Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Riddles, rhymes, sayings’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ Miss Ellany (otherwise known as Miscellany)

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Miss Ellany (otherwise known as Miscellany) is where my mind is right now. Maybe it’s in consequence of getting to the end of my radiotherapy sessions (just one more to go on Monday). At present, this feels like being let out of school – and it just occurs to me that, of course, next week is half-term. Besides, on Monday it is my birthday.

So it’s time for some fun. For starters, Miss Ellany offers you two of my favourite jokes.

Joke 1:

One day, the elephant met a little mouse on his way through the jungle. The elephant looked down at the mouse and asked the mouse this question: ‘Why am I so big and strong and you’re so small and weak?’ The mouse replied without hesitation: ‘I’ve been poorly.’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Finding a Line

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Finding a line is what I do. But what does focusing on the line leave out? Last week’s story here in this blog was about two girls who were transformed by the King of the Deep into seagulls, eternally destined thereafter to fly between land and sea.

The two birds began to make a little line in my mind. By Thursday, delving into nursery rhymes for a piece I am writing, I found myself considering that clever little verse, so fascinating to children when it’s done with hand actions:

Pete and Repete sat on a wall.
Pete flew off.
Who was left?
Repete.

There are numerous variants of this rhyme. But whatever one is used, one thing is certain. With children, it has to be repeated again and again.  And again. So, my child’s heart still present within me, it was lovely for me yesterday morning when Paul called me to the bedroom window in our house here in Wales. Crows were flying into and over the big old tree in our neighbour’s back yard. Always they arrived in pairs, settling in the tree, then perhaps moving position, then apparently in the shared whim of a moment sailing out into the windy grey air. Paul commented on how they must be enjoying their aerodynamics – or was it aerobatics? (more…)

Storytelling Starters – Where Words Can Take You

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Walking across Green Park a few days ago, a friend and I were bemoaning how dusk comes too early at this time of the year. Then we cheered up by reminding ourselves that, by now, the days are already drawing out.

CockerelA journey of words:

Cam ceiliog is the phrase that was always used by the mother of my Welsh friend, Beryl. No sooner had the shortest day gone by than she’d be reminding us how, from now on, the days would be drawing out. Cam ceiliog is Welsh for the cockerel’s step, the general inference being that, while the days get longer only bit by bit, we can all be certain that the steps do happen.

On our walk through Green Park, the Welsh phrase caused some discussion. Could there be any connection with the Scottish word, capercaillie which so brilliantly summons up the idea of stepping? Next day – for the friend in question was the renowned translator, Margaret Jull Costa – I got an email from her elucidating this question. Any connection between ceiliog and capercaillie? ‘No,’ she said, detailing the relevant etymologies, ‘no connection at all.’

However, word-expert and word-forager as my friend is, I received another email from her a day or two later. This one referred to the fact that, on our walk,  I’d happened to say that ceiliog, the Welsh word for cockerel, reminded me of Kellogg’s, the company that makes Cornflakes and so many other breakfast cereals.

Ah now! Margaret had pursued this link and was now writing to tell me it wasn’t just me that had seen a connection between that Welsh word for cockerel and Kellogg’s. Someone else had done exactly the same quite a few years ago: none other than the world-famous harpist, Nansi Richards, who died back in 1979. Evidently, during a harp-playing tour in the United States, Nansi Richards had at one point visited the home of Will Kellogg who, at the time, had been looking for a marketing emblem for his company.

And what had he finally chosen? Why, a cockerel. And why did he choose it? Well, according to the story, because Nansi Richards had told him how his surname, Kellogg, reminded her of the Welsh word, ceiliog. So that’s how the cockerel became the Kelloggs emblem and although Wikipedia says the story may be apocryphal, I like it – and even more so  because that same Wikipedia entry led me to another intriguing association. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Health and Hope

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

P1080475 

Dear friends, this is to wish you a Happy Christmas and a healthy and hopeful New Year. The photo above was taken this week on Whitesands Beach in North Pembrokeshire. The two children in it are standing on a rock which I’ve been seeing since my own childhood. Last year, a storm had scoured out so much sand from the beach that we saw how huge the rock is when you can see all of it.  We saw the very bottom of it. By now, it is just that smallish hump of stone again. I like to think that Dewi Sant, the Patron Saint of Wales, must have seen this rock too. When I think about him, I like to remember that, at the end of his life, he told his friends to remember to do the little things. What he meant, I think, was to remember the kindnesses we can all do. This feels like an important message to us all amid the upheavals and horrors of our world today. I pass it on with my best wishes and love. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The power of perfume

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

P1080432This week on an afternoon walk, I passed the two bushes in my photos. The first is lavender, the second I’m not sure of. But from each, a beautiful perfume came out. Each made me think. ‘If only I could somehow encode that perfume and send it out on my blog this week.’ Might that ever be possible? Perhaps – but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as good as the real thing.

Then I started to wonder. ‘Do I know any stories where perfume is important?’ The question made a good accompaniment to my walk as it started to rain.

Perfume from India:

First I thought about the story of Ganesh, the Hindu god. When his mother Parvati made him, her husband Shiva was away and she was lying in her bath, scraping off the soaps and creams she’d  applied to her body. From the little ball she rolled them into, she began to mould a little boy. The little boy quickly became alive and immediately began to grow. By the time his father returned, the boy was guarding the door of the bath-house. Of course, his father did not know who he was and, angry at seeing an intruder claiming to be Parvati’s protector, he summarily cut off the boy’s head.

