Somewhere, in the middle of England, there was a big wood. And in the middle of that wood, was Moke, the donkey. He was lost.
Moke had been walking for miles. And, even though donkeys are very good at walking, he was tired. And thirsty. And wanting his dinner.
So Moke was very pleased when, all of a sudden, he saw a big post with 3 signs on it. One sign pointed back to where he’d come from. That said: Blackpool Beach: 100 miles.
The second sign pointed the other way. It said: Over the Rainbow: far far away.
And the third sign said: Sunnyfields donkey holiday home: much further than you’d like.
“Oh, dear,” said Moke. “Never mind. I’ll just have to keep walking.” And he trotted towards the path that the third sign pointed to.
“If you take my advice,” said a voice, “you won’t go that way!”
“Whah!” yelled Moke, “Who-o-o’s that? W-w-where are you?”
“Over here,” said the voice, “behind a big tree. I’ll come out if you like.”
“C-c-come out if you’re a nice kind animal but, if you’re a wolf or a bear, p-p-please don”t bother!”
“Don’t be silly!” said the voice. “I’m gentle and beautiful. I’m a unicorn!”
“A unicorn!” said Moke “Don’t tell fibs! Unicorns aren’t real!”
“Oh is that so! Mr. Know-it-all! Well how do you explain me then?”
And out popped a funny, little, white horse. She had a tiny golden horn on her head and a mane on her neck with
different-coloured hairs in it. She walked up to Moke.
“I’m as real as you are!” she said.
“So why are your ears different colours then?” asked Moke. “One’s blue and one’s,” he stared “pink and orange! That’s no colour to have your ears!”
“It’s very rude to make personal remarks,” replied the unicorn. “And any way, you’ve got a really silly nose! So
“Err, look,” said Moke, “I didn’t mean to be rude – but I’ve never seen anyone like you before.”
“I’m not surprised,” smiled the unicorn. “We are very rare!” And we live in magic woods. (sighs) Very few people come to magic
“My name’s Moke, I’m a donkey. What’s your name?”
“Zuleika,” she said. “All unicorns have beautiful names”
Moke didn’t think Zuleika was a beautiful name but he wanted to be polite, so he said: “And do you live all on your own here
“Yes! All on my own. And sometimes I get lonely. But I could change that. I’m going on a journey.”
“Over the rainbow,” read Moke, “Far, far away.” “You’re very clever for a donkey.” said Zuleika. “Being able to read like that!”
“Now who”s being rude!” said Moke. “Just because I’m not pretty like you doesn’t mean I’m stupid you know!”
“I’m sure you’re not. I’m sure there are lots of very clever ugly animals.”
“I’m not ugly,” said Moke, “I’m a donkey. I look like donkeys are supposed to. Lots of people think we’re lovely.”
Zuleika was just as clever as Moke, so she decided to change the subject.
“Um, what sort of noise do donkeys make then?” she asked.
“We bray!. said Moke.
“Bray.” What does a bray sound like?
Do you know? Can you do one? Can you all do one?
Moke said. “It’s very difficult to explain. Some people call it a ‘hee-haw’. Would you like to hear me braying?”
“Ooh! Yes, please,. said Zuleika.”
“Righty ho!” said Moke. “Err, it’s a bit noisy.”
“Ooh! Lovely!” said Zuleika. “It’s always so quiet in this lonely old wood!”
“Goodness!” she said, “that was noisy wasn’t it!”
“You didn’t like it, did you?” said Moke. “I do understand. Donkeys don’t mind because they all make that noise. What noise do unicorns make? Do you neigh?”
“Oh no! That.s frightfully rough and noisy – almost as horrible as braying. Oops! Sorry!” she said.
“But you’re a horse aren’t you? I thought horses neighed.”
Can you neigh? Try now.
“No, we unicorns whinny. It.s a much more beautiful
“Go on then,” said Moke, “give us a whinny!”
“Right!” said Zuleika. Zuleika whinnies.
