Bitesize Episode 42 - Charlie's take on Hansel & Gretel; Pt. 1

Aug 19 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

In this bitesize episode, Charlie attempts to bring the classic children's book "Hansel & Gretel" to life in this modern world by testing his ability to do different accents across the UK. So please sit back, relax and try not to get too offended by his inaccurate delivery ๐Ÿ˜›.
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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 042 - Transcript

Charlie:
Why. Hello there, you delightful learner. In this week's episode, we are going to dig out another classic children's story, attempt to bring it to life somewhat. And I'll be giving you my unsolicited thoughts on parts of the story being the plot or the way that it's been scripted. Perhaps the story I have chosen today includes about five characters, and after doing the read through and editing the whole thing in different tones, I realised that it wasn't quite enough, it wasn't what I wanted to put out there, so I decided to add another element to it. So I took on a few different accents, which, as you'll see, don't come naturally to me. I love hearing those people who can switch between different accents just like that. And I think it's an incredible skill to master or at least practice as a language enthusiast, because it helps you become far more aware of how the tongue sits in the mouth and how to manipulate a sound that you already know to sound different to your own accent. So I'd say a top tip for you to improve your pronunciation in English might be to look at the other dialects and accents in your own mother tongue and see if you can try to imitate another one as youou won't have the issue we deal with when learning a new language of of making sounds that are foreign to us and have been trained out of since birth like the V and B sound for Spanish learners or the R and L sound for Chinese speakers. So yeah, that's an idea potentially worth pursuing if you find it fun. And also you'll be a better judge of whether you've accurately imitated that sound because you're more familiar with those different accents within your mother tongue.

Charlie:
But anyway, so today's story is Hansel and Gretel. Now, I assume that this story, made well known by a couple of German brothers, has reached your country of origin in some form or another. And I said, made well known rather than written because Wikipedia says that it was collected by them and published in 1812 in Grimm's Fairy Tales by these brothers. But the tale itself can be traced back to the late Middle Ages, so that's like 1250 to 1500. So yeah, please do get in touch with me via email at Charlie at the British English podcast or Instagram at the British English podcast to let me know if you were read this as a child and where you're from as well. Right. We will begin shortly. But I do need to say that my accents could be considered as offensively inaccurate and incredibly over-the-top, so apologies for that in advance. I also slip out of the accent a number of times. Quite honestly, I was tempted to pay for some voice actors to read these roles after my read, but I've spent too long on this now, so I'm sticking with it and subjecting you to my attempts and it's a bit cringe because I really go for it. Also, the parents and kids have completely different accents, which would be hard to explain away, but I'll try to come up with a good back story as to why they have different accents at the end of the read. All right. Here we go.

Narrator:
Hansel and Gretel by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

Narrator:
Next to a great forest, there lived a poor woodcutter with his wife and his two children. The boy's name was Hansel and the girl's name was Gretel. He had but little to eat, and once when a great famine came to the land, he could no longer provide even their daily bread. One evening, as he was lying in bed worrying about his problems, he sighed and said to his wife.

Father:
'Hey, what is to become of us? How can we feed our children when we have nothing for ourselves?'

Stepmother:
'Man, do you know what,'.

Narrator:
Answered the woman,

Stepmother:
'Early tomorrow morning, we will take the two children out into the thickest part of the woods, make a fire for them, and give each of them a little piece of bread. Then leave them by themselves and go off to work. They will not find their way back home and we will be rid of them.'

Father:
'No, woman,'

Narrator:
Said the man.

Father:
'I will not do that. How could I bring myself to abandon my own children alone in the woods? Wild animals would soon come and tear them to pieces.'

Stepmother:
'Oh, you fool,'.

Narrator:
She said.

Stepmother:
'Then all four of us will starve. All you can do is to plan the boards for our coffins'.

Narrator:
And she gave him no peace until he agreed.

Father:
'Oh, but I do feel sorry for the poor children,'

Narrator:
said the man.

Narrator:
The two children had not been able to fall asleep because of their hunger, and they heard what the stepmother had said to the father. Gretel cried bitter tears and said to Hansel,

Gretel:
'Oh. Oh, no. We're done for!'

Hansel:
'Be quiet Gretel'

Narrator:
said Hansel.

Hansel:
'Don't worry. I know what to do'.

Narrator:
And as soon as the adults had fallen asleep, he got up, pulled on his jacket, opened the lower door, and crept outside. The moon was shining brightly and the white pebbles in front of the house were glistening like silver coins. Hansel bent over and filled his jacket pockets with them, as many as would fit. Then he went back into the house and said,

Hansel:
'Don't worry, Gretel. Sleep well. God will not forsake us.'.

