A CHILDREN’S STORY
Suitable for children aged 4-7
BY ROY STANNARD
ILLUSTRATIONS BY GRAHAM BUTLER
Portly and Mutt are best friends.
Portly is a spongienormously fat cat.
Mutt is as thin as a blade of grass. He’s a dog, but people often mistake him for a walking sausage.
Usually, dogs are big and strong and they like to chase cats. But because Portly is so toffeeastically big and Mutt so skinny it’s the other way round.
They live in a skyscraperly tall old house in Brighton, with five floors and a basement. They know a secret passageway that leads to the roof. Every night they creep up the stairs and out onto the rooftops, with the moon appearing much larger because they are so high up.
Their favourite game is to jump from one roof to another. Normally this would be easy for a cat, but because Portly is so currantbungeously plump he finds this game a bit difficult.
Minnow-ribs Mutt on the other hand leaps from roof to roof, gutter to gutter with the greatest of ease.
He can even do it backwards.
In fact, Mutt is becoming a bit of a big-head. ‘Hup’ he shouts as he does a double back flip onto a TV aerial and starts to swing around like a trapeze artist at a circus. ‘Heeyah’ he yells as he spins into the air.
‘Aaagh’ he cries as he disappears down a chimney pot.
‘Nurdlebrain’, snorts Portly as he tries hard to climb to the rim of the chimney to see what has become of his friend. ‘Poophead’ he breathes as he puts his by now very red face into the mouth of the chimney in order to see if Mutt is anywhere to be found. ‘Plaaarphooey’ he coughs as a cloud of soot puffs in his face.
Mutt’s eyes look like two diamonds as his very black head appears out of the chimney. ‘Look what I’ve found!’ he says with excitement, pushing a roll of paper towards Portly. Several specks of soot fly from the roll and go straight up Portly’s very big nose.
‘Aaah tishoo’ roars Portly and the paper rises into the night and disappears over the edge of the roof. ‘That was very silly of you’, Mutt says to his roly-poly sneezy friend. ‘I think that paper is a map that will lead us to treasure’. He climbs out of the chimney pot and shakes his skinnywidget body to get rid of the soot. Then he goes to the edge of the roof and looks down.
The map is resting on a ledge below. In the distance, the bright lights of the Palace Pier look like a collection of jewels. ‘We need a rope’, Mutt announces. Portly disappears down into the secret roof opening and comes back huffing, puffing and blowing with three sheets from the spare bedroom. ‘Help me tie these together’, he tells Mutt.
With one end fastened round the chimney pot, Portly and Mutt carefully lower their rope down the side of the house. It stops just above the map.
Mutt slides down the sheet, leaving a black trail on it, until he reaches the map. Just then a gust of wind blows, and the paper flutters down into the branches of a tree in the street below.
Luckily, there is a window open and by swinging to and fro Mutt is able to dive through it. As he enters he grabs a curtain and he and it go crashing to the ground. Mr and Mrs Tibbs, the owners of the house, are deep asleep.
Mr Tibbs grunts and continues snoring. Mutt takes a deep breath, runs out the door and meets up with Portly outside.
‘You’re a cat, you climb into the tree and get the map’, Mutt tells his chubby friend. The marshmellowish Portly stares up into the tree and doesn’t like what he sees. The map is balanced between two branches a very long way up. ‘How in doughnut’s name am I going to get up there?’ he asks Mutt.
This takes a moment as he has a slim brain as well as a slim body.
Suddenly, he remembers that cats are supposed to be afraid of dogs.
He creeps around to the back of Portly, opens his tiny mouth and lets out a lionasaurous roar. Portly screeches, his fur stands on end and he leaps high into the tree. At the same time all the windows along the street open and people lean out to shout ‘shut-up’ at Mutt. One unkind person even pours a bucket of water over him. At least he is clean now.
Portly is sitting on the branch below the map, shivering.
