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

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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

The Legend Of The Quetzal Bird

Quetzal Bird

A Mayan Tale Retold

A long time ago in the mountains and rain forests of Guatemala, there was a powerful Quiche leader named Cacique. He longed for a son to succeed him and after  many years Cacique’s wife bore him a baby boy named Quetzal, which means ‘beautiful’.

When Quetzal became old enough to be a Quiche warrior there was a celebration. Musicians blew ocarinas, beat slit drums and strummed charangos made from armadillo shells. Dancers with painted bodies writhed like snakes and whooped like spider monkeys.

During the ceremony, a sage came forward and placed a jade and obsidian necklace over his head and proclaimed,

“Your destiny has been decided, Quetzal. You will live forever.”

Everybody in the tribe cheered at these words except one warrior, Chiruma, the jealous younger brother of the chief. He had hoped that Cacique and his wife would never have a son so that he could become the next leader. The only way that could happen now would be if Chiruma could get rid of his nephew, Quetzal.

At the feast Chiruma scowled from the shadows as the tribe gorged on dog, guinea pig and iguana meat. He refused the avocados, the pineapples and the sweet potatoes offered to him by slaves, but he did smoke the tobacco pipe and drink the hot chocolate spiced with chilli.

After the celebration, all the warriors had to go to battle against a neighbouring tribe. They took their bows and arrows, clubs and shields. Many of the Quiche warriors were killed but Chiruma noticed that arrows fired straight at his nephew always veered passed without so much as scratching him. It was as if he had some magical protection. Then Chiruma realised that it must be the necklace given to Quetzal by the sage.

The next night, while the chief’s son was sleeping, Chiruma snuck into his room and stole the necklace. The following day when Quetzal was walking in the forest, Chiruma surprised him from behind a tree and shot his nephew straight through the heart with an arrow.

Quetzal fell to the ground. Chiruma would now be chief when his brother died.

He was about to walk away when Quetzal’s chest began to throb. Suddenly a bird emerged from out of his body and flew up onto a branch of a ceiba tree. This was no ordinary bird. It was the size of a parakeet with shimmering emerald wing feathers with a three foot tail with iridescent blues with a small yellow beak. And as it sang it had the most beautiful voice of any bird before or since.

As Chiruma looked in astonishment at the resplendent bird above, a jaguar leapt upon the jealous uncle and killed him with one bite.

Years later, in the year 1524, the Spaniard, Pedro de Alvarado marched with his army into Guatemala. He did not look in awe and wonder at the pyramids built without using iron or the wheel. He was not impressed by the written language in books and on stone, the mathematical skills or astronomical knowledge of the Mayans. He wanted to destroy their gods and plunder their gold.

Arriving in the highland city of Quetzaltengo, Alvarado

Next instalment to follow soon. Cliff Hanger

The Garden of Sparrows

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Beyond the Mediterranean Sea and behind the Atlas Mountains lies the ancient Berber town of Taroudant.

In that town you’ll find a place to stay a while – La Maison Anglaise – a house where travellers rest and play.

Roof top pots hold vibrant red and purple blooms;  perfumed breezes bathe guests beneath the azure sky.

Down below amidst the orange grove there is a garden of sparrows chatting and chirping from sunrise to sunset.

In the high red clay walls of that garden are a hundred holes where sparrows nest and secrets linger.

If you put your hand into some of those holes a snake might bite or a scorpion sting.

But if you dare to put your hand into others you might find a sultan’s ring, a snake charmer’s flute, a bottle of argan oil or a beeswax candle.

I reached into one of those holes and pulled out a tale not heard for a thousand years or more.

And this is the story I found …

 

The Higgledy-Piggledy Hedge

Metalwork by Andrew Kingham

Metalwork by Andrew Kingham


Not last year but the year after that, there was a man who moved into the old cottage on the edge of the village. He had lived in the city all his life and liked hustle and bustle and things to do.

In the countryside time tick-tocks slowly but the man knew how to keep himself busy. One day he moved his bed from one side of the room to the other. On another, he swapped the front door with the back door. He took off the old roof and put on a new roof. He knocked down walls to make the rooms bigger and then built new walls to make the rooms smaller.

One afternoon he looked out of the window. His eyes followed the path to the bottom of the garden which led to something he didn’t like the look of. Beside the old oak tree in the corner, there was a row of straggly trees and scruffy bushes cluttering up the place and making it look untidy. What on earth was it?

He phoned the farmer across the lane who told him that it was a higgledy-piggledy hedge. A higgledy-piggledy hedge? He didn’t like the sound of that. He walked down the garden path to take a closer look.

