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  • Memoirs of Sir Robert Williams

    By Hayden Sanders and Jo Brunskill 

    About this story: This is a funny story Jo and I wrote over email. We would each write a paragraph or two then email it to the other to carry on. It's a very fun way to write a strange and interesting story.

    Chapter one - The Wallnut tree and the storyteller

    There are many things I wanted to be as I was growing up. First it was a policeman, but I soon realised that had to stop bad people and that could hurt, so I gave up that idea. Then i wanted to be a firefighter, then realised that they keep going into the places that people are running out of, I didnt like that idea. Once I wanted to be a soldier, then found out that they get shoot at! so I gave that up as well. But the one thing I was wanted to be was a good storyteller...

    Not just an average one mind you. Growing up I'd quickly grown tired of the "and then and then and then" stories of my peers, and the unimaginative adventures of Dick and Jane and fanny the dog that they forced down our throats at school. No, I wanted to be a storyteller with a difference. Someone whose tales meant something and touched people.
    I had only ever known one good storyteller at that point in my life. Stories came and went with their creators, but only one man's stories endured in my heart. And the teller of those stories was a gentleman that I had lived next too for several years when I was a young boy.

    We lived close to the ocean but not right on the beach. In our back yard there was a large walnut tree. It had been there for centurys, or so I thought when I was young. I would climb in it all summer and spend hours gathering the walnuts and eating them while I sat in the branches. The tree was enormous and so high that I was scared to ever climb all the way up to the top. The tree was strong and would have held me if I had ever been brave enough to climb up. I would sit in the middle of the tree and look at the highest point and wonder just what the view would be like from the top. I was content to sit where i was and look out of the corn feild behind our house that seperated my house from the beach. I remember many a summer day sitting in the old walnut tree dreaming about the adventures that life had to offer.

    Now the house next to mine was rather unasuming. There was nothing about it that stood out for anyreason. But living in that house was the most amazing storyteller i have evern ecountered, Sir Robert Williams.

    At face value, Sir Robert Williams was as unassuming as his house. But right from the start I knew there was something special about him. He was a man of small physical stature, with a greying moustache and a comb-over any senior citizen would be proud to sport. A plain looking man, except for the small glint of mischief in his eyes.

    The first time I met my fascinating neighbour happened purely by accident. I had been watching him for a few weeks from the old walnut tree, but hadn't yet brought up the courage to address him. The day in mention was a particularly stunning Saturday in early summer.
    Sir Robert was pottering around the garden. Although he didn't actually appear to be gardening as such. In fact, I wasn't sure exactly what he was doing, and it was my curiosity that led me to climb onto a rather flimsy branch that leant over onto his property.

    I could see that the old man had a spade in his hand and he was digging at something but not the sort of shallow digging that my Dad did in the garden. When my Dad digs in the garden, its short sharp lines for planting seeds in. or its with a pitch forlk as he turns up potatoes. But the diging the old man was doing was in one place and he kept going down. He was diging close to the fence by our house and I had trouble seeing whether it was a hole in the garden patch or in the grass. I crawled out a little furthur on the branch I was currently sitting on but as I did a large leafy branch entered my view and obscured the old man even more. I leaned out to the right and placed my hand on a branch. I put a small ammount of weight on it to check that it would hold. statisfied I would not fall, i put my full weight on it and crained my neck to look around the leafy branch and down over the fence. just as my head peered over the wooden rail enough to see what the old man was doing, I heard a soft crack somewhere behind me. Experience had taught me that this was not a good thing and as i turned my head to see which branch had given way, I began to fall through the lofts of the walnut tree. As I drifted through the branches, i wondered to myself which side of the fence i might land, and prayed that i would land one side rather than a top the solid wooden fence..

    As I saw the ground getting larger and larger and closer and closer, I panicked and screwed up my eyes, as if I could stop the inevitable by not looking at it.
    Thankfully, someone up there was looking out for me, as it wasn't the fence that I landed on. But to know for sure where I was, I had to open my eyes.
    Slowly, painfully, I peered out between my eyelids. The first thing that I could focus on was a tall blade of grass about an inch and a half away from my nose.
    Eventually, I managed to widen my sights to other blades of grass, and even to the large pile of dirt to my left. Uhuh, that must mean I was in the - suddenly, I heard a voice that I'd never heard before. A voice that chuckled out..

    "Heavens my dear boy, are you alright?"

    For a moment I thought about just closing my eyes and pretending nothing had happened, that I wasn't there, then I thought the better of that plan. I had landed on my left shoulder and as I rolled over and put weight on my left arm it collapsed beneath me and I could feel the dull throbbing pain that said I had hurt myself but probably not broken. I rolled over on the ground and said

    "I think Ive hurt my arm"

    "Well, youve landed in the right place" said the old man "I was a feild doctor once upon a time, amoungst other things, lets have a quick look and see whats happened"

    I lay on the ground half scared but curious about what a feild doctor was. I had heard of Doctors that fix brains, and doctors that fixed hearts. I had even heard of doctors that fixed trees, like the one i had just fallen out of. But what did a feild doctor do? how do you fix a feild? do you need to be a special doctor to fix a feild of corn like the one over the fence?

    I was just working up the courage to ask him what the largest field he'd ever worked with was, when he spoke again.

    "Come on then, no point in just lying there lad - can you sit up?"

    Swallowing my questions like the rice bubbles I'd eaten that morning, I focused my energy on sitting without bumping my aching arm.

