Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

A lovely first comment on my new book!

March 19th, 2018

After reading just two stories in my new book The Uses of ‘a’ , Margaret Jull Costa, translator of Javier Marías and José Saramago, has written to say she thought them ‘remarkable’.

She says: “Both  A Matter of Chance, and Chameleon Love are so beautifully written and so deliciously enigmatic and so wise too.”

The stories collected in the book were written over a wide period of my adult life. Yet it always feels like a great surprise when, as if it’s come from nowhere, I discover a new short story is there in my mind. If you get to read the book, I hope you’ll find some stories there that appeal to you.

Beautifully designed by Olwen Fowler, the book could make an excellent gift to yourself or a friend. All you have to do is click the button below. This will allow you to buy copies at £9.50 (+ p&p for the UK). Crisis, the charity for homeless people, will receive £1.00 for every copy sold.

If you’re outside the UK or would like more copies or dedications just email me: mary.medlicott@storyworks.org.uk


On the Memory Estuary

January 18th, 2020

When you write a regular blog – and this one’s been going for over 5 years now – you get used to the idea of tags. Tags refer to the particular themes mentioned in the blog that you’ve written. However, I frequently find that a process very like tagging starts to happen in my mind before the writing even begins. It does so in response to the inevitable question: what shall I write about this time?

This week I was thinking I might write about WiPs (that’s the Works in Progress group to which I belong – eleven of us who, when we meet, each give a short presentation of something we do, namely write stuff or sing or sculpt or play the piano, clarinet or violin). Our next WiPs is due this Sunday and I’m planning to sing a Welsh folk song about the Carmarthenshire village of Llansteffan.

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Storytelling Starters ~Reflections at New Year

January 11th, 2020

It would sound such a daftly easy question for a teacher to ask: ‘Children, when is New Year’s Day?’  Except if the children lived in the Gwaun Valley in North Pembrokeshire, they could well suspect they were being tricked. For in the Gwaun Valley, ever since 1582 when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar, New Year has continued to be remembered on January 13th.

On the way:

So that’s why, at this point of the year, I find myself on my way into memory in the passenger seat of the Morris Minor of my redoubtable Aunty Mali. We’re on the way to celebrate Nos Calan in the warmly welcoming farmhouse of Mr and Mrs Saunders Vaughan in the middle of the Gwaun Valley. I had guessed beforehand that there’d be a sensational welcome. Mrs Saunders Vaughan was a bustling, endlessly talkative woman with a cackling kind of voice. She’d come into Fishguard every week with an enormous basket of eggs for selling to her regular customers, of whom my mother was one. Mr Saunders Vaughan was a quietly spoken and kindly man. Both were immensely hospitable.

Arriving:

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Storytelling Starters ~ Country life

January 4th, 2020

One of the great pleasures of being back in Pembrokeshire is catching up with friends. Liz and Eddie are busy people. Eddie works on a local farm, Liz has been working at a local doctor’s surgery but  also does lots of caring for grandchildren in her family. Both have lots of stories. From time to time, Liz writes down one or other of hers and sends it off to a magazine. Eddie loves to tell his stories. They are about hilarious episodes in his own life.

Eddie Story No. 1:

For instance, one time when Eddie was a boy growing up in a long line of brothers in a little cottage by the sea, the night for the bath-tub came round. All the brothers were lined up, clothes off, waiting their turn to go into the tub when the parents realised that one of the boys in the line wasn’t even one of theirs. It didn’t matter. By then, he was already in the tub. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ What’s to come

December 28th, 2019

Not many words, just an enormous big wish: that you face the New Year and the coming decade with as much hope as you can summon and as much love as you can give.

My message comes via Whitesands, the beautiful Pembrokeshire beach from which St Patrick set out for his mission to Ireland and which I have  loved ever since the very first time, many years ago when I was little, when I spent a holiday there with my family in a gypsy caravan parked immediately above the sand. Today although it often now gets quite busy there, the car park full and surfboarders in the sea, it’s where I most find peace and quiet whether I visit it in mind as I often do in London or, as this week, in person.

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

Storytelling Starters ~ Too busy?

December 21st, 2019

Yesterday morning I needed to look up a song. Early in January Paul and I have a tryst to meet up with some friends in Llansteffan, a village on a Carmarthenshire estuary where I once stayed for a couple of lovely weeks while doing storytelling work in some nearby schools. I told these friends that when we are there, looking out over the sea or, if the tide is out, the sandflats, I shall sing them a Welsh song that I love which tells the story of someone rowing across the estuary to fetch his loved one.

