Authors: R. A. Spratt
‘Use the little lever in the glove box to pop open the boot!’ advised Boris. ‘For your own safety you need to placate her with cake.’
So just as the Rolls-Royce glided to a stuttering stop, the boot popped open and Nanny Piggins leapt mouth-first into it. They could not see her, but they could hear her guzzling and they could see the car shuddering as she lashed about inside the boot, gobbling up every last crumb of cake.
Tyler, visibly shocked by the experience, went over to join the others in the grandstand. ‘Well I think we’ve established that Nanny Piggins is already pretty good at running.’
‘She’s a gifted all-round athlete,’ agreed Boris. ‘People think being a flying pig is just a case of lying in a cannon waiting for the gunpowder to explode, but once you have been blasted, there’s an awful lot of jogging back to the starting point.’
‘The hard thing is going to be training her to run past the Slimbridge Cake Factory,’ predicted Michael.
‘All right,’ said Tyler. ‘I’ll plan tomorrow’s training session to focus on that.’
‘What are we going to do this afternoon?’ asked Derrick.
‘I think I’ll be spending most of the afternoon at the Rolls-Royce dealership getting it repaired,’ said Tyler. ‘In her haste to get as much cake in her mouth as possible, I think Nanny Piggins has eaten all the carpet and some of the electrical wiring.’
So the next day’s training session started 500 metres down the road from the Slimbridge Cake Factory.
‘I don’t understand why I have to run past the factory,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’m sure I could pop in for a couple of dozen cakes, say hello to my dear friends on the assembly line, and still get back on track and win the race.’
‘It’s not a question of winning or eating cake,’ said Tyler.
‘Wash your mouth out!’ exclaimed Nanny Piggins.
‘It’s a question of appearances,’ continued Tyler. ‘You’re a politician now. You need to present yourself as a healthy person. And healthy people don’t raid cake factories.’
‘Mentally healthy people do,’ grumbled Nanny Piggins. ‘If more people popped in to cake factories there would be more happiness in the world.’
‘And more obesity and more diabetes,’ chided Tyler.
‘I’d rather spend time with a fat diabetic,’ declared Nanny Piggins, ‘than a miserable skinny bones!’
Tyler sighed. ‘Please never say that to anyone in the media.’
‘You can do it, Nanny Piggins,’ encouraged Michael. ‘All you have to do is run from here, straight down the road until you’re 500 metres past the factory.’
‘It’s only 1000 metres all up,’ added Derrick. ‘You run that all the time.’
‘Oh, I know I can do it,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘The problem is why should I do it?’
‘To beat Father,’ reminded Samantha.
‘Hmpf,’ grumbled Nanny Piggins. ‘Attractive as that idea is, it’s not as attractive as the reality of a Slimbridge Bavarian Chocolate Cake in my mouth.’
‘That’s why we’ve set up a trestle table laden with all of Slimbridge’s finest baked goods at the other end,’ said Boris.
‘How many of their baked goods?’ questioned Nanny Piggins.
‘Two hundred family-sized cakes,’ said Michael.
‘Hmm,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘All right, I agree to it.’
They all climbed out of the car. Nanny Piggins shuddered when the sweet smell of cake hit her nostrils.
‘You can do it, Nanny Piggins,’ urged Samantha.
‘Of course I can,’ agreed Nanny Piggins.
‘Think of the cake at the other end,’ advised Michael.
‘Run as fast as you can,’ encouraged Derrick.
‘All right,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘Here goes.’ With that she took off, sprinting down the road past the cake factory. And she did really well; she got a whole hundred metres down the road before she suddenly broke stride, stopped, then leapt onto the cyclone wire fence and took off into the grounds of the factory.
‘I’m impressed she got as far as she did,’ said Michael.
Later, after seven security guards dragged her out of the factory, the children reasoned with Nanny Piggins as she sat on the curb finishing up the last of the cake she had managed to stuff in her pockets.
‘Why did you do it?’ asked Samantha. ‘You knew there was plenty of cake waiting for you at the other end.’
‘Yes,’ agreed Nanny Piggins, ‘but this cake was closer and it was calling me.’
‘The cake called to you?’ asked Tyler.
‘Oh yes,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘
Nanny Piggins, eat me, eat me!
it cried. It would have been rude for me not to respond.’
‘You don’t really think you can hear cake talking to you, do you?’ asked Derrick, beginning to worry about his nanny.
‘Of course I do!’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I’ll admit they don’t do it very loudly. But telepathically I can hear what they’d like to say to me loud and clear.’
‘I have been running campaigns for fifteen years and I have never come across a problem like this,’ said Tyler, also slumping down in the gutter and helping herself to a slice of cake. ‘We can motivate Nanny Piggins to run with cake but we can’t motivate her to run past a cake factory with cake.’ She stuffed an especially large slice of sponge into her mouth to punctuate this thought.
‘Good morning, Nanny Piggins.’
They all looked up to see Nanny Piggins’ greatest arch nemesis – Nanny Anne (well, her third greatest after the Ringmaster and Eduardo the Flying Armadillo). She was wearing lycra leggings, $400 running shoes and a baby-pink singlet – which all suggested that she was out running, and yet there was not a hair out of place on her head and not a molecule of sweat on her face.
‘What are you doing here?’ grumbled Nanny Piggins. ‘If you’re thinking of breaking into the cake factory, there’s no point. I’ve already cleaned them out of all the easy-to-grab supplies.’
