Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Horrid Lockdown

People will have found different ways to occupy themselves during Horrid Lockdown. For Horrid Lockdown is what I must call it. OK, I know it’s been vital to help protect the health of the nation. And health of the nation means health of us all as individual people. Covid has ended the lives of too many.

But for me for one, Lockdown has been Horrid with a capital H because it has meant an absence of people. No friends coming for coffee or tea or supper or to stay. Communication only by phone or letter. Joyfully, lovely friend Sal has helped saved my sanity with several actual handwritten letters. 

In general, though, Lockdown has felt like a desert. OK, I’ve greatly appreciated the phone calls, making them as much as receiving them. I’ve also appreciated the fact that Lockdown has got me cleaning bits of the house I might never otherwise have noticed. And then there’s been reading. That’s been a huge saving grace – not necessarily that I’ve read a whole lot more than usual but that I’ve valued it so greatly.

Currently on the go is a little-read 19th century novel (actually in two volumes in the form in which I’ve got it). A friend who is a great reader began it and quickly gave it up as too boring. But I’ve kept on going and am enjoying it, perhaps spurred on in a perverse kind of way by the fact that it’s a book hardly anyone reads despite its having been written by George Eliot of Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss fame. This work of hers is Romola and I note that I’m only the seventh person to borrow it from the London Library (of which I’m a member) since 1994.

Perhaps a reason why I’m enjoying Romola is that it is set in Florence. OK, the time when it’s set is way back in 1492. So no contemporary interest there. But reading a book that’s set in Florence brings back all kinds of delightful memories for me. It’s where, while at University, I spent a whole summer with the purpose of learning Italian. For although I was a student of English, studying a modern foreign language was also a requirement. I was pleased with my choice of Italian. I loved the language and I loved Florence. Thinking about it now brings back delightful memories, one of which is of an Italian man who was a fellow guest at my pensione. This man (who spoke no English) decided to pretend that I was his queen and he was my carrozza, my carriage. Developing this notion at meal-times, he would inform me, in Italian, about all kinds of places round Florence where he pretended he’d carry me. So he not only improved my knowledge of where I was, he was a decided boon in helping me improve my Italian. At meal-times, besides, he was what I can only call a hoot.

Lockdown, Shmockdown. Thank goodness for friends even when they’re only on the phone. Thank goodness for happy memories. And thank goodness for reading.

PS: My top image speaks for itself. The bottom photo is of the London Library.

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4 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Horrid Lockdown”

  1. Hilary Minns Says:

    Hello Mary,
    I’m ashamed to say I haven’t tackled Romola, especially since I live in George Eliot’s birth town of Nuneaton. However,I have managed all 497 pages of Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant and I’m pleased to report that it’s a very splendid book, witty and clever, and I think on a par with Trollope at his best. Now tell me why I’ve never heard of this writer before? She lived from 1827 – 97 and wrote almost 100 novels and no end of works of non-fiction, mostly about inequality and the place of women in British society. Worth a Google!

  2. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Hi Hilary, I’m intrigued by your reference to Marjorie Oliphant. I’ll have to look her up. Meantime, it’s lovely to ‘see you again’ (as it were) in your comment on my blog. As for Romola, I can’t say I’d recommend it as a ‘must read’. But I rather like books that are not regarded as the author’s ‘best’: it’s fascinating to see how the author’s approach and techniques come through. Perhaps I also see it as an encouragement to myself – as in, this might not be my best but it counts as writing.

  3. Aliya Dani Says:

    I have been told you have a really cute way of gathering children in your Montessori/nursery class?

    I am doing my literacy module in my Montessori course and would like to take your idea of gently walking around and inviting the children who are interested. I would need to reference this. can you help?

  4. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Dear Aliya,

    It’s not really possible to ‘reference’ something that will have been passed on orally. ‘It’s storytime, it’s storytime'(repeated many times) is a little chant I’ll have introduced into dozens, perhaps hundreds, of storytelling workshops I’ve given. I may even have written about it some time or other. But what I must emphasise here is that it is an oral device, something that is chanted and that one hopes gets passed on. Since I know I created this particular little chant, I suppose you can simply attribute it to me, Mary Medlicott,Storyteller. All the best, Mary

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