Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘All ages’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ Dream and Imagination

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

Long ago, the top room of our house became known as the Dream Room. Lodger after lodger who lived there – and our lodgers were mostly good friends in need of a place to live for a while –  reported on the extraordinary dreams they had there. Perhaps it was something to do with the shape of the room, the sloping ceilings and the little casement window looking out over the garden.

Or perhaps it was the sense of being high up, far away from the business of the house down below. Or perhaps it was a sense of security in which you could float away into the colours of dreams without worrying whether you’d ever get back.

It has been one of the pleasures of living in this tall terrace house that when you’re at the top of it, you are far away from the life at the bottom, the cooking and eating and sweeping and talking. I probably haven’t ever spent enough time up there to really relish the sense of security it gives. But I’m pleased  to have been able to extend the space to others. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Any old bones?

Saturday, September 12th, 2020

The rag-and-bone man regularly came round the streets of Fishguard where I grew up. We kids would be playing Jacks on the front doorstep or What’s the Time, Mister Wolf? round on Victoria Avenue and we’d hear the rumble of his cart, look up and see his tired-looking horse and hear his echoing cry as he went on up the street. ‘Any old rags?’

The rag-and-bone man was a small, thin man as if he was nothing but bones himself. I suppose he did collect bones as well as rags. But I have no memory of that. However, I do have a special memory of bones from later, probably my young twenties, when Paul and I were in Corfu, staying in a house we’d rented out in the sticks. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Hip-hop

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

In my life, there’s been the Hippy-Hippy-Shake: a dance we did all the time in our teens. Then there were  hipster jeans and there were hippies who sat round smoking pot. But today the mere thought of hips brings back to mind the hip operation I’m to have a week on Monday. Am I apprehensive? Yes – even though everyone who’s had one tells me it’ll be fine and afterwards I’ll be running around like a new young thing.

Right now though, as I think about this blog, it’s not just the hip op that comes into my mind. Probably that’s because the apprehensive condition of my mind has started it running onto anything and everything that could include hips.  So for instance in comes that well-known folk song that I  well remember from when Common Ground (Helen East, Kevin Graal and Rick Wilson) used to sing it in storytelling sessions. In it the lonely old woman is sitting alone at her spinning wheel as into the room, body part by body part, come all the body bits that make up the Strange Visitor. First comes the great big feet, then the pair of thin thin legs followed by the great big muscly body which in my imagination now includes great big hips. And as all the body parts accumulate, the old woman asks the strange visitor why. Why have you come here? FOR YOU is the threatening answer. But of course this particular old woman is not to be overwhelmed. Up she gets and grabs a stick and beats the strange visitor out of the room even while, as at the start of the song, she goes on wishing for company. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ And in Bangalore!

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

I first heard from Swati Kakodkar, a storyteller in Bangalore in India, some five years ago when she wrote to me about storytelling. While we’ve had some good face-time I have often thought how much I would like to be able to meet her in person. Maybe one day that chance will arise! Meantime, to complete (for now!) my little series on storytelling spreaders, here’s some of what Swati has achieved.

As well as being the busy mother of a son and cooking for the family, Swati is a management professional who has worked in the areas of Brand Building and Corporate Communication. She is also a certified storyteller who holds a Diploma in Storytelling from Kathalaya Academy of Storytelling in India, an institution affiliated both to the University of Sweden and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. In 2013, Swati founded Story ki Bory, into which she has poured all her varied experience. When I asked Swati the meaning of Story ki Bory, she answered that ‘bory’ means ‘sack’ in Hindi. So Story ki Bory means a sackful of stories. But the vision behind it is wider than any sackful. As Swati describes it,  the vision is ‘to make a definite difference and create a positive change through the transforming energy of stories and storytelling’.

Here are some of the different parts of Swati’s Story ki Bory project. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Too hot?

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

To me it has felt so hot over the last several days, it has almost been too hot! The sunshine and the heat have reminded me of a Chinese story I’ve told in this blog before. Back in 2013 in fact. (Phew! Have I been doing blogs since then?) Anyway, I think the story is worth retelling today since in the context of today’s concerns, the overheating of the earth is very much a current concern.

Too too hot

A long time ago, there wasn’t just one sun in the sky. There were six. In summer, in consequence, the earth became extremely hot. Too hot! (more…)

Storytelling Starters: What next?

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

What next? Ever ask yourself that question? I often do and this is because it often feels like there’s too much to do. Worse, it sometimes feels as if between all the things I’d like to do and the things I’ve got to do, the things I’d like to do get so far pushed to the back that they don’t get done at all.

Now, though, things are changing. After what seems like forever dealing with health issues, treatment for my fourth episode of cancer has come to an end and, for the moment anyway, I feel quite free.

So will it be writing more fictional stories as in my most recent book, The Uses of ‘a’? Or will it be continuing a kind of memoir of my storytelling life that I started and then left aside,  a book provisionally entitled A Storyteller’s Tale?  And what about Animal Antics, another project I conceived (and actually drafted out)  a little while ago?

Animal Antics is an animal alphabet, an A-Z of stories for children in the 8 to 12 age-range. This week, I took the step of asking Sarah Williams, a brilliant young artist friend of mine in Pembrokeshire,  if she would consider doing the illustrations for these stories. Hurray, she has said yes and has already started on them. Soon we’ll have a fine proposal to put to a publisher. And the next adventure will be finding one! (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Dead?

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

‘Your language is dead!’ I remember it as vividly as when it happened. The voice shouted out very loudly from somewhere above my head and went ringing out across the great spaces of the Royal Albert Hall. It was a man’s voice and the brief silence that followed felt nervous and chilly. Wisely, no response came from the stage below where Welsh musician, Cerys Matthews was performing. Cerys is a Welsh speaker. She did not respond to the man who’d shouted. Instead and very wisely, she simply went on to the song she’d just announced as a song that comes from Wales and is in Welsh. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Lockdown lifters

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

I’ve been missing my Pembrokeshire sea. I’m going to be missing it more and more. Each time I read in my newspaper about how long Lockdown is likely to last, the predicted length gets longer and longer. It’s vitally necessary but oh dear! Today, looking for distraction in my file-box of Songs, Poems and Sayings, I came across this lovely short poem by the American poet, Carl Sandburg:

The sea-wash never ends
The sea-wash repeats, repeats
Only the old strong songs
Is that all
The sea-wash repeats, repeats

(more…)

Storyworks Blog ~ Conditions of life

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

It’s odd how, from time to time, literature and life come closer together than you expect. I’ve just been reading a fine and thought-provoking book which the Book Group to which I belong had chosen as our next book.  Go, Went, Gone is by a German writer, Jenny Erpenbeck. It has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, it’s about immigration and it has made me think a lot about the lives of people in a foreign land, separated from their families and full of hope for a better life.

Go, Went, Gone and its themes were still strongly in my mind when Paul and I organised for a house-cleaner to pay a three-hour visit to our house. My recent ill-health meant that the visit was much-needed and now here she was, a shy, delightful young woman who turned out to be an excellently thorough cleaner. In the course of conversation with her, I asked her where she was from. Her reply was Eritrea. I also learned a bit about her husband. And where is he? In Sweden. (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…)