Tall Tales in Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Off to Myanmar this Friday thanks to Authors Abroad. I’ll be telling tales at the International School Yangon and at Dulwich College. I’ll kick off the tour with my own re-telling of the old Burmese story – The Tall Tales, based on the version below.

There once lived three brothers who were known throughout the land for the tall tales they told. They would travel from place to place telling their strange stories to whoever would listen. No one ever believed their tales and all who heard them would cry out with exclamations of disbelief.

One day while travelling very far from home the three brothers came upon a wealthy prince. The prince was dressed very elegantly and bedecked in jewels such as the three men had never seen in their lives. They thought how wonderful it would be to have such possessions so they devised a plan whereby they could use their storytelling ability to trick the prince out of his belongings.

They said to the prince: “Let’s tell each other stories of past adventures and if anyone should doubt the truth of what the other is saying then that person must become a slave to the others.” Now the brothers had no use for a slave but if they could make the prince their slave then they could take his clothes because they would then belong to them.

The prince agreed to their plan. The brothers were sure they would win because no one had ever heard their stories without uttering cries of disbelief. And so they found a passer-by and asked him to act as judge in the matter. All sat down under the shade of a tree and the storytelling began.

The first brother stood up to tell his tale. With a smile on his face he began to speak:

“When I was a young boy I thought it would be fun to hide from my brothers so I climbed the tallest tree in our village and remained there all day while my brothers searched high and low for me. When night fell my brothers gave up the search and returned home. It was then that I realized that I was unable to climb down the tree. But I knew I could get down with the help of a rope, so I went to the nearest cottage and borrowed a rope and was then able to climb down the tree and return home.”

When the prince heard this ridiculous story he did not make a comment but merely stood and waited for the next story to begin. The three brothers were quite surprised but were sure that the second story would not be believed by the prince. And so the second brother began his tale:

“That day when my brother hid from us I was searching for him in the forest. I saw something run into the bushes and thinking it was my brother I ran in after it. When I got into the bushes I saw that it was not my brother but a huge hungry tiger. He opened his mouth to devour me and I jumped inside and crawled into his belly before he could chew me up. When inside I started jumping up and down and making loud, fierce noises. The beast did not know what was happening and became so frightened that he spit me out with such force that I traveled several hundred feet through the air and landed back in the middle of our village. And so though I was but a young lad I saved our whole village from the fearful tiger, because never again did the beast come near our village.”

After this story the prince once again made no comment. He merely asked that the third story begin. The three brothers were quite upset by this and as the last brother began his tale he had quite a frown upon his face. But he was still quite determined to make up a story so absurd that the prince could not this time help but doubt its truthfulness. And so he began his tale:

“One day as I was walking along the banks of the river I saw that all the fishermen seemed quite unhappy. I inquired as to why they seemed so sad. They therefore informed me that they had not caught one fish in a week and their families were going hungry as a result. I told them that I would try and help them. So I dove into the water and was immediately transformed into a fish. I swam around until I saw the source of the problem. A giant fish had eaten all the smaller fish and was himself avoiding the fishermen’s nets. When this giant saw me he came toward me and was about to devour me, but I changed back to human form and slashed the fish open with my sword. The fish inside his belly were then able to escape. Many swam right into the waiting nets. When I returned to shore many of the fish were so thankful that I had saved them that they returned with me. When the fishermen saw all these fish jumping onto shore after me they were indeed pleased and rewarded me abundantly.”

When this story was finished the prince did not doubt a word of it. The three brothers were quite upset, but at least they knew that they would not doubt the words of the prince. And so the prince began his tale:

“I am a prince of great wealth and property. I am on the road in search of three slaves who have escaped from me. I have searched high and low for them as they were very valuable property. I was about to give up the search when I met you three fellows. But now my search is ended because I have found my missing slaves, because you gentlemen are they.”

When the brothers heard these words they were shocked. If they agreed to the prince’s story then they were admitting that they were his slaves, but if they doubted what he said then they lost the bet and became his slaves anyway. The brothers were so upset by the cleverness of the prince that they said not a word. The passer-by who was judging the contest nevertheless declared that the prince had won the wager.

The prince did not make slaves of these men but instead allowed them to return to their village with the promise that they would never tell tall tales again. And the three brothers were thereafter known throughout the land for their honesty and truthfulness.

Favorite Folktales From Around The World edited by Jane Yolen. Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library.
The Tall Tales: I.K. Junne, Floating Clouds, Floating Dreams: Favorite Asian Folktales
( Garden City, N..Y.: Doubleday, 1974), pp. 3-5.

Rhiannon And The Baby Unicorn

Performance storytelling at Powderham Castle

JULY 2017

A toad of a man was Sir Brangwen.
Squat neck
Runny eyes
Belly so large
He never spied his boots as he waddled through the castle.
Couldn’t close mouth for tongue too big
Jaws ever moving like a cow chewing cud
Showers of spittle sputtered with every word uttered.

Simon Widsith? – detained in the dungeon.
Widsith’s wife? – a slave in the kitchen
Their daughter, Rhiannon? – more or less an orphan.

