Bedtime Stories with R A Spratt

Article | Sep 2023

Bedtime has never been so bonkers!

Just as the Grimm brothers collected fairytales and Scheherazade told tales of the Arabian nights, now R A Spratt has assembled the most comprehensive collection of silly stories ever in Bedtime Stories.

Stories so good no human mind could come up with them. They were often dictated to R A by the world’s most glamorous storytelling pig, Nanny Piggins. There’s even a never-before-seen ‘Friday Barnes’ mystery, and tall tales from R A’s own domestic life. You’d better brace yourself – these are tales so tall you will get altitude sickness.

Read one of the stories here!

 

 

‘Medusa’

as told by Nanny Piggins

 

bedtime Stories internal image

 

‘What’s wrong, Samantha?’ asked Nanny Piggins.

Samantha was sitting at the coffee table in the living room with her school books spread out in front of her. Seeing school books always made Nanny Piggins concerned. She didn’t approve of education, at least not formal education. She was a great believer in informal education, especially as it related to food.

‘We’re studying ancient Greek myths at school and I have to do a report on Medusa,’ said Samantha.

‘Ah yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘No wonder you’re distressed. It’s a terrible tale of prejudice, what happened to dear cousin Medusa.’

‘Cousin?’ said Derrick. ‘You’re saying that the character from ancient Greece, who had living snakes for hair and could turn men to stone with a glance of her eyes, was one of your cousins?’

‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The only reason she was cursed to have snake hair and a stone-turning glare was because she was so staggeringly beautiful that the god of the sea, Poseidon, fell in love with her, which upset the goddess Athena. To be so beautiful you cause two separate gods to be overcome with emotion – of course she had to be a Piggins!’

‘So Medusa was a pig as well?’ asked Michael.

‘Yes, I said she was staggeringly, god-bewilderingly beautiful,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘You don’t think a human was capable of that level of attractiveness?’

Michael thought about the girls in his class at school. He liked them well enough. Glenda Babcock was seriously good at handball, but she did pick her nose a lot, so he couldn’t imagine her having that effect on anybody.

‘Well, I was supposed to borrow a book from the library and read up on her,’ said Samantha. ‘Then do a presentation in class tomorrow. But Margaret Wallace borrowed all the Greek mythology books before I could.’

Bedtime Stories by R A Spratt‘Oh, those books don’t tell the true story anyway,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The ancient Greeks were obsessed with men being brave, which is all very well, but when you’ve got a woman with a head full of snake hair you really need to accept that she is the star of the show. You’d better fetch a pen and paper and I’ll tell you what really happened.’

Samantha did as she was told and Nanny Piggins soon began her story.

As I say, it all started with dear cousin Medusa being staggeringly beautiful. Which sounds nice, but it was, in fact, a terrible burden. She couldn’t get a sensible conversation out of anybody.

She would be going about her daily ancient-story-days business – milking the goat, picking the olives – whatever they did back then. But when she went into town to sell her wares, men would just stare at her and drool.

Occasionally, the more confident of them would throw themselves on their knees and beg her to marry them. Mothers would plead with her to marry their sons. It was an ordeal.

She couldn’t even go and have a coffee with a friend, partly because the cappuccino had not been invented yet. And partly because if she did go to a coffee shop, the waiter would just stand and stare at her.

Well, one day it was particularly sunny and she was so exhausted from being beautiful that she thought she would relax by taking a nice walk along by the seaside. That was a dreadful mistake.

You see, Poseidon was the god of the sea back then, so he spotted her and it was love at first sight. He rose up out of the ocean, determined to woo her.

Now, I don’t want to get into the details. You can hardly take a book report to school tomorrow that is M-rated. But suffice to say, Poseidon was more attractive than the waiters and olive-oil salesmen in town, and she took a bit of a shine to him.

The problem was, in the ancient story days there was nowhere to take a girl on a date. There was no cinema, no ten-pin bowling, no laser tag. So instead Poseidon, being a bit lazy and not wanting to walk too far, took Medusa on a date to the nearest building. Which just happened to be a temple – a temple of Athena.

Everything was going along swimmingly until Athena found out. She did not appreciate hanky-panky going on in a building dedicated to worshipping her. She totally blew her stack. And when gods lose their temper, they really lose their temper.

In hindsight, if you are going to annoy any of the gods, Athena – the goddess of war – is probably the worst one to pick.

She was so mad she sent Poseidon packing back to the ocean floor, then she turned on Medusa and tried to think of some diabolical way of punishing her. Medusa was so pretty and her hair was so lovely, Athena’s eyes landed on that.

She used her Greek goddess powers to turn Medusa’s hair into snakes. Writhing venomous angry snakes. And she transformed Medusa’s face so that no man could look directly at her without being turned to stone.

