Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Beware the storyteller

P1000220This week in Wales, we’ve had visitors, two friends from New Zealand. Showing them the delights of North Pembrokeshire, I’ve felt very conscious of the myriad  stories that come to my mind – stories from growing up here and from many years since, stories from my father who loved retelling the local legends, stories from the Sloop Inn in Porthgain where storytelling at the locals’ table is as important as the ale (-well, just about). 

Memory Walks:

Last week I talked about Memory Walks. What I didn’t say then is that they’re something Paul and I quite often do after a walk we’ve taken. Sometimes we make a written note of our respective memories, sometimes we just say them to each other. Over time, the doing of this is a wonderful way to increase the noticing that makes walks so worthwhile. This week, one thing we’ve especially appreciated is the stunning fulsomeness of the foxgloves, standing upright like sentinels on all the local hedges. Another was seeing Storm, the dog who regularly makes his own way through the woods to our local beach. A few times lately, we haven’t seen him (he’s getting old). This time, we were so happy to see him again, the dog that befriends all and sundry to the extent that he wears a medallion which says something like, ‘I am not lost. Do not take me home with you.’

P1000087Story Walks:

This week, going about with our New Zealand friends was like going on an extended version of Memory Walks – a version  that could better be described as Story Walks. Little tales from across my life kept coming to mind.  Little tales such as the time when, once on what used to be my regular walk from Caerfai beach to St Non’s and back, a large white rabbit hopped across the coast path in front of me. (And I’m sure he was checking his pocket-watch as he went). Or, recently,  the statue of St Non that had apparently fallen over and got slightly broken and, we were told, was going to have to be replaced (as it now has been) by a new one that would be ordered ‘from the catalogue’. Or my father saying, as he often did with the historian’s twinkle in his eye, that St Non’s was ‘ONE of the places where St David was born’.

I know I’m always going on about personal tales. It’s because I believe in the power of our own personal stories and how they animate our lives wherever we live. But this week my sense of their importance came home to me all the more strongly because our lovely New Zealand friends made a point of saying that they wanted not only to see this beautiful bit of Wales but to see it through our eyes, hearing our experience of it.

A fine little synchronicity:

So it felt perfectly apt that our walk on Thursday from Caerfai to St Non’s and back through St David’s ended with a fine little synchronicity which gave us all a shared tale to remember. A few days before this, Julie and I had gone into the Moshulu shoe-shop in St David’s. She wanted some winter boots to take back to New Zealand (where they’re now coming into winter). And hey presto, she saw a pair she loved – except that they were a half-size too small. Did they have a pair in the next size up? No. Was there one in stock? No, not in stock but there was one pair – and one pair only – available at another of their outlets. It could be sent. It might get here by Thursday. It would certainly get here by Friday (which would be too late for our friends, except that I’d be able to collect P1000244them and hand them over in London before they went back to New Zealand.) But if the boots did get here on Thursday, they’d arrive at about 1 p.m.

As it happened, and not really planned that way, we got back into St David’s after our Thursday walk at about 1 p.m. And as we walked into the Moshulu shop (just to check) at 1.15, what did we see? The shopkeeper had my friend’s boots in one hand, the phone in the other. The boots had just arrived and she was on the verge of ringing up to say so. Very satisfying.

Beware the storyteller:

There’s just one thing to add. I am also very aware of the danger of becoming a story-bore. Nothing worse than drowning out new experiences with old ones. Or suffocating one’s friends with one’s recollections. So here’s my note to myself: remember that stories have their right time and place. Meantime, the sun is in the sky, the foxgloves are in the hedges and there’s life to be lived.

PS: Photos this week are of cow-parsley (a good year for it), St Non (looking rather winsome and sanctimonious) and some few of the many foxgloves (this year at their very best).  

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