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The Stories

Sadly, only thirteen episodes of Bagpuss were made, but at least that makes it easier to catalogue them... 
Each of them revolves around a thing which Emily has brought back to her shop, "Bagpuss & Co", for her friends to identify and repair, by singing songs and telling stories about it.

Ship in a Bottle - The Owls of Athens - The Frog Princess - The Ballet Shoe - The Hamish - The Wise Man - The ElephantThe Mouse Mill - The Giant - Old Man's Beard - The Fiddle - Flying - Uncle Feedle

1. Ship in a Bottle Emily Brings home a bottle with some bits of wood in it.  Professor Yaffle tells them it is a ship-in-a-bottle.  Bagpuss finds this puzzling, wondering where it would sail to.  With the help of a nursery rhyme and a poem about Mermaids, the ship is magically reassembled.

2. The Owls of Athens

Emily brings in a very old, very dirty dirty bit of rag, which Yaffle can see no value in (as ever), the mice start to vigourously clean the cloth before being stopped by Madeleine. She implores the mice to be more gentle with the cloth, and they clean it lovingly, to reveal an old cushion cover with an owl on it. The mice run away, scared by the owl, but come back when they realise it isn't real..

Yaffle deciphers the writing on the cushion as "Athens", and therefore the picture is one of the Owls of Athens , but before he can talk any more, Madeleine starts to tell a story, while Bagpuss thinks the pictures....

The Owls of Athens were beautiful singers but they were greedy, and are eventually punished by the moon, who takes away their singing voices.

While Madeleine has been telling the story, the mice have finished cleaning and repairing the cushion which is now fit for a king, leading Gabriel to sing a song about "The Bony King of Nowhere", with assistance from the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse organ.

After they have finished singing, they put the cushion in the window, and Bagpuss yawns and goes back to sleep.

3. The Frog Princess Emily brings a collection of ornamental enamel pieces.  For a while these are a cat and a bird, but later they decide that it is a necklace of jewels for a frog princess who doesn't fancy any of the young princess, so she kisses a frog and becomes a frog princess and lives happily ever after.

4. The Ballet Shoe One dirty old shoe is left for Bagpuss & Co to repair, and the mice suggest that it might be suitable for living in, which leads Madeleine to sing along with the Mouse Organ.  Yaffle doesn't beleive anyone could live in a shoe, so the mice trick him by going round and round and appearing out of the shoe.

Charliemouse suggests that they could use the shoe as a boat, and all the mice get in and pretend to row with feathers.   Bagpuss thinks of mice in a shoe-boat, and Gabriel sings a song with the mice.

Madeleine suggests that they stop singing and mend the shoe, but the mice go on strike breifly, until they are allowed to sing again.  The mice repair the shoe so that it would be fit for a Prima Ballerina, but as Yaffle doesn't know what that might be, the mice bring out the Marvellous Mechanical Prima Ballerina.

Yaffle is particularly taken with it, and dances alongside, until he gets tied up in the shoe laces.

The mice put the shoe in the window, and Bagpuss goes back to sleep again.

5. The Hamish Nobody really knoes what the floppy tartan cloth object that Emily has brought is, except Bagpuss.  He says it is a small soft hamish, a Highland beast that keeps its distance because it makes a terrible noise, like bagpipes being played bagpipes (it is bagpipes being played backwards).  He tells a heartrending story of Tavish McTavish, who also made a terriblenoise playing his bagpipes forwards, and his friendship with the Hamish.

Professor Yaffle denounces the explanation, pointing out that the story has not improved the object at all.  He says it is a porcupine without any spikes.  They sing a song to encourage it to grow spikes, but it doesn't.   In the end they realise that it is a pin cushion, a porcupine pin cushion and stick pins into it.

6. The Wise Man Emily brings some broken pieces of what seem to be Ivory.  They fit together into a nodding Chinaman.  Professor Yaffle tells the story of the wise man of Ling-Po who just wanted to be left to live in peace on his island and talk to his friends the turtles. But the local people like turtle soup and come and catch the turtles.   The wise man asks them not to, but they laugh at him.  So, he walks across the wooden bridge from the island to the land, breaking it down as he goes.  Now the people laugh at him even more, saying he is a stupid man because he cannot return to his island.  The wise man tells them not to be so silly, and walks briskly back to his island across the water.

