Before I left the family home, I had always pictured myself living in some picturesque little cottage, in a small clearing in a wood, where the trees and wild flowers and greenery would remind me of the innocence of childhood. You can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across such a cottage on a Sunday afternoon walk, one day in the woods; a little thatched cottage, complete with picket fence, surrounded by flowers. Immediately, I called the estate agent and told him the cottage was exactly what I had been looking for and enquired about the price.
He told me that the price had been slashed repeatedly, due to former residents having experienced numerous problems; a boy called Jack and his mother had lived there, but due to the fertility of the soil, the garden became so overgrown with beanstalks that they were forced to move to a larger house with land that could accommodate such extensive gardening.
Another rumour was that three bears had lived there, and that a blonde woman had broken in one day, and finding nothing to steal, waited until the bears returned, killing all three and thereby gaining her a new fur coat, a rug and a handbag.
Clearly, someone was playing games with me. I but purchased the house anyway. It wasn’t until I had been a resident for a few weeks that I realised the truth behind some of the stories.
It wasn’t a particularly different day, and I was white-washing the outside of my house, when a wolf happened to walk by, wearing a green bowler hat, a white feather on one side. A port coloured waistcoat adorned his torso, with several brass buttons at the front, glinting in the afternoon sun. He stopped at my fence as he passed, tipped his hat in my direction and continued on his way.
Maybe it was the carefree manner in which he walked, or maybe it was just that I desired a distraction away from my chores, but whatever the reason, I slid down off of my ladder and followed the wolf, not knowing where he was going, intrigued by my own curiosity.
He ambled along slowly, his paws clasped behind his back, whistling and swishing his tail as he went, occasionally turning his face towards the afternoon sun, and pulling his sharp white teeth into a smile. I followed thirty or so paces behind, so as not to appear too nosey, when a row of three little houses came into view.
The first house was yellow and was made completely of hay. It shone like gold in the sun and seemed of no consequence to the wolf whatsoever. As he passed, a little pink face with chubby cheeks and a snout appeared at the window.
A little voice squeaked, ‘Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin, I shall not let you in!’ The wolf stopped in his tracks and turned around to face the house. ‘My dear little piggy friend’, he said, ‘I’m an odd sort of wolf, and so I must report, I’d much rather eat cabbage, I could never have pork, I’m not a bad wolf, like the stories say, and I have not the breath to blow down your house today’.
And with that, the wolf turned and continued along the path to the next house, with me in tow.
The second house was brown and made completely of twigs and sticks, from floor to ceiling. Again, the wolf took absolutely no notice of the house at all, until another little voice called out, ‘Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin, I shall not let you in!’ Again, the wolf stopped in his tracks and turned around to face the house.
‘My dear little piggy friend’, he said, ‘I’m not the kind of wolf that you may have thought, I’m not mean or nasty, no I’m not that sort.’ And with that, the wolf turned and continued along the path to the next house, with me in tow.
Finally, we came to the third house, which was neither made of hay, nor of sticks, but this house was stronger, much larger and made of bricks. For a third time, the wolf sauntered past, swishing his tail, and was almost past the end of the fence when a third little voice said, ‘Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin, I shall not let you in!’
Once more, the wolf sighed and turned to face the house. ‘For the last time,’ he said, ‘I wish that you would listen when I say, I shall do nothing to harm you today. Meat is not something that like to eat, and I am just about the friendliest wolf that you could ever meet’.
And with that, the wolf simply wandered further on, deeper into the woods, whilst I could do nothing but stand there in complete disbelief. Since when did wolves turn down meat in favour of vegetables?!
The next strange occurrence didn’t happen until several days later…