Narrator:
Then he went back to bed.

Narrator:
At daybreak, even before sunrise. The woman came and woke the two children.

Stepmother:
'Get up you lazy bones. We're going into the forest to fetch some fucking wood'.

Charlie:
I told you I went for it with these accents, didn't I? I should also say that I did ad lib from time to time. So please note that Brothers Grimm did not script this character to swear so aggressively at the children.

Narrator:
Then she gave each one a little piece of bread saying.

Stepmother:
'Here y'are, take it for the savvy, don't eat it no sooner for you'll not be getting any more'.

Narrator:
Gretel put the bread under her apron because Hansel's pockets were full of stones. Then altogether, they set forth into the woods after they had walked a little way. Hansel began stopping again and again and looking back toward the house.

Narrator:
The father said,

Father:
'Hey, Hansel, why are you stopping and looking back? Pay attention and don't forget your wee legs.'

Hansel:
'Oh, father,'.

Narrator:
Said Hansel.

Hansel:
'I'm looking at my white cat that is sitting on the roof. He just wants to say goodbye to me.

Narrator:
The woman said,

Stepmother:
'You fool, that isn't your cat. That's the morning sunshine on the chimney'.

Narrator:
However, Hansel had not been looking at his cat, but instead had been dropping the shiny pebbles from his pocket onto the path. When they arrived in the middle of the woods, the father said,

Father:
'Hey, you children gather some wood, alright, and I'll be making a fire so you don't freeze your titties off'.

Charlie:
Again, a bit of ad lib there, although in my opinion it would have been fantastic if Brothers Grimm scripted the father to say that to his kids in the original.

Narrator:
Hansel and Gretel gather together some twigs, a pile as high as a small mountain. The twigs were set afire and when the flames were burning well, the woman said,

Stepmother:
'Lie down by the fire and rest. We'll be going into the forest to cut some wood. When we're finished, we'll be coming back for you. All right?'

Narrator:
Hansel and Gretel sat by the fire. When midday came, each one ate his little piece of bread because they could hear the blows of an axe. They thought that the father was nearby. However, it was not an axe. It was a branch that he had tied to a dead tree and that the wind was beating back and forth. After they had sat there a long time, their eyes grew weary and closed. And they fell sound asleep.

Narrator:
When they finally awoke, it was dark at night. Gretel began to cry and said,

Gretel:
'Oh, how will we get out of these woods?'

Narrator:
Hansel comforted her.

Hansel:
'Oh, it's all right, Gretel. Wait a little until the moon comes up, and then we'll be able to find the way. Easy'.

Charlie:
Sorry to be an absolute nerd here, but I'd like to say that it's a little assuming of the boy to think that the moon will come up at night and be bright enough to show them the way home. I mean, firstly, there might be cloud cover. Secondly, the moon might be waxing or waning, thus not reflecting much light at all. And finally, did you know that the moon rises around 50 minutes later every day? And this is why the moon is sometimes not visible at night, but is visible in the day. There you go. A fun fact to mention on a first date to really woo the socks off the person opposite you. Because if you didn't know, by the way, it's a secret. But British girls go positively weak at the knees whenever they get told facts about science, especially on a first date. Yeah, but in Hansel's defence, I didn't learn about the delayed rising of the moon until I was in my twenties, so fair enough that this starving little boy didn't consider all three of those legitimate problems when trying to raise the morale of his dying sister.

Narrator:
After the full moon had come up.

Charlie:
Convenient.

Narrator:
Hansel took his little sister by the hand. They followed the pebbles that glistened there like newly minted coins, showing them the way. They walked throughout the entire night. And as morning was breaking, they arrived at the father's house. They knocked on the door, and when the woman opened it and saw that it was Hansel and Gretel, she said,

Stepmother:
'You wicked children. Why did you sleep so long in the woods? We thought that you didn't want to come back'.

Charlie:
Now, that was some quick thinking from the mum right there. And I say Mum, but she's referred to as a wife, a woman, a mother and a stepmother throughout the whole story. According to the Internet, this is something to do with the translation into English. But when I read through it, I was imagining her to be a stepmother, considering how keen she is to let them starve to death first. Not that all stepmothers are wicked, of course, but when it comes to fairy tales, you've got to admit there is somewhat of an ongoing theme associated with them, isn't there? But the father was overjoyed when he saw his children once more, for he had not wanted to leave them alone.

