Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Adults’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ Blockdown

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storyworks Blog: Back in time

Saturday, 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. (more…)

A fond childhood memory revisited

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ On an ordinary Sunday evening

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Lucky!

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ All Gold

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

Remember the children’s question-and-answer rhyme?

Question: What’s in there?
Answer: Gold and money
Question: Where’s my share?
Answer: Mousie ran away with it.
Question: Where’s the mousie?

And so it goes on. Except that this particular mousie is, in memory, on my bed in my father’s house in St David’s. Paul and I wake up to see it, waving at us from the top of a ruck in the duvet. ‘There’s a mouse in my bed!’ I call out loudly in a voice deliberately mocked-up so as not to alarm my father. He arrives at the bedroom door, takes one look at the situation and says, ‘I’ll leave this to you.’ Paul and I consult, reach out a Harrods plastic bag from the cupboard, shape it into a kind of tunnel, put it on the floor near the dressing table where the mouse is now hiding and make ‘Whoosh! Whoosh’ noises in its direction. And suddenly, Whoosh, the mouse runs into the bag. We take it downstairs and release it into the garden. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Doing nothing

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

I’m normally pretty good at occupying myself. Almost always there’s something to be written, a story or an article, a piece in my journal or my blog piece for the upcoming Saturday. Or there’s a phone call to make, perhaps to catch up with a friend or to make some kind of appointment, for example with the dentist. Certainly there’s always a book to be read. It might be one which my Book Pair and I have decided to read or the book for my next Book Group discussion. Or as in the case right now, it’s one of several other books I’ve myself determined to read simply because they’re by the same author as something else I’ve recently appreciated. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~You can do it

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

The article was about the artist Tracey Emin and the cancer that has invaded various parts of her body. I felt so angry on her behalf. Cancer can be a fearsome illness. Yet regarding it as an enemy is not helpful. In my experience, it’s something that has to be accepted, not welcomed but in some way understood even as it is striven against.

The fact that Tracey Emin is an artist somehow makes it feel more cruel. She is an artist. She is creative, productive, she has worked hard. How dare illness threaten such a person? Of course my own strong feeling is completely illogical. Cancer is no respecter of persons or achievement. Indeed, an artist’s creativity may be his or her own best weapon in the campaign to deal with it. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ a Marcus Rashford for storytelling?

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

My friend and fellow storyteller, Karen Tovell, sent me a story the other day. At first, the story worried me. I found it depressing. But after a while, I began to see its potential. Here’s the story.

Two young women are sharing a hospital room. One is confined to bed. She can’t get up. She’s not allowed to do so. The other young woman is able to move about. Quite often she goes to the window and, to the pleasure of the other, she describes what she can see outside. The old man inching his way down the street on his stick, the little child bounding along, the young teenage boy who is obviously practising funny steps: it’s all most entertaining and invigorating to the young woman who is confined to her bed. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Thanks to my Lucky Star

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

Apart from the positive pleasure that is brought by the diminution of pain, I can report that one of the joys of getting a new hip (left hip in my case) is that the process of recovery gives lots of time for reading. Of course, you also have to do your exercises. And it’s lovely to have more time than usual for talking with friends on the phone. But those things still leave plenty of space for reading. You can’t be doing much cooking. You certainly can’t do much house-cleaning. So, apart from taking naps (which in my case seems unavoidable), there’s plenty of time left for books

Last night, I finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. What a wonderful book! It is set on a marsh. The sea is nearby. The girl who is the main character is called Kya and until she meets a boy called Tate who also spends a lot of his time on the marsh, Kya is on her own. Her mother has gone, her siblings have gone. But the delight of the book is that Kya is immersed in the life of the marsh. By the end of the book, she will have learned to read and write and she’ll be writing books about the creatures, plants and birds of the marsh.

Meantime, the delight for the reader is to share her active joy in the life around her and the sky above. Added to all of this pleasure that represents the central interest of the book, there’s a dead body. A young man has fallen to his death from a tower nearby. Did he jump? Was he pushed? The element of mystery adds a whodunit element. But it’s one that never detracts from the central pleasures which include the befriending of Kya by Tate and, throughout, the different moods of the sky and the creatures of the marsh. The life of the marshland is increased by the presence of an old man known as Jumpin’, one of those characters you don’t want to forget even when he has died. (more…)