Hijinks In Jordan

School's out in Z'atari
School’s out in Za’atari

Just finished wonderful week in Jordan courtesy of the British Council and Authors Abroad.

Day 1
Thrown in at the deep end with performances to invited schools at the Children’s Museum in Amman. Pupils had little English, I had no translator. But you know me – gestures and rhythm can supercede language any day of the week.
That evening ran teacher training course on my Top Ten Tale Telling Tips.

Teacher training at British Council, Amman
Teacher training at British Council, Amman

Day 2
More teacher training at a couple of state schools on outskirts of Amman – one for boys and one for girls. Stark contrast between the two. Teachers in girls’ school enthusiastic and focused; those in boys’ school tired and demoralised.(Mind you, they had classes of fifty pupils on the site of a former Palestinian refugee camp).

Humpf!
Humpf!
Teachers at Zarqa with classes of 50
Teachers at Zarqa with classes of 50

Day 3
Za’atari Refugee Camp.
Minibus trip north along highway with road signs for Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Jordanian helicopters and fighter jets hovering and zooming above imperious camels in the rocky desert.
Six hundred thousand Syrian refugees live at Za’atari. Kidzmania and I entertained a couple of hundred of them. They amazed and astounded us.
These displaced children were such fun to be with. They were joyous and sparky and polite. An honour and a pleasure to be amongst them.

Some of the six hundred thousand at Za'atari
Some of the six hundred thousand at Za’atari

Day 4
Zaha Centre, Amman
Nick Bilbrough from Totnes and Clive PiG from Ashburton hear the tale of Tanbouri read to us by Areej from Amman from her mobile device as we drive to the colourful Zaha Centre for today’s shift. Tanbouri has a pair of shoes he wants to get rid of, but every time he throws them away they come back to haunt him. It’s a cracking story from the Arabian Nights and I’m going to add it to my repertoire.
Later in the day in the middle of The Singing Toad I ask a child what would be their first wish out of three … ” Free Palestine!” is the response.

At the Zaha Centre
At the Zaha Centre

Day 5
Turkish coffee and dates with the Principle at a military school for girls, followed by two shows and a teacher training session. Then the fun really begins. A marvellous magician appears in the playground and astounds us all.

Last show of week at Shoman Foundation. Big thanks to Joseph Field at British Council for booking me, to Areej who sorted the shenanigans and to Farah for her fab translations of my wordy ways.

With Farah Samman - a fab translator and communicator
With Farah Samman – a fab translator and communicator

And finally …
,image
Humpfh!

THIS WEEK’S STORY Three Little PiGs or Three Little Pixies?

This is the first published version of what was to become The Three Little PiGs.

 

THE FOX AND THE PIXIES Dartmoor, England.

There was once a fox, who, prowling by night in search of prey, came unexpectedly on a colony of pixies. Each pixy had a separate house. The first he came to was a wooden house.

“Let me in, let me in,” said the fox.

“I won’t,” was the pixy’s answer; “and the door is fastened.”

Upon this the fox climbed to the top of the house; and having pawed it down, made a meal of the unfortunate pixy.

The next was a “stonen” house.

“Let me in,” said the fox.

“The door is fastened,” answered the pixy.

Again was the house pulled down, and its inmate eaten.

The third was an iron house. The fox again craved admittance, and was again refused.

“But I bring you good news,” said the fox.

“No, no,” replied the pixy; “I know what you want; you shall not come in here tonight.”

That house the fox in vain attempted to destroy. It was too strong for him, and he went away in despair. But he returned the next night, and exerted all his fox-like qualities in the hope of deceiving the pixy. For some time he tried in vain ; until at last he mentioned a tempting field of turnips in the neighborhood, to which he offered to conduct his intended victim. They agreed to meet the next morning at four o’clock.

But the pixy outwitted the fox; for he found his way to the field, and returned laden with his turnips long before the fox was astir. The fox was greatly vexed, and was long unable to devise another scheme, until he bethought himself of a great fair about to be held a short way off, and proposed to the pixy that they should set off for it at three in the morning.

The pixy agreed. But the fox was again outwitted; for he was only up in time to meet the pixy returning home with his fairings: a clock, a crock, and a frying pan. The pixy, who saw the fox coming, got into the crock and rolled himself down the hill ; and the fox, unable to find him, abandoned the scent and went his way. The fox returned the next morning; and finding the door open went in, when he caught the pixy in bed, put him into a box, and locked him in.

“Let me out,” said the pixy, ” and I will tell you a wonderful secret.”

The fox was after a time persuaded to lift the cover; and the pixy, coming out, threw such a charm upon him that he was compelled to enter the box in his turn; and there at last he died.

Source: English Forests and Forest Trees: Historical, Legendary, and Descriptive (London: Ingram, Cooke, and Company, 1853),
pp. 189-90.
The anonymous author of this account does not give it a title.
Katherine M. Briggs includes a version of this story in her A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, part A,
vol. 2 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 528-30.

