Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

A wonderful review of my new book!

March 19th, 2018

 John Pole, the fine songwriter, puppeteer and oral storyteller has just written a review of my new book in Facts & Fiction. I’m  so delighted with it that I thought I might share part of it here. After a wonderfully supportive introduction he writes:

“She has written a lot about traditional stories and telling and has also published a book of her own personal stories (A Long Run in Short Shorts, Storyworks Press, 2016).

“Now here is something very different – a collection of pieces she calls ‘short fictional stories’, all original and a couple personal. Many echo the themes and structure of traditional tales but every one of them stands by itself and the whole collection has kaleidoscopic variety and tremendous energy. It is full of vivid imagery, acute observation and gentle – sometimes self-mocking – wit.

“The pieces are listed in alphabetical order but you should start with the title ‘story’ ‘The Uses of ‘a’. This is a kind of meditation about telling stories or, more precisely, about using language imaginatively and creatively. ‘It’s full of potential’, says Mary, and this can be said not just of her subject, the indefinite article ‘a’, but also of all the other stories in the collection. In my view, as Mary says of ‘a’, these stories ‘can be of enormous help in expanding our sense of life’. Many of the twenty-four pieces are mysterious, enigmatic, almost like the West African ‘dilemma’ tales where the listener (or reader) is left to solve the problem the story describes: some of these puzzling but powerful stories, such as ‘Contemplation‘, simply leave you to ponder their meaning and the pictures they paint, which linger in the mind. But Mary comments, after one such mysterious and magical tale, ‘The Gift of Love‘: ‘ I know not what the truth may be, I tell the story as it came to me’.

Thank you John for a hugely encouraging review..

If you  would like a copy, 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


Storytelling Starters ~ Looking and Seeing

June 6th, 2020

‘This is the first time I’ve ever looked a white person in the eyes.’ It was a young black guy that said this to me and him saying it has stayed with me ever since, both in the fact of what he said and that he felt able to say it. I felt proud that the situation we were in – an adult storytelling workshop in Cape Town in South Africa – had made it both possible and comfortable for him to say such a thing.

I’d been asked to run that workshop by Alan Kenyon, a wonderful man who believed in stories and their power to enable things to be said and heard that need saying and hearing. Sadly Alan passed away a few years ago. He was a science teacher-trainer whom I’d originally met when he turned up at a storytelling course I’d been asked to run in an Adult Education venue in South London where I’d never previously worked.  No-one other than Alan turned up, a disconcerting circumstance which had the wonderful consequence that I was able to begin getting to know him there and then. At that time, he was in London for a while to try and learn how to use storytelling as part of the teaching of science and maths. After he’d returned to his work in South Africa, this interest of his eventually led him to put together the storytelling trip to South Africa which he asked me to come and do. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ A Fly in the Ointment

May 30th, 2020

A couple of days ago, I was in the kitchen clearing up. Suddenly I heard a voice from Paul’s study, a woman’s voice saying: ‘This is Early Years TV. I am Kathie Brodie and today I am joined by storyteller Mary Medlicott.’

‘No,’ I thought as I paused to check my sense of reality, ‘I’m not on TV. I’m here in my kitchen.’ When I told Paul about this odd event, he said his computer had been on and it was probably a fly landing someplace on his touch-screen that had brought up the item with Kathie which he keeps in one of the storage boxes on his computer desktop.   Weird!

Perhaps it was the fly that did something else too. Over these last few days, I’ve been reflecting on my reactions to the continuance of  Lockdown. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~What’s inside

May 23rd, 2020

One morning this week, there was a ring on the doorbell. The postman was there with a package. Larger  than A3, addressed to me in handwriting, what could it be? Inside was a violet-coloured, white-dotted plastic envelope with a long letter and an accompanying wadge of papers that, as I scanned through them, was like walking into a long-distant part of the past, namely those early teenage years when ones friends are the dearest, funniest, liveliest ever.

Dear, smiling friend Pam from my early teenage years had been sorting papers. Among them she’d found the ones she’d put into that plastic envelope. They included a photo of the gang we were part of, a copy of the programme for the production of Alice in Wonderland when I’d been Alice in our first year in Secondary School plus various other memory-jogging items together with, most importantly, that long letter from her: it was all such a surprise and pleasure. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Dead?

May 16th, 2020

‘Your language is dead!’ I remember it as vividly as when it happened. The voice shouted out very loudly from somewhere above my head and went ringing out across the great spaces of the Royal Albert Hall. It was a man’s voice and the brief silence that followed felt nervous and chilly. Wisely, no response came from the stage below where Welsh musician, Cerys Matthews was performing. Cerys is a Welsh speaker. She did not respond to the man who’d shouted. Instead and very wisely, she simply went on to the song she’d just announced as a song that comes from Wales and is in Welsh. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Perfect Pleasure

May 9th, 2020

As a child, I was given a small patch of garden to tend. I remember the delight when marigold seeds produced marigold flowers. Making cakes felt wonderful too. Fairy cakes, Welsh cakes or a kind of bread-cake called Bara One-Two – all very nice. My mother, an excellent seamstress herself, also got me sewing and was always at the ready to sort out mistakes or help with the hard bits like putting in zips. My father would set me word games, for instance writing a long word at the top of a piece of paper and setting me the task of seeing how many smaller words I could find in the long word. Then when I was older he’d always be agreeable to taking me into his study to search out from his bookshelves a good book for me to read. When it looked like a grown-up one with lots of difficult words, I was secretly proud and pleased that he trusted that I would and could give it a go.