Rhiannon, sweet Rhiannon
As pretty as a daisy, as brave as a lion.
Wolves, bears, boars roamed the forests
Dragons and basilisks once had too.
The Fat Toad King of the Castle sent Rhiannon to search for truffles.
(An explanation of truffles, I sense you deem necessary, for those unfamiliar blah,blah,blah … .)

Digging like a badger, clawing the soil, she unearthed bugs and slugs and broken jugs but not a single tasty truffle.
Beneath oak, beech and birch, hazel and ash she toiled to no avail.
Until, a ghost, a white shadow trotted from the dark woods.
A pony? A horse?
It pawed at the ground and then looked at the girl.
It nickered and neighed, swung its head and shook its mane
And beckoned her over.

She saw the top of a truffle the size of a baby’s head.
Rhiannon grubbed it from the ground
Then stroked the creature’s long white nose.
Between the ears she saw a bump
There was a little lump
The beginnings of a horn.

It was a baby unicorn.
It nuzzled her shoulder
She patted its warm white neck.
They sank down to the forest floor
Its head resting in her lap
And she began to sing:

Oh, my baby, baby unicorn,
With your little bumpity bumpity bumpity bump
With your little lumpity lumpity lumpity lump
With your little humpity humpity humpity hump.
Oh, my baby, baby unicorn,
Your bumpity bump, your lumpity lump, your humpity hump
Will one day be a long sharp horn.

The lullaby sent them slumbering.
Rhiannon awoke alone but the truffle was beside her.
She skipped back to the castle and presented it to Sir Brangwen.
But did he praise her for the truffle treasure?
He drooled and he slobbered and he sent a spray of spittle showering Rhiannon with the command to bring a larger one tomorrow.
Which she did.

For same as before, the unicorn appeared and revealed a truffle the size of a cannonball, before listening to the lullaby and slipping off to sleep.
When Rhiannon skipped back to the castle and presented the truffle to Sir Brangwen he wondered how it was she’d found the largest truffle he’d ever seen and she replied, by chance.

But his suspicions aroused and after commanding her with a shower of spittle to bring an even bigger one tomorrow and curtly dismissing her, he called Cuthbert from the shadows and ordered him to follow her tomorrow.

And the next day Cuthbert reported that at first he’d thought it was a little horse that had found a truffle the size of a rabbit, but when it reclined with Rhiannon in the forest glade and she sang a lullaby, he’d realised it was not a little horse at all … but a baby unicorn.

The news of this made Sir Brangwen almost choke on his oversized tongue.

He looked at the wall above the fireplace.
The head of a wolf next to the head of a boar.
The head of a boar next to the head of a dragon.
The head of a dragon next to the head of a basilisk.
The head of a basilisk next to the head of a cockatrice.
The head of a cockatrice next to the head of a … unicorn?
Yes, there was room for one of those.

Saddle my steed! He croaked.
Black stallion, red eyes, nostrils billowing steam.
Cuthbert knelt on all fours and Sir Brangwen stepped on his back and clambered onto the charger.
Hunting spear aloft, he galloped from the cobbled courtyard across the drawbridge into the wildwood.

Rhiannon and the unicorn are woken from sylvan reveries by the screeches of birds, the howls of wolves and the growls of bears. Crashing trees thunder in their ears. A great toad of a man bearing a spear atop a jet black stallion greets their eyes.

Run little unicorn. Run we all say.
But Rhiannon will not flee – our hero brave,
Will not leave, she’ll stay.

The young unicorn flees
But Rhiannon, pretty as a daisy, brave as a lion
Stands before the charging tempest.

Stop! Toes into earth
Halt! Her heart tough as oak
Cease! Her will strong as iron
Desist! Her body like a mountain

He does not stop
He does not halt.
He does not cease
He does not desist.

He charges straight at Rhiannon
and knocks her aside.
Onwards he thunders into the darkness into the darkness into the darkness
And then,

Then the trees begin to sway,
the leaves begin to dance
and the birds of the forest sing
as on the first day of spring.

Rhiannon picks herself up from the floor
And turns to sound of a horse’s hooves.
A white charger bears Sir Ivor
Son of Brangwen.

Straight and true as an arrow
As kind as his father is wicked.
‘Rhiannon is it?
I have returned and heard of the evil deeds of my father.
Where is the scoundrel?’

She points into the deep forest and Sir Ivor rides onwards finding his fallen father on his back with eyes closed and a gaping wound in his belly.

And so we have the death of a tyrant, the end of an era.

Later that day, Simon Widsith is freed from the dungeon and his wife released from the castle kitchen.

Rhiannon and her parents are re-united at last. All three wrap their arms around each other and her mother wonders what happened to Sir Brangwen.

Rhiannon looks up and says just these four words,

‘ Unicorns have parents too.’


