Friday, 16 December 2011

let me tell you a story

Let me tell you a story.  Like all good stories, it begins like this.  Onceuponatime.

Onceuponatime there were two old ladies.  Two rather stubborn and unbending old ladies, as it happens.

Anyway, these two old ladies both arrived at the local greengrocer’s at the same time.  And as bad luck would have it, they both wanted the last remaining orange (yes, I know – a greengrocer’s with just one orange; that certainly wouldn’t happen at Waitrose!)

Anyway, this greengrocer didn’t quite have his act together – and only one orange there was.  And these two old ladies, these two stubborn and unbending old ladies weren’t about to give in when it came to that one last remaining orange.


‘I need it!’ said the first old lady.

‘But I also need it,’ said the second.

Now, I know by now you are all terrific at solving conflicts.  So what do you think happened next?

Ella’s hand was up even before the question was out!  ‘Cut it in half,’ she said, to nods of agreement.

Well, that would be fair wouldn’t it.  Tanisha certainly agrees that it would.  They could ‘share; like one person can eat half and the other could eat the other half.’  They wouldn’t get quite as much orange as they needed, but at least they would both have a fair share.

But does anyone else have any other suggestions?

Yanis does.  ‘Maybe one could have that one first and the on another day there might be more oranges.’

‘Yes,’ concurred Melchior.  They could ‘ask the shop man if tomorrow you could bring more oranges.’ 

Tim agrees this might be the solution.  They could ‘ask the shop man to order one more orange.’

All great suggestions, but unfortunately this need for an orange is urgent.  Only now will do.  ONE orange.  Each.  Now.  If you please!

Mélina thinks she has the answer.  ‘They could go to another shop.’

Oh sorry.  Didn’t I mention it before?  This is a very small village.  There are no more orange shops for miles.  (And sorry again, but kilometres just doesn’t sound right here!)

So we are back to Ella and her suggestion that the greengrocer cuts the orange in half.  And yes, that is what he did.  Carefully, oh so carefully, he got out his sharpest knife…..

(it was a ‘laguiole’ as it happened) and making sure that both halves were equal, he sliced it in two.  And gave one half to each of the old ladies.

But he was flummoxed, because it turned out our two old ladies still went away unhappy.  Why?

Well, you see, one of them needed the juice…..


to be squeezed from a whole orange and the other needed the zest…..


to be peeled from a whole orange…..


because she was making orange jam.  By cutting it in half, neither got enough of what they needed. 

But if they had talked together at the start rather than just arguing with one another, they would have realised that one orange had enough of what they both needed.  One of the old ladies could have peeled off all of the zest and then the other old lady could have squeezed out all of the juice.  And they would both have gone away perfectly happy.

The power of – what’s that word again?

Ah yes.  Thank you Bianca. 


With thanks to Nikki for the idea.

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