Simple Gifts:

All these things I regard as gifts my parents gave me. There were many others, my mother for instance sitting patiently against the rocks down on the Parrog beach in Goodwick while I practised swimming after she’d taught me to do it. Or, years later, my father patiently sitting by my side in the car as I learned to drive it and then when we went out for driving experience, requiring me to drive at a steady 30 miles per hour just as he’d had to learn to do when driving a tank in the war. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ The Tiger-Mouse Tales etc.

May 2nd, 2020

Quite a lot of years ago, I wrote a set of children’s stories. I called them The Tiger-Mouse Tales. Each of three main characters had its own story. The tiger-mouse was an enchanting creature that could turn itself into a tiger when it wanted or needed to do so or, equally, turn back to a mouse. The blue flamingo was a beautiful bird, tall, quiet and very serene. The sea-ling was an academic busy-body of a bird, very talkative and with plenty to say. He looked like he wore a black gown as my headmaster father used to do in school.

These three creatures, the tiger-mouse, the blue flamingo and the sea-ling, had literally appeared to me in a dream. It was because I was so fascinated by them that I wrote that set of stories about them, printed them out and gave copies to various children I knew. But I never did anything else with them.

This week, the stories have returned to my mind. They did so because, the other day, my cousin on my mother’s side of the family asked me about the grandfather we have in common. Neither of us had consciously ever met him. But I was delighted to tell her what I knew of him from my mother for he always sounded to me like a delightful man. He was Scottish, he grew up in Oban on the West coast of Scotland and, like his father before him, he became a journalist renowned for the speed and clarity of his shorthand. The long latter part of his working life was spent working on the Pembrokeshire newspaper, the Western Telegraph. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Lockdown lifters

April 25th, 2020

I’ve been missing my Pembrokeshire sea. I’m going to be missing it more and more. Each time I read in my newspaper about how long Lockdown is likely to last, the predicted length gets longer and longer. It’s vitally necessary but oh dear! Today, looking for distraction in my file-box of Songs, Poems and Sayings, I came across this lovely short poem by the American poet, Carl Sandburg:

The sea-wash never ends
The sea-wash repeats, repeats
Only the old strong songs
Is that all
The sea-wash repeats, repeats

Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ The boredom

April 18th, 2020

I’m currently doing a lot of cleaning of shelves, a job that also involves sorting whatever lives on those shelves.

I’m making phone-calls to friends, some to friends abroad I don’t often get to speak to, some to elderly friends I think might be feeling lonely in the current circumstances.

I am continuing with my writing. The story I’m working on right now is about a man who, as a boy, was conspicuously shorter than his friends and stayed shorter than the norm as the years went on.

I am thinking about which publishers to contact to see if I can interest one or other in taking on the collection of stories in my recently self-published book, The Uses of ‘a’.

I am walking round our garden, enjoying seeing what’s coming up, admiring what is already up and attending to the occasional weed.

I am taking a daily walk. It’s generally a short one because my left leg remains painful. But, hey, at least it’s a walk.

I am turning to the Guardian crossword each day. It’s the Quick Crossword I attempt, sometimes with good success, sometimes with almost none.

I am also doing some reading. The book I’ve just begun is another Thomas Hardy novel, A Laodicean. It’s one of his least known. I’d never been aware of it at all until recently.

I cook supper every evening. The cooking is currently not inventive, but at least I put my mind to it.

And, dear friends, I am bored. I can admit it. I must admit it. Bored out of my mind. It’s the staying at home that does it – or as close to home as the powers-that-be have instructed. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Hand

April 11th, 2020

In these strange times, books can offer some more than usual solace. A good friend of mine and I are the only members of what I might call a Book Pair. It’s not a club, it’s just us two. But it operates just like a book group. We choose a book, we read it and then we talk about it. In our case, the talk takes place on the phone because we live in different towns. And it’s a real delight, the pleasure of it for me increased because as a translator by profession and well renowned too  – Margaret Costa is her name and she translates from Spanish and Portuguese – my friend really cares about books. Instead of gliding over them as so many people do, she is delightfully observant about them.

The most recent book we decided upon to be read by us both was one by Thomas Hardy. We had already re-read and discussed several of the well-known books by him. Now we chose The Hand of Ethelberta. It’s not a book of Hardy’s that’s often mentioned and she’d not read it before. I had – and for one obvious reason. Ethelberta in the novel becomes a professional storyteller. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ High and low

April 4th, 2020

It’s felt like a very strange week. Highlights include standing outside on Thursday at 8 p.m. clapping for the NHS and its workers. Most people on our street were joining in and it  felt like a real togetherness, a solidarity of gratitude. For me personally, the gratitude is enormous. After four cancers in my adult life, I’m still here.

Blue skies up above today and for several previous lovely days have felt feel like they’re assuring us that Spring is really on the way if not already here. As well as the cowslips in my garden (one of my most-loved flowers), there’s a large patch of the bluest grape hyacinths and the primroses are doing well. Things can’t be bad.

Friends who’ve rung up to keep in touch during this awful lockdown period have felt like they in themselves are much-needed evidence of the continuance of life and love and the enormous value of contact.

But the most exciting single event of the week – and this because of the memories it’s bringing back – was having my attention drawn to a gorgeous review of my new book, The Uses of ‘a’, in Facts and Fiction magazine. I saw with amazement that this review had been written by John Pole, a fine songwriter, storyteller and Punch and Judy artist who used to come along to my storytelling courses years ago. We’ve not been in touch for a very long time. Now I hope the contact can be renewed. I’ll be ringing him up shortly. Read the rest of this entry »