inspired by a "found" photo of broken puppets and Le Enchanteur's message about Mr Changeabout pulling the strings of your characters
I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but Le Enchanteur knows for sure, but I found myself at the top of the Faraway tree. I was at the top of the ladder leading to a hole in the clouds. There wasn't a soul about. Silky wasn't at home, Dame Washalot hadn't thrown any water on me and the angry pixie's curtains were drawn tight. I put my head through the hole. A green and pleasant land stretched before me with chocolate-box-picture buildings. I climbed right the way up and stepped on to the grass. I could hear birds twittering and it reminded me of a spring day back at home. It looked an idyllic setting.
I set out towards the nearest buildings to see if there was any sign of life. On the outskirts of what appeared to be a village, I came across an old chest from which came the sound of moaning and crying. Curious as I am, I approached cautiously and listened for a while before tapping on the chest. Immediately there was a short silence followed by calls for help. I lifted the lid.
Inside the box, in a heap of broken and twisted limbs and tangled strings lay a number of puppets. "Help us, please" they pleaded piteously. I carefully lifted them out and laid them gently on the grass. What a sorry sight they made. Their heads lolled to one side and some of their limbs had a most unnatural look to them. I sat down on the grass beside them. "Whatever has happened to you?" I asked.
With one voice they replied "Mr Changeabout". "Mr Changeabout?" I echoed. "Who is he and why did he do this to you?" One of the puppets, which seemed to be in better shape than the others, replied, "we were once part of a travelling puppet theatre, called the 'theatre of dreams'. We came to the land of spells hoping that we would be able to charm and delight our audiences. At first we did just that and then somehow or other Mr Changeabout got to hear about us." Another voice took up the story. "We set up our theatre in the grounds of the school at the edge of the wood. All the children came to watch us, including Mr Changeabout. At the end of the show he came backstage to talk to us. He seemed to be very enthusiastic about our little play and invited us to go and visit the children in the school the very next day." "And somehow it all went wrong?" I asked. "That's exactly what happened" the first puppet replied. "Mr Changeabout settled the children in their seats and then he sat down in the front row. He clapped and he cheered at the end and we were all very pleased. Two minutes later he changed into a raging fury "calling us all sorts of names and said that we were the invention of the devil. He picked up our travelling theatre and flung it to the ground. Next he grabbed hold of us and bundled us into this chest, which is what we use to transport our props, with no thought for our wellbeing. In fact, we're sure he deliberately mishandled us so that some of us would get broken and we wouldn't be able to do any more shows for a while. Then he got one of the giants to carry the chest outside and dumped it, with us still inside. You can imagine how upset all the children were. Then the giant brought our theatre out here and jumped up and down on it. We could hear the wood breaking from inside the chest. It was heart-breaking".
Just as they finished their tale of woe Silky and Saucepan Man arrived. I briefly told them what had happened. "Is there anything we can do to help these poor puppets?" I asked Silky. She bent down to have a closer look. "I think I can repair them and Saucepan Man has a friend called Mr Fixit who, I'm sure, would be able to mend their theatre. I don't think the land of spells is staying here for very long so we will have to be quick and find Mr Fixit."
As soon as Saucepan Man heard Mr Fixit's name mentioned he started banging and clashing his pots and pans. "I know just where he is at the moment" he said. "On our way through the hole in the clouds I saw him at 'ye olde worlde cottage dairy', sitting with the angry pixie, eating an ice cream. I'll go and get him now". He clattered off to find his friend and they soon returned. Mr Fixit brought his toolkit with him and soon set about putting the theatre back together again. Silky picked up the broken puppets one by one and carefully re-threaded their strings and put a stitch or two into their costumes and soon they looked good as new. Fortunately none of them was injured - the damage had appeared much worse at first glance. They were, however, still feeling a bit bashed after their ordeal so Saucepan Man suggested they all go and have an ice cream to cheer themselves up again. By the time they returned, with traces of pomegranate purple pie ice cream dribbling down their chins, Mr Fixit had put the theatre back together again.
I suggested that we keep them company until the next land appeared and they were able to leave without being bothered further by Mr Changeabout and they all thought this was a good idea. We certainly didn't want to meet this horrible man so we all moved as close as possible to the hole in the clouds. When the next land appeared, the land of dolls and soft toys, they jumped down on to it and Mr Fixit and Saucepan Man handed the theatre down to them and the new land moved off. We scrambled down the ladder as fast as we could and went for tea with Silky in the peace and quiet of her lovely house in the tree and the angry pixie decided to stop being angry for a while and came and joined us.