Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Echoes of Mary ~ Foxes and Figs

Now and then, dear readers of Mary’s Blog, the synchronisities of which you may recall Mary was very fond come thick and fast.

So it started with a letter  which arrived just before I left for Leeds last Friday. It was from John Pole the very special song writer and puppeteer story teller. He wrote that he’d only just heard of Mary’s death and wanted to send his deepest sympathy.  I was particularly pleased to receive it as when putting out word of Mary’s death I’d not been able to find a recent contact for John.

“She was such a warm, kind and caring person, always a listener as well as a teller. She did what all great storytellers do, making all her audiences her friends.”

John had joined a storytelling course which Mary ran in Tooting. Much material for this Storytelling Starters blog came from there down the years. And the synchronicity? When John had joined the course he had recognised the name Medlicott as belonging to someone who had as a pupil assisted him with the plays he produced at Westminster School in the early sixties – yes, me. And I remembered him very well, particularly for his principled decision to get out of the private and into the state system.

Second synchronicity: I well remembered Mary’s delight in John’s song Mr Fox but failed to find it in my trawl through past blogs apart from a reference that Mary had enjoyed singing it.  Fox cubs playing in the garden this weak had already made me think Mary might have liked them as a blog topic. I found a version of the song I didn’t much like on the web. So writing to John to thank him for his letter I asked if there was a version he liked and indeed if he might let me put the lyrics in the blog this week. His answers: yes and yes. First the truly wonderful Frankie Armstrong  (with whom Mary had worked) and here is a link to her singing Mr Fox  John also sent the lyrics and – synchronicity 3 – the year he wrote it was my last year at school when I helped him with The Good Soldier Schweik :

                 Mr Fox

Outside Mr Fox’s garden
Three maids playing with a golden ball
Jenny threw it up and Susan caught it
Mary bounced it over the wall
The wall is high   Mr Fox has a little red eye
In she run to fetch it back again
The garden gate stood open wide
Suddenly it was locked and bolted
Mr Fox stood just inside
The wall is high  the grasses shiver and the tall trees sigh
He said ‘I’ll keep your golden ball Miss Mary
I shall have it and here you’ll stay
You’ll keep my house and be my servant
Never stir out for a year and a day’
The wall is high his smile is cruel and his eyes are sly
Spring and summer passed like shadows
She watched the green leaves fade and fall
She walked alone in the empty garden
And Mr Fox said    nothing at all
The wall is high  never a soul come near nor by 
Three strange things he did forbid her
‘Never you touch my iron box
Never go in the thirteenth bedroom
Nor near the bed’ said Mr Fox
 ‘The wall is high   Mary  don’t you ask me why’
Mary she rose up one morning,
Found that iron box on a shelf
But of all the rooms at Mr Fox’s
Bedrooms there were only twelve
The wall is high Mary don’t you peep nor pry 
One day Mr Fox went walking
In that box she found a key
It fitted a lock she’d never unfastened
And when she opened it  what did she see ?
The wall is high   the lock said ‘Stop’ and the key said ‘Fly’
In Mr Fox’s thirteenth bedroom
A naked sword hung on the wall
In a silver bowl on the bed’s black counterpane
Mary saw her golden ball
The wall is high  the bed said ‘Come’ and the sword said ‘Die’
In she ran to fetch it back again
To snatch it off the great black bed
Out jumped Mr Fox and leapt at her
His teeth flashed white and his eyes shone red
 The wall is high
(This is a possible (extra) final verse –
Outside Mr Fox’s garden
Three maids playing with a golden ball
Jenny threw it up and Susan caught it
Molly bounced it over the wall )

What’s synchronous about figs? I hear you cry.Andy Feeley, who has been sorting our plumbing for very many years, was very sorry not to be able to come to Echoes of Mary ~ the Celebration. and when he came to do some fixing on Thursday he brought some of his figs (see rt) that Mary always loved. And yesterday Annalee Curran, one of our very closest friends who had not been able to attend either being Covid-bound came to and indeed brought most of our lunch. During which she had a text from Andy Feeley saying he had left her some of his figs too. For why? They are next door neighbours.

Thank you dear Mary for being the begetter of all this figgy, foxy storyworks.

Tomorrow to Mathri.

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One Response to “Echoes of Mary ~ Foxes and Figs”

  1. Mary Steele Says:

    Another food based syncronicity – welshcakes this time. My neighbour, a cook, occasionally brings me cakes as a reward for looking after her cat. The evening before Echoes of Mary she came over with a bag of welshcakes. She had just been given a griddle by her Welsh in-laws. She knew nothing about this, but, of course, the other person who used to bake me welshcakes was Mary.

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