Posts Tagged play

More War Horse

(c) Bridget Worth

It’s curious what fiction can do, how a painting in a story can become a real painting. Such a picture,  invented in War Horse had to be created for real. I’m copying this blog:

Morpurgo’s myth revealed

By Emily Butcher | Published: 31 OCTOBER 2011

After 20 years, Michael Morpurgo reveals the hidden truth behind the opening lines of his hugely popular novel War Horse, in a warm and humorous interview with Clare Balding.

In the old school they now use for the village hall, below the clock that has stood always at one minute past ten, hangs a small dusty painting of a horse. He stands, a splendid red bay with a remarkable white cross emblazoned on his forehead and with four perfectly matched white socks. He looks wistfully out of the picture, his ears pricked forward, his head turned as if he has just noticed us standing there.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Little did Michael know, when he first drafted these fictional lines back in 1981, what a worldwide success his book, and the subsequent National Theatre stage production, would become; nor the havoc it would wreak on a certain Mrs Weeks of Iddesleigh, Devon.

Mrs Weeks, the lady who now lives next to the village hall mentioned in Michael’s opening lines, is regularly inundated with War Horse enthusiasts searching for the painting of Joey. However, their quest has always been in vain as the painting has never existed…until now.

To help Mrs Weeks stave off disappointed visitors, Michael asked Ali Bannister, the equine artist from the upcoming Spielberg-directed film, to create an oil painting ofJoey. And, before it takes pride of place on the wall of Iddesleigh village hall, visitors to the National Army Museum can see the painting displayed for the first time ever in the War Horse: Fact & Fiction exhibition.


“I go about once every six weeks to make sure it’s still there”!

… and now, watching this, I realise there’s a sequel, and one of those beautifully drawn and painted books by Michael Foreman (I’ve mentioned these before), and Morpurgo’s favourite among his books…


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Narrator:  The Mulla Nasrudin was in his house one day when there was a knock on the door. It was his neighbour.

Nasrudin:  Hello neighbour. What do you want?

Neighbour:  Nasrudin, I’m going on holiday for two weeks. Can you look after my 9 chickens for me?

Nasrudin: 9? 9? What is 9?

Neighbour: You know, 9. The number 9. 9 chickens.

Nasrudin:  I am no good with numbers. I don’t understand maths. Don’t say 9.

Neighbour: Let me just leave chickens then.

Nasrudin:  Bring them over.

Narrator:  The neighbour brought the nine chickens over.

The chickens are led over. Nasrudin receives them.

Narrator:  After 2 weeks the neighbour came back from his holiday and came to Nasrudin for his chickens.

Neighbour:  Hello Nasrudin, I’ve come for my chickens.

Nasrudin:  Here they are then.

Neighbour: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8;

Hold it, that’s not right.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8;

Nasrudin? Where is my ninth chicken? There should be 9 but there’s only 8.

Nasrudin:  I’m not good at numbers and I’m no good at maths. Stop talking about 8 and 9. You left chickens, you got chickens back.

Neighbour:  Right, I’m taking you to the judge! And the chickens too!

They all go off to the judge.

Neighbour:  Judge. I left 9 chickens with Nasrudin for him to look after. But he’s only given me 8 back.

Judge:  Is that right, Nasrudin?

Nasrudin:  I don’t understand numbers or maths. He left chickens with me, he got chickens back.

Judge:  But that is one less, Nasrudin

Nasrudin:  ‘Less’ is maths. I don’t understand ‘less’.

Judge:  How can I explain?… (thinks)

I know.

I need 9 volunteers from the audience.

Put your hand up if you can help us.

The judge chooses 9 and waits for silence in court. Then he counts the people:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Nasrudin, let me explain. There are nine people here.

And there are 8 chickens here

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

When I say go, I want each of these volunteers to catch a chicken.

Are you ready?


All the helpers except one catch a chicken.

Now, look Nasrudin. All the chickens have been caught. But one person has no chicken.

Why has this person not got a chicken?

Nasrudin:  Aaah, that is easy!

Judge:  Go on, Nasrudin…

Nasrudin:  Because he wasn’t fast enough!

I did this a while back for ten year olds to perform to younger children. I was lucky with the casting and had a hilarious Nasrudin. The chickens all made chicken hats and insisted on singing a chicken song as they marched in!

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