Nanny Anne laughed her fake laugh, which sounded like a computer generated approximation of a normal human laugh. ‘Oh dear me no, I haven’t had a slice of cake for four months now,’ said Nanny Anne.
‘You poor thing,’ said Nanny Piggins. Much as she disliked Nanny Anne as a person, she could not help but be touched by such a sad story.
‘I’m in training for the big run on Saturday,’ said Nanny Anne smugly.
‘You mean the Town to Tip?’ asked Derrick.
‘Yes,’ said Nanny Anne. ‘I have written several letters to the organisers asking them to change the name to something more inspiring.’
‘Typical,’ said Nanny Piggins. ‘I should have known you of all people would be a jogger. It takes a certain type of depraved character to stoop so low.’
‘And what are you doing here?’ asked Nanny Anne, with her sickly sweet smile. ‘Are you waiting for the police to pick you up? Or perhaps a mental health professional?’
It shows how strongly Nanny Piggins disliked Nanny Anne that she seriously considered hurling the chunk of chocolate cake in her hand at Nanny Anne’s perfectly laundered pink singlet. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and she stuffed it in her mouth instead. ‘I’m training for the fun run too,’ she muttered, spraying cake crumbs because she ate as she talked (one of her favourite types of multi-tasking).
At this point Nanny Anne really did burst out laughing. She laughed and laughed for a full two minutes, which is a very long time to sit in the gutter watching someone delight at your expense.
‘Why are you laughing?’ demanded Nanny Piggins.
‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ said Nanny Anne (although she was not). ‘I thought you were joking.’
‘Why would I be joking?’ demanded Nanny Piggins. ‘I am one of the greatest, if not
greatest athlete in the entire world. No-one has ever bested me in the field of being blasted out of a cannon.’
Nanny Anne burst out laughing again.
‘Why is that funny?’ asked Derrick.
Nanny Anne was dabbing away tears now because she was laughing so hard her eyes had started to water. ‘Well, being blasted out of a cannon is hardly a real sport, is it?’
The sound of a slice of mud cake hitting Nanny Anne’s clothes was a distinctive one. Normally a stain on her outfit would drive Nanny Anne apoplectic with rage, but on this occasion it only made her burst out laughing again.
‘Take that back!’ demanded Nanny Piggins. ‘How dare you insult the art and science of being a flying pig!’ Nanny Piggins lunged for Nanny Anne but the children and Boris grabbed her. And Nanny Anne had the good sense to take off jogging down the road.
‘Let me at her,’ insisted Nanny Piggins.
‘If you bite her she’ll call the police,’ urged Derrick.
‘At least let me chase her down and get my slice of cake back,’ pleaded Nanny Piggins.
‘Let her go,’ said Samantha, ‘just let her go.’
‘But the chocolate filling had real cream,’ sobbed Nanny Piggins.
Boris wrapped his sister in a big bear hug. ‘Don’t worry, if we go back to the factory and knock politely on the door I’m sure they’ll give you another slice.’
‘That was the last slice,’ wept Nanny Piggins.
‘Really?’ asked Derrick. ‘They only had one slice in the entire factory?’
‘No, they had sixty slices,’ admitted Nanny Piggins, ‘but I had to munch on something while I was running away from the guards.’
‘Of course,’ agreed Boris, patting her hand.
‘Well, there is nothing for it,’ declared Nanny Piggins, standing up and brushing off her skirt. ‘I shall have to beat Nanny Anne on Saturday, and I shall have to run faster than her in the race too.’
From that point on no-one needed to coach Nanny Piggins anymore. She was up before dawn every day, carrying out her own brutal training regimen. Admittedly it did not involve much running. A quick jog down to Hans’ bakery, a three-hour session of carbo loading, and then home to rest. But she did it all with such impressive focus and dedication, the children began to believe that perhaps being only four foot tall would not stop their nanny from winning the Town to Tip.
The big day arrived. Nanny Piggins came downstairs, dressed ready for the race.
‘Why are you wearing your hot-pink wrestling leotard?’ asked Derrick.
‘Just in case,’ said Nanny Piggins cryptically.
‘You’re planning to wrestle Nanny Anne, aren’t you?’ guessed Samantha.
‘I’d like to be prepared should the eventuality occur,’ said Nanny Piggins as she tucked into a hearty breakfast of chocolate croissants.
‘But you’ve got to wear your campaign t-shirt,’ said Tyler, pulling out a fluorescent green t-shirt featuring a picture of Nanny Piggins jogging and the slogan, ‘
A Vote for Piggins is a Vote for Good Health
‘That is the ugliest t-shirt I’ve ever seen,’ denounced Nanny Piggins. ‘Which designer made this for you? Let me know and I shall call Paris immediately to tear strips off them!’
‘It wasn’t made by a European designer,’ said Tyler. ‘It was made by Larry from the Copy Shack.’
‘But I don’t wear clothes made by Larry,’ said Nanny Piggins, ‘unless you count Yves Saint Laurent. But he prefers it if I only call him Larry when none of his designer friends is around.’
‘Wearing a simple t-shirt will make you look like one of the people,’ urged Tyler. ‘The voters will like it.’
And so with great reluctance Nanny Piggins was driven to the starting line wearing the hideous green t-shirt. As soon as she got out of the car Nanny Piggins started being difficult.