Mango and Bambang in Lockdown Tapir!

A special NEW story for 2020.

At the moment it doesn’t look as though there will be any new Mango and Bambang books to come. But that hasn’t stopped me thinking about my favourite girl and tapir pair and imagining what adventures they might be getting up to. I have missed writing about them very much. And so to celebrate World Tapir Day 2020 and as a way of occupying myself (and hopefully YOU) in this strange time where we are all staying at home to help keep everybody safe, I thought I would write them a special new story.

You can find a link to me reading the first installment below. And I’ve added the text underneath if you’d prefer to read it to yourself. It doesn’t have any pictures yet though, as I’m definitely not any good at doing those and brilliant Clara Vulliamy who normally draws the wonderful pictures for Mango and Bambang is busy with other projects (illustrating a story takes a lot longer than writing one). We both wondered if anyone reading this might like to help? If you’d like to, draw your own picture for the story and email it to me. Then I will add them to this page later for everybody to enjoy. I will also add new installments over the coming weeks, so keep checking in if you want to see how Mango and Bambang are adjusting to the challenges we’re all facing.

*Edited 28/04/2020 to add PICTURES. Hoorah!! With many thanks to Clara for Bambang doing his headstand, Josie for splendidly Bambang tapir sculpture and Freya for her brilliant 4 panel comic! If you’ve got more tapir to add do get in touch*

Mango and Bambang: Lockdown Tapir

Part One

Worried Bambang

“The thing is Mango, I don’t have any hands.”

          Mango hugged Bambang, the tapir beside her on the sofa who was her very best friend. She had noticed he was worried. They were watching a very jolly presenter on the television. The presenter was enthusiastically demonstrating the best way to wash one’s hands and help stop the virus everyone was talking about. As he soaped and rinsed he sang ‘Happy Birthday’ twice through in a rather… operatic way. Mango had watched Bambang’s snout and ears slowly droop. She’d thought it was because of the man’s voice which also made her feel a bit tired but now she understood.

          “Don’t worry Bambang, you can still do your bit to keep everybody safe. I think you should wash your feet instead…Oh!” Mango had another thought,” …and your snout of course! Clean snouts are probably the most important thing for tapirs.”

          Bambang looked relieved, “All my feet AND my snout? I’ll go and start on them right away.”

          Bambang normally only washed his feet when having a bath or during a swim in his favourite pond. But he felt it was important to follow the presenter’s official advice as exactly as he could, so this time he decided to use the sink. The apartment bathroom was not especially large and reaching the sink with each of his back feet required a degree of athleticism that Bambang hadn’t quite prepared for. He had to wedge himself into a sort of headstand and prop each foot in the sink while trying to turn the tap on and off with his toes. Some water didn’t go quite where he wanted…

          “It’s just as well I’m a master of Flamenco,” Bambang observed, as he rubbed his foot on the soap to lather up. “A less limber tapir might struggle with this.” He sang ‘Happy Birthday’ twice over for each back foot and then came out of his headstand a little too quickly, knocking over a bottle of shampoo and getting rather tangled in the shower curtain as he did so.

          Mango heard the slipping, crashing and splashing noises. “Are you alright Bambang?” she called.

          “Yes thank you,” said Bambang, fighting his way free of plastic sheeting.

          His front feet were easier to wash despite the extra toes: As you well know, tapirs are odd-toed ungulates and have only three toes on each back foot but four on each of their front feet. “Should I sing Happy Birthday an extra time as these are bigger?” Bambang wondered examining them. It was better to be safe than sorry.

          Bambang started to rather enjoy himself as he sang and soaped. He began pretending that he was a television presenter and pulled faces into the mirror. That made him think of his bumptious film star cousin Guntur so he stopped abruptly. Completing his tenth round of ‘Happy Birthday’ with a little less enthusiasm than he’d started the first Bambang comforted himself by thinking how much worse the hand washing routine must be for octopuses. “I suppose they have to start at the beginning again almost as soon as they get to the end.”

          With all fourteen toes sparkling, Bambang turned his attention to his snout. But- oh dear -it quickly became clear that although washing and soaping a snout was easy enough, singing while doing so was NOT.

          As soon as Bambang started his song, soap bubbles blew out of his nostrils. They clustered together and formed a foam around his mouth.

          “Habby blub-blub-blooo-blooooo!” With every note more and more appeared. The bubble foam trickled off Bambang’s snout and chin like great bendy icicles and sprouted like wobbly whiskers. As he reached, or tried to reach the highest notes Bambang’s voice went completely. He made an anguished squeaky trumpet noise instead which brought Mango to the door.     

          Mango saw Bambang, wrapped in torn shower curtain, standing in a rather large puddle of water. His whole face had entirely disappeared under foam. She took a deep breath.

          “You’re definitely clean Bambang. But I think I should sing for you next time when you get to your snout. Following government advice is very important but I’m not sure they quite understand about tapirs…”