Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Festive clearance

March 19th, 2018

 

With a highly unusual festive season looming under lock-down here’s a key to unlock it a bit.  I’ve still got a few copies left of my collection of short fiction The Uses of ‘a’ – and other stories. Also of A Long Run in Short Shorts , a collection of my own personal tales.

My hope is to sell them off in a little festive clearance sale.

If you’ve already read them, you might like to consider giving them as lock-down stocking fillers to family or friends.  If they’re new to you, here’s an opportunity to enjoy for yourself books which drew some lovely comments and reviews.

 

On The Uses of ‘a’ – and other stories:

‘The whole collection has kaleidoscopic variety and tremendous energy.’ John Pole, singer-songwriter, in Facts and Fiction magazine.

‘Your stories are so beautifully written and so deliciously enigmatic and so wise too.’ Margaret Jull Costa, translator of Javier Marías and José Saramago.

On A Long Run in Short Shorts:

‘A delight. It reflects a mind that’s observant, inquisitive and alert to new discoveries, and a vivid, warm personality grateful for those small, simple pleasures that brighten our — if we know how to appreciate them.” ~ Valerie Grove, journalist and author.

‘I’m savouring each story – just like unwrapping another Christmas chocolate – I’ll just have one more’. Hilary Minns, University of Warwick.

Each book now costs  £6 (down from £9.50 and £8.50 respectively) or you can get both for £11. If you would like copies, please go to www.paypal.me/StoryworksPress and add £1.80 p&p for the UK – it’s the same for one or both books.

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.

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Storytelling Starters ~ Into the bin

January 23rd, 2021

Old bag. Old hat. Old news. Old times. Old paperwork. It’s the paperwork that’s been especially on my mind this week. Slowly the papers are being sorted and wherever possible they’re getting into my wastepaper basket. For the most recent big decision made in this house has been to clear the decks, sort the papers and throw away as much as we possibly can. The storytelling gear? Well, perhaps that’s going to have to wait.

But yesterday afternoon, I sat on the little settee in my study going through a large pile of files from the past about storytelling bookings. Name and address of the venue, a note of whoever made the booking, details of how many sessions there’d be, who’d be attending the sessions and what ages they’d be, any special advice on themes for the stories, notes on how to get to the venue and what the payment would be: in quite a lot of instances, all this info is followed by my subsequent remarks on how the sessions went, interesting things said by pupils or staff and anything of especial interest that arose about the stories I’d chosen to tell. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Something for all

January 16th, 2021

A capital letter makes a lot of difference. It can make someone feel official, authentic – as if whatever they do is much more than playing about. So consider how it can categorise a person too. Is someone who writes things inevitably a Writer? What about someone who just writes? You don’t have to use the capital letter. Perhaps the writer is someone the world in general can regard as a writer. But what about someone who writes, perhaps even writes a lot, who isn’t publicly recognised as such?

I started thinking about this knotty question because of a friend of mine in Pembrokeshire. (Liz, this is you.) She writes. She writes stories, sends them off to magazines and sometimes gets them published. She also writes stories which she reads to her grandchildren. They love her stories and often ask her for another. Is this friend of mine to be regarded as a writer? Officially, I suppose not. She doesn’t fill her time with it. It’s something she does along with all the other things she does. Yet I think the world needs to think again about her and people like her. For in a way, the world has probably become too categorising, separating what’s done professionally from what’s simply but genuinely done as part of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Blockdown

January 9th, 2021

Add the letter ‘b’ and the word becomes ‘blocked’. That is remarkably apt since blocked is how it feels, as if there’s a malevolent force that now impedes me, stopping me from doing all kinds of things I really want to do. Like getting in the car and driving the six hours to my place in Wales, the part where I normally go, where I’d be spending time on the beach, striding across the sand, feeling the wind in my hair, the stretch in my legs, the air in my nostrils. OK, that’s Blockdown for you. Going to Wales from London is not allowed.

But blocked is also how it feels in regard to things I might be inspired to create.  Create? Things like I saw in a book of my drawings I came across the other day while sorting the big old cupboard in my study where I keep such things. A wooden horse, a cactus plant, a pathway between trees: they made me wonder. Why am I not making drawings now? Plenty of time to do it but I don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Storyworks Blog: Back in time

January 2nd, 2021

Overweight but very well corseted, my Aunty Mali carried herself with distinction. Grey hair pulled into a bun, invariably smartly dressed and shod, she was well-known to many people in Wales and highly regarded as a conductor and leader of the Welsh hymn-singing festivals known as Cymanfa Ganu. She is particularly present in my mind at Christmas and New Year. Christmas Day she’d come to spend with my family and, at New Year, on several occasions she took me to the very special New Year celebrations out in the Gwaun Valley. We’d go there in Aunty Mali’s Morris Minor. It wasn’t a long journey. But for me as a child it was like going to another country.

In the Gwaun Valley in North Pembrokeshire, New Year was traditionally celebrated – and so far as I know still is – not on the commonly recognised New Year’s Eve but on January 13th, the New Year’s Eve of the old calendar. This has been so ever since the calendar changed back in 1752.  It has given me one of the memories I most treasure. Read the rest of this entry »

A fond childhood memory revisited

December 26th, 2020

As the needle hovered above the disc on the record player, I felt almost fearful with expectation. When the needle was lowered and out came the first words of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, I felt as if what I was hearing had been created especially for me. It felt as if every word had been written with intention and love to convey what it is to be Welsh and to be in Wales at Christmas time.

