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’.”

If you would like a copy,  it costs £9.50 (+ £1.80 p&p for the UK), click


You might also like to get A Long Run in Short Shorts. That costs £8.50 (+ £1.80 p&p).


If you’d like both, you can get them for the grand total of  £20.30 (inc p&p). click


Just email memary.medlicott@storyworks.org.uk , to tell me if you’d like dedications.

Crisis , the charity for homeless people, will receive £1.00 for every copy sold.

Storytelling Starters ~ Dream and Imagination

September 26th, 2020

Long ago, the top room of our house became known as the Dream Room. Lodger after lodger who lived there – and our lodgers were mostly good friends in need of a place to live for a while –  reported on the extraordinary dreams they had there. Perhaps it was something to do with the shape of the room, the sloping ceilings and the little casement window looking out over the garden.

Or perhaps it was the sense of being high up, far away from the business of the house down below. Or perhaps it was a sense of security in which you could float away into the colours of dreams without worrying whether you’d ever get back.

It has been one of the pleasures of living in this tall terrace house that when you’re at the top of it, you are far away from the life at the bottom, the cooking and eating and sweeping and talking. I probably haven’t ever spent enough time up there to really relish the sense of security it gives. But I’m pleased  to have been able to extend the space to others. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Feeling blessed

September 19th, 2020

I don’t recommend it as a course to pursue – unless you need it. But being given a new hip offers much for which to be grateful. First is the new ease of movement that begins to arrive even as the hip beds in. Even before that and afterwards too is the support and affection expressed by friends.

I got back home from the Princess Grace Hospital at lunchtime yesterday feeling well and truly blessed. A remarkable surgeon, kindly nurses, a most supportive young physiotherapist whose advice and instructions continue to ring in my ears, friends who have sent flowers, cards and emails and an incalculably kind and lovely husband who even now has brought me a gorgeous cup of coffee: I feel most blessed.

And, of course, my stay in hospital has stirred the possibilities of story or two in my mind. One will have to be a story of the middle-aged man who each morning before mid-day arrived in the grassy area outside the church that I could see from my hospital window and sat down on one of the wooden benches.

Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Any old bones?

September 12th, 2020

The rag-and-bone man regularly came round the streets of Fishguard where I grew up. We kids would be playing Jacks on the front doorstep or What’s the Time, Mister Wolf? round on Victoria Avenue and we’d hear the rumble of his cart, look up and see his tired-looking horse and hear his echoing cry as he went on up the street. ‘Any old rags?’

The rag-and-bone man was a small, thin man as if he was nothing but bones himself. I suppose he did collect bones as well as rags. But I have no memory of that. However, I do have a special memory of bones from later, probably my young twenties, when Paul and I were in Corfu, staying in a house we’d rented out in the sticks. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Hip-hop

September 5th, 2020

In my life, there’s been the Hippy-Hippy-Shake: a dance we did all the time in our teens. Then there were  hipster jeans and there were hippies who sat round smoking pot. But today the mere thought of hips brings back to mind the hip operation I’m to have a week on Monday. Am I apprehensive? Yes – even though everyone who’s had one tells me it’ll be fine and afterwards I’ll be running around like a new young thing.

Right now though, as I think about this blog, it’s not just the hip op that comes into my mind. Probably that’s because the apprehensive condition of my mind has started it running onto anything and everything that could include hips.  So for instance in comes that well-known folk song that I  well remember from when Common Ground (Helen East, Kevin Graal and Rick Wilson) used to sing it in storytelling sessions. In it the lonely old woman is sitting alone at her spinning wheel as into the room, body part by body part, come all the body bits that make up the Strange Visitor. First comes the great big feet, then the pair of thin thin legs followed by the great big muscly body which in my imagination now includes great big hips. And as all the body parts accumulate, the old woman asks the strange visitor why. Why have you come here? FOR YOU is the threatening answer. But of course this particular old woman is not to be overwhelmed. Up she gets and grabs a stick and beats the strange visitor out of the room even while, as at the start of the song, she goes on wishing for company. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Impact

August 29th, 2020

Stories create bonds. Children and grandparents, children and parents, adults and their parents: you name the relationship, it probably always benefits from stories.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about a good friend here in Pembrokeshire (where I still am). Her husband, Eddie, is a hilarious storyteller with whoever is his audience. I’ve written about him before in this blog. But Eddie’s wife, Liz, is a great storyteller too, particularly with her grandchildren. I’ve never actually seen her with them. I just know from the way she talks about them and what she reports of how they respond. They ask her for a story and, hey presto, she’s telling one to them. The stories forge themselves in her mind and come out of her mouth and she delights in the process. It’s evident that those grandchildren of hers love the experience too for, very often when I see her, she talks about it – and not only because she knows that I’ve worked as a storyteller and love stories too. I think she talks about it because it’s such a satisfying process for her and she gains from the doing of it as much as do they. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Time travel

August 22nd, 2020

This morning I finished reading Virginia Woolf’s extraordinary novel, Orlando. This was my second reading of it. The first was years ago, goodness knows how many. In various different ways, it’s a book about malleability. Orlando begins as a boy and then becomes a girl and it seems that he lives in many different eras from the Elizabethan onwards. At the end of the book, he is driving a car down Park Lane. Or is ‘he’ a ‘she’ by then? In a very real way, it doesn’t matter. The book encourages us to know that, since we as human beings possess this extraordinary thing called imagination, we can travel both in time and space. And, what’s more, through reading and living, meeting people from different cultures and experiencing the world through different media such as radio and TV and the internet, we also travel within ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ B is for Brush and also for Bee

August 14th, 2020

Why a brush should ever be seen as daft (as in ‘daft as a brush’) is beyond me – though I do think Boris Johnson’s hair is daft and he is certainly as daft as a brush.