Then she banished Medusa to live on an island with the two other Gorgons.

‘What’s a Gorgon?’ asked Michael.

‘In my opinion, it’s a very beauty-ist word,’ said Nanny Piggins.

‘But what does it mean?’ pressed Michael.

‘A Gorgon is a hideously ugly, spiteful monster,’ said Nanny Piggins.

Michael frowned as he tried to imagine such a thing.

‘Do you remember the look on the librarian’s face when she accused you of having a library book that was two years overdue?’

‘She was terrifying,’ said Michael.

‘Well, a Gorgon looks five thousand times worse than that!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Plus, they get extra crabby because they’re cooped up on a tiny island.’

As you can imagine, this whole thing was deeply unpleasant for poor cousin Medusa.

Now, if Poseidon had been a nice god who loved Medusa for her personality, it all would have been all right. So long as they’d kept the fridge stocked with snake anti-venom and he never looked at her face, they could have had a perfectly nice relationship. But that was not Poseidon’s way. He was a rat.

I know it sounds judgemental to say so, but it’s just a fact. It comes up a lot in many Greek myths – the gods behaving like cads is always a key plot point.

So, living on a small island with no one for company except two Gorgons and a head-full of angry snakes, year-by-year Medusa became even more bitter and ever more spiteful.

Okay, that’s the back story.

Now, this is the bit where the ‘hero’ comes in. Flash forward many years, and there was a precocious youth called Perseus. He had a lovely mother – so lovely that the king wanted to marry her. Perseus did not like this idea. So, to get him out of the way, the king set Perseus a challenge.

The king challenged him to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa. It was the hardest thing he could think of getting the boy to do. The king thought he was particularly clever, because it was the ancient story times. There were no helicopters or jet planes. The only way Perseus could get there was by sailing, which can take forever, especially if there is no wind. Or your boat sinks.

Then Perseus came to a statue of a soldier holding up his sword, ready to strike.

The king thought this would give him plenty of time to marry Perseus’s mother while he was away.

So Perseus set off and there was lots of boring sailing action. You can imagine that for yourselves. Ships tossed and buffeted. Terrible storms. Heroic sailors enduring weather. All the usual stuff. Then finally they arrived at the island. At this point, Perseus was feeling a little bit afraid, because he didn’t really have a plan. He knew there were three Gorgons but what if he cut the head off the wrong one? That would be a terrible faux pas. Very embarrassing.

He was wandering around the desolate island, wondering where the Gorgons might be – there were no semi-detached cottages, no palaces, not even a tent – when he came to a cave.

It did not look like a terribly nice place to live. There was a tremendous draft from the sea. And there was bat poop everywhere, so apparently there was no cleaner. But Perseus had not walked too far into the cave when he was surprised to see a hyper-realistic statue of a Greek fisherman. Perhaps the Gorgons weren’t so bad if they liked to keep art about their home.

Perseus walked deeper into the cave and he came across another, really impressive, very realistic statue of a Persian sailor. These Gorgons were more sophisticated than he had imagined if they appreciated multicultural imagery. Then Perseus came to a statue of a soldier holding up his sword, ready to strike.

Perseus was just admiring the craftsmanship, and marvelling at how you couldn’t see any tool marks on the beautiful statue, when a thought occurred to him. He can’t have been terribly bright or the thought would have occurred to him earlier. He realised – these were not statues. These were people. People who had been frozen forever in their final moment alive when they had set eyes on the most fearsome Gorgon of them all – Medusa.

Perseus began to feel that perhaps this trip was not the smartest thing he had ever agreed to. But there was no time to run away in fear because, at that moment, he heard a noise from the back of the cave. A shuffling sound. Of someone walking towards him across the dirt floor. And as they drew closer he could hear something else – the hiss of snakes.

‘I want to go to the bathroom!’ cried Boris. This is what he always said when they went to the movies and they got to a frightening bit. Nanny Piggins had taught him to do this when he was a young bear club so that he wouldn’t have to embarrass himself and admit to feeling scared.

‘I know, dear,’ said Nanny Piggins kindly. ‘But just hang on a moment. It gets less scary soon.’

‘Do you promise?’ asked Boris.

‘Of course,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Medusa was a Piggins. Have faith in her.’

‘Now, where was I? Oh yes …’

Perseus was quaking with fear as Medusa shuffled towards him.

‘And what do you think you are doing, invading my home without even knocking?’ demanded Medusa.

Perseus clapped his hands over his eyes so he would not be turned to stone by her glance.

‘There was no door to knock on,’ said Perseus.

‘And you didn’t take that as a sign that I didn’t want people to enter?’ asked Medusa Piggins.

‘Um . . .’ said Perseus.