Señorita Cucaracha

Story dedicated to la cucaracha living in microwave in my apartment in Buenos Aires

When Catalina the Cucaracha reached the age of 14 days she decided it was about time she found a partner. She wasn’t going to marry just anyone though, oh no. It didn’t matter to her if he was handsome or not, but he certainly had to be kind and understanding.
She put on her best dress of the finest brown onion skin and slipped her six dainty feet into the dinkiest little red chilli peppers and set off on her way.
The first prospect she met was Santiago the Scorpion.
‘Hola, Señor Scorpion, would you like to marry me, for I might like to marry you ?’
‘Buenos dias, Señorita Cucaracha, I would like to be your husband indeed. Let us be married straight away.’
‘Wonderful,’ she replied, ‘please bring me a cup of coffee to seal the deal.’
But when she was given the cup of coffee, she let it slip from her fingers and the coffee stained Señor Scorpion’s six brown sandals.
‘Why, you clumsy cockroach,’ he spat, ‘ if you were my wife you wouldn’t ever do that again in a hurry!’
‘Well, no need to worry about that, for if you’re that bad tempered I won’t be married to you anyway.’
And off she scuttled.
The second prospect she met was Alberto the Armadillo.
‘Hola, Señor Armadillo, would you like to marry me, for I might like to marry you ?’
‘Buenos dias, Señorita Cucaracha, I would like to be your husband indeed. Let us be married straight away.’
‘Wonderful,’ she replied, ‘please bring me a cup of coffee to seal the deal.’
But when she was given the cup of coffee, she let it slip from her fingers and the coffee stained Señor Armadillo’s shiny black boots.
‘Why, you clumsy cockroach,’ he screamed, ‘ if you were my wife you wouldn’t do that again in a hurry!’
‘Well, no need to worry about that, for if you’re that bad tempered I won’t be married to you anyway.’
And off she scuttled.
The third prospect she met was Pablo the Puma.
‘Hola, Señor Puma, would you like to marry me, for I might like to marry you ?’
‘Buenos dias, Señorita Cucaracha, I would like to be your husband indeed. Let us be married straight away.’
‘Wonderful,’ she replied, ‘please bring me a cup of coffee to seal the deal.’
But when she was given the cup of coffee, she let it slip from her fingers and the coffee stained Señor Puma’s brand new trainers.
‘Why, you clumsy cockroach,’ he growled, ‘ if you were my wife you wouldn’t do that again in a hurry!’
‘Well, no need to worry about that, for if you’re that bad tempered I won’t be married to you anyway.’
And off she scuttled.
Along the way she met Ignacious the Iguana and Coco the Caiman but they were just as bad tempered as the others.
Poor Catalina, she was going to be 15 days old tomorrow and felt she’d spend the rest of her life alone.
But just then, who came along bouncing a ball on his head, but Messi the Mouse.
‘Hola, Señor Mouse, would you like to marry me, for I might like to marry you ?’
‘Buenos dias, Señorita Cucaracha, I would like to be your husband indeed. Let us be married straight away.’
‘Wonderful,’ she replied, ‘please bring me a cup of coffee to seal the deal.’
But when she was given the cup of coffee she let it slip from her fingers and the coffee stained Señor Mouse’s football boots.
‘Oops a daisy,’ he squeaked, ‘accidents will happen. If you were my wife I wouldn’t even mind if you spilt coffee on my football shirt. I’ll go and get you another one.’
‘Well, no need to worry about that, for if you’re as kind and understanding as that we should get married straight away.’
And they did and they were and the priest was a cat.
There’s nothing to add, so that is that.

The Diving Friar

The Diving Friar of Lima

El Salto del Fraile – The Diving Friar
Legend has it that in Peru, around the 1860’s a noble Marquis was left to take care of his young daughter Clara, after his wife passed away. The Marquis hired a nanny to take care of his daughter and she brought with her, her son Francis, who was three years older than 12 year’s old Clara.
Over time Francis and Clara fell in love, and she became pregnant, which caused a real upheaval in the society of Lima at that time. The Marquis, obfuscated and offended by such an outrage, ordered that Francis be locked in a convent and become a friar. As for Clara, he decided to bring her back to Spain.
The day of the departure, Clara was filled with sadness because of the separation from Francis. When the ship was in front of the cliffs, Clara took a telescope with the intention of finding her beloved, since his mother had told her he would be there that afternoon to wish her farewell.
Suddenly, she was able to see him, standing on top of the highest rock, waving the cape he had removed from his head. A minute later he dived from the highest point of the cliff to the ferocious ocean below and attempted to swim to his love. Alas, the sea overwhelmed him and he drowned. Upon witnessing this, Clara threw herself into the ocean to join her sweetheart.
This tragic story has become a well known known legend in Lima and in memory of this misunderstood love, a restaurant called “El Salto del Fraile”, specialising in Peruvian cuisine was built near that infamous cliff.
Now each day, if enough people are there to pay, a man dressed in Franciscan robes, stages the friar’s dive into the sea from a high rock in front of the restaurant.
Sunset in Lima

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

Ho ho ho! Storytime with Old Father Christmas at Saltram House

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.
Meanwhile, here’s a little snippet …
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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?’

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