Zoo by Clive PiG & The Hopeful Chinamen

Dead Whale At Dawlish

There’s a dead whale at Dawlish
Washed up on the shore.
It might have swum the seven seas
But won’t do that no more.

Some think she bumped into a ship
But not my uncle Kenny.
He says she probably hoovered up
One plastic bag too many.

She floated and she bloated
They feared she might explode.
Her blubber and intestines
Might splatter on the road.

So the council brought in diggers
Yellow lorries and red trucks
And a man whose hat was orange
Came and cut it up

He started with the tail
That came off quite easy.
But as he sliced into the middle
It made us all feel queasy.

I’d never seen a whale before
So I stayed until the end.
It arrived on Thursday but
Disappeared over the weekend.

There was a dead whale at Dawlish
It’s not there anymore.
The leviathan has been and gone
Chopped up by a chainsaw.

© Clive PiG 01/10/2016 – 06/10/2016

It arrived on Thursday but was gone by the weekend

It arrived on Thursday but was gone by the weekend

The Beast Of Daftmoor

‘Lawksamercyme!’ she exclaimed. ‘A pot on the path.'

‘Lawksamercyme!’ she exclaimed. ‘A pot on the path.’


Mrs Mortimer lived in a tumbledown cottage halfway up a hill on the edge of Ashburton. She didn’t mind if the windows rattled or if the smoke from the fire went up her nose instead of up the chimney. She wasn’t miserable if it rained on the walk through the woods to town because if it was raining here, the sun would be shining somewhere else for somebody else. And if she lost a penny through the hole in her pocket, she’d be pleased if the person who found it might need it more than she did.

One morning walking towards town for the Tuesday market, she saw a black iron pot in front of her on the path.

‘Lawksamercyme!’ she exclaimed. ‘A pot on the path. I could do with one like that. I’ve got one already in the scullery but sometimes it feels lonely. I’ll take this one home right now and put them side by side to keep each other company. Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’
But when she looked again she saw it was full of gold coins glittering like the sunlight. ‘Lawksamercyme! Not only have I found a pot but also a fortune too. What a diddly diddly day it is for me. I’m as rich as a queen. I’ll have a crown and sit on a throne. Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’

But when she looked again it was full of silver coins shining like the moon on the river Ashburn.

‘Lawksamercyme! What a relief. To tell you the truth I didn’t really want to be a queen. Having to travel around the country and meet all those strangers. I’ve never been further than Caton. I once considered going to Buckfastleigh, but then thought better of it. No, I’m much happier with these silver coins. Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’

But when she looked again she saw there was a lump of copper.

‘Lawksamaercyme! Thank goodness. I was worried the Buckfast buccaneers might have robbed me of all those silver coins. This is much better. I’ll have this lovely lump of copper made into a fine copper kettle and have mugs of milky tea with slices of bread spread with creamy butter drowning with sweet whortleberry jam. Even better, I’ll ask everyone from Druid mine to share in my good fortune. And why not extend the invitation to those poor old miners wandering the moor like lost sheep without a shepherd.? Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’

But when she looked again she saw a lump of tin.

‘Lawksamerceme! This is much better. I can make my grandson a set of tin soldiers. He has such an imagination. He’ll have hours and hours of innocent fun fighting the French and giving Napoleon Bonaparte something to think about whilst imprisoned on Drake Island. Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’

But when she looked again she saw it was full of umber.

Lawksamercyme! It’s full of umber courtesy of the Roborough Umber Company. For those who don’t know as much as they should, umber is a form of haematite containing manganese and is used in paint, for making brown paper and for dyeing wool, but I will use it to finish my portrait of my brown cow Daisy. Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’

But finally, she spied a very strange thing indeed.

Lawksamercyme ! ’Tis a living creature. With the body of a sheep, the head of a wolf. With the ears of a hare and the horns of a deer. With the legs of a cow and a viper for a tail and a pair of buzzard’s wings to boot!

