Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Age Range’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ That tree is ours.

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Busy

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Deleafing

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Loud listening

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

I love rugby. (I’m Welsh after all.) So of course I watched the final of the Rugby World Cup, England vs. South Africa. In his comments on TV immediately after his team won, Siya Kolisi, the black captain of the South African team, said he hoped their win would help bring his country together.

I felt very moved, first by the unboastful way he spoke, then by all the memories that began flooding into my mind, particularly memories from my five-week storytelling trip to South Africa in 1992 not long after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Blade and bell

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

A week ago, Paul and I went to a Memorial Service for a great and important person – the world-renowned tenor, Kenneth Bowen. We’d got to know him because of my Aunty Mali (yes, the redoubtable one). Kenneth used sometimes to go to call on her when he visited Fishguard, where he’d spent many family holidays in his youth. One huge love they had in common: music. And one aspect of music in particular: voice.

Qualities of voice

At the Memorial Service, each of Kenneth’s two grandsons sang. I was immediately reminded of the qualities of Kenneth’s voice.  How it could command attention. What an edge it had. (I think this is what singers know as blade.) But also what tenderness it could have, what beauty, what resonance, as if it was holding you within its embrace. (And this, I think, is what singers call bell.) (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Autumn leaves

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

You know what it’s like! You’ve got to make a decision but so many options are swirling round in your mind you find it impossible to choose. Well, it’s just like that this week. As I sit down to write this blog, too many different options present themselves. For one thing, I want to write about the gorgeous colours of Autumn leaves I just saw when taking a walk round my local streets.

Choices: a journey

(more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Tangled webs

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

So there I was, starting to think about ‘tangled webs’ as I whisked away the many cobwebs around and between the cacti on our conservatory windowsills. What busy bees those spiders must be, I thought, even as I mixed my metaphor.

Since then, I’ve been thinking more about the complexity and thickness of the webs that life is inclined to weave around us. You don’t notice the weaving when it’s going on and suddenly the webs are all there to be dealt with. For me, the coming days involve such a variety of different ones. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ On the bus

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

Upstairs on the bus home yesterday, I noted that the two women sitting in front of me were chatting away in a language I didn’t recognise. My immediate reaction was to feel pleased that another language than English was being spoken with no inhibition on a London bus.

But even as I felt that pleasure, I remembered an incident from a few years back when I was attending a Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The concert included a number of different performers, one of whom on this occasion was harpist and singer Cerys Matthews. Introducing items she was about to perform during one of her turns on stage, Cerys said one of them would be a Welsh jig with Welsh words. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Why books?

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Depressing news came this week. Gomer Press is closing its publishing operation so far as general books are concerned. In future, it’s going to concentrate on what can be described as fine books or art books. The news is sad for me personally. Gomer published one of my father’s books, Twice to St David’s, and it has published several of mine  – Open Secret, Elephant Luck and Shemi’s Tall Tales. But there’s a bigger sadness behind the news. Gomer has been Wales’s biggest independent publisher. Closure of its general publishing enterprise raises several important questions. It’s an important cultural outlet. Who will take on the kind of work it has been doing?

But behind that immediate question lies another bigger one. Are books going out of fashion? Is the need for books diminishing? Of course, the internet has changed things. But there are many, many people (including me!) who would insist that books are essential. Books are vital conveyors of ideas, knowledge and story. To hold one in your hand becomes such a deep pleasure that, for anyone who loves books and sees their value, the idea of doing without them is both alarming and shameful.

If I had to try and crystallise why physical books are so important, I think it’s to do with the fact of the actual book being something so immediately available and long-lasting. You can hold it. You can have it by your bedside or on your table. If you choose (which I never do), you can underline things in it or make a note about it on a blank page at the front. You can place it where you please in your big or small collection of books. You don’t have to turn on any machine in order to be able to look it up. A book is right there (although sometimes you do have to search for it before it’s right there). You can riffle through it. You can give it as a present. You can make notes about it in your Book Journal (which I do). Even if you can’t remember who wrote it or its title, you can remember its size and shape and the colour of its cover. You can value it over your whole life. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Oh Moon!

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

The recent anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon must be the reason why, of late, I’ve made an extra special point of looking up at the moon when it’s full. It brings to mind an array of moon memories.

For instance, I think about the friend in Wales who, long ago, was given the nickname, Moon – partly, no doubt, because his first name begins with M but also, surely, because of the roundness of his face and the companionable way he smiles.

A little moon ditty:

And then again, seeing a full moon in the sky gets me recalling the little verse a friend once taught me. It’s especially good for retelling because of the expressiveness of voice it invites:  (more…)