THE GRUFF GANG AND THE TROLL RABBLE
Once upon a time there were three Billy Goats Gruff; Tony, the Little Billy Goat, the Middle Sized Welsh Billy Goat, Gruff Owen Smith, and Great Big Black Country Billy Goat Tom, who all lived in a field in a green valley. They loved to eat sweet grass, but sadly their field was now brown and barren because the greedy goats they lived with had moved onto their Centre ground and eaten every last blade of grass. They were very hungry. In the distance they could see a field that was full of lush sweet scrummy grass, but alas there was only one way to get to it – over a rickety hundred-year-old wooden bridge which crossed a fast-flowing stream. To make matters worse, under the bridge, on its hard-left-standing, lived a terrifically terrifying rabble of trolls – they were always hungry too, so they took control of the hundred-year-old bridge into the scrummy grass field and whenever anyone other than a fellow troll tried to ‘trot’ across it they would leap out and gobble the ‘trespasser’ up. And there was nothing they liked better than to eat a nice juicy Billy Goat.
Tony, the Little Billy Goat was the first to reach the bridge. Gingerly he put one hoof and then another onto the bridge but because it was so old and rickety, however hard he tried, his hoof still went trip trap, trip trap on the wooden planks, awakening the terrifying trolls. Now Tony was a clever little Billy Goat, and he didn’t give up easily. So he called some of his friends and asked them to help him repair the bridge, but eventually they ran out of fresh planks, especially because the trolls kept pulling them off, and throwing them in the stream where they floated away. The trolls didn’t want too many trespassers trotting over their bridge at one time because they wouldn’t be able to catch them and gobble them up. So Tony’s Billy Goat friends went down the stream to the right of the bridge to try and find the stone bridge that some said the landowners were building. But when they got there, they found that the landowners had run out of money years before and couldn’t afford to finish their bridge. The stream had become a river there and was too difficult to cross by any other means. Some drowned trying to swim across and others starved to death because the meadows were brown and barren there too. Tony managed to get away to fresh, rich pastures in foreign countries.
Meanwhile, the greedy trolls waited for the Billy Goats Gruff to return, and began to post notes by the bridge stating ‘Property of the Trolls’, ‘Tolls payable to the Trolls under the Bridge’ and ‘No Running – Trots only’. So Middle Sized Welsh Billy Goat Gruff Owen Smith went down to the bridge and began to cross the stream. Trip, trap, trip, trap went his middle sized hooves. The Trolls loomed out from under the bridge.
‘Who’s that trip trapping over our bridge?’ they roared.
Quaking in his hooves, Middle Sized Billy Goat, Gruff Owen Smith managed to sing in his softest melodic Welsh male voice ‘It’s only me. I’m going to eat the sweet, green grass my brother Tom sang about.’
‘Oh no you’re not!’ said the great white-bearded Troll leader, who could be quite ferocious when challenged. ‘I’m going to eat you for breakfast, lunch and tea!’ After all, you have to accept that breakfast means breakfast, lunch means lunch and tea means tea, as the great earth goddess has decreed! She may be a Tory but she must be obeyed, on this, at least!’
‘Oh no, great white-bearded-one, you wouldn’t want to eat me. I’m not big enough to fill you up. Wait until my big brother comes along – he’s much tastier than me and he has a bigger right rump than me.’
‘Oh all right’ said the Great White Troll, but you stay where I can see you until your brother comes along. You are not allowed to walk away out of my sight again!’ So Middle Sized Billy Goat Gruff-Owen-Smith scampered over the bridge and began to count the number of fields of sweet green grass they would have to take from the land-owners at the next stake-out in order for the Billy Goats Gruff to have a chance of staying alive through the next winter, if they could manage some sort of co-operative farming agreement with the trolls. The Great White Troll was a lazy leader, and hadn’t begun to count these. But Gruff Owen Smith was polite to old White-Beard, and didn’t stray far up the other side of the valley, just like his mam had taught him!
Now Big Bold Tom Billy Goat Gruff couldn’t wait to get across the bridge and join his brothers, even though he preferred iron bridges. The Trolls were afraid of him, not only because he was big, but also because his membership was bigger than that of the Great White Troll, who was supposed to be their ‘boss’. They called him ‘Bully Goat Gruff’ on their ‘Twit-phones’ and he called them ‘the Rabble under the bridge’. They never came out to face him head-on, because they knew he could easily toss them with his horns. But though they behaved like Trolls, shouting and throwing nasty filth from under the bridge every time they heard the Billy goats above, they claimed that Big Bold Tom and his bully boys, the Gruff gang, were worse Trolls than they were. Some believed them, but most in the valley knew the real truth of the matter. So, Big Tom boldly put his hooves onto the bridge, where they had never been before. Trip, trap, trip, trap. Suddenly the Great White Troll leader loomed out from under the bridge.
‘Who’s that trip trapping over my bridge?’ he boomed in the booming voice he always reserved for gatherings of the Trolls, which were full of sound and fury and signified nothing.
‘It’s me. Big Bold Tom. Billy Goat Gruff. What’s on going on this bridge? Who do you think you are? Stop waving your members about in front of us… I’ve got my members too, you know!’
‘I’m the Troll and I’m going to eat you for breakfast, lunch and tea! After all, you have to accept that breakfast means breakfast, lunch means lunch and tea means tea, as the great earth goddess has decreed!’
Then the Troll rushed at Big Billy Goat Gruff who bent his head and bravely charged at the Troll, catching him up in his horns and tossing him into the stream below. The Troll disappeared under the rushing water, but was soon rescued by his Troll gang, including the Deputy White Troll who, regaining momentum, got the members out and so managed to keep the Great White Troll as the supreme leader in the valley. Big Bold Tom and the rest of the Gruffs managed to get across the bridge. From then on, they enjoyed the sweet green grass of their new home with Tom, Gruff Owen Smith and even Little Tony Gruff, who was allowed to visit from his foreign fields from time to time. But every now and then, the Great White Troll would demand tribute from the Gruffs. One of their parliamentary would have their pasture taken away from them, and, if they were really unlucky, they would be eaten up for breakfast, lunch and tea by the Trolls, who only pretended to be vegetarians, and knew that breakfast meant a full English.
To be continued… we hope!