Convener: Jen Lunn
Participants: Robert Wells, Aliki, Dodger, Lucy Avery
Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
Lucy asked to be told a story about an astronaut.
Once upon a time there was an astronaut who was longing for trifle. He’d been in space for ages and one day came upon a hitherto undiscovered planet which looked barren from the window of the spaceship but when he stepped out into it he recognized it to be Basildon.
He had only visited Basildon once; as a child taken to visit his Aunt Eve. While visiting her they went for a walk and he had been baffled by the fact that she had a walking stick but didn’t seem to need it as she swung it about most of the time.
Aunt Eve had no children and was so excited to have a child come for tea that she had made sugar sandwiches and trifle.
The grown up astronaut found himself walking down a street in Basildon and found the house of his Aunt Eve. He walked inside and it was empty but on the table was a plate of sugar sandwiches and a trifle. He ate them all (tricky since his spaceman gloves were pretty massive and slightly unwieldy!).
He then found a piece of paper and wrote her a note. Again the spacemean gloves made it pretty tricky to write so the handwriting was that of a small boy.
Dear Aunt Eve,
Thank you for the sugar sandwiches and the trifle.
Love from Ben
As the astronaut looked at the note he had just written he realized it was the thank you note his parents had asked him to write after that visit when he was a child.
The astronaut walked out of the house and headed back to where he’d left his spaceship. It wasn’t there. And suddenly his spacesuit disappeared and he was a 7 year old boy again.
He was in heaven.
Lucy drew me a picture of my story.
Robert asked me for 3 words to inspire his story. I gave him Rabbit, Mountain, pritstick… Someone else added Abbatoir. This is his story…
Rabbit Mountain Pritstick Abattoir by Robert Wells
Once upon a time in a magical faraway land, for that was the right time and the right place, there was a pen full of bunnies. Sometimes they would multiply until the pen was straining with the sheer number of them, and then the gates would open and many of them would be led out, never to return.
On one particular bright and shiny morning, a young fox approached the pen and whispered to a particularly young, particularly small bunny “Hey, little bunny”.
“My name’s Reg” replied Reg, the small bunny.
“Well,” said the Fox “Reg, do you know where the bunnies that leave the pen go? No, of course you don’t. They go to an abattoir. That’s a big scary building where big scary machines chop off their little bunny heads. Then their innards are sucked out and their bodies are baked until they shrink and they are filled with milk chocolate. When the chocolate sets, their bodies are broken away and what is left is a chocolate Easter bunny. Thousands of children eat them, never knowing the horrible conditions that the rabbits go through. Have a nice day, little Reg.”
Well, Reg set about telling all the other bunnies. Well, trying to. They thought that he was mad. One night he dug a tunnel under the fence. He tried one last time to get some other rabbits to join him, but they wouldn’t listen, and even if they wanted to they wouldn’t have been able to fit in the tiny tunnel he had dug.
Reg escaped. He ran and he ran (two legs, two legs, as bunnies have to run) and he could feel the horrible black mass of the abattoir behind him. He ran and he ran (two legs, two legs) until he came to the foot of a mountain. He longed to stop. He longed to go back. But each time he took a breath he felt the horror again. He ran and he ran (two legs, two legs) up the mountain to where the green gave in and the white took over. His little legs ached and his mind swam and the he saw flashing knives and whirling blades and he ran. He ran and he ran and he ran and he ran (two legs, two legs, two legs, two legs). He ran until his legs gave in and he fell into a dark cave, and finally he stopped to get his breath back.
When his night vision, which he never knew he had, asserted itself, he saw a dark figure in the corner. “I’ll not be scared” he told himself “Be it beaver or bear, I’ll face it”. So he creeped across the cave and sneaked up to the figure and he saw a pair of boots. And in the boots were trousers. And on top of the trousers was a coat. But above the coat there was no face. Just a skull stared back at him. “Only a silly old skellington; nothing to fear there”.
But Reg had realised that he could be brave, and no stinky old building was going to get the better of him. He looked through the skellington’s pack and tried to find something to help him save all his friends. There was a climbing axe, but he couldn’t lift it. There were ropes but he lacked the strength to even uncoil them. In the end the only thing he could find that he could carry was a pritstick. So he took that.
He pushed it out of the cave and into the sun. He climbed on the stick and surfed it down the snow. When he ran out of snow, he rolled it down the mountain, running on top. And very very soon, he was back at the pen where he climbed back through his tiny hole, dragging the glue behind him.