    "Uh, I think so" I said, while proving myself right.
    "I don't think anything's broken" I said, in case he wasn't sure about arms. After all, a field doctor wasn't like a real doctor, was it?

    The old man stepped in to take a look. "Hmm, a few bumps and bruises but I'm sure you'll be just fine. Want to come inside for a biscuit?"

    Now, I had been well trained by my mother and various bossy aunties over the years of what to say to a stranger's invitation, so my answer was clear -

    Oops, I thought. How did that pop out when I was meant to say no??

    Chapter 2 - The house of wonders....and good biscuts

    The old man helped me to my feet then promptly put out his hand and introduced himself.

    "Well now that you have landed in my yard and we are about to share afternoon tea, I supose its about time we introduced ourselves. My name is Sir Robert Williams. and what is your name lad?"

    I stuck out my right hand, which Sir Robert grabed instnatly and gave a good solid shake. his hand was big and mine almost disapared when he shook it. My name is...

    "Robert too! But usually my family call me Bob or Bobby. Except for my Grandma, but she's really old."

    At that point, I stopped abruptly. This Sir Doctor man was at least 5 times as old as my grandma. I hoped he wasn't offended and wondered how I could dig myself out of the hole I had just begun to dig. Speaking of holes -

    "What are you digging?"

    At my question, Sir Robert started to look a bit sheepish. He let out an "Um" and a careful clearing of the throat like my Dad makes when Mum asks his why he hasn't done the dishes yet, as if considering how to break the news gently. Or just something to distract my Mum from the fact the he's not answering.

    "Well, ahh uh-hmm, you see lad. Life is a series of stories. We all have them, some last a long time and others are just short, but every story needs to come to an end. So I was just about to burry this" He picked up a small silver box that was sitting next to the fence. It was very bright and shiny, just like a ring that was also bright and shiny. The box reflected the light straight into my eyes and blinded me for a moment. I shirked away and put weight on my left arm, the arm gave out and I flopped over sideways. Sir Robert chuckled "Its only a box lad, it wont bite"

    "The box caught the light, and the thing with the shining, and then the ouch and its like...." I protested. Sir Robert laughed louder now as he helped me to my feet while saying "Come on Bobby, lets have that biscuit shall we"

    We walked to the back porch of Sir Roberts house. I could see through the open door that his walls held many picture frames, and most of them had pictures in them as well! in fact I think all of them had pictures in them... "hmmmm" I thought, and stood at the door just looking inside. Sir Robert had gone inside and already returned with a tray, on which resided a plate of biscuits, a large jog of lemonade and two glasses.

    "Lets sit our here shall we Bobby? There is nothing like a sunny day to lift the spirits and it would be a shame to waste such a day...." his voice trailed off because my eyes had caught the sight of the worlds most glorious biscuits. I knew these biscuits well and my heart leaped for joy when I saw them sitting there on the plate. These were the one-of-a-kind girl guide biscuits. oh yes they were, but not just the plain variety! Oh no these were the type with chocolate on one side. All the training and proper up brining from my parents told me that I should never talk to strangers, I should never accept gifts from them, I should never go home with them, and I should never take food from them. But all that had completely slipped my mind as I stared at the biscuits on the plate..

    "Go on then lad. Take one - or two if you'd prefer!!" Sir Robert said with a chortle.

    I didn't need to be told twice, these were my favourite biscuits, which my Mum never bought because she said girl guides had ruined her life. I often wondered how they'd ruined it. Maybe they'd sold her poisoned biscuits? Good thing these ones didn't taste poisoned.

    After a biscuit or three, I turned my attention back to my new friend ( I figured one became friends after sharing biscuits), who was watching me with a very bemused look on his wrinkly leather face.
    Hearing my Mother's voice inside my head, I spluttered a quick but grateful "Thankyou" through the soggy biscuit remnants around my mouth.

    "You are most welcome, my boy" Sir Robert replied. His Mother was obviously very strict on manners too.

    "Now, how would you like to hear a story?" he asked with a warm smile.

    "Is it about the shiny thing?" I asked hurriedly.

    "You'll just have to wait and see..."

    Chapter 3 - Stories and shiny things

    The old Sir leaned over to me and grinned "would you like to hear a story about the name Robert?"
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    I was intrigued "is the main character called Robert?"

    Yes, but even better than that, this is the story of how the name Robert first came to exist"

    "Wow, how do you know where my name, I mean our name came from?"

    The Sir grinned and leaned back in the sun and began

    "Many years ago, a long time before you or I were born, there was a family that lived in the farming community called Phoebrance. Have you ever heard the name Phoebe? Well Phoebe means light. So this area was know as the community of light. It got that name because of a very well known school in the area. The school was very good and all the royals in the region would send there children there to learn.

    Despite all of the royal children who attended the school there, Phoebrance was filled with normal people like you and I. Some of them were even less well-off than we are, and these villager's children grew up to be farm labourers or servants to those who were more advantaged. Fiscally that is."

    "Sorry - what? Fish-cally?"

    "Uh, yes. Sorry about that young lad. Sometimes I forget my audience! They served the people who had more money and could afford to have someone around to do their chores for them."

    "Gosh - I'd like to have someone like that around!"

    "I bet you would" Sir Robert chuckled, with a twinkle in his eye.

    "Now back to Phoebrance. Of all of the families in the community, there was one family who was the poorest of all..."