I am ‘Mystery reader’ tomorrow for my daughter's class at School. The mystery for the children is who will turn up and read a story to them. The mystery for me is why on earth I volunteered again and what the bloody hell I'll read. Last time I did it I read an extract from 'Boy', Roald Dahl’s Autobiography. I read the bit about how he believed liquorice was made from rat stew. I took in a cauldron with pretend rats (it was near Halloween) and gave them liquorice to eat. I thought I had been very thorough and clever. With hindsight I realize they hadn’t a clue what I was taking about. Roald Dahl's adventures whilst at a Preparatory School on the Welsh Borders, wishing he was an older boy ‘wearing his cap at a jaunty angle' was probably lost on 8 year old Americans!
Maybe I should read something authentic - An extract from Huckleberry Finn? I could even try doing a proper accent! I love the real southern accents. I don’t hear it often in these parts as I live in
, what the southerners refer to as ‘Containment Area for Relocated Yankees’. You have to go to the more rural areas to spot real southerners. To get a feel for the accent think about the way they say ‘most’ in ‘Bill and Ted’s MOWWST Excellent Adventure’ and then add the sound of a banjo strumming and speak like that! I wonder if they put on an English accent for Shakespeare performances over here. Somehow Will’s most excellent works wouldn’t sound right with Keanu’s twang! I thought about doing some witty translations from Shakespeare to southern drawl. I made a start on Hamlet: CARY
‘Rekon’ it is, or rekon it aint? That sho is worth askin’. Been ponderin’ so hard, aint had time to think’
It just doesn’t translate well at all!
Maybe I could take a well known story and give voice to the southern sayin’s:
Back yonder there was a lil girl, all cotton an caramel, pretty as gingham. She lived with her paw in the trailer park jus’ by the forest. They called her Red Ridin’ hood. Red hood on account of her washing her whites with Paw’s huntin' gear. Ridin' on account of all the shaggin' she does on a saturday night at the barn dance. Paw aint worked out what ridin's gotta do with shaggin' and Lil Red aint worked out what dancin's gotta do with it neither!
One day he hollered ‘Lil Red, Granmaw’s takin' to punin’ around. She’s a growed to her bed. Git down to her trailer and take her som grits. Don’t git jibber-jabbin’ on your way an look out for them comers and goers.’
Paw went back to his whittlin’. ‘Paw,’ she said, ‘if you whittle anymore y’all gonna have no stick left.’
‘Ahm only done what your mother done told me to when she up and died – she said 'Red' on account of ma red neck, 'keep your daubers up'. Now Git!’
'But Paw - daubers means courage not that!
Lil Red set off on her ways. She seed a clump of azaleas, as pretty as a picture. She was mighty notioned to ignore her daddy and stop awhile. I’m gonna git me some of those she thought.
A mighty powerful Coyote stopped by, ‘where are you off to?’
‘Hell fire and damnation a talkin coyote!;
'Quit your cussin and your blasphemin!'
'Sorry Mr Coyote, I forgit meself for a while! I aint up to much, jus visitin' down yonder. Ma granmaw’s hungry as a lil’ ol bug in a tata patch an’ ahm takin’ her some grits. But quit, you slab sided galloot. Paw told me not to go a-flutin an a-flyin with no tuckyhoes.’
The Coyote quit but angel wings won’t stop his devil mintin’. He trotted off to granmaws. When the agger-pervokin’ ol’ buzzard opened the door he darn gone and gobbled her up. He put on her best bloomers and climbed into bed. Lil red arrived a few minutes hence.
‘Oh Granmaw – you looks like you washed in a mud puddle and combed your hair with a towel. Yo sho nuff look pitiful as ham without eggs.’
‘Don’t joree me’ said the Coyote in his Sunday best church voice to sound like Granmaw.
‘But Granmaw – You must be ailish! That sure is a mighty hellacious wind you’re a-blowin’
‘Gawd has stuck me down!’
‘Your wind nearly killed me outright! An them there ears are homely nuff to curdle milk’
‘All the better to hear you with,’ said the Coyote.
‘Don’t give me that gator tail. Them eyes – ugly as home-made sin.’
‘All the better to seen y’all with, lil Red’
‘Don’t try to cute me! Them there teeth sho are makin’ me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs. What googery-boogery are you up to?’
With that the coyote, jaw leakin’ water, said ‘I’m done with this fancy talkin’ and gobbled Red Riding hood up. Sounded like he was crunchin’ picawns tween his toes.
Ol Red, Lil Red’s paw come seen what all the fussin’ was about. He was a mighty powerful man and dove on the coyote. The coyote got the livin’ daylights displeasured out a him til he was limp as paw’s whittling stick after he done whittlin’. He cut open the coyote with his whittlin’ knife and found his ma and Lil red inside. They all sat down and enjoyed a plate full o’ grits.
That’ll teach ‘em fo cavortin with coyotes!
How do you think it will go down with the class tomorrow?