The stories in this article point us towards an EFL all time classic " Once Upon a Time" by John Morgan and Mario Rinvolucri, CUP, 1983. These stroies were found among the papers left by John. It is in our hands to predict how John may have used them or why he rejected them and they are not in the book.
collected and written by John Morgan
Crossing the road
L’histoire de la puce et du polytechnicien
The princess and the shepherd boy
Doctor knows best
Practice makes perfect
The lecturer and the farmhand
Little girl - taught not to run across the road
Knew she must never
Saw Granny on other side of road
Granny called her over to give her a present
Girl shouted they must go to zebra crossing
All cars stopped
Granny rolled her present, 6 oranges, over the crossing.
[ Italo Calvino ]
Teacher didn’t like boy
Planned to get rid of him
Took him up mountain
Half way up, said - wait here, I’ll be back
Boy said - no food
Teacher said - cook stones
(teachers in China believed)
Teacher goes, boy gets hungry
Cooks stones - delicious
6 days later teacher comes back, convinced boy would be dead
Boy offers him stone soup
Old woman Hildilid lived on a hill
Hated bats & owls & moles & voles
Hated moths & stars & shadows & sleep & moonlight
Because she hated the night
Made a broom to sweep the night out
A sack to hold the night
A cauldron to boil it away
Vines to tie it into a bundle and sell it
Tried to feed night to the dog
Put it to sleep in her bed
Sang it lullabies, poured it a saucer of milk
Shook her fist at it
Smoked it in the chimney
Stamped on it, spanked it, dug it a grave
Spat at it
But the night took no notice
Too tired from her fight she slept through the day
Ready to start again the next night
Cheli Duran Ryan: Hildilid’s Night, Collier Books 1972 NY
The sun was shining when we went to visit Michael. He was visiting his
grandfather who lives on Chestnut Street.
He was a small boy for his age, nine, and was wearing a red pullover. His
mother welcomed us and gave us tea and biscuits. Michael seemed
uninterested in our arrival; he was preoccupied colouring a cow green.
As she served us tea, Michael’s mother put on a record of French folk
songs. The music played as we drank our tea and ate some delicious cream
cakes. When the music finished, Michael’s mother told Michael to go to the piano and
play. Michael did not want to at first but when his mother insisted he got
up and went to the piano. He played the music exactly as we had heard it,
not only the tune but the incidental frills as well. His movements were
convulsed and frenzied.
When he had finished he sat down and continued his drawing.
[from a contribution to Scrapbook II by Eugene Stemp]
Celui- la disait a celle-ci: [Saute!] et la puce sautait. Contentment du
Jeune savant, qui repete l’experience une dizaine de fois. Apres quoi, il
Coupe les pattes de la puce. [Saute!] dit-il. La puce restait immobile.
[Saute!], repete-t-il plus fort. En vain. La puce ne bouge pas.
Observation du polytechnic: [Quand on coupe les pattes a une puce,
Elle devient sourde.]
Small kingdom: king’s daughter most beautiful etc
She spends time looking out of window at local shepherd lad
Next kingdom: big, powerful. King has three sons.
He suggests they might like to marry neighbour’s daughter
Son 1: magic carpet
Son 2: telescope that can see 100miles
Son 3: magic grapes, can cure anything, incl death
In trying out telescope, see daughter at window- dead!
Then they fall out, argue about whose present was best
But the daughter continues to look out of window at shepherd boy….
[Magnus reported this story from TV]
In a London primary school, the teacher asks the children to make
Christmas cards. She tells them to draw the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, etc
etc. one little girl, from a Pakistani family, draws a beautiful picture
and takes it home to show her mother. Her mother is worried and upset. She
tears up the card and tells her daughter that Muslims should not draw such
Pictures. Next day, the teacher again asks the class to draw Christmas
pictures. The little girl doesn’t want to draw, but the teacher insists.
In the end, she draws Mary with Jesus on her lap, reading to him from the
[adapted from hearing on Radio 4 04.12.85]
A soldier in the Palace Guard got into debt and had to sell his sword. So
nobody would notice, he carved a wooden replica. One day he was ordered to
execute a prisoner. "I am innocent, " pleaded the man, "as God is my
witness, I am innocent." the soldier raised his sword and brought it down
on the man’s neck. "a miracle, a miracle!" he cried….
[adapted from a story by Idries Shah]
[in Learning How to Learn, Octagon Press 1978 / PB 1985]
A tourist came to a remote village, stayed a week
Became friends with everyone
On the day of his departure the village policeman came to him
Said how sorry he was to see him go
Would he do him a favour?
He had a prisoner who was due to go to prison in the capital, but
Could not spare the time to take him- would cause no trouble
To oblige, the tourist agreed
Next day the tourist left, taking the prisoner with him
When they arrived at a crossroads, his conscience pricked him
How could he deliver a fellow human being to prison?
He stopped, turned to the prisoner:
"This is as far as I go, he said.
"The capital is that way. In the opposite direction is the frontier. You
must make your own choice."
The prisoner looked at him, then slowly walked on along the road towards
after a telling by Peter Grundy]
A man lay ill in bed
His wife called the doctor
The doctor examined the man thoroughly
At last he looked up with a sad expression
"I’m afraid your husband is dead."
At this point the patient looked up and said "No I’m not"
The wife glared at him. "Quiet ! This is the best doctor in town. Don’t you
think he knows best?"
[Persian story, reworked from a version in Nossrat Peseschkian,
The Merchant and the Parrot. Vantage Press Inc, New York 1982]
[this story good for IT in re teacher infallibility etc]
A teacher had a slow pupil
He wouldn’t say "th", only "s"
After a whole year he managed "th"
The teacher was delighted
Tried to get him now to say "r"
The pupil stood up and protested
" I knew I shouldn’t have said "th" - now you’ll want me to go on and on
and on until I can say everything and probably reading and writing
[Persian story, reworked from a version in Nossrat Peseschkian, The
Merchant and the Parrot, Vantage Press Inc, New York 1982]
Magician performed before Sultan - everyone amazed
Sultan: "What a miracle, what a genius"
Vizier: "not at all. He’s brilliant, but that comes from industry and
Sultan: "You small - minded bureaucrat! For that remark you’ll go to prison-
And so you won’t be lonely, you can have a calf for a cellmate -
Someone of your own intelligence!"
The vizier went to prison - with a calf.
From the very first day in the cell, the vizier practised picking up the
calf and carrying it around the cell.
He did this every day.
Months later, the Sultan relented, and let the Vizier out.
The Vizier emerged from the cell carrying the calf - now grown to a
full size bull - in his arms.
Sultan: "What amazing strength ! Such a gift comes from heaven!"
[Persian story, reworked from a version in Nossrat Peseschkian, The Merchant and the Parrot, Vantage Press Inc, New York 1982]
When the lecturer arrived at the village hall to give his talk, there was
only one young man in the audience. He waited a few minutes, then asked
the young man, "You’re the only one here. Do you think I should give my
talk or not?" the young man answered," I’m just a farmhand. I don’t
understand these things. But if I came into the stable and found all the
horses had run off except one, I’d still feed it."
The lecturer gave his talk. He spoke brilliantly for over two hours. Then
he turned to the young man and asked him what he had thought of it. The
young man answered, "I’m just a farmhand. I don’t understand these things.
But if I came into the stable and found all the horses had run off except
one, I’d feed it. But I wouldn’t give it all the feed I had."
[Persian story, reworked from a version in Nossrat Peseschkian, The Merchant and the parrot, Vantage Press Inc, New York 1982]
Please check the Creative Writing course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Skills of Teacher Training course at Pilgrims website.