And with a howl and a bellow, with a baa and a swoosh it rose out of the pot, winked at Mrs Mortimer and shot along the river to King’s Bridge to give Cutty Dyer, the evil water sprite who made the river run red with the blood of naughty children, the scare of his wicked life.

‘Lawksamercyme! I’ve seen the Beast. It’s not a legend. It’s not a myth of the mist. It does exist. I’ve seen the Beast, the Beast of Daftmoor. Proper job. What a lucky old thing I am.’

And with that, she picked up the pot and took it back to her tumbledown cottage and set it beside the other one in the scullery. And since that is the end of the tale I’ll stop wagging it.

© Clive PiG 18/09/2016 Word Count: 759

Eddie Sucked A Little Stone


His brother gave it to him as a little treat

His brother gave it to him as a little treat

Eddie sucked a little stone
He thought it was a sweet.
His brother gave it to him
As a special treat.

He rolled the pebble round and round
On his purple tongue.*
Then crunched and munched until his molars
Mashed it in to gum.

He chomped and chewed and then he blew
A mountain of a bubble.
And when it popped his brother lay
Beneath a pile of rubble.

* He has just eaten packet of blackcurrant pastilles.

The Orange Princess

The prince wished to marry someone with a sunny disposition

The prince wished to marry someone with a sunny disposition

So, there was this Belgian prince who found the young ladies of the court too pale and uninteresting. They looked as if they were made of mist and you could put your hand right through them. He wished to marry someone with a sunny disposition. Someone who would make his heart go boom-de-boom-de-boom.

One morning he walks through the market and sees some unusual fruits piled up as a pyramid and glowing like little suns. He asks the trader about them and is told they are oranges – a delicious fruit from the sunny lands of the south, once tasted, never forgotten.

And to prove it, the trader peels the skin from the flesh. The prince’s nose quivers, his mouth waters; he sinks his teeth into the fruit, his tongue tingles as juice dribbles from his chin and his throat zings.

What zestinessio, what vitalitayto, what zinglingdashio!

If only he could find a wife who smelled so tantalising, who was so juicy and glowed like an orange and made him feel such va-va-voom.

So the prince buys three of the fruits and puts them in a bowl beside his bed. That night he dreams of an orange tree in a garden beside a white castle somewhere in the sunny south. When he awakes he is sure that in one of the oranges on that tree he will find the wife he desires.

The next morning he sets off on his quest. He travels for days and weeks and months. He finds many orange trees in many orange groves but not a single orange tree in a garden near the white castle of his dream.

One evening he meets an old man and tells him of his quest. The old man gives him the directions to the castle with the warning that the gate to the garden won’t open unless he oils the rusty hinges, a ferocious dog will savage him unless he throws it a bone and a wicked witch will gobble him up unless he kisses the black wart on the tip of her nose.
He also tells him to pick three of the orangest oranges from the tree and to make sure that when he peels them he’s next to a fountain.

The next day the prince arrives at the white castle. The gate to the garden won’t open but the prince quickly oils the rusty hinges and it opens wide. A ferocious dog leaps towards him but the prince holds up a tasty bone which is snatched from his hand and gratefully gnawed. Just as the prince picks three of the orangest oranges the sky darkens and a voice from above booms. ‘Kill the orange thief.’ A witch with a black wart on the tip of her nose hurtles towards him. He kisses the wart and it hops off her nose and runs away. The witch forgets about gobbling up the prince and chases after the wart dashing around the garden.

The prince rushes away with the three oranges but before he’s gone too far he stops and peels the first orange. An orange canary flies out of the fruit and circles his head singing,

“ I am so thirsty and you musn’t blink
Before I have had some freshwater to drink.”

But there is no fountain nearby so the canary flies away.

The prince continues homeward bound but before too long he can’t resist peeling the second orange. Once again an orange canary flies out of the fruit and circles his head singing,

“ I am so thirsty and you musn’t blink
Before I have had some freshwater to drink.”

But there is no fountain in sight so the second canary flies away.

