Tag Archives: gregory

Story Soup 1.3

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Thank you to everyone who voted for what Gregory should do with the poor bag lady. ‘Other’ suggestions included ‘take her home for tea’, ‘switch clothes with her so he can spend a day being a crabby old woman’ and ‘learn to play the saxophone’, but a massive 46% voted for Gregory to conceal the bag lady in the tree.  (I love that absolutely nobody voted for him to do the honest thing and phone the police!)

The next instalment will be posted later in the week, but if you want to be reminded, then please subscribe using the links on the top left or by joining the Story Soup Facebook page.

Gregory’s day gets a little bit worse.

Gregory felt awful. Of all the stupid things he could do he had gone and knocked out an old lady. Not just once but twice. He beat his head with his fist, blinking back tears as he muttered, “Idiot! Idiot! What have I done?”

He felt that perhaps he should stay and try to wake her, but he could not bear to look at her, afraid that at any minute she would open her eyes and say his name again. Racked with guilt, he was about to run away when a sudden, more terrifying, thought came to mind. If somebody found the bag lady and managed to wake her, she would be sure to say, in that eerie rasping voice of hers, “Gregory Bedcarrots did it!”

What awful bad luck to assault a stranger who already knows your name!

“Who are you?” Gregory whispered fretfully, “How do you know my name?”

But the bag lady lay ominously still.

Gregory looked around frantically, searching helplessly for an answer. His friend, the apple tree, seemed to beckon like a loyal ally. In a blind panic Gregory hoisted the old lady onto his shoulders and dragged her over to the hollow trunk. He shoved her inside the tree; pressing her in as far as she would go in the hope that nobody should spot her before she came to her senses.

Gregory stepped back and shuddered. The bag lady looked truly gruesome.

A small note in the bag lady’s defence: She was not really as frightening as you might imagine. She may have smelt funny and had a creepy face but she was actually a rather jolly bag lady. She could make a box into a bed in ten seconds flat, she could tell you what time it was without ever looking at a watch, and she knew several good jokes about a man with a dog. On a good day, she might look something like this:

But on a day when she has trudged through a muddy forest, been punched in the face, and then stuffed into a tree, she looked understandably worse for wear.

Gregory’s next thought was to hide the old lady’s bag. He reasoned with himself that he was actually doing a kind thing; keeping the old lady and her possessions safe until she awoke. And where better to awake after an assault than in the safe hug of a cosy tree trunk? Gregory turned and reached for the bag. But, to his horror, the bag was gone. A sudden terror took hold of him and he spun around wildly. It was nowhere to be seen. A chilly wind began to blow through the forest and Gregory shivered with fear as the leaves fluttered round him and tickled his ankles. The trees no longer looked warm and inviting. They seemed to point at him in accusation. Even his friend, the apple tree, appeared to leer at him as if to say, “I give you sanctuary all this time and this is how you repay me?”

Gregory gulped and began to run. He ran so fast that he was frightened he might turn himself inside out. It was a terrifying run, the kind of run I hope you never have to endure, where everything around you threatens to attack and consume you. His chest hurt wildly and he had a stitch in his side, but still he ran, never once looking behind him. He ran so fast that he nearly threw up Penny’s pie and barely noticed when his shoes fell off. By the time he got home he was sweatier than a soggy southerner sweltering at the World Sauna Championships.

Blinking back tears, Gregory dragged himself up his street and breathed a small sigh of relief. He felt as though he wanted to have a long bath and wipe the whole sorry episode from his mind. But as he walked up the garden path, an astonishing sight met him. There on the front porch sat the armadillo bag.

Gregory gaped at it in shock and muttered in a panic, “How did you get here?”

To his utter surprise the bag snapped back, “Same as you, Idiot! I ran!”

Gregory’s heart leapt into his mouth and he almost collapsed in shock, but the bag kept on speaking.

