The Legend of The Guitar

My guitar souped up for South America by Lee Hodges.

Here’s a melodramatic Argentinian tale for next leg of tour with http://dreamonproductions.com/ in Buenos Aires. Will substitute the killing of the woman by the evil man with the sting of a scorpion being the cause of death.

Once upon a time there was a gaucho named Froilan who lived on a ranch far from people. Solitude was his only companion. Alone he met one dawn after another and one twilight after another. Alone, with his horizon of sky and land.

He was accustomed to his loneliness, but when the dark night covered the countryside and he slept, a woman inhabited his dreams. So often and so strongly he dreamed, that at last one day he met her. The woman was Violeta, a beautiful and gracious creole lady who looked at him with enormous eyes.

With the presence of Violeta, he no longer had dark nights, only a road illuminated by the eyes of the woman he so loved. His life had been transformed, and now he met the dawn as well as the twilight accompanied by the soft caresses of Violeta, by her sweet voice and by her tender gaze.

One afternoon when Froilan had left for town, an evil stranger arrived. On seeing the beautiful woman alone he decided to take advantage of her. Violeta resisted with all her force and screamed for help. Nearing home, Froilan heard her cries in the distance. He galloped as fast as possible and arrived in time to join in a ferocious fight with the attacker. Froilan was able to rescue the wounded Violeta, but it was too late. The despicable man had mortally wounded his lover and she was bleeding to death.

Desperately, he clutched his lover’s body in his arms, all the while weeping and screaming. “So many things I did not get to tell you! What can I do with all these words clogging my throat.” Then, exhausted by the fight, the pain and the tears, he laid his head against hers
and thus slept, remembering her caresses.

When daylight came, he awoke to the sound of a mysterious music and found in his arms a box in the form of a woman, instead of the body of his lover. With this he sang all the rest of his life, caressing the strings as if they were his beloved, speaking all the words which had been accumulated in his throat.

And thus was born the guitar, to caress with music, to relieve sorrows, and in order that those pent-up words might be released.

Retold by Paula Martin in Pachamama Tales published by World Folklore Series.

El Ciundadano Ilustre

Artist travels from Barcelona to Buenos Aires watched by artist travelling from London to Lima.

One more tale for this travelling taleman’s Suitcase of Stories, collected en route for Lima as I embark on my first South American tour thanks to http://dreamonproductions.com.

Two identical twins grow up in the same town. Because they’re often at loggerheads, one grows a beard to distinguish himself.

One brother earned a modest income but the other was wealthy and lived opposite the foundry he owned. From time to time black cars would roll up outside his house and dubious characters from the city would pay him a visit.

Both brothers would separately go to a cabaret bar and they shared an obsession with the same woman – a red-haired prostitute from Paraguay.

The wealthy brother convinced the woman to marry him and they moved in together. This was a source of unbearable pain for the other sibling.

So, one evening, he went to the other’s house claiming he wanted to settle their differences. They went for a walk outside to chat but out of the blue the one with the beard took a piece of iron that was lying on the ground and delivered a quick blow to his brother’s head.

The man dropped down dead.

After that the brother carried the body away and burnt it in one of the many ovens of the foundry.

Finally, he shaved his beard carefully and dressed in his brother’s clothes.

Half an hour later, he went back to the house where the Paraguayan wife was waiting for her husband to have dinner. The red-head didn’t seem to notice any difference, or who knows, perhaps she pretended not to, out of convenience.

The fact is, he spent the best months of his life, the happiest ones, with this woman until, one day, the men from the city turned up in their black cars and … BOOM! … they finished him off.

Apparently this was to settle an old score. Of course, he’d known nothing about that, and just like his brother’s, his body was never found.

The red-head from Paraguay kept everything.

(This is what I remember of a five minute tale recounted to pass the time when the protagonist and his driver are sat around a fire stranded in the middle of nowhere because of a flat tyre.)

South American Adventure

Storytelling in Peru and Argentina June 12th – July 7th

More stories to follow but here’s my version of a Peruvian tale to whet your appetite.

Condor fell in love with Nina as soon as he spied her from on high.


Nina and the Condor

Nina’s father was a llama farmer who lived not far from Lake Titicaca in the mountains of Peru.

One morning while Nina was tending the llamas, a handsome young man dressed in a black poncho appeared and asked if she’d like to play a game.
Before she could answer, he whisked her up, sat her on his shoulders and set off running around the field. She quite enjoyed this unexpected encounter and giggled while she jiggled looking at the surprised expressions on the llamas’ faces.

After a while he came to a halt saying it was her turn to carry him. He claimed he was light as a feather.As he launched himself onto her shoulders, the bemused llamas rushed towards the pair spitting at the eyes of the man. But they were too late. He was a man no more. He’d turned into a great black vulture. Gripped by his talons, Nina rose up from the ground and was taken to an eyrie on a mountain ledge.

How foolish she felt. To be kidnapped by a condor. What would her father say about this?

The condor had fallen in love with Nina the moment he’d spied her from on high, and hoped that if he was kind to her she would marry him.

Unfortunately for him, things aren’t always that simple.

He brought her a guinea pig to eat but she refused it.

He brought her a chihuahua.

He brought her a baby vicuna, then an armadillo, all to which she said no.

The condor was at its wit’s end, when a hummingbird the size of a peccary flew by and told him that humans don’t like to eat dead animals unless they’re cooked, and it just so happens that in a nearby village, an alpaca was being roasted on the spit at this very moment.

The condor sped off and the giant humming bird flew down to the girl’s father and told him his daughter had been stolen away and was trapped in a bird’s nest. The shocked man tied together all of the ropes he could find in his village telling the hummingbird to rescue his daughter. Oh, and by the way, he also put a black toad on the bird’s head.

Nina was slightly surprised to see a giant hummingbird hovering above her with a toad on its head, but she was very pleased to be offered a rope of rescue which she fastened around a rock to climb down from the ledge.

When the condor returned with a large piece of roasted alpaca he was confused to see a black toad in his nest. The hummingbird told him that Nina had become a toad because of the way the condor had treated her.

In anger the condor killed the hummingbird and pecked him into fifty pieces and snaffled them down. Suddenly a hole appeared in the condor’s breast and out flew fifty small hummingbirds each with different coloured feathers.

The toad belched and the hole healed instantly.

Even though the condor was disappointed that Nina had changed her shape, he was still happy to share his nest with her, and as far as I know, unless you can tell me otherwise, they both lived happily ever after.

© Clive PiG
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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?’

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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