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Roundabout Trolls

In the old days, every bridge across the River Lune had a troll. And to cross the bridge, you had to pay the troll a toll. It only cost a penny and the trolls were usually polite and helpful. However, their big wooden toll sticks (which they used to count the traffic) could also clobber the heads of anyone foolish enough to try and sneak across.

People were very happy to pay the trolls their toll. And the trolls took pride in their bridges. They could often be seen repairing the stone arches, painting the railings or even planting little pots of colourful pansies to line the walkways. But there was one man who was not happy with the troll bridges. He was from the city council and he felt a modern forward-looking city like Lancaster shouldn’t rely on nasty old-fashioned trolls.

No-one recalls much about this little man apart from his hatred of the trolls but let’s imagine he was small and thin with slicked back black hair. Let’s imagine he wore a drab brown suit and horn rimmed spectacles. And let’s imagine that his name was Nigel.

Nigel went to the trolls bridge by bridge with a little briefcase and one revolutionary idea… roundabouts. The council was building dozens of roundabouts across the town and each would see hundreds or thousands of cars every day. Nigel told the trolls of the piles of pennies they would earn from the brand new roundabout tolls. One by one, the trolls agreed to give up their toll bridges. They packed up their trowels and their paintbrushes in their little wheelbarrows and set off for a new life as Roundabout Trolls.

Very, very quickly, the trolls realised that roundabouts are not at all like bridges. As soon as a car arrived, the troll would stride in front of it and demand a penny but before the grumbling driver could hand over his coin another car would appear on the other side of the roundabout. By the time the troll had dashed across to stop the new car, the first car would speed off without paying. Waving their toll sticks in the air and growling ferociously at the cars, the trolls would run around and around the roundabouts but the traffic never stopped and the tolls were never paid.

Some trolls tried to return to their bridges but the council had built a brand new troll free bridge which people could cross without paying a single penny. Many of the trolls moved away in search of empty caves or available bridges. However, some trolls made a home on their roundabouts, growing vegetables and even keeping a goat or two. Even today, in Lancaster, you can find the odd well-kept roundabout covered in colourful pansies and neatly painted signs. Despite the betrayal of Nigel and the council, many Roundabout Trolls still take pride in their homes.

No-one recalls what exactly happened to Nigel from the council. However, one day he stopped turning up in his little office at his little desk with his little briefcase. Perhaps he retired or maybe he moved to Milton Keynes. We need not imagine a nasty incident on a dark night with several large heavy toll sticks and an angry mob of Roundabout Trolls.


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