He hasn’t jumped so high before in his life. The branch is creaking loudly because he is so creamcakeishly heavy. He lifts one shaking paw and nearly falls. ‘Call the Fire Brigade’, he whispers.
‘I can’t, I’m a dog’, replies Mutt, unhelpfully.
Mutt goes back indoors and finds an old mattress. Using all his strength he pulls it out onto the pavement with his teeth. Placing it below Portly, he calls up, ‘Jump, it’s perfectly safe’. Portly isn’t so sure. People say that if you are fat you don’t feel the pain so much because of all the padding.
Portly disagrees. He thinks the bigger you are the more there is to hurt.
‘No, I’m staying here until someone comes to rescue me’.
I wish I could say that Mutt goes immediately to get help.
He does not.
He falls asleep on the mattress.
Portly is left alone to watch the moon change places with the sun.
He watches the milkman deliver his milk.
He sees the postman deliver his letters.
He looks at Mutt twitching in his sleep on the ground.
He sighs as Mr Tibbs gets into his car and drives off to work.
Eventually, Mutt yawns a Cheddar Gorge of a yawn and stands up. Rubbing his eyes he looks up at the tree and gulps. ‘Hello Portly’ he says sheepishly.
‘Enjoy your little nap?’ Portly asks through gritted teeth.
‘Get me down this instant’.
Mutt runs indoors and tugs the hem of Mrs Tibbs’ dressing gown and pulls her into the street. Portly looks down, hunched on his branch, scowling.
‘Mrs Tibbs says, ‘I’ll get a ladder’.
The ladder doesn’t reach. By now Portly is beginning to wobble with tiredness. Wobble. Wobble.
‘Don’t move,’ shouts Mrs Tibbs in a not very helpful way.
‘If I could move’, thinks Portly, ‘I wouldn’t be stuck up here’.
A few minutes later the big red fire engine arrives, making a large noise with its siren. ‘This is rather embarrassing,’ Portly thinks to himself.
Mutt is enjoying himself hugely. He hasn’t had so much fun since Mr Tibbs locked himself out of the house after taking him for a walk.
He yips and yaps and yodels, running after the firemen and leaping up the foot of the tree. What an adventure!
The firemen’s ladder on the back of the fire engine climbs up the side of the tree towards Portly. It makes a loud noise and Portly can feel the tree moving as it gets nearer. A fireman is standing at the top of the ladder as it comes towards the quivering Portly. ‘Here Kitty, Kitty,’ the man says.
‘Who’s Kitty?’ wonders Portly.
The fireman reaches out a hand. Portly can’t move. His chubby legs are frightened stiff. The Fireman’s yellow helmet looks like a slab of butter.
Portly remembers how hungry he is. His tummy rumbles.
Now, Portly’s tummy is no ordinary tummy. It’s an eclairious wobblegut of a tummy. It rumbles so hard that the branch sways and before he knows it, Portly is flying though the air.
Portly lands on the mattress, on his back, staring at the blue sky above.
A piece of paper flutters slowly above him.
Gently it descends, landing like a butterfly on his still rumbling tummy.
Mutt jumps onto Portly’s tummy and catches the paper in his mouth.
‘The map, the map’, he exclaims.
Portly grabs the piece of paper from his thinwit friend.
‘Here, let me read it. I’ve just spent all night awake, wondering what it says, unlike some I could mention’, he says darkly.
‘Yes, yes, let’s find out how rich we’re going to be. Lead us to the treasure’, Mutt shouts with glee.
All the firemen, Mrs Tibbs, most of the neighbours (including the one with a bucket), and Mutt all stand expectantly around Portly as he reads the note.
‘This is what it says’, announces Portly importantly.
‘Dear Santa, I would really like a football for Christmas. I hope you don’t get stuck in this sooty chimney. Lots of love. Robert.’
The watching crowd laughs. Portly does not.
Roy Stannard 2020