I also think that daft is a very enjoyable word. There are some things it describes better than any other word could. As an example, here’s a joke that was told to me once on a Rosslare street by a man who’d just walked down the hill to where I was standing looking round for a good pub to go to. Without a pause, he came straight up to me, shook hands firmly as if he’d been waiting for someone to greet and then immediately said, ‘Well, I’ve got a story to tell you.’ He started his story without so much as a pause.

‘Once’ he said, ‘there were two friends and they stole a calendar from a shop. As bad luck would have it, they were spotted doing it and they were apprehended and taken to court. “Stole a calendar, did you?” said the judge to the two men. “Well, that’s bad, very bad. I’m going to give you six months each.” Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Sorting not sinking

August 8th, 2020

You’re doing it too? I’m talking about sorting. Sorting with a capital S. For it’s my impression that it’s become one of the major occupations of Lockdown. Always there are plenty of things to get sorted. Clothes, books, papers, drawers, cupboards, foodstuffs … you name it, it needs doing before you sink beneath the mess of it all.

When I was sorting the piles of notebooks in the big cupboard in my study, out came two hardback notebooks labelled Coincidence. One notebook was full, the other half full and the first entry in the full one was 1st November 2007. This first entry gave an account of a series of events concerning a woman I’d interviewed for The Sunday Times for a special supplement on mental illness. The account recorded how I’d met her a number of times and, observing that she was becoming ill, had talked about her (anonymously of course) to a psychiatrist called Dr Anthony Clare who was also on my list of interviewees. When I asked Dr Clare if he thought there was anything I could do to help this woman, he advised that I tried to persuade her to go to the Maudsley Hospital. Later I learned that she did take up on my suggestion. And who was on duty at the Hospital when she turned up there? Dr  Clare of course. And for me what proved extraordinary was that he recognised her from the account of her I’d given him. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ From fame to folly

August 1st, 2020

Pwllderi is a cove on the North Pembrokeshire coast.  The way down into it is dauntingly steep. I’ve never climbed down there myself. But many times, I’ve spent time above it. The view from the top is long, all the way to the tip of the St David’s Peninsula,  and the peace is so deep that you can’t avoid feeling it deep inside you.  Funny then that a memorial plinth near the edge of the cliff  quotes lines from a poem which is all about voices. They’re the voices recalled from the boyhood of the man who wrote the poem. His name was Dewi Emrys and he grew up not far away.

Dewi Emrys wrote in Welsh and became one of Wales’ best-known  writers. After winning the Bardic Chair at the National Eisteddfod for the fourth time, the Eisteddfod rules were changed to limit the number of times you could enter. But Dewi Emrys was still a boy, 7 or 8 years old, when he came to live in Pembrokeshire at Rhosycaerau on the Strumble Head peninsula. The reason for his coming there was that his father had become the minister at Rhosycaerau Chapel. Dewi went to school first in Goodwick, then Fishguard (where I was born). When he left school, he was taken on as apprentice journalist at the Fishguard Echo. However, when illness obliged his father to give up being minister at Rhosycaerau, Dewi Emrys had to leave his beloved Pencaer area and move to Carmarthen where he got work on the Carmarthen Journal. Then, after getting very involved in reciting poetry at big Eisteddfods in South Wales, he quite suddenly changed direction when he decided to become a preacher like his father. It was an ominous move in view of the alcoholism that would later ruin his life. Meantime, so popular did he prove as a preacher that it is said that when working in Flintshire, the local miners set about arranging for a phone line to run from his pulpit down into the pit so they wouldn’t miss his sermons. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ And in Bangalore!

July 25th, 2020

I first heard from Swati Kakodkar, a storyteller in Bangalore in India, some five years ago when she wrote to me about storytelling. While we’ve had some good face-time I have often thought how much I would like to be able to meet her in person. Maybe one day that chance will arise! Meantime, to complete (for now!) my little series on storytelling spreaders, here’s some of what Swati has achieved.

As well as being the busy mother of a son and cooking for the family, Swati is a management professional who has worked in the areas of Brand Building and Corporate Communication. She is also a certified storyteller who holds a Diploma in Storytelling from Kathalaya Academy of Storytelling in India, an institution affiliated both to the University of Sweden and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. In 2013, Swati founded Story ki Bory, into which she has poured all her varied experience. When I asked Swati the meaning of Story ki Bory, she answered that ‘bory’ means ‘sack’ in Hindi. So Story ki Bory means a sackful of stories. But the vision behind it is wider than any sackful. As Swati describes it,  the vision is ‘to make a definite difference and create a positive change through the transforming energy of stories and storytelling’.

Here are some of the different parts of Swati’s Story ki Bory project. Read the rest of this entry »