Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Adults’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ What we’ve been missing

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Disgruntled is how I feel. Not about any particular person or situation. Just disgruntled – and all the more so as Lockdown trundles towards an end. On Wednesday this week, as if to emphasise what we’ve been missing, Paul and I were royally entertained to lunch by some friends, one of whom is a most fantastic cook. Thankfully Wednesday’s weather  came up trumps for, of course, we needed to sit outside for this lunch. So sit outside we did, enjoying the food, the talk, the garden and the company of two affectionate dogs. It was altogether a pleasure.

So why, you may ask, did it produce that subsequent feeling of disgruntlement (if disgruntlement is a word)? Well, only because the occasion itself was a reminder of the social life of which Lockdown has generally been depriving us. For life before Lockdown was peopled by friends. By now, we’ve probably all become acclimatised to doing without the social pleasures that friends bring. But as I was reminded of how much we’ve been missing, it did make me feel a bit sad. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Excluded

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

Reading the Guardian on Thursday morning brought back to my mind a time when I was excluded. Not from school as such, though it did happen while I was at Primary School, but from the group of friends of which I was normally a part. One morning they announced that they weren’t going to talk with me any more and they weren’t going to go about with me either, I couldn’t be part of their gang.

It hurt. I remember telling our teacher about it when she called me to her and said she’d noticed what was happening. This teacher was very pretty and very approachable. She was someone you could talk to. So when she said she’d seen what was going on, I felt I could tell her about it. I don’t recall that she spoke to the ‘friends’ who’d excluded me but at least I felt glad I’d been able to talk to her about it. Eventually I suppose it blew over. I never discovered what lay behind it though perhaps there was a clue in the fact that, during the period when they weren’t talking to me, my erstwhile friends were calling me Jezebel. This hurt. It all hurt. I was familiar with the name, Jezebel, as that of a woman in the Old Testament who attracted the hatred or scorn of others. At the time, I didn’t know why. Only now, all these years later, have I looked her up in my Biographical Encyclopaedia. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Flags or shirts?

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

It’s lovely to have a day that’s not pre-determined, a day when anything might happen. But there can also be enormous pleasure in a day where you know exactly what you’re going to do. So today I know that, barring the sky falling in or some other equally unforeseen event, I shall be sitting down in front of the TV at 2.15.

That’s when the 6 Nations Rugby programme begins today and I have to be watching because Wales is playing and by my presence in front of the TV, I feel I’ll be contributing towards the hwyl, the spirit that I think makes all the difference. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Reflections

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

I’m interested in coincidences. Not so much in why they happen but in the fact that they seem to happen to some people more than others, and that they fascinate us. The great psychologist Jung was very interested in them. As I recall he called them synchronicities. What do they tell us about ourselves and the world we live in?

Well, I don’t have any explanations. I just know I love them and enjoy them when they happen. So I was intrigued by one that occurred this week. It happened after I thought I must have lost a favourite shawl of mine and then, after much searching for the shawl and not finding it, I came across it folded up on a little-used chair in our front room. Nothing odd about that, you might say. Mislaying things happens all the time and so does finding them again if you’re lucky. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Into the bin

Saturday, 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. (more…)

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…)