One of the humans who lives here at Wiggly Pets HQ has been working very hard indeed! She was attempting to draw 14 pictures to illustrate a children’s christmas story she has written. Well she hasn’t managed it but it was not for want of trying! And she has raised some money for homeless human wiggly woos (they call them babies, or children or kids or Oi!). So as promised here is the story though only with one outlined picture.
Percival’s Christmas Wish
In Gloucestershire, many magical things have happened; especially on Christmas eve at the midnight hour in the city of Gloucester itself. People have spoken of it for centuries. You see, at that time on that day all the animals can talk!
Of course animals can always talk – but not always be understood. A meow sounds different to a bark, which sounds different to a squeak.
But on this day at that hour they can all talk to to each other and to humans too! If the humans bother listening, that is. The creatures who love this the most are the little mice. Gloucester, and indeed all of Gloucestershire, is full of mice that spin… and sew and knit and sometimes use fabric glue and velcro though the older mice do consider this to be somewhat cheating.
The Mice that Spin are so important to the region that if you look at a lot of the churches in Gloucestershire (and Gloucestershire has a lot of churches) you will see a stone block carved with a relief of scissors and needles and thread and other cloth related things.
But the mice are small and often over looked or misunderstood by the humans whose lunch is nibbled, or mistaken by cats for a light bite to eat, which means life can be very hard for these little rodents. However on Christmas eve no one would dare eat a talking mouse – whether owl or cat or human – especially when they are so nicely turned out in the sweetest of tiny clothing sets.
And so on Christmas Eve all the mice in Gloucestershire, plus a few from Cardiff and Bristol, and maybe Oxford and even one or two all the way from London, come together for the bestest of parties.
Our adventure takes place at one of these parties not so very long ago, about 2007 or so. That year terrible floods had affected many homes in the area and humans and mice found themselves homeless.
Percival was one such mouse; his lovely basement dwelling had filled up and he had barely escaped in an old empty baked bean tin. He had drifted in said baked been tin for three days, after discovering that that bread sticks did not make the greatest of paddles – mainly due to them getting soggy and falling to pieces.
After the three days he was a very sorry, soggy and hungry little mouse. Fortunately, though, being a mouse, he did not have much issue with dirty water – unlike one poor little human (who is indeed very important to this story!). This small person is known as Jean and at the time she was but a tiny toddler.
The only home Jean had known had water pour in through the walls. And to make it worse it was sticky smelly water full of cow poo and other fragrant things… you know, the sort that is referred to as a ‘number two’.
Jean’s Mummy and Daddy had had to wade through water and be helped by the police to get to Jean at her Nursery School that day, and then when they finally got home, there was no home for them anymore, not really.
‘Oh dear!’ Jean had chirruped, ‘Oh dear tortor! Tortor everywhere, bad torter’, the little girl announced. She was still too little to say many words; or at least ones that silly grown ups could understand . The other toddlers at the Nursery understood her perfectly well.
That night they camped in the attic and waded through the water the next day with a few bits of clothing and Jean’s favourite teddy – Yellow Bear. They had then headed over to Daddy’s aunt who said she would keep an eye on Jeany whilst things like insurance were all sorted out. Unfortunately more bad luck was in store for this little family – so many people had been flooded that there was no help to be had; at least, not straight away.
And then it turned out that the water they were drinking had been contaminated by flood water. This made it really dirty and meant that everyone needed to drink from special tanks the military were delivering to each road. And the electricity stopped working too as the electricity sub-station had also been flooded, so they could not listen to the radio or watch television. So neither they nor their aunt knew the water was bad and Mummy and Jeany drank the water and became very sick.
Little Jeany had to stay in hospital but she got a new snuggly bear with a purple outfit. It was yellow bear’s new friend and was hugged lots. And lots of hugs were needed at this time – it had been summer when the house was flooded and by Christmas there was still no hope of moving home again. Jean slept in a travel cot that Mummy’s aunt had lent them and every two weeks they moved on to another friends house or flat or office.
Percival was having a similar problem, as were many of the other mice; but it was worse for him. Now as you may well know, Mice that Spin tend to be from very large families so most of the little mice had relatives to stay with (even if it did make things that little bit extra crowded). But poor Percival was an orphan; he had no mummy or daddy and his sister had emigrated to Australia in a box of meringues.
This meant that, unlike most mice, Percival really was on his own; and he felt very sad and lonely.
A nice mouse at the Cathedral helped Percival and other mice like him. The Cathedral was a beautiful place to live – sunlight would stream through the stained glass windows. It was all lovely colours that lent a glow to the sandstone pillars of the building itself.
