Hello children. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin. . .1
Once upon a time in a charming little cottage in the middle of the big wood there lived three and a half bears.
There was Daddy Bear who was big and gruff, and Mummy Bear who was medium and sweet and Baby Bear who was small and cute. And then there was Uncle Sigebert Bear who used to work in the saw mill.
The three and a half bears lived a quiet, pleasant life, apart from the occasions when the wind would freshen and catch Uncle Sigebert unawares and he would fall with a loud and unpleasant slap onto his flat side.
One morning the three and a half bears went out for a long walk in the forest to work up an appetite for breakfast. Daddy Bear went lumbering and Mummy Bear tripping and Baby Bear skipping and Uncle Sigebert Bear hopping.
A little girl saw them from the eves of the forest where she had been collecting ... um ...'magic' mushrooms. This little girl was ---on account of her being a big fan of Bob Marley, and additionally on account of a certain cultural discontinuity when it came to the whole 'dreads' thing---called Grottylocks. Now Grottylocks being, of course, a thoroughly modern child, as soon as the bears had variously lumbered and tripped and skipped and hopped out of sight, she decided to break in, so quietly humming "Get Up, Stand Up" to herself she made a dash for the door. The bears having a less than state-of-the-art security system---it consisted, truth to tell, of nothing but a doorknob, she was in in an instant.
Casing the joint with a practiced eye she made for the kitchen where she found the bears' breakfast neatly laid out ready for their return. She tried a spoonful of Daddy Bear's porridge, but spat it out because it was too hot and salty. "Ampersand, Commercial At Sign, Squiggle, Squiggle, Star, Exclamation Mark"2 she said (she was THAT sort of child). She had a similar reaction to Mummy Bear's porridge because it was too cool and sweet. Pausing briefly to wonder why there was a bowl broken in half with porridge leaking over the table, she tried Baby Bear's porridge which was just right so she ate it all up. (Well those magic mushrooms really give you the munchies). She then spotted the Bears' chairs. She tried Daddy Bear's Chair but it was too hard so she burnt it all up. Then she tried Mummy Bear's chair but it was too soft so she jumped up and down on it till it was flat. Ignoring the two legged chair she sat on Baby Bear's chair but she broke it so she left it and went upstairs where she found the Bears' beds. She tried Daddy Bear's bed, but it was too hard. She tried Mummy Bear's bed, but it was too soft. Too tired to even think about Uncle Sigebert's bed she got into Baby Bear's bed which was just right so she fell into a deep porridge and mushroom induced sleep.
When the bears returned home and saw all the mess and the damage---AND the rather smelly tangle of hair on Baby Bear's pillow with (Yeuuughk!) a rather smelly tangle of girl under it, they immediately called the Police. After a rather tense half hour the Police arrived, accompanied by a loud wailing (maybe they were Bob Marley fans too). The poor bears never did get justice though, you know how specist the Police can be in some forests, and they never really take bears' complaints seriously, and to add injury to insult, when they saw Grandpa Bear drive up in his bearskin to give the bears moral support they arrested him for driving while bare.
So Grottylocks got off with a warning and left the forest for the Big Apple where she started a very successful second career as a 'before' character in shampoo ads.
Cheerio for now from
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1 This is a reference to the wonderful BBC programme "Listen with Mother"
2 Not that it has anything much to do with her expression; but back in the ancient days of early computernerddom, when huge herds of wandered freely across the darkling plain and metal was always heavy and was--well just was, there was composed this delightful poem:
or for those whose Old Nerdish is rusty or absent:
Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.
The onlie begetters of this delight being I believe Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese of Calvin College & Seminary of Grand Rapids, MI
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