Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ A Moral Tale

P1080306This week it’s not a poem or a legend or a myth or a folktale. What I have is a very personal tale, and one with a moral to it. 

We went to fetch an elderly friend – I’ll call her Peggy – to come for tea with us in the village of Mathri where we have our Pembrokeshire house. Last time I was here, I’d mooted the idea and it proved a most happy time for all of us. 

Peggy is 99 years old. She is a remarkable woman, the sister of one of my childhood ‘aunties’. But I only started getting to know her on her own account after that sister died a few years ago. One of many things I love and admire about Peggy is her remarkable memory. Another is her many little tales about people and events from both past and present. They’re part of the fabric of her conversation. On Wednesday, for instance, she was talking about Mathri fair. When she was growing up, this was the great event of the year. ‘And the chips,’ she said, ‘that was the big thing about it. Chips in newspaper with salt and vinegar.’

One tiny tale Peggy told in relation to Mathri fair was about the shop at the top of the village. Now falling into rack and ruin, it evidently used to be bursting with all kinds of stuff including men’s caps. Peggy recounted how these caps were hung in a row on pegs and how the men used to go in and try them on. ‘And one man,’ she said, ‘left his old cap on the peg and went out in the new one.’

P1080319It’s all these kinds of little tales that make visits to Peggy so enjoyable. Invariably, too, she provides a lovely tea, the kettle boiled on the Aga, and always she’s keen to hear your news too. And it continues to be reassuring to learn that, 100 years old next March, Peggy still does her own shopping each Friday when a neighbour takes her to nearby St David’s.

But until this week – and this is where the moral of this tale lies – it’s always been me who visits her. This week, however, after tea in our house, Paul and I also took Peggy on a little spin round the lovely coastal places nearby, the little harbour at Abercastell, the busy little village of Porthgain, the much-loved beach at Abereiddi. These places form Peggy’s neighbourhood, integral parts of the fabric of her life. And this week, at each of them, she said the same thing, ‘I haven’t been here for years.’ And it was then I realised that, although Peggy is taken shopping every week and although there are events such as weddings to which she is invited and which she attends, she doesn’t now ever get to go to places I take for granted (and places she used to cycle to as a girl}. And why not? Because we all love visiting her.

So now I know. As Peggy said when we got her back home, ‘It’s nice to come out of the house.’

PS: Another lovely thing this week was the sunrise that got me out of the house at 6.30 a.m. to take photographs of it. The colours it cast over the land – and over someone’s washing – were most  beautiful to behold. I felt glad I’d made the effort. 


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