Yaverland, in the Isle of Wight (a small island just off the south of England) is a lovely, peaceful place to live if you are a rock. The sea usually softly sweeps the beach clean twice a day, every day, and the sun shines brightly. But, occasionally, stormy waves pound the beach and toss the rocks so efficiently and thoroughly that skeletons and ancient fossils from the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth are uncovered, and then there is great excitement for a while as geologists, archeologists and many generally- just-curious people rush to explore the rocks.
However, this story begins at a time when life had been quiet for hundreds of years and some of the younger rocks at the far end of Yaverland were getting very fidgety: “Nothing interesting ever happens around here,” some muttered; whilst others moaned about the way they looked. The older rocks shifted comfortably in the sand and said nothing – they had learned to be patient and to wait until the winds and tides brought change. “Go and tumble by the tide line, that’s where adventure comes,” they said. So some of the younger ones did.
Then, one day (it was a Tuesday actually, at the beginning of July, many years ago) as the tide swept in and out as usual, tumbling the vast number of young rocks, pebbles and shingle noisily down the beach, a group of eight young rocks came to rest in the same place, and, as the sea retreated, a soft, tuneful noise could be heard.
Now, these rocks did not look very special or different from any other, but together they seemed to make a lovely sound, as though they were singing about the earth they came from. As the sun began to set, it may be that this small sound caught the attention of a lady out walking her dogs on the quiet beach (who had in fact been searching for some special small rocks for some time and, in a wonderful moment of co-incidence, had now found the rocks she needed!) She picked them up and placed them in a bag and so the Rocks’ first adventure began.
After some time (although a very little time in rock terms) the small rocks were taken out of the bag, cleaned and laid on a large sheet of white paper.
The lady examined each one carefully and smiled. Picking up the largest stone, she said “Spots. Mauve, I think, possibly with some orange” and she laid it aside. To the next one she said “Oh, that’s a singer’s mouth! Blue and smooth. Mmn.”
Brown with spots and an orange with “very funny eyes” followed, then two with red, a “delightful blue, mauve spots and a large eye” and finally only a small, bumpy stone was left.
“I know exactly who you are,” said the lady, and picking up her brush she began to paint the little rock blue, then added white flowers – lots of them, each with a small red centre. She finished and lay the rock down next to the others. “There, all done and ready for adventure!” she said. Then she went away and all was quiet again.
“Look at me! Covered in flowers!” said a small voice. “Look at me!” said another, “I’ve got spots!” “But I have flowers! How could anyone like such an ugly rock?” said the first, “And lots of you have spots anyway!”
“So perhaps you are lucky in being so unique,” said the second voice, softly. “My name is Genni. You must be Daisy,” she added. “‘And I am Leon,” said the cheerful orange rock. “Michel – Multicoloured Michel!” chuckled the strange purple, blue and orange spotted rock.
A quiet hum came from the little blue rock with the singer’s mouth “I am Issi,” she hummed. “Boris,” said a deep, dark voice. “And I am Roma,” added the small brown rock. Lastly, the little round, red zig-zagged rock muttered something. “Stony?” asked Genni. “No! No! Tony! I am a rock NOT a stone!” he snapped. “Well, of course. How lovely to meet you all,” said Genni. “Shall we sing?” and that is how the singing rock group were brought together, each of them unique and each eager to look at the world and to discover more about it.
It was a quiet beginning – as these things often are (rocks are not known for their eloquence, as far as I know) but as they lay together high up on a dusty shelf, they came to know and like each other and spent a long time (no, not in rock terms) in humming quiet lullabies and sometimes asking questions like, “Why are we here?” or “When will the adventure start?” It was a quietly quiet time. But it would not last.
One day (it was a Thursday), a friendly face appeared by the shelf and a voice said “Time for adventure!” The small group were suddenly taken down, dusted and laid out on the desk. “Hello my Singing Rocks!” said the lady. “How lovely you look, especially now that you’ve been dusted!”
“Now, I know clever little rocks like you want to know all about the world and how it’s made. I expect you are keen to travel, perhaps to find another shore where you can swap stories with other continental rocks? If so, I have just the adventure for you!” she said.
“Where would you like to go? Rome perhaps and the wonders of that ancient Italian city? The soft beaches of Nafplion? Yalta and the Crimean palaces? Odessa? Istanbul? Why not all of these and more?” and she laughed as she heard the rocks humming excitedly.
“Just imagine all these experiences that you could sing about! You could be Rocks on Tour!”
Then, she carefully wrapped each rock in soft paper, and packed them into a bag. Then the bag went into a car. Then onto a boat. Then a plane. Then a ship. And as the ship sails away, so the next adventure begins…