“Is that it?” asked Moke. “That wouldn’t do if you were talking to a donkey.”
“But I am talking to a donkey,” she said. “A very rude one! Who I won’t help unless he.s a bit nicer to me!”
“What do you mean – help?” asked Moke.
“Just now, when you were about to go down that path. she pointed. I told you not to do it!”
“The one that says: Sunnyfields donkey holiday home. Much further than you.d like.”
“Why shouldn’t I go down there?” asked Moke.
“Because somebody’s moved it,” said Zuleika. “They do
sometimes for devilment!”
“But I thought you said there was nobody else living in the wood. Just you,. began Moke.
“”Um, sometimes a few other animals come through – just by accident – like you did.”
“Well that’s very naughty!” said Moke. “You mean they move it so it points to the wrong path?”
“Yes! If you’d gone down there you would have gone Over the Rainbow. And you want to go to the Sunnyfields Donkey Holiday Home don’t you?”
“Oh yes” said Moke. “I’m late already. And I’m getting tired and hungry. And the other donkeys will be worrying about where I am!”
“The other donkeys?” said Zuleika. “Do you mean you have friends?.”
“Yes, lots of them! So I really must be going. I can’t stay and chat to you all day Im afraid.” And Moke moved towards the sign Zuleika had shown him: Over the Rainbow.
“Wait! Wait!” called Zuleika. “Don’t go! Stay with me. Stay just for a few minutes. You can lie down on the ground, and I can magic you some food and water. Then, when you’ve had a rest, you’ll be stronger and find your friends quicker.”
“Well alright, but not for long. I don’t want them to think something awful’s happened to me.” When Moke sat down he realised he was very hungry “Can I have my food now please? My stomach’s rumbling.”
So Zuleika started to do a little unicorn dance. A little tune came out and she moved her head up and down to it.
“There!” she said “Magic food and magic water! Eat up!” Moke couldn’t see the food but he could smell it. He started to eat and drink.
Zuleika said. “Why will your friends think something bad has happened to you?”
“Well,” said Moke chewing a mouthful of magic hay “We were all travelling from Blackpool you see…”
“That famous seaside place with the big beach and the big tower?”
“Yes, that Blackpool,” said Moke “and the gate on the back of the special lorry I was in, came loose. I was at the end and I fell out. I wasn’t hurt. The other donkeys brayed to try to tell the driver. But he didn’t hear. He just kept on going. I was left at the side of the road and soon they were miles away.”
“Why were you in the lorry?”
“I’m one of the famous Blackpool beach donkeys. I give rides to the children all summer and then…”
“You, you give rides to children on Blackpool beach! Ooh, how exciting! You’re in showbiz! You’re a celeb!”
“What’s showbiz? What’s a celeb?”
“Show business! You’re a celebrity, you’re famous! I bet people take your picture. I bet you’re on television!”
“No, I’m not a ‘celeb’! I don’t want to be! We’re famous as a group. There’s always been donkeys on Blackpool beach. For –
over- a – hundred – years!”
“Gosh!. exclaimed Zuleika. How much do they pay you then?.
“Pay me? We don’t get paid. What would a donkey do with money? All I need is hay and grass. And lots of water to drink – it can get very hot on the beach! Nah! We don’t get paid but we get treated very well.”
“How do you mean?”
“We’re only allowed to work for a two hours then we have to have a rest. And we have a vet who sees that we all keep healthy. And when the season.s over (the season is when it.s supposed to be the summer but you know what the English weather’s like!) …”
What’s the English weather like children? What does the weather do in July and August? Is it sunny? Is it rainy? Is it windy? Ask the children what the weather.s like today.
“No, I don’t know about the English weather! Here in the magic wood it’s always sunny. Theres no rain. No wind.”
“Sounds great!” said Moke.
“No!” said Zuleika, and, to Moke’s surprise, she stamped her hoof. “It’s not ‘great’ it’s boring! I would love to feel the wind in my mane and smell the wet, wet rain. It’s safe in this wood but it’s very lonely and very boring!”