China & Malaysia 2018 Authors Abroad

April – May 2018

https://www.authorsabroad.com/author/clivepig/

This Dragon’s pearl

Packing case for another Adventure in Storyland. Off to China for a week at British School Guangzhou and then a couple of weeks tale telling and collecting in Malaysia.

Taking the skeleton of this tale with me and looking forward to putting flesh on its bones.

Working Script for ‘The Dragon’s Pearl’.
Performance storytelling- Mash Up, Cut and Paste rendition

Legend location: Near the River Min in the province of Sichuan in China
Date: Pre 2018. Dates of earliest versions yet to be discovered.

They say Xiao Sheng lived with his mother in a little town in Sichuan beside the River Min. Every morning he cut the wild grass outside his house. His mother sold it at the market and, on her way home she bought rice and tea and flour for dumplings.

One summer there was a terrible drought. All the grass outside Xiao’s house wilted and died.

‘Whatever shall we do? ‘ said his mother. ‘The rice jar is almost empty.’

‘Don’t worry, mother,’ said Xiao. ‘I’ll find some grass for you to sell.’

He put on his boots and trudged out to the forest. All day long he looked for a patch of tall grass. But the summer heat seemed to have killed everything. There was not a blade of green grass to be had anywhere. Xiao went back home.

‘Have you found any grass?’ asked his mother.

‘No,’ said Xiao sadly …

Part of Saviour Pirotta’s version from Stories from China published by Wayland Publishers Ltd in 1999

From his suitcase the storyteller takes out a thunder roarer and fills the room with a loud rumble.

That night they were awoken by a roar in the sky above their little house. The ground trembled as if an earthquake was about to swallow it down and their rooms shook as if in the grip of a whirlwind. Mother and son held on to each other for dear life.

In the morning the grass outside the kitchen is tall and green. This they cut and sell at market and buy rice. Next day the grass has grown once more. Why? How? After Xian Sheng harvests with his sickle once more his mother tells him to search the ground for clues. Clawing like a badger into the earth he finds a tiny round ball the size of a mistletoe berry. It’s white with a tinge of green. He hands it to his mother who tells him it is a dragon’s pearl.

She tells her son that her grandmother once told her a story about magical dragon’s pearls. Unfortunately she can’t remember most of the tale because she fell asleep halfway through.

They drop the pearl into the rice jar to keep it safe.

Later, to their great surprise the jar, which had been nearly empty, now brimmed with rice, and the lovely pearl sat on the top, gleaming in the morning light. ‘Mother, come quickly,’ he called.

When she saw this miracle, she rejoiced. ‘We will eat a big bowl of rice in celebration,’she said. This they did. ‘Let us put the pearl back as it was,’she said.

The next morning, to their great joy, they found the jar was full once more.

‘This is a magical pearl,’said the mother. ‘We must care well for our treasure.’ That night she put the pearl in the money box. The next morning the box was overflowing with coins. That night they placed the pearl inside the oil jar. In the morning, the jar overflowed with oil.

The mother and her son no longer had any worries. Whatever they needed, the pearl created for them.

Extract from https://www.uexpress.com>tell-me-a-story

The couple shared their good fortune with their friends and neighbours. ‘Bring your rice bowls,’ they’d call in the mornings. ‘Fill them, and your bellies.’
Most people were grateful for this kindness but a few were jealous.
Early one morning three women and two men broke into their house and woke up Xiang Shen and his mother. They demanded to know where their good fortune had come from.

‘ Don’t tell them about the dragon’s pearl in the cupboard,’ shouted Xiang Shen.
The robbers rushed towards the cupboard while the boy dashed to the rice jar and pulled out the dragon’s pearl.

‘If you want it here it is,’ he taunted.
They turned in time to see the dragon’s pearl disappear down Xiang Sheng’s throat.
‘No,’ they cried.

‘No,’ shouted his mother.

‘Argh!’ screamed Xiang Shen.

His throat burned, his stomach churned. His belly bulged, buttons popped from his night shirt. His arms shot out sideways, flapping wildly. His nose turned into a snout. His skin to scales and a tail thrashed behind him.

He burst through the door and perched in a tree, a rumbling sound filled the sky. The neighbours rushed out to witness the commotion.
They saw the mother and the robbers looking at a dragon in a tree. The wind began to howl and the sky darkened.

‘Look’, an old man shouted. ‘Dragons from the east.’

Hundreds of mighty dragons slowly flew towards them. With each wingbeat lightning flashed, thunder rumbled.

Rain began to fall. The people lifted their faces feeling the water falling towards the parched earth.

‘The rains have come! The rains have come!’ they cheered.

They splashed in the puddles forming on the ground.

The dragons swooped down to the little town and flew around the tree. Xiang Sheng was caught up in the current and was lifted up in a whirlwind of scales and wings and tails.

‘ No,’ he cried, ‘leave me here. I don’t want to go with you. I don’t want to be a dragon.’

‘You’ve swallowed a dragon’s pearl. There is no choice. Come with us to the mountains. You will be a dragon for evermore .’