The prince doesn’t want to make the same mistake again so he determines not to peel the third orange until he reaches a fountain close to his home in Belgium.

After many months he arrives at the fountain and peels the third orange. Again an orange canary flies out of the fruit and circles his head singing,

“ I am so thirsty and you musn’t blink
Before I have had some freshwater to drink.”

Quickly the prince scoops a handful of water from the fountain pool and the bird lands on his finger tip dipping its beak to drink. Then the orange canary flutters its wings, whistles a tune, hops up in the air and transforms into a beautiful young woman, glowing orange and with a smile radiant as the sun.

This is the woman he desires. She makes his heart go boom-de-boom-de-boom.

He asks her to wait by the fountain while he goes to to tell his parents about his good fortune and to prepare for the wedding.

A while later there’s a rustling in the undergrowth and thinking it might be a wolf, the orange princess climbs a tree overhanging the fountain.

She sees a servant girl who looks as if she was born sucking lemons approach the pool. When this girl looks into the water she mistakes the reflection of the princess above for her own.
She almost swoons at the thought of being so beautiful but realises her folly when she leans closer to the water and sees her own churlish face.

She asks the young woman above what’s she’s doing in the tree. The princess says that she was once a canary who came out of an orange and she’s to be married later that day. The sour faced girl offers to comb her hair if she comes down and sits with her beside the fountain.

As the servant runs the comb through the pretty woman’s orange hair she becomes more and more jealous and combs faster and faster, harder and harder until she scratches the scalp and a tuft of hair is pulled from the princess’s head. Immediately the princess turns into a canary and flies up into the tree.

The prince returns to the fountain and is surprised to see the bitter faced girl sitting by the water. She tells him that if he believes a canary can come out of an orange and turn into a beautiful woman surely he can believe that she is still the same person who has happened to change into someone who looks as if they were born sucking a lemon, and that just as soon as the wedding ring is slipped on her finger she’ll turn back into the orange princess.

The prince doesn’t disagree and very soon the bells are ringing in the cathedral and all the young ladies of Belgium turn even paler and faint to the floor when they see the sullen faced bride sitting beside the handsome prince in the royal carriage.

Just as the prince takes the wedding ring from his pocket a canary flies into the cathedral – an orange canary with feathers missing from the top of its little head – it circles above and sings,

“ We’ll build a nest – together we’ll sing
If only you’ll give me that gold wedding ring.”

He offers it up to her and she takes it in her tiny feet, flies three times around him and the prince changes into an orange canary too. Together, they fly from the cathedral and back to the orange tree beside the white castle.

The nest was built. The eggs were laid. And that is how a story’s made.

Jurassic Cove

Oscar & George

Oscar & George have fun on their summer hols

The first day of the summer holidays was as bright and full of endless possibilities as were Oscar and George. These two bestest of friends whooped in delight as they bundled into the back of the car and played I-Spy all the way to the beach.

The sky was as blue as Oscar’s eyes and the seaweed as green as George’s face last July when he rode the roller coaster after eating a Knickerbocker Glory.

They plonked bags and towels on the dry sand by the rocks and stood gobbling bananas eyeballing the cove.
Their mums had something terribly, terribly important to talk about which suited the boys just fine. They snuck off to the cliff, ignored the danger signs and disappeared into the narrow slit of a cave.

Oscar cursed like a pirate. George laughed like an ogre. Rowdy echoes bounced back promising a proper cave. Torch beams picked out a dead cormorant, a buckled fishing rod and dozens of plastic bottles. They didn’t know what they were looking for but would know when they found it.

As the walls widened, George pushed by, eager to be the first to find some seaside swag. Oscar reached down and picked up a stone with a hole in it and shoved it in his pocket. George found a decent piece of amber but then groaned. The cave had ended. They’d have to go back.

George always gave up first. Oscar would show him. He grabbed a dinosaur bone, thrust one end under an armpit and hopped about like a one-legged sea-dog singing a sea shanty. Not to be outdone George became the Dorset Ooser * dancing manically as Oscar flicked his torch on and off in the darkness.