Most of the creatures living in the higgledy-piggledy hedge were hiding by the time the man arrived. Only the flutterbies and bumbly bees flitted and buzzed about the purple and pink, the blue and the red, the yellow and white flowers swaying in the summer breeze. But the man didn’t notice any of these, nor did he see the ladybird lazing on a leaf beneath his nose.

‘A higgledy-piggledy hedge at the bottom of my garden? This won’t do at all,’
he said out loud. ‘What’s needed here is a nice new fence. A wall of wood, all
stiff and straight and neat and tidy. That’s what I want to see.’

The man went indoors to look at pictures of axes, saws and shredders in glossy catalogues. A big bonfire was something to look forward to. He imagined the blazing flames and the billowing smoke as the hedge crackled and burned. The thought of the smell of the smoke made him want a bacon sandwich and so he fried up some rashers and squashed them between two chunks of bread for his supper.

Meanwhile in the higgledy-piggledy hedge at the bottom of the garden, the ladybird told the flutterbies who told the wren, who told the slow worm, who told the dormouse, who told the hedgehog, who told the rabbit who told the robin, who told the old oak tree what the ladybird had heard.

‘What!’ growled the old oak tree. ‘A nice new fence instead of a higgledy- piggledy hedge? You can’t live on a wall of wood all stiff and straight and neat and tidy!’
‘No we can’t,’ pipped the ladybird,
‘the higgledy-piggledy hedge is our home.’
‘No we can’t,’ spluttered the flutterbies,
‘the higgledy-piggledy hedge keeps us warm in winter.’
‘No we can’t,’ tweeted the wren,
‘the higgledy-piggledy hedge is where I lay my eggs in spring.’
‘No we can’t,’ squeaked the dormouse,
‘the higgledy-piggledy hedge keeps me cool in the summer.’
‘No we can’t,’ hissed the slow worm,
‘I like to snuggle in autumn’s fallen leaves.’
‘No we can’t,’ barked the hedgehog,
‘without the higgledy-piggledy hedge I’m just a hog.’
‘N-n-no w-w-we c-c-can’t,’ stuttered the rabbit,
‘I c-c-can’t m-m-make a-a-a w-w-warren i-i-in a-a-a w-w-wall o-o-of w-w-wood.’
‘No we can’t,’ chirped the robin,
‘It’s our larder where all the nuts and berries grow. How would he like to live on a nice new fence?’
‘No you can’t,’ growled the old oak tree,
‘a wall of wood, all stiff and straight and neat and tidy? That won’t do at all. You can’t live on a nice new fence!’

Sleep did not come easily for the man that night. Branches groaned and leaves rustled outside in the dark. It sounded as if the old oak tree was walking towards the house. ‘Don’t be silly,’ he thought. But still, he pulled the covers over his head until at last, in the early hours of the morning, he drifted off.

But there was no rest in his dreams either. When he’d fallen asleep his bed had been soft and cosy, but now it felt hard and rough. He turned over and saw that his bed had changed into a wall of wood. He rubbed his eyes and saw that it was exactly what he wanted to build at the bottom of the garden. It was his nice new fence. A wall of wood, all stiff and straight and neat and tidy. And he was on top of it!

OOPS! Not for long. He fell off with a BUMP!

He climbed back up and tried to lie down on it again. But the top was so narrow he rolled over and fell off onto the other side. BONK!

Oh, but he was so tired. He leaned against the fence and closed his eyes, but after a while that made his feet ache and his head dizzy.

He scrambled up the nice new fence again and tried to sleep with his body dangling down on either side, but this made his tummy sore.
Then he straddled it as if it was a skinny horse, but a cold wind blew from one side and hot air blasted from the other. Half of him was frozen and half of him was scorched.

The fence stretched ahead and behind him into the distance. ‘Longer than the Great Wall of China,’ he thought. And it was a dull brown colour. ‘It’s not very interesting,’ he sighed.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was nothing else to look at. No animals, no birds, no flowers, no trees. Just him and the nice new fence. Nothing to do but pull splinters out of his bottom.

And what was there to eat? He leant down and chomped a chunk out of one of the many millions of dull brown planks. It didn’t taste too bad but the idea of eating wood for the rest of his life turned his tongue to sandpaper.

He was beginning to wish he’d never had the idea of putting up a nice new fence at the bottom of the garden when the fence began to wiggle like a giant worm. He held on tightly as it wriggled like an eel. Then it squiggled like a snake and began to bounce up and down like a bucking bronco.

