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ONCE UPON A TIME  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin…

Does that bring back some memories? I hope they’re good ones!


Words can be pretty elastic really.  Perhaps we’d like them to stay still, so to speak, and not move about so much.  To say just what they seem to say.

When we speak in real life – improvised conversations – there’s always some kind of context. We know why we need or want to talk about something. 

There usually a backstory.  And that helps to define why we’re telling the story now, and who our audience is.

Let’s have a look at an old story.  I bet you know it.  Or at least know how it begins.

Once upon a time, there were three bears.


Notice that there were three bears.  Is that just because it is ‘once upon a time’?  Are there still three bears?

Maybe there are only two bears now .  Maybe mummy bear wanted a more exciting life and set off on a trip round the world.  Perhaps all that porridge making got her down.

Maybe baby bear got a scholarship to public school.  

Maybe daddy bear was offered a job five-hundred miles away and only gets back some weekends.


Maybe there are only two bears…

since baby ran off with that Goldilocks… she not only pinches the porridge but steals the child too… far too young for her …

I mean I know he isn’t literally a baby – but he’s our baby  even if he is nearly twenty-two.


Maybe now there are 4 bears…         maybe mummy & daddy had another baby.

It’s all in the context, isn’t it?  And, when you tell the story, how you speak the words…

Once upon a time there were three bears, daddy bear, mummy bear, and baby bear…

… oh that sweet little baby, so good natured, always polite, do anything for anyone…  until puberty kicks in… can’t get a word out of him, except ‘like’