Reminders:

It was a pleasure to be reminded of the song when I found it. But, my goodness, as I searched for it in my file boxes – now would it be in the box labelled Wales, which is full of Welsh stories and stuff about Welsh places, or in the box labelled Songs, Poems, Sayings? – I had such a weird combination of feelings. Past and future swirled around in my mind. Which items had I previously used in my storytelling work? Which could be good in the future? I felt a bit like Janus, the ancient Roman deity who, as my Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable reminds me, was the guardian of gates and doors and, for this reason, represented with two faces, one in front and one behind. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Lying and Bragging

December 14th, 2019

Over the last weeks, a lot of lies have been perpetrated and a lot of bragging has occurred. To a varying extent, perhaps we as the general public accepted it all as part of the process of electioneering. But those of us who are storytellers may have cast on it a more professional eye. After all, some types of storytelling are deliberate glorifications of the art of lying and the best tall tales can make us alternately laugh and groan even as we admire the brilliance of the invention and the art of the wordplay in the telling.

Thinking about lying made me start to wonder whether it’s the particular purpose of the lie that makes the difference. And from some remote part of my memory, this wondering process brought to mind a lie I’ve known about  since childhood. I heard about it from my redoubtable Aunty Mali who has featured in this blog several times before. Clearly she was proud of the lie for she told me about it not just the once but many times over and always with a sense of admiration. The lie had been told by her own mother, evidently a woman of great probity. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ That tree is ours.

December 7th, 2019

Making lists, I thought, would be my subject here today. For there have been too many lists in my life of late. Jobs to do round the house. Christmas presents to be bought. People to whom to send emails about my new book, The Uses of ‘a’.

But early this morning, lying in bed awake and feeling overwhelmed by my lists, my mind turned instead to trees. I think this was due to a visit yesterday from storyteller friend, Helen East. As we sat in the kitchen drinking Lemon and Ginger tea, Helen began talking about  the time that she’d spent in Kerala a few years ago. Then she told us a Kerala story, a terrific story about the kindness of a tree. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters: A Piece of Advice

November 30th, 2019

An American friend once told me about a literary seminar at which she’d been present.  The subject of discussion was a very long poem that had been written by one of the students in the group. The eminent writer leading the group – John Berryman as I recall – asked the student to read out the whole of this poem. Then, at the end, having listened intently, he quoted one small phrase from the poem and said, ‘Now that was good!’

Well, you could take that several ways. Quoting an actual phrase from the poem, however small, showed that the eminent writer had really listened. At the same time, the fact that he praised just one tiny part could be taken to mean that he’d really not rated much of the rest of it.  Yet hearing his praise of that one phrase  would surely have concentrated the minds of all who were present. What was especially good about that particular bit.

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Storytelling Starters ~ Busy

November 23rd, 2019

As my website reports, they’re here. They arrived on Thursday. Five cardboard boxfuls of them were pushed into the house. Held  on to a  heavy palette by thick plastic which had to be cut away with a big pair of scissors before any box could be opened to reveal my new book, The Uses of ‘a’ … and other stories. The first person to see them, along with Paul and me, was storyteller Meg Philp who lives in Australia and was staying with us at the time.

The book contains 24 stories. These range in subject from a refugee desperately searching for her children to a wandering minstrel on his way to praise a prince to a young woman in the throes of deciding whether or not to make a Christmas cake (spoiler alert: she does!). These stories were written over the last few years whenever one came into my head. I really enjoyed the writing of them and then eventually realising that I had what I could call a collection. I hope you might like to purchase a copy. See the end of this blog for how to order.

A special pleasure of deciding to self-publish a book is getting it designed. What an art that is! The size of the book, the design of the cover, the choice of font and all the little details such as, in this case, the two little birds that appear to be flying away at the end of each story. My thanks again to my very special book designer, Olwen Fowler, who was the designer of my previous book, A Long Run in Short Shorts. Read the rest of this entry »

Deleafing

November 16th, 2019

How strange it felt to be writing this week’s blog with a pen on a piece of paper. Normally, I’d have been typing it straight into my computer, first as an ordinary Word document which, after being corrected and adjusted, would then get transferred into Blog format.

But, silly me, I managed to leave my computer behind in Wales when we set out back to London earlier this week. Even now, it must be languishing in the sitting room there, wondering where on earth I am. At the same time as feeling quite sorry for it, I also think it was probably good for me to have had to write my thoughts by hand before borrowing Paul’s computer to type them up.

Good because, before typewriters and computers came into my life, handwriting was what there was and I used to enjoy it, still do on those ever rarer occasions when I actually put pen to paper. At primary school we were well-trained. Marion Richardson style, we’d be rounding our ‘a’ shapes, looping the upper end of every ‘h’, all of us creating the very recognisable handwriting of the Welsh primary classroom. Read the rest of this entry »