Aisha Walker

Thinking onscreen

The Grey Traveller: a story for language teachers


Once upon a time there was a traveller. He wasn’t young but he wasn’t old either and he wandered from village to village. His clothes were grey and always perfectly kept with not a tear nor a stray thread to be seen. No dust clung to his shoes and his hair was always perfectly combed. Wherever he went he liked everything to be just so. He would dust a chair with his handkerchief, tidy the room around him and in his presence people were very careful how they spoke, fearful of making mistakes. People found his company dull and tiring so they tended to avoid him and only invited him into their homes when they felt they had no choice. Despite his love of detail and perfection, the Grey Traveller had a sensitive nature. He knew that people did not like him and it made him feel sad.

In the same region there was another traveller, a woman. She wasn’t young but she wasn’t old and she wandered from village to village in a swirl of bright clothes made of silk and velvet. Sometimes there were tears or rips in her clothes and sometimes her shoes were dusty but nobody noticed. The vivid colours and rich fabrics drew all everybody’s attention. Her eyes sparkled with joy and wherever she went, people threw open their doors and welcomed her inside to fill their houses with laughter and merriment. The Grey Traveller saw this and it made him feel even sadder.

One day, the two travellers met on the edge of a village. The Grey Traveller was hungry and lonely. The Bright Traveller took pity on him. “Come and hide under my cloak”, she said “let’s travel together”. With gratitude the Grey Traveller nestled under her velvet cloak and since that day they have wandered from village to village together. Wherever she goes, he is with her and they are welcome into all the houses where she creates fun and laughter and he secretly makes everything perfect.

You know these travellers well. The Grey Traveller is better known to you as ‘Grammar’ and the Bright Traveller as ‘Story’. Wherever you find a story, there will be some useful grammar hiding under her cloak.


This story is an adaptation of a traditional folk tale about Truth and Story which I first heard from Professor Mike Wilson of Loughborough University.

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