After tiring of this they were about to head back when they heard mumblings and mutterings coming from behind the far wall.

Pretending to be a miner digging for minerals, Oscar hacked at the rock face with his bone. As soon as the bone touched the wall he felt a shock, he saw a flash and the wall collapsed. When the dust settled the friends spied a strange old woman huddled over a steaming cauldron in a green glowing grotto.

She was a jumble of flotsam and jetsam. Her head was a marker buoy crowned with an inflatable rubber ring. A peeling eye patch made of car tyre was half stuck on her orange face and her one good eye seemed to be a sea anemone. Water dripped from her whelk shell nose into her pouty fishy mouth and then dribbled into a tuft of seaweed stuck on her chin. She wore a shawl of sail cloth with sand flies hopping about her shoulders.

Her arms and legs were pieces of driftwood dotted with barnacles poking out of a lobster pot. Her fingers and toes were fishhooks and feathers. A tangle of nylon fishing net entwined with blue rope seemed to hold the whole kit and caboodle together.

Stirring the cauldron with a dinghy paddle she spoke with a voice that sounded like the creaking timbers of a galleon.

‘This potion’s bubbling nice and hot
But something’s missing from my pot
– A dino’s bone for my brew.
Is that one there?
Give it here, you two!’

She snatched it out of Oscar’s hand and chucked it into the cauldron.

The two boys stared at the curious creature and then at the green steam rising from the bubbling concoction. The sea witch tasted the broth then spat it back into the pot through her teeth of rusty rivets. She cracked a seagull’s egg on the side of the pot, stirred it in and finally scooped up a handful of sand to thicken the soup. The hag then plunged a drowned sailor’s skull into the brew and offered it to the boys.

Oscar looked at George, George looked at Oscar.

‘Me first’, each cried.

Together they grabbed the hollow head, guzzled the salty brine, drained the last drop and instantly felt a strange tingling sensation rising from the pits of their stomachs to the tops of their heads, from the tips of their fingers to the ends of their toes.

Their bones shook. Their skin crackled. Their veins bulged. Their heads span.

The next they knew they were flying side by side in the cloudless sky. Their mothers, oblivious to what was going on above their heads were still having their terribly, terribly important conversation.

But everyone else at the seaside was pointing up to the sky. The boys tried to wave back but it’s very hard to wave when your arms have become wings, and it’s very hard to smile you’ve got a long beak.

For the next sixty minutes a pair of pterodactyls shocked and thrilled holiday makers and locals alike.
To rapturous applause the flying reptiles terrorised the ice cream snaffling, chip splattering seagulls clearing the startled scavengers from the cove. Then to the delight of the crowd below they performed an aerial display much more daring than the Red Arrows before dive-bombing a great white shark lurking in the bay about to sink its teeth into the pink and yellow lilo on which lay the well loved local celebrity, Penelope Picklemonger.

As the shark skulked away, the pterodactyls rose up into the heavens with cheers ringing in their ears. They were about to set off on a race around the planet when without warning each wingbeat became slower and their bodies heavier and heavier.Instead of speeding up, the two friends began to falter.

Sadly, their aerial antics were over. With their powers waning it was all they could do to steady their nerves and steer a course to glide safely back into the cave in the cove.

They tumbled into the cavern and begged the sea hag for more of the magical salty brew. She stared at George with her one anemone eye and spoke with a voice that sounded like heavy waves crashing against a cliff on a stormy night.

‘This potion’s bubbling nice and hot
But something’s missing from my pot.
If I don’t get it
That’s your lot.
I’d like a gander at your amber.’

As soon as George showed it to her, the sea hag snatched it and tossed it into pot. A second later the boys drank greedily from the skull.

Once more they felt a strange sensation rising from the pits of their stomachs to the tops of their heads, from the tips of their fingers to the ends of their toes.

Their bones shook. Their skin crackled. Their veins bulged. Their heads span.

