On Thursday last, while trotting through the park, the parson was unhorsed, and fell into a ha-ha. Torrential rainfall during the previous week had filled the ditch with puddles, and when he clambered out, the parson was sopping wet. His horse had galloped away, and was nowhere to be seen, so the parson faced the prospect of having to walk the many miles back to his parsonage. The weather remained inclement, although it was no longer raining.
At this juncture, the parson felt the presence of the uncanny, just behind him. He span around, and saw an angel. Its wings were furled, its locks were golden. In one hand, it held a jar of mayonnaise, in the other a bottle of bleach. The parson was surprised to note that it wore black leather gloves.
“Take this jar and take this bottle,” said the angel. So mellifluous was its voice that the parson near swooned. He reached out, and took the mayonnaise and the bleach, and as soon as he did so, the angel vanished. Where it had stood there was a haze of gaseous mist. The parson was sore perplexed.
Just then, as astronomers had foretold, there was a partial eclipse of the sun and, as seismologists had foretold, a minor earthquake shook the ground on which the parson stood. He nearly toppled over, and would have fallen back into the ha-ha, and possibly smashed the jar and the bottle, both of which were glass, but he was a parson of stupendous balance. All the more surprising that he had been unhorsed.
The partial eclipse made the park dark. But in its jar, the mayonnaise had a creamy glow. The parson held it aloft, and it lit him on his way as he began his long journey home.
Having read the piece aloud to your class, posit the following questions. Allow the time indicated in each case for the tinies to scratch the answers upon their slates.
Why do you think the parson was unhorsed? (30 seconds)
What kind of angel would wear gloves? (30 seconds)
How likely is it that an eclipse and an earthquake would happen at the same time? (15 seconds)
Why did the angel present the parson with a bottle of bleach? (90 seconds)
Do you think the horse found its own way back to the parsonage? (30 seconds)
Of which noble gases would the haze of mist be composed? (120 seconds)
Now get the class to retell the story in such a way that the parson and the angel and the horse all swap rôles. (6 hours)
Abolish Academe, Nanny:
Balance hoyden’s mania!
Banana’s maidenly echo,
Hosanna! Blame cyanide …
Analyse china abdomen,
Body’s anaemia channel:
Honeyed cannabis lama –
Ban demoniacal hyenas!
Canny amoebas, inhaled,
annoy shamanic Beadle;
Cease, albino handyman:
Enhance Bonsai malady!
Disobey henna almanac,
Yeoman cannibal’s head
Amicable hands, anyone?
R : You have excelled yourself. Some of those are quite likely to become postage-titles in their own right.
Cease, albino handyman! is a definite contender. V good, R (and Frank, of course).
There is a ha-ha at Arlington Court, N. Devon, a National Trust-owned estate about which I had to do a school project as a tiny. The ha-ha is the only thing I remember – it is otherwise a singularly uninteresting estate.