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The Skygazer and the Rascally Ram

March 25, 2012

One thing I shall never forget about my wonderful Grandad Dawson was his skill as a raconteur.  He served with distinction in the Great War and later became a policeman, rising to the rank of Chief Inspector.  In later life he would draw on his experiences to hold us in thrall.

One evening many years ago, whilst holidaying at his bungalow in Prestatyn, my wife and I were so entranced by his tales that the room had grown dim, with Grandad Dawson visible only in silhouette, before we returned with a bump to the here and now for supper.

One of the nicest complements I’ve ever been paid was from my father, when he told me I was very like Grandad Dawson.  Am I really?  I have a lot to live up to in that case.  One thing for sure is that any skill I possess as a spinner of tales must owe something to my grandad.  Maybe I even hear a distant echo of his voice as I write…

My short fiction is mostly fairly traditional in flavour and intended for reading aloud as well as on the page.  Maybe my enthusiasm for the oral stems from those spellbound sessions of long ago with Grandad.  With my children’s stuff, illustrations are required of course.  Maybe someday I’ll break into the picture book market or find a publisher willing to bring out an illustrated collection.  We’ll see.

‘The Skygazer and the Rascally Ram’, written in 1988, was intended for 4-6 year olds and is essentially a story about friendship.

 

THE SKYGAZER AND THE RASCALLY RAM

There was once a farmer’s daughter called Lucy who had a rather peculiar pastime.  On summer’s days, when her chores around the farmyard were done, there was nothing Lucy liked better than to climb the grassy fell, lie down on top and gaze at the sky.  Lucy was a Skygazer.

It was lovely to just lie there on the warm grass, with sheep munching all around, to feel the world turning, see the clouds shifting, the birds soaring and circling.  Oh yes, this was Lucy’s favourite pastime.

There was just one problem – Ronnie the ram!

Ronnie was a ram with curly horns who lived on the fell and liked nothing better, when he wasn’t chasing the ewes and lambs, than to disturb Lucy’s skygazing.  Ronnie was a Rascally Ram.

Lucy would be lying there, drowsy and dreamy, gazing up at the sky…  then a face would appear, the face of a rascally ram with curly horns and laughing eyes – Ronnie!

“Bah-ha-ha-ha!”

Lucy would become quite annoyed.  She’d tell Ronnie to push off, but he never would, being a very stubborn rascal.  She’d move away herself, but Ronnie would always follow.  She’d tell him he was impossible, but Ronnie would just laugh in that maddening, sheepy way.

Bah-ha-ha-ha!”

Then Lucy would laugh too, and they would end up having a jolly good chat.

***

One afternoon, Lucy tried to explain why she liked skygazing so much.  “As I watch the birds, I seem to fly with them,” she said.  “As I watch the clouds, I seem to float.  How wonderful it would be to fly and float.” 

Ronnie usually laughed and told her that skygazing was silly.  But today he said something else, something rather startling:

“I’ll make you fly, if you’d really like to.”

Ronnie loved to play tricks on Lucy, but he sounded serious enough…        And he was a magical ram, afterall.  So Lucy said, hoping she wasn’t going to be sorry, “Yes, I’d really like to fly.”

Sparks flew from Ronnie’s curly horns, then flying Lucy was.  And sorry she was too.  Because the rascally ram had turned her into…a ladybird!

Lucy was so tiny, the grass looked like a forest, and Ronnie looked like a woolly mountain.

“You rotten beast!” she squeaked.  But Ronnie just laughed in that maddening, sheepy way.

“Well, you wanted to fly,” came his mocking bleat.

Lucy said, “Yes, but I wanted to be a proper bird with feathers, not a ladybird!  I want to ride the wind, with the countryside spread below.”

Sparks flew from Ronnie’s curly horns, then a proper bird Lucy was – a proper bird with feathers, riding the wind, with the countryside spread below.

And sorry she was too.  Because someone was blasting off with a shotgun – BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!  And the pellets were zipping past her head, almost clipping her beak.

The rascally ram had turned her into a pigeon, and someone down there wanted pigeon pie for tea – probably Dad!

“Help!” she squawked, but Ronnie just laughed in that maddening, sheepy way, and Lucy called him a rotten beast again.

“Well, you wanted to be a proper bird with feathers,” came Ronnie’s mocking bleat.

Lucy said, “Yes, but I didn’t expect to get my feathers blown off!  I want to be a cloud instead, a fluffy little cloud floating high.”

Sparks flew from Ronnie’s curly horns, then a cloud Lucy was…

But was she sorry?  No, she was not!  Because the rascally ram had foolishly turned her into a dark and angry storm cloud

It was her turn to tease Ronnie now.  And for the next few minutes Lucy had great fun chasing him up and down the fell with thunderbolts and rain!

Ronnie was thoroughly soaked before he had a chance to use his magical horns and turn Lucy back into a girl.

“You rotten beast!” he said, as he shook himself dry. 

And suddenly the two friends were laughing together, as they always did in the end.

But for Lucy the Skygazer it was nearly teatime now.  So she said bye-bye to Ronnie and set off down the fell for home.

Over her shoulder she called, “See you tomorrow, Ronnie.”

But the Rascally Ram wasn’t listening.  He was chasing the ewes and lambs.

-oOo-

                             

© Copyright Paul Beech 2012

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2 Comments
  1. What wonderful stories, Paul. Your Grandad sounds like a charming man, one anyone would want to take after. And, Lucy and the Ram make a great bedtime story … I think I’ll read it to my granddaughter for Easter!

    • Thanks, Jackie, much appreciated.

      Yes, my Grandad Dawson, who died in the mid-70s, was a fine man indeed – a man of courage and honour, who’d always done his duty. He was a modest man but possessed of a natural air of authority balanced by a twinkling sense of humour. I can see him still in his grey suit and hat, with piercing blue eyes and a ginger moustache, his upright bearing suggestive always of the soldier he’d once been – “Gerry” Dawson, as they called him in the trenches. And I hear the warm northern cadences of his speech…

      I’m so pleased you liked my story enough to think of reading it to your granddaughter. I love writing for children.

      Hope all’s well with you Stateside.

      Best wishes, Paul

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