The next they knew they were plodding past their mums who were still having their terribly, terribly important conversation. All the others on the beach watched in stilled silence as a couple of dark grey dinosaurs lumbered towards the sea. Those close by hurriedly moved their beach paraphernalia out of the way but nothing could be done to save their sand castles.

Once Oscar and George were buoyant out in the bay the dinosaur duo bowed their long necks and with booming bellows beckoned to all and sundry to climb aboard.

Hundreds of people hollered with joy and splashed into the sea.

The two friends entwined their necks to make a giant helter skelter. After three goes each everyone climbed aboard and had a fabulous tour around the bay.

But once again, almost an hour later, the magic began to wear off. It was all the pair could do to get their passengers safely to the shore. Lobsters and crabs dropped from their dripping, ailing hulks onto the sand. As the brontosauruses, each heavy as an oil rig trudged wearily towards the cave, the smell of barbecued seafood wafted into their Frisbee-sized nostrils.

Stumbling into the cavern they begged the sea hag for more of the magical salty brew. A hermit crab scuttled around her neck and disappeared behind a cuttlefish ear. She stared at Oscar with her anemone eye and roared like the Kraken,

‘This potion’s bubbling nice and hot
But something’s missing from my pot
A special stone should do the trick.
It’s in your pocket.
Give it. Quick!’

Oscar dug into his pocket then plopped the stone with a hole in into the pot. A second later the boys drank greedily from the skull.

Once more they felt a strange sensation rising from the pits of their stomachs to the tops of their heads, from the tips of their fingers to the ends of their toes.

Their bones shook. Their skin crackled. Their veins bulged. Their heads span.

It had already been a very special day for most of the people at Jurassic Cove. After all, it’s not every day that you see a pterodactyl or a brontosaurus, let alone a pair of each. But many later agreed that the highlight had been watching a couple of Tyrannosaurus rexes playing beach football with an ice cream van. Years later when grown men and women recounted being given a piggyback by a dinosaur, listeners would shake their heads in wonder. Children would remember forever and ever the day they played in a life-size sand castle made by two of the friendliest T-rexes you’d ever hope to meet.

Unfortunately all of this excitement was missed by two mothers on the beach who’d been having their terribly, terribly important conversation right up until mid-afternoon when they realised they hadn’t seen their sons for the best part of the day.

Suddenly they jumped up and looked around. One ran to the sea, one ran to the cliff. They called out the boys’ names. They dashed back in panic about to ring emergency services when a woman lying on a towel nearby said,

‘Don’t worry dears. They’ve been having a wonderful time rushing in and out of
that cave. Such lively imaginations. I wish my boys were like that. I can’t get
mine off their phones.’

At that moment, Oscar and George appeared and cried,

‘Can we have our picnic now? We’re starving.’

* Dorset Ooser … A legendary horned giant from Dorset.

© Clive PiG WORDS: 1682 14/07/2016

The Dragon of Krakow and the Clever Cobbler

image

Written during road trip to Poland driving musical instruments for Exeter Children’s Orchestra.

Long ago, before you or your grandmother were born, before Poland was Poland and before the Slavs settled by the banks of the River Vistula, there lived a dragon.

Out of the egg a thousand years or more, alone and aloof it flew from den to river, from den to forest, from den to mountain to kill and feast. Bear and wolf, lynx and boar, deer and goat, beaver, otter, bird, snake and fish were gripped, torn, crushed, ripped and gorged upon. Hides and hooves, scales and tails, fur, tusks, flesh and bone filled the belly of the beast.

And when to eat was not enough, to salve the hunger of loneliness, it lay in the darkness of its lair curled snout to tail and slept.

Creatures of river and forest and mountain no longer feared the dragon in the cave in the hill.

For a hundred years it did not stir.

And in this time, dribs and drabs of men and women with sons and daughters arrived by the river to fish and farm, to tame the land and build a town. And all was well, as well could be.

The first to go? Perhaps a dog who sniffed a scent like no other. Whose nose led him to the cave in the hill by the bend in the river and whose back was snapped because of a bark it could not help.