Narrator:
Not long afterward, there was once again great need everywhere. And one evening the children heard the mother say to the father.

Stepmother:
'We've only a half loaf of bread, and then the song will be over. We must get rid of the children. Eh? What we're going to do, we're going to take them deeper into the forest so there's no way they can find their way back. Otherwise there will be no help for us'.

Narrator:
The man was very disheartened and he thought,

Father:
'Oh would it not be better to share the last bit with the children'.

Narrator:
But the woman would not listen to him, scolded him and criticised him. He who says A must also say B and because he had given in the first time he had to do so the second time as well. The children were still awake and had overheard the conversation. When the adults were asleep, Hansel got up again and wanted to gather pebbles as he had done before. But the woman had locked the door and Hansel could not get out. But he comforted his sister and said.

Hansel:
'Don't cry, Gretel, sleep well. God is on our side and that. It'll help us.'.

Narrator:
Early the next morning the woman came and got the children from their beds. They received their little pieces of bread, even less than last time, and on the way to the woods, Hansel crumbled his piece in his pocket, then often stood still and threw crumbs onto the ground.

Father:
'Hansel, why are you always stopping and looking around?'

Narrator:
said the father.

Father:
'Be a good lad and keep walking straight ahead, eh?'

Hansel:
'Oh, Father, It's just that I can see a pigeon sitting on the roof. It wants to say goodbye to me and all'.

Stepmother:
'Fool!'.

Narrator:
Said the woman.

Stepmother:
'That isn't a pigeon. That's the morning sun shining on the chimney'.

Narrator:
But little by little, Hansel dropped all the crumbs onto the path. The woman took them deeper into the woods than they had ever been in their whole lifetime.

Narrator:
Once again, a large fire was made and the mother said,

Stepmother:
'Ay, sit here, kids. If you get tired, you can sleep a little. We're going into the forest to cut some wood. We'll be coming back to get you in the evening when we're finished. All right?'

Narrator:
When it was midday, Gretel shared her bread with Hansel, who had scattered his piece along the path. Then they fell asleep and evening passed. But no one came to get the poor children.

Narrator:
It was dark at night when they awoke and Hansel comforted Gretel and said,

Hansel:
'Here, Gretel, wait a sec. When the moon comes up, I'll be able to see all those crumbs of bread that I scattered, and then they'll show us the way back home. We've got this. Don't worry'.

Narrator:
When the moon appeared, they got up, but they could not find any crumbs. For the many thousands of birds that fly about in the woods and in the fields had packed them up, Hansel said to Gretel.

Hansel:
'Oh, well, don't worry, we'll still find our way'.

Narrator:
But they did not find it. They walked through the entire night and the next day from morning until evening, but they did not find their way out of the woods. They were terribly hungry, for they had eaten only a few small berries that were growing on the ground. And because they were so tired and their legs would no longer carry them, they lay down under a tree and fell asleep.

Narrator:
It was already the third morning since they had left the father's house. They started walking again, but managed only to go deeper and deeper into the woods. If help did not come soon, they would indeed perish. At midday they saw a little snow white bird sitting on a branch. It sang so beautifully that they stopped to listen. When it was finished, it stretched its wings and flew in front of them. They followed it until they came to a little house. The bird sat on the roof and when they came closer, they saw that the little house was built entirely from bread with a roof made of cake!

Charlie:
I'm very sorry to do this, but this is a bite sized episode, meaning we have run out of time for today. We will continue right where we left off in the next bite sized episode. So look out for that in two weeks time. I feel a bit like one of those temp teachers who puts on a film to keep the class happy and then has to turn the movie off just as it was getting good when the school bell goes. But hey, as my mother always says to me, always leave them wanting more. That was usually in reference to food, when we went into town on a weekend, she'd treat us as a family of 5 to 1, maybe two Happy Meals shared between us at McDonald's, and we'd be positively praying for her to get us a bit more. So, yeah, I don't know if that quote is something to live by. Always leave them wanting more. I know we didn't exactly go starving, but I can imagine it might get some people into a spot of trouble. Imagine like a medical practitioner. 'Doctor, why did you not complete the heart surgery on the patient' or 'nurse, why did you only administer half of the dosage needed?'

Charlie:
Well, as my Mother always taught me, always leave them wanting more. And so I will. I will leave it there. Right. Until next time. Have a delightful week. And stay tuned for my attempt at playing the witch in Hansel and Gretel. I think it's probably my calling in life, to be honest. I've been your host, Charlie Baxter, on the British English podcast.

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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

Character: Chris:
I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

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