Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Adults’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ Time travel

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ B is for Brush and also for Bee

Friday, 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.” (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Sorting not sinking

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ How the world goes on

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

How the world rocks – and so often not in good ways. This week, I’d meant to write more about Storytelling Spreaders. And I will come back to that, I promise. But for now my intentions have been changed by an email I and many others have received from an old friend in St David’s. Christopher Taylor has had a bookshop there for many years. It’s on the little sloping street known as  The Pebbles on the way down to the Cathedral from the centre of the city (for, despite its smallness of size, St David’s has a Cathedral and as a result is officially recognised as a city). But even as I write, this bookshop is being cleared out and closed. Its lease has been ended by the owner of the property. What a tragedy for St David’s and for visitors to the Cathedral. For with the closure of the bookshop  goes something very valued as a source of literature on the history and importance of St David’s as well as a source for learning about what’s going on in the Cathedral and the area in terms of current  events. Also, very importantly, the bookshop has been a place for talk for local people and visitors, somewhere to find out things about the area in an informal way. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Retirement?

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

Retiring and retirement are interesting. Sometimes they turn out to be boring, sometimes full of good new things. This week, a good storytelling friend, Jean Edmiston, has announced her retirement from working as a professional storyteller. This has brought lots of thoughts to mind.

First, it has made me remember how Jean and I  first met.  It was in the Ladies Room of the Drill Hall Arts Centre in Chenies Street in Central London. It was nearly time for the start of one of what had become known as the Drill Hall Storytelling Workshops and Jean and I were both washing our hands. The Drill Hall workshops were the four-hour long sessions I used to put on in the late 1980s and early 1990s with friend and colleague Karen Tovell. Monthly things that used to happen on Saturdays, they attracted fascinating people (including on one occasion a Town Crier) and in terms of story, they proved powerful events, full of all kinds of story and different ways of exploring them. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Looking and Seeing

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ A Fly in the Ointment

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~What’s inside

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The Tiger-Mouse Tales etc.

Saturday, 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. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Hand

Saturday, 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. (more…)