Percival had a very comfy bed in a piece of blue velvet cloth that was draped over various things in one of the rooms and there were lots of yummy cake crumbs to eat from the tea shop. And he had even joined the choir; but it wasn’t really a home. What Percival really really wanted was a family. He made up his mind that on Christmas Eve, during that magic hour, he would tell Father Christmas what he wanted.
Jean’s family, on the other hand, would have very much liked their home back for christmas – but that was not going to happen. Instead, they were staying with friends and family in Gloucester. Now, living while not in your own home can be very expensive and Jean’s parents had had their own business which was run from their house. The flood had destroyed that too, so they had very little money that year. Fortunately, her daddy had found a new job which he would be starting in the new year and so they were, at least, hopeful.
That Christmas Eve they and their family started preparing food for the next day. Jean’s Daddy is a vegetarian so he was constructing a special dish called Leopard Pie which apparently has no real leopards in it (as that would have made it not a vegetarian-safe pie after all!) Everyone was looking forward to sampling it and Nanny was making her famous sausage plaits (which seemed to be mostly tomato ketchup, as far as Jean could tell).
Poor Granfer on the other hand seemed to be having an argument with a reel of sticky tape – it was a battle he was most definitely losing. There was a warm smell of orange and spice from the saucepans on the hob; these were mulled wine and mulled orange juice. The orange juice was specially for Jeany, and Mummy who was still poorly, and Daddy who would probably have to drive someone to somewhere later that evening.
Jean was helping Mummy make mince pies and Mummy’s friend Clare was helping too! It being Christmas Eve Jean was wearing a reindeer hat and matching slippers and a blue sparkly snowflake jumper with white fur trim – she was very excited and tried to sing along to the songs Mummy and Daddy played.
Then, whilst eating warm minced pies, they sat and watched a film about mice at Christmas. Jean decided she would ask Santa for a talking mouse of her own, a special little friend.
Meanwhile at the Cathedral, Percival was helping put glitter in the Christmas tree. He was also due to sing at the midnight concert that evening. He was very excited and really very nervous; he smoothed his fur down using his reflection in a dark blue christmas bauble. He was so nervous that he had hardly been able to nibble the piece of shortbread that had been dropped behind the organ earlier that day. It had a snow man on it and just the right amount of sugar. And later on, before the concert, there would be candied peel and marshmallows! He just couldn’t wait and was really looking forward to all the tasty food.
But for now there was lots of decorations to be put out – it was getting late and people would start arriving soon.
Back at Jean’s house, Jean had napped and was not best pleased to be woken up and kept shouting, ‘No! No! No! No!’ about everything until Daddy warned her that they would not go and see the Man With The Beard! Jean suddenly became quiet and still and her eyes were so wide that Mummy just had to kiss her on the end of her nose.
They put out a minced pie and some brandy in a mug (Granfer moaned that it should be sherry in a nice glass but it was all they had and he assured Jean that Santa would love it just as much.) For Rudolf, they scattered special magic oats.
Then they all put their coats on to head out to the Cathedral for Midnight Mass, which Nanny just loved going to. They were going to walk but Nanny was feeling too old to walk there in the ice crisp night, so Daddy decided to drive into town and Jean was strapped into her car seat with the minimum of tears and fuss.
Mummy and her friend would meet them at the Cathedral. When they got there Father Christmas was large and jolly and rather loud. Jean became very shy suddenly and snugged into Daddy who was holding her. Santa smiled anyway and handed her a packet of sweets with a “HoHoHo”! And daddy fed a stack of coins into a collection tin. Jean was sad as they walked away – she hadn’t managed to ask for a little friend, all of her own.
When they caught up with Mummy Jean tried to explain; Mummy sort of understood, but not really. It is often a problem with parents, as I am sure all children will agree.
But she did say that Christmas is a special magic, time and hope and love could bring about miracles, so Jean hoped with all her might and told a frozen puddle that she would love a little friend.
Then they were heading over bumpity ground; the Cathedral stood lit up and from inside there was already the sound of singing. Jean sat snugged first on one lap and then on another playing with toys and drinking the beaker of warm milk Daddy had produced from out of his bag. She liked the singing very much especially as she could hear little squeaks that were somehow words. The last hymn they sang was In The Deep Midwinter and Jean climbed down and peered through the chair legs; she was sure there were little mice just over there… but mummy wouldn’t let her go and explore.
