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Bertie’s Lost Christmas
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Prince Bertie the Frog has always considered himself to be something of a comedian. His speciality is penguin jokes. He is delighted when he is asked to do a Christmas Eve performance of his stand-up comedy act at a pond in a neighbouring kingdom.
Bertie and Tim the Tadpole plan to fly back to their own pond in time for Christmas Day. Unfortunately, snow and fog is disrupting all the transport. They find themselves at a bus depot with a motley collection of creatures, including a penguin.
Pictures for Storynory by Ivana Nohel. Click Pictures to enlarge
Read by Natasha
Story by Bertie
Hello, this is Natasha, and I’m delighted to wish you a very happy Christmas for the sixth year of Storynory. A big thank you to all our listeners, especially those who have been with us since the very beginning. And now, I would like to hand you over to our host, Prince Bertie the Frog who has been polishing his stand up comedy act lately..
[Play up Music - Jazzy Christmas Carol - and fade]
Bertie’ voice in slightly echo-y microphone… touch of feedback
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Tadpoles and frogs, birds and fish…. Insects and creepy crawlies, it’s an honour to be with you tonight of all nights, Christmas Eve, and I mean that most sincerely, folks.
Here’s a little story about a man who had 12 penguins in the back of his car. A policeman stopped him and said, ” I say, I say I say, it’s against the law to drive penguins around in the back of you car. You must take them to the zoo.”
And the man said, “I am sorry officer. I promise to take my penguins to the zoo right away.”
The next day, the same man took the 12 penguins for a drive again. This time he dressed them in dark sun glasses and swimming trunks. The policeman stopped him at the roundabout and said: “You can’t fool me with that disguise. You promised yesterday to take those penguins to the zoo.” And the man said:
“Yes officer. I did take them to the zoo. That was yesterday. Today I’m taking them to the beach”.
[Canned Laughter...... ]
Natasha’s Narrator voice….
And that was a little taste of Bertie the Frog’s sense of humour. As you may know, Bertie loves to tell jokes. His speciality is penguin jokes like that one. Opinions are divided about how funny they are. Some people, like Tim the Tadpole, think they are hilarious. Others, like Colin the Carp, think they are about as amusing as a toe caught in the door – or perhaps that should be a fin.
One Christmas, Bertie was really thrilled to be invited to do his stand up comedy act in front of the entire pond. Only, it wasn’t the usual pond where he lives. He was invited abroad – to the next door Kingdom – to perform in front of all the Posh Pondlife who lived in the palace pond over there. He and Tim the Tadpole sneaked on board an aeroplane inside the handbag of an out-of-work princess who was flying home for Christmas. When she arrived home at her palace, she was rather surprised to see a green frog hop out of her handbag. She didn’t even notice that there was a tiny little tadpole hiding inside his armpit.
Bertie made his way down to the water’s edge in time to do his act. All the pondlife at the next door Kingdom really loved his penguin jokes. His biggest fan of all was a happy Carp called Caroline who asked him to marry her -but he couldn’t accept, because he was already engaged to the lovely Princess Beatrice.
Unfortunately, Bertie could not stay for the stage party, because he had to fly home to his own pond in time for Christmas. He and Tim hitched a lift to the airport on the back of a duck who flew them to Departure Terminal. They hid among the suitcases of the Christmas holiday makers, and anxiously watched the flight information screens. Most of the flights were marked “Delayed” in red letters.
“Oh dear,” said Bertie, “I think we are in for a bit of a wait.”
“Never mind,” said Tim, “We can buy last minute Christmas presents. I’ll get some duty free slime for Uncle Joe , and a box of chocolate covered dead flies for Colin.”
“I don’t think that we can get those here,” said Bertie, “You need a boarding pass to buy anything at the airport. ”
“Oh,” said Tim.
A little later, there was a rather disappointing announcement over the Tannoy.
“We regret to inform you that all fights are cancelled due to exceptionally heavy snow and thick fog. Passengers are advised to continue their journey as best they can, by car, bus or foot. Royal United Airports would like to wish you a very happy Christmas.”
The passengers looked glum, and some prepared to spend Christmas night sleeping on the floor of the airport. Bertie said: “We don’t have a car, or a bus pass, and it’s too far to hop on foot.”
“I know!” declared Tim. And Bertie sighed, because he expected that his little friend was about to say something exceptionally stupid. But Tim surprised him with a really good idea: “Let’s take the train.”
“Brilliant!” exclaimed Bertie. “I love trains. When I was a prince I used to drive one… but that’s a story for another time.”
There was a station right at the airport, and Bertie and Tim managed to hop onto a train almost right away. They would have to change at Doncaster, but otherwise it was a straight-forward journey home. They settled in to the first class buffet, where they hid inside a cupboard, and started to munch on a mince pie and a fruit cake.