The mice find the story unsatisfactory, so Yaffle tells them how the turtles piled themselves up just under the water to provide stepping stones for the wise man.

7. The Elephant The thing that Emily has brought is obviously a tatty straw elephant without any ears.  They try to solve the mystery of how it lost its ears by singing songs, some of which are rather painful, but finally the ears are recreated.

8. The Mouse Mill Emily leaves a box in front of Bagpuss.  A box with windows and a front door.   The mice open up the box to reveal the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Mill. Gabriel and Madeleine then sing a song about milling with help from the Mouse Organ.

Charliemouse then tells Bagpuss and Yaffle that the mill makes chocolate biscuits out of breadcrumbs and butterbeans.  The mice run the Mill, and it does appear to make chocolate biscuits, but Williemouse takes the biscuits away before anyone can try them.

Yaffle is still sceptical, and goes round the back to discover that the mice have been re-using everything to play a trick.

After all this excitement, Bagpuss is getting sleepy, so the mice put the Mill into the window, and go back to their places on the Mouse Organ.

9. The Giant This is a heap of pieces, probably of a Staffordshire figurine.  It is also said to be a statue of a giant, but if so, it must be the smallest giant in the world.  A story is told about Mrs Smithers-Rowbottom who has a magic ubrella which glues things together.  This repairs the statue, but the mice dispute its size, so Madeleine sings them a song about comparative sizes.

10. Old Man's Beard Emily brings in a bunch of tangled cottony plant.  it is Old Man's Beard.  Why is it Old Man's Beard?  Bagpuss tells them the story of the king who had a marvellously silver beard which would make rich carpets, and of the other old men who wanted to sell their beards to the carpet-makers, so they cut them off and washed them and hung them in the hedges to dry, but none of them were as silvery as a truly royal beard.  Madeleine sings the song of the master-weaver, and Charliemouse is fascinated by the art of weaving and demonstrates it to Bagpuss by himself being the shuttle.

11. The Fiddle This is an old bucket upside-down, with holes in it.  Smoke is coming from it.  The mice run to fetch water but the sound of Irish fiddle-playing is coming from it.  Gabriel recognises it as being played by a leprechaun and he tells a story about a leprechaun and some cabbages.  Madeleine sings a song about Brian O'Lynn.  In the end the mice tip the bucket over, but there is no leprechaun in it, only a tiny fiddle.  Charliemouse picks it up and plays it marvellously.  He explains that he isn't playing the violin.  It is playing him.

12. Flying Yaffle comes down from his bookend to find a basket with things in it.  The mice search the basket and find a twig broom, which leads Madeleine and Gabriel to sing the song about the woman who brushes the cobwebs out of the sky. 

The mice then play the same song on the Mouse Organ, with Bagpuss's help.  Janiemouse tells the story of her uncle Henry and auntie Ada who tried to fly up and break some of the gold off the Sun with a teaspoon. 

Madeleine and the mice then decide to make a flying machine out of the basket and some oriental fans, which leads Yaffle to teach them something about aeronautics.   The mice bring him a book, and he reads the story of Pratt's Reverser.

The mice then trick Yaffle by pertending to fly in the basket when it is really being lifted on a bit of string.

The mice then put the basket in the window, and Bagpuss goes to sleep again.

13. Uncle Feedle Emily brings in a piece of cloth, which Charliemouse identifies as a house for a rag doll, which leads to a number of rag jokes from the mice.

The mice fold up the cloth so that bagpuss can use it as a thinking cap, and think of the story of Uncle Feedle.  Gabriel and Madeleine sing along.

Gabriel then sings a song with the mice about living on the top of a Number 2 bus, while Madeleine repairs the house.  Madeleine then sings a song with the mice about where she lives.

The mice stuff the house with cotton wool. and put it in the window with the other things before Bagpuss goes to sleep.