The ritual listening to A Child’s Christmas in Wales took place each and every Christmas when I was a child of an appropriate age to listen to it.  The lead-up was always the same. Upon leaving the house where my family lived at No. 16 Vergam Terrace in Fishguard, I’d turn left and cross the road to the first house on the other side, No 1. At the front door, I’d reach up, lift the heavy brass knocker, knock three times and wait for the sounds of Aunty Mali coming to the door, pushing the draft excluder out of the way with her foot, opening the door and greeting me with her resonant ‘Hello!’

Inside the house, the fire would be roaring in the living-room grate. Already set out on the table would be cups, saucers and plates and, in a prominent position, the big, square gramophone with, beside it, a small pile of LPs in their brown paper sleeves. I knew what I was going to hear. I was going to hear the resonant voice of the famous Welsh actor Emlyn Williams, reading Dylan Thomas’s wonderful evocation of being a child in Wales at Christmas time. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Memory of place

December 19th, 2020

A week today it will be Boxing Day. Because I don’t like boxing as a sport, I always used to feel a bit disconcerted about what Boxing Day was all about. Then I began to realise that it had nothing to do with the smashing of fists, person against person. What it meant – am I right? – was giving people bits of money in what might be called their begging box.

This year on Boxing Day I’ll be feeling deprived. Normally I’d be in Pembrokeshire and, unless the weather was absolutely ghastly, I’d surely be walking on Whitesands Beach at some point during the day. But this year, Covid restrictions have got in the way, preventing us from driving down to West Wales and staying there a week or two as we usually do. So until the restrictions relax, I’m missing my beach and the little headland where my father used to tell me how the raging monster, the Twrch Trwyth,   came rampaging onto land after its journey across the sea from Ireland. Or where, in contrast, he would also tell me how it was the place of peace from which St Patrick set out on his journey across the sea to convert the Irish people to Christianity.

Especially when the tide is out, Whitesands is a huge expanse of sand. It’s one of the places where I used regularly to go to swim when I was a teenager. In younger years, my family had stayed there for caravan holidays. Even now, it’s the place to which I return in my mind when I need to be calm. Yet, although in that sense it is essentially, for me, a place of solace and peace, it is also now in practical fact abuzz with visitors on most days at most times of the year. Surfers in wet-suits abound. Likewise people of all ages consuming ice-cream cones. Read the rest of this entry »

Going to see Father Christmas

December 12th, 2020

It’s Anniversary time. Believe it or not – and I find it amazing – this is my 500th blog. Sometimes it’s a bit of a headache deciding what to put into it. But I’m always glad when I’ve done it. To celebrate, I want to say two huge thank-yous.  One is to you reading it now. The other is to Paul, my amazingly kind and patient husband who deals with all technical issues and cheers me up if I get a bit stuck.

Appropriately enough in this Anniversary week, I’ve been given a lesson in not taking things for granted. Lockdown? Lazy? While I’ve been doing my blog each week, I’ve not actually taken a look at my main website for a while now. I’ve just taken it for granted and week by week carried on writing my blog which, of course, is associated with the website but can be read quite independently.

Then the other day I got an email from a patient person who’d been trying to locate my Christmas action chant for children, Going to See Father Christmas. This is basically a Christmas version of the well-known Going on a Bear Hunt which claims to be on my main website – but it isn’t! Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Horrid Lockdown

December 5th, 2020

People will have found different ways to occupy themselves during Horrid Lockdown. For Horrid Lockdown is what I must call it. OK, I know it’s been vital to help protect the health of the nation. And health of the nation means health of us all as individual people. Covid has ended the lives of too many.

But for me for one, Lockdown has been Horrid with a capital H because it has meant an absence of people. No friends coming for coffee or tea or supper or to stay. Communication only by phone or letter. Joyfully, lovely friend Sal has helped saved my sanity with several actual handwritten letters.  Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ On an ordinary Sunday evening

November 28th, 2020

Yesterday a printed letter from Lambeth Council was pushed through our letterbox. Addressed to Dear Resident, it described itself as written ‘in the wake of the shocking incident in your neighbourhood early on Sunday evening’.

The letter rang a loud bell for Paul and me.  Last Sunday evening, we went for an early evening walk up to the Brixton Windmill. On the way back our walk took us in part through the nearby estate where we noticed a group of policemen standing outside one of the houses. We briefly wondered whether to ask them why they were there. We didn’t. But evidently, as we now realise, their presence was directly connected to ‘the shocking incident’ that had taken place.

From the letter, we now know that in that place early on Sunday evening, ‘a man in his 20s suffered fatal stab wounds.’ What I felt on learning this is sorrow for anyone who was closely connected with him; family or friends will have been deeply shocked and grieved. I also feel sad in a different way for whoever carried out the stabbing and the consequences of it. By now, whoever it was will almost certainly have been identified and apprehended.  In consequence, they will surely be realising the extent to which they’ve spoiled their own life. Or perhaps that realisation is  yet to dawn upon them.

The letter we got from Lambeth Council was about the Council’s services in giving emotional and mental support to the local community in the wake of the stabbing. It’s reassuring that such services exist and that, as in this case, the community was being directly informed about them. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Lucky!

November 21st, 2020

I just need to say it. I’m lucky. OK, I can’t go to my beloved Pembrokeshire right now because of Lockdown. And yes the new hip I was recently given still hurts from time to time. I’m not seeing friends and, as for so many of us, that feels like an awful deprivation. I can’t go for long walks like I’ve always loved to do.

But for all the things that are wrong, I have to be glad of so many things that are right, including house and garden, nice neighbours, good friends, a phone and enough to eat.

But there’s another thing too that makes me feel lucky. Let me tell you what. Read the rest of this entry »