Sadly, Xiang Sheng waved goodbye to his mother.

He dived down and hovered above the people of the little town. His mother called up to him, ‘I’m so sorry Xiang Shen. I should have stayed awake and listened to my grandmother’s story. Then I’d have warned you never to swallow a dragon’s pearl.’

Her son bid farewell flying backwards, waving slowly. His wing tips dipped beneath the rising waters brought by the torrential rain and the waterfall of his tears. Twenty eight times he waved goodbye before turning to join the dragon’s heading east.

 

Cruising on the Pearl River

On Friday night I sampled the amazing night light displays of China’s third largest city. I was invited on a cruise along the Pearl River in Guangzhou with the staff of British School Guangzhou. A great end to a phenomenal Book Week shared with authors Adam Bushnell and Kathryn White.

MALAYSIA

Sunday evening ended with a sundowner at the Miami Beach Bar in Penang, Malaysia with teacher Ashley Byrne and colleagues from St. Christopher’s International Primary School.

Sundown with Ashley Byrne and colleagues from St. Christopher’s, Penang

 

A tale about a tail

While swapping stories about stowaway bullfrogs, monkeys in schools and the world’s longest snakes (a python 7.5 metres long was found just a few miles from where we were sitting) I was told the tale of the story of a young girl who was sitting with her family behind me.

 

Story on back of menu in Penang

 

Thulassi at Miami Cafe, Penang

Mission in Moscow

The World Is Just A Great BiG Onion

NOVEMBER 2014

Moscow seems so far away? That’s because it is. It would take me 33 hours to drive the 1,970 miles between Ashburton to the Russian capital – 31 hours if there’s no traffic. Phew, thank goodness I flew there and back.

What do you call a flying pig? Pigasus.

That was me. Two weeks at The International School Moscow courtesy of Authors Abroad. The school put me up at the Grand Marriot – ten minutes from Red Square – and I signed and sold 250 copies of PiG’s Tales. Can’t be bad.

Cherry Reds in Red Square

Had a great time telling Magical Myths and Laughable Legends and sharing my Top Ten Tale Telling Tips with the pupils and parents, teachers and support staff during the day, but in the evenings and at the weekend I roamed the Russian streets between monumental buildings, battled the crowds beside the Bolshoi and stared at silent statues –
Marx, Lenin, Pushkin, Tchaikovsky, Mayakovsky and Bulgakov waited patiently for my footfall.

Pilgrimage To The Master and Margarita Bulgakov Museum

The Cat PM at No 10

The Cat PM at No 10

A version of this poem was performed at No 10 Downing Street on 24th November 2015

There once was a cat at Number 10,

Who fancied himself as the PM.

He’d jump on the desk then sit in the chair

When the real Prime Minister wasn’t there.

 

Purring as he licked his paws,

Meowing as he stretched his claws.

He imagined all the things he’d do

If all his policies came true.

 

Yes, Mr Cameron’s a kind human

And so’s his wife—the lovely Sam.

But from now on let’s be very clear

About who really is the boss round here.

 

Once every feline has the vote,

No longer will George Osborne gloat.

All MP’s would be de-selected

And only cats could be elected.

 

Cats in power! Cats in charge!

Cats at leisure! Cats at large!

Cats are smarter! Cats are cool!

Cats’ Magna Cartawhen Cats rule!

 

Those wretched cat flaps will be banned,

Proclaim the news throughout the land.

Wait at the door, we’ll let you know

When we wish to come and go.

 

If it rains we want a feller,

To protect us with a big umbrella.

And should we choose to take a nap,

You must provide a nice warm lap.

 

And if we wish to use your garden,

We certainly will not beg your pardon.

We’ll do our business where we choose,

Do not shoo us—don’t abuse.

 

We’ll shut you in the Albert Hall,

While ten cats’ choirs caterwaul.

Then we’ll hurl dirt, sticks and stones

To make you hurtle to your homes.

 

Cats in power! Cats in charge!

Cats at leisure! Cats at large!

Cats are smarter! Cats are cool!

Cats’ Magna Cartawhen Cats rule!

 

Every dog will become our slave,

If any of them misbehave,

If they rebel, if they say no,

We’ll send them to a firework show.

 

No birds shall taunt us from a tree,

The ground will be their territory.

We will so enjoy the slaughter

As fish must jump out of the water.

 

Every louse will be re-housed,

And every house must have a mouse,

And every flat must have a rat,

And every cat must have a mat.

 

And we intend to close our borders

To those who’ll not obey our orders.

If you don’t do as we please,

We will make you refugees.

 

All babies will be micro-chipped,

Macho males will have the snip.

Eventually to make more space,

We’ll get rid of the human race.

 

Cats in power! Cats in charge!

Cats at leisure! Cats at large!

Cats are smarter! Cats are cool!

Cats’ Magna Cartawhen Cats rule!

 

 © Clive PiG

Tall tales in Zaatari

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Libraries with big books

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