WOAH! He couldn’t hold on any longer and was tossed into the air … WHEEEEE! … he landed with a CRASH! on his bedroom floor.

The man picked himself up and drew back the curtains.
The sun was shining on the old oak tree. The birds were singing and rabbits were scampering to and fro. Flutterbies and bumbly bees flitted and buzzed about the purple and pink, the blue and the red, the yellow and white flowers swaying in the summer breeze. A ladybird leapt from a leaf and flew off into the field beyond.

‘A nice new fence might not be such a good idea after all,’ thought the man, ‘but that higgledy-piggledy hedge at the bottom of the garden could do with a trim and a tuck to tidy it up a bit. Perhaps the farmer across the lane will show me how to do it?’

© Clive PiG

Anton Often Wondered …

Illustration by Andrew Kingham from Clive’s forthcoming book Cosmic Barbecue to be published by Caboodle Books in September

Anton often wondered how long the goldfish would survive if he swallowed it.
He wasn’t squeamish about such matters as he was the sort of boy who could scoff fifty Brussels sprouts – raw. He’d won the school’s prune eating competition twice. And once he’d downed a litre of Anastasia’s Apocalyptic Concoction without being sick for almost half an hour.
Besides, he’d be doing the little creature a favour. It would have much more fun swimming in his tummy for a while rather than around and around a big glass bubble forever.
He wasn’t worried about his parents finding out. They were too busy to notice such trifling matters. His sister would be the problem as she was quite attached to it. But he could deal with her.
Anyway, if the goldfish didn’t die he could always fish it out later and put it back in the bowl. That would confuse Clarissa.
Carefully he lowered the small green net into the water and scooped the goldfish out. It wriggled and splashed water onto the table.
For a few split seconds he watched the glittering creature gasping for life and then he lifted it to his face, opened his mouth and slapped the back of the net so that the flickering fish shot onto his tongue and slid down his throat like a kid on a water chute.
Wheeee! Down it shot into his stomach.
It tickled a bit but not much. It was only a little fish. Nothing to make a fuss about. It wasn’t the size of that salmon he’d seen in the river last autumn. He wouldn’t have been able to swallow that in one go.
Hurriedly he wiped the table, then dried the net on a tea towel and put it away in the drawer.
The bowl seemed lonely now that nothing was moving around inside. He thought about emptying it and then putting it on his head and being an astronaut for the rest of the afternoon.
Still, as it was, he had enough to occupy him. He wondered if the goldfish might glow in the dark. Then he thought that he should have probably swallowed a tropical fish as it might be too warm inside his tummy for a cold water fish. If only the goldfish could contact him to give him a clue about what was going on.
Anton was beginning to realise he hadn’t planned this experiment properly.
Suddenly his insides began to throb. He held his stomach and it was moving like when Clarissa was in Mum’s tum.
Then it all went still.
Anton had forgotten all about the baby grass snake he’d swallowed last summer.
The idea of a reptile growing inside him turned his stomach. He rushed into the garden and picked up a frog from the pond. Dangling it upside down at arm’s length, he opened his mouth and waited for the snake to rise to the bait.
An hour later he felt the grass snake stirring in his belly and glide up his throat until its head was looking out of his mouth. Its tongue flickered and then it shot forward and swallowed the frog whole.
Anton quickly snapped his mouth shut and bit off the end of the snake’s tail. He spat it out as the wounded snake dropped to the lawn and slithered off into the compost heap.
After wiping his mouth he looked at his watch and seeing it was only 3 o’clock he found himself at a loose end. But then Anton remembered the goldfish bowl and wondered whether it would fit easily or would he have to rub some butter on it to slip it onto his head?
Anton went back into the house to find out.

© Clive PiG 31/10/2014 – 18/03/2016

PiG at 10 Downing Street

More tall tales from Number 10

More tall tales from Number 10

This little PiGGy went to London. Not to visit the Queen but to tell tales at Number 10.
The fantastic Flamingo Chicks Dance School ( http://www.flamingochicks.co.uk/news/4590691130)
were in need of some tale telling entertainment after their tip top dramatic dances performed in front of Samantha Cameron last Tuesday evening at Number 10.

The troupe included children who are blind, autistic, have conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy or are undergoing cancer treatment, yet none of them let the difficulties they face get in the way of their fun – they focus on what they can do, enjoying every second of being able to move and laugh with friends.

They performed extracts from Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Firebird, Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere in front of guests including families and volunteers, as well as the dance school’s patrons Tamara Rojo, Prima Ballerina and Artistic Director at English National Ballet, and Rosaleen Moriarty Simmonds OBE, a leading campaigner for equality for disabled people.