“I’m never bored!. It’s hard work but in the autumn we all go for a l-o-n-g rest at Sunnyfields. And then, next Easter, off we go again in our special lorry, back to the beach to work.”
“You should be at Sunnyfields now shouldn’t you?. said Zuleika.
“Yep! I really should be going.” And Moke got up.
“No, please don’t go. I was so enjoying talking to you. I haven’t spoken to anyone for months!”
“Now don’t exaggerate”. said Moke “Don’t say things which aren’t true.”
“But it is true! When my Mother brought me here we had each other for company and that was fun. But then she had to leave.”
“Why?” asked Moke.
“In our world each female unicorn is like a queen. She has her own wood that she lives in and protects. .
“I didn’t know that,” said the donkey. “What about your Father?.
“I don’t know,” said Zuleika, “Mother unicorns bring their children up on their own.”
“My Mum lives in the donkey holiday home. You’d like her! And I’ve got a brother called Strawberry. Everybody thinks he’s very handsome. But I expect you.d think he was ugly like me.”
“Oh no! No!” said Zuleika. “I’m sure he’s lovely – for a donkey. Is there anybody else?.
“An old uncle called Grouch.”
“Why’s he called Grouch?.
Moke looked around carefully – even though there was no-one else there, and said: “Promise you won.t tell anyone ever!”
“I promise,” said Zuleika. “Did he do something naughty?”
“He bit someone!” said Moke.
“No!” said Zuleika. “Isn’t that against the rules?
“Completely!” said Moke. “And we were all very worried because well … you can’t have donkeys biting people, especially with children around.”
“So what happened?”
“He was very lucky. Because there was a woman, waiting with her little boy to have a ride. She saw everything. She said it wasn’t Uncle Grouch’s fault.”
“She said the man who Grouch bit had drunk too much beer. So the man tripped up and kicked Grouch by accident. And that.s why Grouch bit him. To teach him a lesson! So they let Grouch off. Mind you the vet told him he must never do it again. Otherwise he’d be fired!”
“The vet told Grouch, that?”
“Yes! She’s very intelligent and she talks to us – she knows we understand.”
“Gosh! What a lovely life you lead.”
“And I want to get back to it: to Pom-Pom, Poppy, Mitzy, Morris, Long-legs, Lionel, Buttercup and Daisy (they’re twins). The whole bunch!.
“Stop! Stop!” said Zuleika “Youre making me so unhappy.”
“Am I?” said Moke. And then he was ashamed of himself because he realised that he must have upset Zuleika by talking so much
about having friends.
“You weren’t listening were you?” said Zuleika angrily. “I told you I’m all alone here in this horrible old wood. No-one to talk to, no-one to play with. That.s why I was thinking about leaving here. Going on a journey ‘Over the Rainbow.’ I was just about to do it when I saw you coming.”
“You saw me coming?” said Moke.
“Oh yes, from miles and miles away. We unicorns have wonderful eyesight. Why, I saw you when you fell off the lorry, five miles away!”
“You really saw that happen?”
“Uh huh!” said Zuleika.
“Then, if you knew about my little accident, why did you ask me about it?”
“Umm, I um, I wanted to hear you tell me more about it,” said Zuleika “I wanted to know if you were hurt or anything.”
Moke was a bit surprised by what Zuleika said, but then she started talking about going over the rainbow and he stopped thinking. Donkeys find it difficult to listen and think at the same time.
“Yes, I was just about to go over the rainbow. But I’m not sure I want to now!” she said.
“What’s it like there?”
“Oh I’ve never been there,” said Zuleika, “but my Mother said it was lovely and full of other unicorns.”
“When did she tell you about it?. asked Moke”
“Just before she left,” said Zuleika. “She’s never been there either. I think she was trying to comfort me.”
Moke felt very sad for Zuleika who looked like she was going to cry.
So he thought for a moment. “Zuleika, can you eat real hay and drink real water? Not just magic food?”