A few days passed and Reg made his plans. When he saw that the pen was full of bunnies he opened the pritstick and rubbed it all over his fur. He coated every inch of his tiny fluffy body with glue until his fur was heavy and matted and he could hardly move. He worked through the night and in the by the dawn, the pritstick was empty and Reg was covered.
When the pen opened Reg made sure he was at the front of the crowd. He starred at the blades threatening his little neck. Nearer and nearer they came, but Reg didn’t flinch. As the whirling knives of doom touched little Reg’s fur there was a horrible grinding noise. The glue instantly stuck to the steel and clogged up the fine mechanisms. There was a crunching of gears and a whining of motors and it is at this point where the rabbits suddenly realised that this was not a good place to be. They tumbled over each other to get out and poured through windows and doors into the fresh air. Finally, the exhausted Reg dashed out as cogs pinged and zinged off motors behind him.
In the meanwhilst, the farmer who owned this bunny farm woke to a horrid rumbling. Davis the farmer dashed to the door of the abattoir. Inside the machines had failed entirely, but they waited until Davis was in the middle of the building to explode, bringing the building crashing down.
And they all lived happily ever after, apart from Davis who died, and the children of the world who got one less chocolate treat for Easter. Reg could never clean the glue from his fur, but he rolled around in daisies and was forever after known as the floral hero.
Aliki told me this story…
The Masters Tools
Once upon a time there was a girl who lived with her mother and her younger brother at the edge of a forest. Their farm had hard stony ground and it was difficult to get enough to feed themselves. So, as soon as the brother was old enough to help work the farm, the girl set off to a market town on the other side of the forest to find work.
She was walking in the forest when she saw some kids stealing eggs from a birds nest and she stopped them. She talked them out of it and she went on her way.
She was walking along the river when she saw a man about to chop down an apple tree to build a house. She stopped him and talked him out of it. She explained that his children could play in the tree and pick apples. So he decided to build his house next to the tree instead.
As night was falling she met an old woman who asked her for some food and she shared the food her mother had sent with her from the farm. The old woman thanked her and gave her a crude clay bowl in return.
She got to the market town the next day and at the hiring fair she was hired to clean house for a magician who lived in a tall tower in the forest.
After she had worked for a month the magician refused to pay her and when she protested he locked her in the kitchen and told her she would have to sleep there. Every night the magician did terrible magic and the tower was filled with smells and horrible noises and every morning the girl would get up and clean the tower which was full of mysterious oozes and horrible stains.
And this went on for months and months and still the magician refused to pay her.
Finally, she decided that she was going to have to break out of the tower, take the money owed to her and return home. So she took the poker from the fire and tried to smash down the kitchen door but as she did the poker started to shout “Master! Master! Your servant is trying to escape!” And the magician came down to the kitchen, beat her and locked her back in the kitchen.
So the next night she tried to use a knife from the kitchen drawer to pick the lock but the knife started to shout “Master! Master! Your servant is trying to escape!” And the magician came down to the kitchen, beat her and locked her back in the kitchen.
The third night came and she didn’t know what to do so she started to cry. She held the bowl that the old woman had given her as it was the last memory of kindness that she had.
Her tears filled up the bowl, poured over the edge and bagan to fill the cracks between the flagstones. As she was crying she heard birdsong. The bird whose nest she had saved was at the small barred window of the kitchen. It flew in and dropped from it’s beak the seeds from an apple from the tree she had saved. The birds planted the seeds amongst the flagstones and her tears watered them.
The seeds started sprouting and they grew quickly. Exhausted she huddled at the base of what soon became a tree. And the trees kept on growing. Within a few hours the trees were so big they had destroyed the tower completely.
The magician tried to stop her but his magic had no power over the trees and he ran away. He was so scared that he left all his money behind. The girl plucked the bags of money from the branches of the trees and took them home to her family.
Dodger told me a true story about an experience he had had training with a guy from the Bejing Opera circus.
He spent a week or so training with this man and felt he was learning loads and having an amazing time. The teacher did not speak English and Dodger did not speak Mandarin. Over the time Dodger began to hear one phrase repeated over and over “Fa La” and grew to like the phrase.
His friend who was the translator for the teacher asked him at the end of the project how he had enjoyed it and how he had managed with the langusge barrier. Dodger explained that he had had an amazing time and was so excited to have learnt so much in such a short time. He said the language hadn’t been a problem. He repeated the phrase “Fa La” to his friend saying that the teacher had said this all the time. What did it mean?
“Not like that.”