Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Connections

And the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone…. And the leg bone’s connected to the hip bone…. And the hip bone’s connected to the back bone….

And so on. We used to chant that song of connection as kids on the school bus coming back from events away. Another similar one comes to mind: the one about the old woman who lived on her own who would sit a-spinning of a night bemoaning about how lonely she felt….

Then in came a pair of great big feet – And set themselves down in front of the fire…. And still she sat and still she span, And still she wished for company…. Then in came a pair of thin, thin legs … etc etc etc.

Also what comes to mind is that wonderful story from Aboriginal Australia about the hand that goes for a walk and when she gets to a hill longs for a leg up. So one leg comes and then another etc etc etc

Use your head:

Chanted, sung or told, all these tales end with the head. And the reason they’re all in my head now is that I didn’t use my head. Alas! Here’s my story.

My story:

On Wednesday morning I wrote a story. It was a story I’d said I’d do for ADD, the charity I support that works to help people with disability in such countries as Uganda, Tanzania and Bangladesh. Its aim is to help disabled people to come together to get support and claim their rights.

When I’d finished the story, I showed it to Paul who, as usual, made some useful edits which he marked down on the printed-out pages. A little while later, going upstairs to my study, I remembered that I’d left these pages on the kitchen table. So I turned (I’d only gone about two steps up) and the next thing I knew I was landing heavily on the hall floor. My right cheek was the last thing to land with a bang. 

Now I feel like one of the walking wounded. I am intact, no bones broken. But there are horrid aches and pulls and twists in my right side and I’m extremely conscious that the fall resulted from a moment of madness when I didn’t use my head.

‘Breathe,’ I have to tell myself now before trying to get out of a chair. ‘Remember the strength of legs.’ For legs, if you’re lucky, do have the strength to get you upright. Except that even as I write this, I’m thinking how weird it is: the child in my ADD story is a disabled child born with one short leg. In the story she eventually gets the wheelchair and supportive stick that she needs. In my case, Paul is being a brick. He’s about to bring me a cup of coffee!

PS: The Singing Sack is where I always go to be reminded of The Strange Visitor, the story of the lonely old woman mentioned at the top of this blog. Retold there by storyteller friend, Helen East, it’s one of 28 song-stories in the book which, although it was first published as far back as 1989,  remains a treasure.

The third story mentioned above was one I heard at the South Bank many years ago in an evening of Aboriginal Australian stories told by two Native Australian women who were part of a festival celebrating their art and their culture. If I remember aright, one frequent reader of this blog who lives in Australia – Meg, that’s you! – afterwards wrote to tell me she’d actually heard it told by its prime Aboriginal teller. You can find it in my blog for August 4th, 2012. In the Search box on the left of the blog, type Body Stories, then go to Body Stories/Hand.

PSS: A South American story-doll is my first illustration this week. The bottom one, suitably I hope, is a helping hand Aboriginal style.


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One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Connections”

  1. Lesley Dowding Says:

    Oh no a fall is not good.
    Hope your ok with lots of Arnica.
    Its great as tellers that story helps us become distracted from pain or incidents.

    When I think bones I think of Singing Bones by Grimm.I find it clever that the truth comes out despite all odds.
    An evil brother killing his brother and burying him under a bridge.
    What are the odds of one of the bones being found and made into the mouth piece of the shepherds horn and signing out the deadly deed when played.

    I like it for many reasons.
    Grimm actually states it came from Dortchen Wild.
    Good over evil and supernatural element.
    It can be found in
    The Miraculous Pipe in Russian Fairy tale.
    Kathrine Brigg “Binnorie “and Calvino The Peacock Feaher

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