However it was done, done it was.

Awake, angry and hungry the dragon stalked the land once more.

Herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and shepherds and children went missing.

Some who saw the dragon said it was a grey snake on legs, the size of three bulls with the head of a horse. Others said it was no bigger than a donkey. One man said one wing was larger than the other and it was unable to fly but hopped and skipped and jumped upon its prey. Another man told him to shut up and drown himself in a lake of vodka.

King Krak ordered his bravest to fight the dragon and many tried. Many tried and all failed. The skin of the dragon was too tough for arrows. Spears and lances were pinpricks to the beast. Death by fire was the reward for many would-be heroes. Those who escaped and survived wore their tooth and claw scars proudly. By and by, to keep the beast at bay and to prevent surprise attacks, each day a young maiden was left outside the dragon’s den.

But soon there was only one teenage girl left and the next morning Krak would sacrifice his own daughter.

Wanda the fair, Wanda the jewel, Wanda the beautiful. Her eyes so deep and blue, many a young man had dived headfirst into them. Her skin so smooth, those who gazed at her felt they were tobogganing down a glass mountain. Her hair so golden a field of ripe barley would bow before her as she passed by.

It was then a humble fellow stepped forward.

Cobblers. Cobblers are those whose trade it is to shoe us. To cover our bare feet in leather.
And what a fine cobbler there was in the town. His name, Skuba. Skuba had no sword, no lance, no shield, no horse. But he had scissors for cutting, an awl for threading and hemp for stitching. And he went to the king and he asked and he was given. A cartload of sheepskins, a trough of fat, a barrel of tar and a bucket of sulphur.

All night long he stitched and stuffed and smeared until by dawn, a huge sheep the size of a giant bear was dragged by the king’s men and left outside the dragon’s den.

When the dragon stirred and slipped out of its lair, he sniffed the crystal air of a frosty morning and spied his breakfast lying as if asleep. With a blast of flame and a roar that made the trees run and hide, he lunged forwards and with a gulp that sounded like a boulder thrown into a lake swallowed his breakfast whole.

Satisfied at the size of his meal which was much more filling than a teenage girl, he dove into the river for his morning swim. But as you and I know, it’s not a good idea to swim with a full stomach especially if there’s a bucket of sulphur inside you.

As he swam he drank, and as he drank the river water met the sulphur and it began to crackle,smoke and flame and soon there was a furnace deep within.

He shot out of the water and writhed outside his lair.

His insides were baking. His scales flaking. His belly was churning. His body burning.

SIZZLE! WHIZZ! BANG! POP!

The dragon exploded.

Bones shot in all directions. Burning innards plunged like meteors into the river. Scales fell like black hailstones to the ground.

But his hide – his rough,tough skin – plummeted like a punctured parachute and flopped down to land outside the dragon’s lair.

The people of the town cheered Skuba the clever cobbler. They drank vodka in his honour.They carried him high upon their shoulders. They drank vodka. They sang songs. They drank more vodka.

And when they woke the next morning they held their sore heads in their hands and tried to remember what happened yesterday.

The hammering in their heads was echoed by a hammering sound coming from a nearby building.

It was Skuba, up early and making his first pair of shoes of the day.

These shoes were like none seen before. He was making them for his bride to be – Wanda the beautiful.

Can you guess what they were made of?

Of course you can.

They may have been the first pair of shoes cobbled that morning but they were not the last.

And the shoes made that day were so long lasting that if you visit Poland and stand in the square of that ancient town beside the River Vistula and stare at the feet of passers-by, it won’t be long before you spot a pair of dragon skin shoes worn by a descendent of someone long ago who knew Skuba, the clever cobbler of Krakow.

The Quest For The Lost Car Keys

Featuring Malcolm Muddlehead, the man who makes a mountain out of a molehill and who thinks the moles undermining his bungalow will eventually cause the collapse of the cul-de-sac and ultimately civilisation itself.

