Once upon a time there was a large field. In that field were lots and lots of ponds. One pond had frogs, one pond had eels, one pond had dragonflies, one pond had carp… Every pond had a different type of animal.
For years the ponds would argue and fight over silly things and even tried to take over other ponds. After a big fight, which involved all of the ponds, the animals decided something needed to be done. So, they decided to work together, helping each other out wherever possible and letting each animal move to whichever pond they liked.
Life wasn’t perfect, but the fights weren’t so bad either and the animals felt happier and safer.
Well, most of the animals…
In some of the ponds there were animals who didn’t like having to share their pond with other animals. They were worried that they would be eaten, or not have enough water or flies to eat. Some just hated other animals.
One of these was the wide-mouthed frog. His name was Nigel. Nigel the wide-mouthed frog started telling everyone that they didn’t need to work with the other ponds. They said that it was ok to have some dragonflies and goldfish living in the pond, but recently there had been snails and pondskippers and this was bad. He said that they were bad animals and that other frogs were scared that these snails and pondskippers might start living on the next lily pad.
He said that, if he was in charge of the pond, he would give the frogs their pond back.
Lots of frogs didn’t like this and thought that Nigel was just a silly wide-mouthed frog who had drunk too much stagnant pond water. Some frogs, though, loved Nigel. They thought that their froggy way of life was going to disappear. They were scared that they’d lose their lily pads. They were sacred that a nasty snail might try to take their tadpoles away.
Nigel grinned a wide, froggy grin.
Nigel started telling everyone more and more stories about snails wanting to kill them all and wanting frogs to live like them. He told stories of pondskippers stealing all the flies and eating swans.
Then something happened. Nigel became very popular. Other frogs joined him and told more and more silly stories, promising that this pond would be just for frogs.
So, Nigel the wide-mouthed frog had his way. He ruled the pond and he sent all the other animals away. The snails, dragonflies, eels, pondskippers, ladybirds, toads and all kinds of fish went off to other ponds. Nigel had given the frogs their pond back.
But, the other animals hated Nigel and all the other frogs now. They refused to share food. They refused to tell the frogs when the meat eating animals were around.
And the frogs had no fish to clear the weeds from the pond. They had no dragonflies or pondskippers to eat all the flies the frogs couldn’t manage. They had no snails to eat all of the excess leaves on the plants.
Soon, the pond was jammed full of weeds and plants, so that the frogs could barely move. There were so many flies that the frogs couldn’t see or breathe. Some ate so many flies that they exploded.
The frogs were sad. They were upset that they had believed Nigel when he said that they didn’t need the other animals. They were sorry that they had made him leader. So they kicked him out of the pond and went to speak to the other animals.
The frogs apologised and said that they had changed. They said that, although things weren’t perfect before, they wanted to work with the other animals to make the whole field of ponds better. For everyone.
And they all lived happy-ish ever after.
Except for Nigel.
(With apologies to George Orwell. And apologies for the lack of illustration – I really can’t draw!)