“Oh yes! If I have to. I haven’t always lived in this wood. Sometimes Mother visits me and takes me on trips to your world. So I can learn about people and other animals. But we always came back to my wood because she.s worried I won.t be safe in the big world.”
“Well I can understand that. You are very different. People would make a big fuss about you. It would be a bit difficult for you, to give rides on Blackpool beach!”
“Ooh! But what a lovely idea! I could be just like you and all your donkey friends.”
“But that’s the problem,. said Moke, “you wouldn’t be, would you? You’re so glamorous and unusual. Why you’d be a
“A celeb! Oh yes! That’s what I want more than anything in the world! To be famous. And have people take my picture!”(Moves her head)
“Uh? I thought it was friends you wanted more than anything else?”
“Oh I do! I do!”
“Well then. I.ve got a plan.”
And Moke told Zuleika all about it. And, although there was no-one else in the lonely, old magic wood he whispered his idea into the little unicorns ear.
“Whisper, whisper, whisper. ‘Oh yes that would be good’. and whisper, whisper, whisper” went Moke. £Oh and that would be very
clever.” said Zuleika.
“And of course,” said Moke as he finished explaining his plan, our vet could say you’re a special animal (“I am a special animal!” said Zuleika) “Yes, yes, of course you are. But I mean a special one that she’s seen in another part of the world. Like Africa or Asia. She can say that you’ve only ever been seen by a few people, never been photographed…”
“But I am special!”
“Yes,” said Moke, “I hate to say this but could you be a little bit less big-headed, please, Zuleika. What we don.t want them to think is that you.re a unicorn. Because that will get them far too excited. Because people think you don’t exist!”
“But I do exist.”
“Zuleika! Stop it!. said Moke. “Do you want me to take you to Sunnyside or not?”
“Yes, yes, yes!”
“So, the last thing is, I think we ought to dye you. So you don’t look so much like a unicorn.”
“Dye me! What colour?.
“How about golden brown? Then you’d be like those really nice palomino ponies.”
“Ooh yes! How glamorous!”
“When you get to meet the girl donkeys you’re going to have to be more sensible, Zuleika. They don.t go in for all this celeb nonsense and wearing silly hats.”
“Yes, sometimes donkeys wear them with holes for their ears. We don’t like them we think it makes us look silly.”
“So no hats then?” ask Zuleika “I’ve got one here we could use.”
“How about a nice scarf? You could wear this one and I could…”
“So, no hats, no scarves, I have to dye my coat, and not want to be a celeb and … Oh what about my horn?.
“Oh don’t worry! I’ll think of something!!! So do you want to come to Sunnyside and go on the beach with us next summer? Give rides to little children.”
“Yes! Yes! Yes! What a really good friend you are Moke. Even if you look rather silly! What a clever, clever donkey. What fun we’re going to have.”
“Right then,” said Moke we’ve got a long way to walk to get to Sunnyside. Let’s start right away. Lets take the path marked ‘Over the rainbow’ Cos you told me that was really the right way, didn’t you?”
“Umm,” said Zuleika.
“Well you know I said the sign was moved by some wicked person?”
“Yes,” said Moke, “do get on with it Zuleika. I want to get there before Christmas!”
“Well, nobody else moved the sign I was (coughs) lying. I wanted you to come with me to the Rainbow because I was
frightened to go on my own.”
“Well what a whopping fib! You’ll have to stop that now. The donkeys won’t like it. You need to tell the truth, if you want them to be your friends.”
“Oh dear, won’t you take me with you after all? Because I lied to you?” said Zuleika.
But Moke remembered how lonely she’d been and how he might have done all sorts of silly, naughty things to get to have some
friends. “Of course I will you silly unicorn! I forgive you!”
Zuleika whinnied with pleasure and danced about. “Look at the sign Moke!” she said, “It’s changed! Now it says ‘Sunnyfields: holiday home for donkeys and unicorns: much nearer than it was before’.”
“Come on then!” shouted Moke. “Vroom, Vroom! Sunnyfields here we come!” And they galloped off happily together.