Percival finished singing his favourite hymn. It had been the last one of the concert. Little mice applauded, as did a pigeon that had wondered in off the streets. ‘That be good singing!’ it said, and Percival thanked him. Then he stopped and realised what the time was! He was talking to a pigeon! He needed to get to a phone and quick – there was only 15 minutes left! He just hoped that directory inquiries had Father Christmas’ number. He didn’t know what he would do if St. Nick was ex-directory!
He scuttled across the floor but the humans began to all move about – and their feet were huge!
To escape it all he scrambled up the side of a push chair and hid in the folds of the canopy. He was really scared; his little nose was twitching rapidly from side to side. A very small human was strapped into the pushchair and the poor thing really was not very happy about this at all, but it cheered up as the pushchair was wheeled out into the dark night. Percival hung on for his life!
Large flakes of snow had begun to to drift from the sky and the pushchair’s canopy was rolled forwards and with a squeak Percival landed in the little ones lap.
‘Oh No!’ he cried and tried to scramble away but a mittened hand caught him. ‘Hello!’ said Jean.
‘Hello!’ replied the worried Percival as he tried to work out how he was going to escape.
‘Talking mouse!’ the little girl said with glee.
‘Erm, yes’ said the struggling mouse, ‘it’s… christmas… eve… at… midnight.. all. animals… talk!’
‘I asked Santa for a talking mouse!’ Jean commented happily.
Percival stopped trying to struggle out of her grip ‘you did?’ he asked.
‘Yes!’ Jean said excitedly.
‘I wanted to talk to him’ said the little mouse sadly ‘but I now only have eight minutes of talking left.’
Jean thought about the oats and brandy they had put out at home and said ‘he’ll be on his sled now!’
‘Oh, I was going to phone him’ Percival said.
‘Oh, do you want to borrow my phone?’ Jean asked offering him a red and blue plastic toy.
‘Oh, yes please!’ came the ecstatic answer but then he became very sad when he found he could not dial out. ‘This phone isn’t working, but thank you for lending it to me,’ he said as big tears began to run down his furry cheeks. A particularly fat one rolled straight down his nose and off of the the end with a little sorry sounding “Splat!” on Jean’s coat.
Jean tried to pat him better, being very careful to be as gentle as she could, as he was really very small. ‘What did you want to ask him, anyway?’ she asked. ‘My Mummy says all you need is hope and love.’
‘I wanted a family!’ he cried.
Jean paused in stroking him and thought and thought and thought some more and then wrinkled up her nose with the new thought (and the cold) and said ‘We could be your family! Me and Mummy and Daddy and Nanny and Granfer and Uncle David and…. well there are lots of us but mainly Mummy and Daddy and me!’
Percival sat very still. Jean continued, ‘I wanted a little mouse and you wanted a family!’
He nodded and then asked, ‘Do you like fruit and nuts?’
Jean shook her head but at Percival’s dropping whiskers she said, ‘but Mummy does! I’m sure she’ll share with you’ and she smiled and patted him on the head.
‘Thank you!’ he said
‘I’m Jean!’ said Jean happily.
‘I’m Percival!’ he said, just as the clock struck one in the morning. It was Christmas day and time for bed. Jean held Percival up to Mummy.
‘Look!’ she shouted enthusiastically. Nanny screamed but Mummy picked him up gently. ‘Oh, what a cute little mouse! How ever did you catch him?’ And she put him down on the floor, but Percival didn’t want to be left behind so ran back to the buggy and scrambled up to Jean. Mummy and Daddy looked at each other and then Mummy looked at her friend Clare who sighed, ‘I supposed I can dig out the old hampster cage when we get back’, she said .
‘Thank you!’ said Mummy and Daddy, who then checked that Jean was being gentle enough with the little mouse.
Jean and Percival found that they could only sometimes talk to each other after that night; but that it didn’t much matter, like Mummy not understanding exactly what she was saying all the time. After Christmas they went to stay at another friend’s house in London where percival did not even sleep in his cage but had a home all his own in the store cupboard. The little family stayed there for a long time with Mr Andy whose flat it was; he even cooked meals and things for them and in many ways they were sad to leave when their wish was granted and they once more had a home of their own. It was then they realised that they had never really been without a home, just the building to set the home up in, and Mummy had been right all along; all miracles need is hope and love, and even when hope is hiding, it can always be coaxed out once more by gentle love.
Merry Christmas One and All.
The Human would like me to point out that you can still donate to Shelter by clicking the button below or by texting JEAN90 to 70070 which will donate £1 to Shelter.