Malcolm Muddlehead woke from a troubled sleep with a start. He’d just been gnashed to death by a two headed monster and now his bed was shaking like a storm tossed ship.

Lightning flashes streaked across his bedroom wall and his curtains billowed as rain splashed through his swinging bedroom window. In panic he switched on his bedside lamp only to be jolted by an electric shock. He shot out of bed and rushed to close the window stubbing his toe on the chest of drawers.

The carpet was wet as a swamp and heavy rain lashed the glass panes like spears being hurled by warring jungle tribes.

Nervously peering out from behind the sodden curtain he looked at the havoc in the cul-de-sac. The poplar trees across the road were swaying like two angry giants waving clubs. The leylandii hedge was swelling like a tidal wave and someone’s washing was flying about like ghosts in a tumble dryer.

Malcolm looked out in horror at his neighbour’s car being pummelled by the tempest. Thank goodness his own was tucked up safely in the garage. He wondered if he should phone Mr Pratt to warn him of the pandemonium. But then he yawned and decided to go back to bed. He could always help tidy up the devastation in the morning.

Suddenly a crack of lightning made his bedroom blaze like an erupting volcano and then a thunderclap shook the bungalow as if an earthquake was about to destroy it. The street lights went out and his bedside lamp crackled and popped.

It was then he heard a howl that sent a chill down his spine. There was a scratching at the door that made the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. He froze in fear as the handle turned. He waited for what seemed a lifetime until the door burst open. A black shape hurtled towards him. He dashed into bed and pulled the covers over his head. He winced as something alive landed on top of him. That something was crushing the life out of him. Struggling for breath he passed out.

In the morning he came to and felt a heavy weight bearing down on him. With all his might he pushed it off the bed and then heard a yelp and a thud as it hit the floor. Summoning all of his courage he peeked out from under the duvet and saw Scott, his black Labrador licking an injured paw.

Malcolm hazily pieced together last night’s cataclysmic events and concluded that he was lucky to still be alive.

He looked around the room and noticed that apart from one shattered light bulb and a damp patch on the curtains there’d been surprisingly little damage.

Bravely he rose from the bed and tiptoed towards the window fearing the worst. He peeked from behind the curtains relieved to see the street was still intact and his hydrangea bushes had not been battered. All that remained of last night’s turmoil was Mr.Littlejohn’s long johns hanging from the magnolia tree at number 7’s.

Tremblingly he dressed and tentatively opened his bedroom door. Nothing seemed untoward until he entered the kitchen. Then it hit him like a hammer. It was a sock to the jaw. He staggered backwards and landed on his kitchen stool.

There on the wall beside the cooker he saw the hook. Shiny and curved like a little finger. Screwed into the wall. Brazenly mocking him. It was laughing at him. It was taunting him. His worst fears were realised. His car keys were missing.

He froze in shock then almost keeled over. How on earth could he exist without his car? How would he get to the bowling club? It was his steed. His carriage. It was an extension of himself. It was his extra leg. His beloved olive green Vauxhall Astra.

He determined to search high and low. He would not rest until he had fulfilled this formidable challenge. He would find those keys or die trying.

He’d not leave one drawer unopened, one cushion unturned.

He steeled his nerves. He clenched his jaw. His resolve was firm. He’d even skip breakfast.
Fearlessly he thrust his hands into his trouser pockets.

Handkerchiefs. Pennies. Pound coins. Peppermints. One hundred times he checked. Left pocket. Right pocket. Back pockets. Back pocket right. Front pocket left. Right, left. Back, front. No car keys!
He emptied his mother’s old fruit bowl. It hadn’t seen a banana for years but was filled with buttons and foreign coins, shrivelled conkers and faded raffle tickets. No car keys!

He opened drawers and cupboards, scattering tea towels and utensils in a flurry of desperation. He emptied cereal packets and muesli and cornflakes crackled under foot. But still, no car keys!
He looked in the fridge. He looked in the oven. He looked in the toaster, the microwave and the kettle. No car keys!

