Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Jumping In

Perhaps it’s always like this at this time of the year. Christmas is over. New Year is coming. So you  start sorting through the detritus on your desk, clearing space for the future. You get out your new diary and, going through last year’s, note into the new one the birthdays of your friends and family for which you must send cards. Then as you continue the sorting, you perhaps turn to My Documents on your computer and, looking down through the list of folders, become engaged by all the items you can’t remember putting there. Or in my case just now, you start searching for something you definitely remember storing there but now can’t find because you can’t recall precisely in what folder you filed it away.

Specifically I started looking for Jumping In. It’s a piece I remembered writing a few years ago in which I tried to describe one of the favourite activities of myself and my friends when, as a child, I still lived in Fishguard.  Throughout the summer – indeed, from as early as April if I could get round my mother – we’d go down to the harbour in Lower Fishguard and, when the tide was sufficiently high, spend many happy hours jumping into the sea from the top of the quay.

What prompted me to remember about the jumping was moving to my computer the photos I’d taken in Pembrokeshire over this Christmas period. While doing this, I noted in particular the photos I’d taken one afternoon while, sitting on a bench on Penslade in Fishguard, I found myself looking down towards Lower Fishguard. As I took in the old familiar view, my memory couldn’t help going back to the fun we kids used to have there in those vivid old times.

But today, memory prompted, could I now locate that piece called Jumping In? Not immediately. Not for quite a while. And that’s when that old resolution surfaced, the one so familiar from this time of the year. Sort stuff out. Spend the time. It’s surely worth it. But then up came the counter-argument. But there’s so much of that stuff! Not just what’s on the computer already but all the stuff that isn’t there yet, the photos and writings and letters. Is it worth it? Have I got the time to even start?

Fortunately, that’s when I located Jumping In and, glancing through it, decided that I’d like to quote a couple of paragraphs from it here because of the fun they brought back to mind. Here they are:

“Jumping In was for showing off, for excelling yourself in front of the others. But it was also for being one of the group, for being part of a gang that soon no longer knew itself by its individual parts but was one with the livelong day and the sun. Jumping In was for achieving the ecstasy of summer. Losing yourself in the fun, no longer thinking, just acting, moving, soaring, laughing, you again and again became the bubble in the bottle, the foam on the wave, the seagull calling, the ebb and flow and the surge of the sea.

“Each jump encouraged your spirits to rise like bubbles in a bottle of pop. It made you forget about your self-conscious body, stop you bothering whether you were thin or podgy, whether you had breasts or whether you didn’t, and instead made you thrillingly aware of your blood pumping its way around you, aware of your skin as it tingled all over, aware of your limbs as they flung themselves outwards, upwards or akimbo in the very act of jumping. Fantastic! Your legs and your arms were what made the jumps good. A high sharp kick-off from your feet could improve your attack on the water and with arms held high above your head as you fell, you could increase the depth of your descent, the grace of your upward return to the surface.”

What memories!  And since the memories are so full of energy, inventiveness and fun, perhaps they are good ones to have with a new year coming along.  Indeed, checking my diary right now, I see that New Year will have come before I write my next blog. So this is exactly the right time to be wishing  you all the very best for 2019. May your story be a good one and may you make of it whatever you would like.

PS: The top photo is of Lower Town with, in the distance, the little mountain my father used to call The Pimple. The second photo is a closer view of Lower Town and the third is of the quay from which we kids used to jump in, a good place being from just in front of where the white van is parked.

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