Story Soup 1.1

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So here we have the results of our first poll and with 41% of the vote, the chosen location to begin our story is in an Apple Tree. ‘Other’ suggestions included ‘in a forest’, ‘in a kitchen’ and ‘down a well’. I will keep these locations in mind— keep your eyes peeled as they may feature in later chapters! I also liked somebody’s suggestion to start ‘at the end’… so let’s see if we end up back here… Oh, and Rachel was the first person to comment so she had the honour of naming our main character, and she chose the name Gregory Bedcarrots, so let’s meet him!

Tune in for the next instalment later in the week. If you want to keep up with the blog, don’t forget to subscribe using the links at the top left. All suggestions are welcome; any arty types amongst you are most welcome to submit visual suggestions or inspiration to the Story Soup Facebook page!

Gregory Bedcarrots is hiding in a tree.

Once upon a time there lived a boy called Gregory Bedcarrots. He was probably cute as a baby but at the age of twelve, Gregory was short and podgy with orange hair and beady grey eyes that stuck out like pips in the middle of his face. On the morning of this story, Gregory was red faced and panting. He had just run for several minutes and was now wedged firmly in the trunk of an old apple tree. He looked something like this, but without the bow and arrow, sense of adventure, or boyish charm. He was thoroughly dejected and miserable.

To begin to understand what Gregory was doing in this apple tree we need to go back to his roots.

At some point during the thirteenth century when every second man was named Tom or John or Harry and most women were named Alice, it was decreed that each person should take a second name to help tax collectors distinguish between them. These surnames were generally based upon one of four things: occupation, location, one’s father’s name, or some personal characteristic, such as Short, Strong, or Wagglebottom. If Gregory’s ancestors, Tom and Alice, had been a little brighter, they would have named themselves Mr and Mrs Farmer or Hill or Johnson. But Gregory’s ancestors were rather daft and merry and prided themselves on growing the largest carrots in the whole of Yorkshire. They requested the name ‘Bigcarrots’ but this was misspelt by the inept registrar and from that day onwards they were known as Mr and Mrs Bedcarrots. Their neighbour, a so-called Farmer Sweetpotato, took no time at all in composing this short ditty:

Their hands are soiled and their cheeks are red,

They grow their carrots in an unmade bed!

This resulted in a steep decline in trade for poor Tom and Alice who then had to work very hard to make anything of their once prosperous livelihood. With money tight, the fourteen Bedcarrots children were always very hungry and all the family could afford to eat were their own carrots, which of course did not help their reputation. The youngest children, who had learnt nothing of pride or keeping a stiff upper lip, would stand and peer over the wall at the sumptuous summer banquets enjoyed by the Sweetpotato family. And the triumphant Farmer Sweetpotato would bellow raucously and hum his cruel rhyme.

Tom Bedcarrots vowed to get his own back on Farmer Sweetpotato. He sneaked into his neighbour’s field one night and created a monstrous scarecrow out of many sacks of new potato. He had in his mind that Farmer Sweetpotato would rush at the scarecrow with an axe, believing it to be an intruder, and inadvertently destroy his own produce. But one thing led to another and both men were killed. That, however, is another story. Let us return to poor Gregory.

All his life, Gregory had suffered for the mistake of his ancestors. If only he was Gregory Johnson he would have had a normal life. He would have been average at maths, and normally proportioned, and good at sports, and reasonably well adjusted socially. But a boy named Gregory Bedcarrots can never be expected to amount to much. Gregory was simple, ugly, and rotten to the core. On this particular day he had broken a plate and told three large lies before breakfast. This tree was his hiding place; the place he stored his grubby homework, his sacred packed lunches, and his heart wrenching secrets. He came here most days and contemplated his pitiful existence. Sometimes Gregory wished that he was a tree. He wished this because he was under the sorry delusion that trees are content. But this is a lie; trees, on the whole, are neither content nor discontent. They are like cars; they might look happy but they are not. They were just made that way.

So when poor Gregory said to the apple tree, “Thank you for looking after me,” he was very much speaking in vain. The apple tree could not hear him. It is not that kind of story. Poor Gregory was very much alone. However, he wasn’t going to stay alone for much longer for somebody was following him.