“Oh dear! Will we miss Santa?” asked Tim, anxiously, as the train came to a halt about 15 minutes down the track.
“Don’t worry about that,” said Bertie, “You’ll be home just in time to open your presents.”
Back on the pond Sadie the Swan was singing a Christmas carol for all the pondlife:
God rest you merry, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this Day.
To save us all from Satan’s power,
When we had gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.
But her heart wasn’t quite in the Christmas celebrations – The festive mood did not come easily when she was worried about absent friends.
“Tish, Tish,” she said, “Bertie and Tim should be back by now. Something must have happened….”
“You’re right,” said Colin, “I expect the audience killed them for telling such terrible penguin jokes.”
“Oh Colin, don’t be so horrid,” said Sadie, who was now more upset than ever.
“Well they probably just got delayed by the fog,” suggested Colin. “They might be late for Christmas, but they will be back, unfortunately, I guarantee..”
“But if Bertie’s not here, who will be our Santa and hand out all the presents?” fretted Sadie. “Only Bertie knows where they are all hidden.”
“Well that’s typical,” grumped Colin, “Trust a frog to mess up everyone’s Christmas.”
The frog in question was on the move again, only very slowly. The train heaved and hoed into a station before clanking to a halt. The guard walked through the corridor calling, “All Change, Everybody out – you can’t sleep here. Sir, up you get…. Happy Christmas Ma’m ‘fraid this train’s cancelled. Too much snow on the tracks…”
“Can’t a train get through a bit of snow,” complained a very stressed-looking man.
“No, no, sir,” said the guard. “It’s the wrong type of snow.”
“Regulations,” said the guard. “Nothing I can do about it. Now….. just step out the front of the station. The bus stop is on the right hand side.”
Bertie, with Tim in on his back, hopped off the train and onto the dark platform. The only light came from a flickering neon bulb in the waiting room. “Brr it’s cold,” said Tim, “And rather creepy.”
“Yes, we’d better find that bus,” agreed Bertie.
“Where can we buy a ticket?” asked Tim.
“You won’t need a ticket little Tim,” said Bertie. “You’re under 12 weeks old. Kids go free. And tonight, so do frogs. The important thing is not to get trodden on.”
Just then, a little boy called out:
“Oh look mummy, there’s a frog. I’m going to stamp on him.”
“Don’t be so unkind,” said his mother. “Frogs have a right to live too you know, especially at Christmas.” Bertie wanted to add “Here here, well spoken,” but he wasn’t taking any chances and he hopped off as fast as he could.
The driver wanted everyone to buy a bus ticket. The passengers, who had already paid for air and train tickets, were in no mood to pay again, and were arguing with him.
“The airline should stump up for this bus”, said a man with a moustache.
“And give us compensation. They’ve ruined our Christmas,” added his wife.
“You should have read the terms and conditions on the website,” said the driver. “No refunds for delays on account of the wrong type of snow.”
This bickering gave Bertie and Tim the perfect chance to climb on board, unseen, and hide under a seat.
The driver, who also wanted to get home for Christmas, finally relented and let everyone on the bus without paying. They drove down a dark road for about twenty minutes and came to a halt.
“Right-oh, everyone off, this is the end of the line,” said the driver.
“What do you mean the end of the line? We’ve got to get Doncaster.” said the lady who had been complaining earlier on.
“Doncaster?” laughed the driver. “That’s miles away.”
“Well we shan’t budge,” said the lady. “Come one everybody let’s stage a sit-in.” There were cheers and grunts up and down the bus.
“Fine by me,” said the Driver. “I’m off home for Christmas. You can sleep in the bus if you like.”
And he left.
The passengers were furious, and started to shout at the driver, but he was already gone. Some people complained. Some people settled down for a Christmas night on the bus seats. Others climbed out to breath some air that was more than just a bit fresh, it was cold enough to chill a penguin.
“Bertie,” said Tim, “Where are we?”
“I’ve no idea,” said Bertie.
“Oh,” he sniffed, “We shall miss Christmas after all.”
“Not a bit of it,” said Bertie. “You can’t miss Christmas. It’s everywhere. We’ll have it here. Let’s see what sort of a place this is.”
They found a hole in the floor of the bus, just by the brake pedal, jumped down, and landed softly in the snow. It was very dark. Large shadows loomed around them.
“Are they monsters?” asked Tim timidly.
“No they’re buses,” said Bertie. “I expect this is some sort of depot. Listen, I can hear a duck quacking. Perhaps there’s a nice cosy pond hereabouts.