‘You just wandered in and had a look around?’ asked Medusa. ‘Where were you taught manners? Obviously not in a pigsty. That was where I was raised, and my mother insisted on impeccable etiquette.’

‘I’ve been sent by the king to cut your head off,’ explained Perseus.

‘I’d like to see you try,’ said Medusa. ‘You can’t even look at me without turning to stone. It’s going to be very hard to aim.’

‘I shall not fail,’ cried Perseus valiantly, as he closed his eyes and swung his sword in the direction of

Medusa.

She easily ducked out of the way.

‘Stop swinging that around,’ said Medusa. ‘It’s dangerous. You could have someone’s eyes out.’

‘That’s the whole point,’ said Perseus, taking another swing and missing. ‘I’m going to chop your head off.’

‘But I haven’t done anything to you,’ said Medusa.

‘You’re a horrible Gorgon,’ said Perseus. ‘I would be ridding the world of a dreadful monster.’

‘You’re the one barging into a lady’s home and swinging a deadly weapon about with your eyes closed,’ said Medusa. ‘The fact that I’ve been having a bad hair day for the last millennium doesn’t compare to that.’

The snakes she had for hair hissed their agreement.

At that moment, Perseus noticed that he could see Medusa in the reflection of his shield, and that seeing her in reflection did not turn him to stone. Now he could aim. He picked up the shield and walked backwards towards Medusa, held up his sword and took a great, big, well-aimed swing.

‘Oh no!’ cried Boris, hiding under the coffee table in sympathy.

But he totally missed because Perseus had forgot to allow for the fact that a mirror image is reversed, and he had swung in entirely the wrong direction.

‘Hold it right there,’ called an authoritative voice from the cave entrance.

Perseus froze. Not into stone, but he did as he was told.

‘I’m kind of busy right now cutting the head off a Gorgon,’ he told the newcomer.

‘No, you are not,’ said the man. ‘I am Ranger Pete from the Department of National Parks, and it is illegal to kill a native animal without a permit.’

‘A Gorgon is not a native animal,’ said Perseus. ‘It’s a monster.’

‘I personally prefer the pronoun she,’ said the Gorgon. ‘She’s a monster.’

‘That’s as may be,’ said Ranger Pete. ‘But it’s illegal to kill a snake. And if you cut her head off, all the snakes on her head will suffer.’

The snakes hissed their agreement with this too.

‘That’s ridiculous,’ said Perseus.

‘It’s illegal to carry a knife in public as well,’ said the ranger. ‘How old are you anyway? It’s doubly illegal if you’re under eighteen. Come on, I’m taking you down to the police station.’

‘But the Gorgon,’ pleaded Perseus. ‘I’ve sailed all the way here to kill her.’

‘You should just stop talking,’ said the ranger. ‘You’re only making it worse for yourself. Now I know it was pre-meditated animal cruelty you’ve been planning for some time.’

And so Medusa was able to live in peace.

‘She must have been so lonely,’ said Samantha.

‘Not at all,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Eventually, she met a very nice blind reptile lover and they lived happily ever after, the end. Time for bed.’

‘What happened to Perseus?’ asked Michael.

‘He was fine too,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘After he got out of jail for breaking so many wildlife regulations and knife laws, he went back to the royal palace and presented Medusa’s head.’

‘But he didn’t have it,’ said Michael.

‘Not the real head, no,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘But he made a copy of Medusa’s head out of papier-mâché and lolly snakes. The king loved eating lolly snakes, and as he grabbed up the head and started scoffing them, Perseus was able to sneak away with his mother and they lived happily ever after – or at least until he got into his next dreadful pickle. As all heroes do in the ancient Greek story days.

‘I don’t think that’s the version my teacher has heard of,’ said Samantha.

‘No, the problem is, the story was originally written down by Perseus and he edited it to make himself look better,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Never trust an editor, children. But don’t worry, if your teacher gives you a bad mark, I can ring cousin Medusa and get her to drop by his classroom if you like.’

The end.

Bedtime

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

R A Spratt AuthorR A Spratt is a bestselling author, television writer and podcast host. She is known for the Shockingly Good Stories,  ‘Friday Barnes’, ‘The Peski Kids’ and ‘Nanny Piggins’ series of books.

She has also written for dozens of different television shows.  In recent years she has specialised mainly in children’s animation, but she has also had extensive experience writing jokes, sketch comedy and political satire.

R A Spratt lives in Bowral, Australia with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys gardening and napping, but rarely gets the time to do either. She is currently obsessed with CrossFit and espaliering fruit trees.

She has three chickens, two goldfish, and a desperately needy dog.

Visit R A Spratt’s website

 

Author: R A Spratt

Category: Children's

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Puffin

ISBN:

RRP: $22.99

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