And the rest – how the boy then gained his elephant head and became the much-honoured Ganesh –  is, according to your taste, a matter of religion, myth or story. There’s nothing specifically about perfume in it. But I reckon that, as Ganesh is the god that helps people with their problems, he is undoubtedly perfumed with kindness. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Enduring Friendships

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

P1080298Two wise sayings ring through my mind as I write this. The first I heard earlier this week. I was  coming out of my local Sainsbury’s shop with a copy of the day’s Guardian newspaper under my arm. The front-page headline was about Donald Trump and when the Security Guard at the shop door saw it, he made a suitably disparaging remark which led to us having a long conversation.  The conversation came to an end with this remark, all the more memorable for the rich Jamaican tones in which it was said:

‘No one is intelligent by size but by heart and by reason.’

The second of my wise sayings was said to me on 24th October exactly ten years ago. And why do I remember the date so well? Because 23rd October is my birthday and this remark was made to me on the following day. You’ll see why from the story below. It’s a personal tale, one of a collection of such tales I’ve been writing. Enduring Friendships is the title I’ve given this one – and with a modicum of intelligence you’ll be able to work out from it exactly how old I’ll be tomorrow. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Eggs

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

Cracking eggs into the mix for a fruit-cake yesterday morning, my thoughts turned to the current situation of a young friend. Suddenly I found myself thinking: ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’ So appropriate did the old saying seem to the circumstances I was considering that, as I added the flour to the mix, I began to remind myself of the story behind the adage.

Bunny and hornDon’t put all your eggs in one basket:

On a lovely Spring day, a lovely young country girl is tripping down the lane towards her local town, a basket full of eggs on her arm. And as she goes she is thinking. When she’s sold the eggs at the market – and she’s bound to sell them for they’re lovely fresh eggs – she’ll have enough money to spend, just enough, to buy a pretty new ribbon for her hair.

And when that pretty new ribbon is in her hair, she dreams,  she’s sure it will please the boy that she fancies. The boy likes her already, she’s quite sure of that, but when her hair is bedecked with that pretty new ribbon, she’s sure he’ll like her even more. In fact, he’s bound to ask her out for a walk and, when he does, he’ll surely want to see her again and before long, she’s  certain, he’ll be asking her to marry him. She knows she’ll say yes and she also knows that when they’re married, they’ll make a cosy home and have lots of children.

But it’s just here in her thoughts that this young girl trips. Oh no! It’s that tree-root sticking up out of the path that does it. Her basket goes flying, the eggs go flying and after she’s picked herself up, she is horrified to see that every one of the eggs is broken. So that’s it: no market, no sales, no ribbon, no lover, no marriage, no children.

Another view: (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ By the Way

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

P1070773Keep a storytelling notebook? It’s a good idea. It can become a little storehouse for all kinds of odd and wise sayings, proverbs, tongue twisters, thoughts and poems. I looked in mine the other day hoping to find the words of a song I simply  couldn’t remember. Annoyingly, my notebook didn’t yield them. Even more annoyingly, I couldn’t find them anywhere else – not for ages and ages. 

And meantime? I’d so much enjoyed going back through my notebook,  I decided to pick out some of the things there for this week’s blog. I do hope you enjoy them. Even more, I hope you’ll find one or other item useful  – perhaps as part of introducing a storytelling session, perhaps as a filler between two stories or maybe simply as an entertainment, something to say over supper. 

So in no particular order (as they say on Strictly Come Dancing), here they are. And by the way, the photos accompanying them this week are of some very gorgeous art that has recently gone up on street walls near me – literally by the way.

A daft joke:

    Two old women fell down a hole. Question: How did they get out?

    Answer: One of them had a ladder in her tights. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ In my beginning is my end

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

P1070042A young woman asked me the other day: ‘How do you end a story?’ It’s a very good question! The first point I made in reply was the one I feel to be the most important.  

Facing up to the silence

In storytelling, you have to recognise from the very beginning that there’s going to have to be an end to whatever tale you are telling. It may come after ten minutes, an hour, several hours or even days. But an end will have to arrive and after the end, there will be a silence. Unavoidable? Yes. Uncomfortable? Only if you’re not ready for it. Long or short, that ensuing silence should be part of the magic. Be ready for it. It’s one of the interstices between the world of story and the world of here and now. There’s a lot of power in it. Sometimes you have to be brave to face it.

Preparing the last sentence (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Tongue-twister time

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

P1070071This last week has been full of ups and downs for me – cooker problems, tap problems, computer problems, all kinds of problems. The weather has been up and down too – wet and windy and very chilly, then sunny and a bit less chilly.  So I think it’s the right time for my favourite  tongue-twister. Maybe I’ve introduced you to this one before but it seems to suit with my week.  After all, weather is not only that stuff outside. It can refer to how you are feeling too.

So please get practising this: 

Whether the weather be fine or whether the weather be not, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether it be fine or not.

The note of determination is me being optimistic!

Next week will be my report on my storytelling day at St Stephen’s School next Wednesday. (more…)