And they moved off in the direction of the quack. But they didn’t find a pond. Only a sort of left luggage office, with suitcases and, crates, and parcels that had not made it to their destinations in time for Christmas. They found their way in through a mousehole in the wall.
“I’m sure that quack came from in here,” said Bertie.
“There it is a again!”
“And I do believe that was a goose!”
“Of course I’m a goose,” said a goosey sort of voice.
And in the thin moonlight that came through the window, Bertie saw that there was a duck and a goose, both sitting in crates.
“We’re stuck here for Christmas,” said the Duck,
“That’s a coincidence, because so are we,” said Tim.
“MUUUURRRR !” it’s not at all nice,” said a cat, who was abandoned inside a cat carrier, “People are so inconsiderate. They are sitting at home stuffing themselves with cooked birds – I beg your pardon – and here we are shivering at the station, living gifts that got lost in the post.”
“Well well,” said Bertie, “What an odd collection of lost souls we are.”
“Speak for yourself,” said an even more peculiar voice.
“Who’s that?” asked Bertie, “I can’t see so well in the dark.”
“I’m a penguin,” said the voice,”On my way to the zoo, but abandoned here because of the ice and snow. I love ice and snow, but I can’t get out of this wretched cage and enjoy it.”
“Ha Ha!” said Bertie, “This is really funny- peculiar. I know loads of penguin jokes, but I’ve never met a real live penguin before. Do you know this one… What do penguins have for lunch?”
“No I don’t,” said the Penguin.
“Iceberg-ers!, HA ! HA!” exclaimed Bertie.
“That’s not funny,” said the Penguin.
“Hey what do you call a penguin in the desert?….. Lost ! HA HA.”
“Oh Bertie that’s the funniest one yet,” exclaimed Tim. And the duck, the goose and the cat started to chuckle, not so much at the joke, but because the penguin was getting really cross – and a cross penguin is quite a funny sight.
Now, at the pond, Sadie was not able to sleep. She was getting her feathers in a fret about her friends. In fact, if the truth be told, even Colin was a little worried, though he would never have said so.
“Oh Colin, They should have been back hours ago,” she said sadly. “how would we ever know if something terrible had happened to them?”
“Well expect we’d hear eventually from one of those birds,” said Colin, “They always have the news.”
And as it happened, a thirsty sparrow was nearby, pecking at the ice on the pond.
“Hey Dicky Bird,” said Colin, “What’s the latest gossip?”
“Oh haven’t you heard?, it’s all over Twitter,” he replied.
“I wouldn’t know anything that’s all over Twitter,” said Colin, “Because I’m a fish… duhh.”
“Well,” said the bird, “They’re tweeting about a frog who is telling hilarious penguin jokes to a collection of birds and animals. One of them’s a penguin and he’s getting really cross. They say it’s really funny. I’m just flying off there to see.”
“Oh how can we thank you enough!” said Sadie. “That must be Bertie!”
“No it can’t be,” said Colin, “Bertie’s jokes aren’t funny. It must be some other frog if they are laughing.”
But Sadie was already flapping her great black wings and asking the sparrow for directions. He pointed her in the direction of the remote bus depot, some miles away, and she went skidding over the ice and soared into the air. High up in the sky, she saw that there were indeed flocks of birds heading the same way – all wanting to join the audience for the hilarious Christmas show. When Sadie landed at the depot, quite a crowd was gathered on the roof and at the windows.
“I say, I say I say..” Bertie was saying….”Why did the Penguin cross the road….? er, oh, I’ve forgotten that one. UM…. it must be getting late.” And he looked under his arm, and saw that little Tim was already asleep.
“Well boys, birds, gulls, gals and everyone else…. you’ve been a lovely audience, but I’m afraid that’s it for tonight. Happy Christmas!”
And Sadie said:
“Oh Bertie. You were wonderful. Happy Christmas.”
“By Jove, Sadie, I didn’t know you were in the audience ! ”
“I just got here,” said Sadie,”Your fame is travelling far and wide. Hop on my back. I’ll fly you and Tim home for Christmas.”
And unlike most of the transport that Christmas night, Sadie’s private flight did not break down, get cancelled by fog, or stop in some remote depot. Of course there was one other carrier that was flying that night – and that was pulled by reindeer… Bertie spotted the famous sleigh, and he called out:
“Hey Santa. There are some lost animals abandoned in the bus depot down there. Perhaps you could go and cheer them up”
“Yo Ho Ho!” replied Santa. “Presents on the way.”
And that was the story of Bertie, lost at Christmas.
I do hope that you enjoyed. Don’t forget there are loads more stories on Storynory.com
Bertie and all the pond life would like to wish you a very merry Christmas!
(Jazzy God Rest You Merry Gentlemen licensed from Premium Beat)