Panic now turned to anger. He would not put up with this. He strode into the lounge looked behind the sofa then gripped floral cushions in his bare hands, throttling them as he interrogated them one by one. But none confessed to knowing anything about the whereabouts of his indispensable keys. He glowered menacingly at the tropical fish. In a rage he upturned the coffee table and hurtled out of the room and then crashed into Scott who’d been coming in to the room to see what the commotion was.

Malcolm and his dog sat in the hall together surveying the wreckage. He realised he needed help.

Reaching for the phone on hall wall, with trembling fingers he dialled the number for his best friend Albert Iremonger. No answer.

Next he phoned his sister Marjorie who told him not to be such a baby and slammed the phone down on him.

Thirdly he tried Citizen’s Advice but he was told he’d have to make an appointment and because of staff shortages it would be at least a month until they could fit him in. Malcolm couldn’t wait that long. He had his weekly supermarket shop to do tomorrow.

He put head in his hands and he wept. He’d never felt so bereft.

But then Scott jumped up and barked at the broom cupboard. Malcolm looked at his canine companion and realised that between them they’d solve this mystery once and for all.

Side by side they inched along the magnolia wall until they reached the cream white door. Holding his breath, Malcolm turned the chrome handle and flung the door open.

A tentacle sprang from the cavern, tangling around his legs and pulling him to the ground. Scott growled as his master wrestled with the writhing monster on the beige carpet. Malcolm felt his strength ebbing, his spirit weakening, his life swimming before his eyes.

But then heroically he reached deep within to find the reserves for one last supreme effort. He tore the tentacle from his thighs and hurled the creature along the hall. Smashing through the front door it landed on the concrete path outside and burst open.

Malcolm and Scott approached the vanquished foe and stared at the disgorged contents of its stomach.

And now he saw his quest was over. His work done. His prize won. For lying amongst three months worth of domestic detritus: of dust, of matted hair, match sticks, staples, a model airplane wheel, dried shrunken apple cores, peach stones, tissues and toffee wrappers, were his precious car keys.

He stooped towards the wreckage of his vacuum cleaner and scooped the jewels from its bowels and held them triumphantly aloft for all the curtain twitchers in the cul-de-sac to witness.

He went back inside to celebrate his victory with a cup of tea and a buttered scone. It had all been too much excitement for Scott so he went for a lie down in the dog basket.

Copyright © Clive PiG Words 1347 20/05/2016

What Goes On?

What Goes On, written by Lou Reed, was recorded by The Hopeful Chinamen at Alvic Studios in London, England in 1980.

Waldo's Records, Snorbens

Waldo’s Records, Snorbens

It is the last track on the Sailor With A Telescope album released on Waldo’s Records in 1981.http://www.waldos.co.uk/index.html

Nick, Gary and myself rehearsing at the Student Union lounge one Sunday afternoon in Snorbens 1979

Nick, Gary and myself rehearsing at the Student Union lounge one Sunday afternoon in St.Albans

I share vocals with Nick Haeffner. Nick and Pete Ridley play electric guitars.
John Walpole plays bass. Gary Hawkins is on drums.

Clive Pig & The Hopeful Chinamen – Sailor With A Telescope

Side 1
1. Intro: Desperate Living
2. Still Stupid Situations
3. The Master
4. See That Boy
5. My Room In a House With No Roof
6. Furious Table
7. Go! Victor! Go!
8. The Earth Movers
9. Waldo’s Commercial

Side 2
1. Little Baby Born
2. Shadows Dancing on the Walls
3. The King & The Queen
4. How Can I Remember You?
5. Song of a Danish Sailor
6. Stuck In Her Modern World
7. Tin Tin’s Playing the Bass Guitar
8. New Land
9. What Goes On

Catalogue Number: TS013
Format: cassette tape
Released: 1981
Recorded: Side 1 at Alvic Studios, London
Side 2 Tracks 1-4 at Waldos Jazz Club November 1979
Side 2 Tracks 5-8 at Waldos Jazz Club November 1981