Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~Making memories

“We never thought of telling him a story”: the comment came from a smiling young couple with a boy in a pushchair after a talk I’d given at a nursery school. It will always ring in my mind. Stories, memories, family tales: they are not always happy but they are always important.

Going on holiday

As for actual events … well, by the time you read this blog, dear reader, I will be in Corfu. Hooray! A whole week’s holiday, hopefully in lovely warm sun. The weather forecast for Corfu seems pretty confident it’s going to be glorious there. But whatever the weather it’ll be time to read, swim, lie about, be reminded of the taste of ouzo and perhaps make one or two forays to admire the scenery. 

Times past

One time when we went to Corfu before, Paul declared soon after we arrived that he’d now given up smoking. He was very grumpy. I told him to please start again at once. He could give up when our holiday was over.

Another time – or was it that same one? – we drove south from Corfu town, looking out for somewhere to stay. At the side of the road was the sign: House to rent. What a perfect place! Evidently the house (on its own, surrounded by garden and just up from the beach) was owned by a young woman in Athens. But every day her mother – we called her Mama Katerina – would come to water the trees and check the figs. Fruit after fruit  would be opened and discarded – not good enough! Then she’d give us some of the best from the small pile that had passed her approval test.

Next to the house was a large round clearing at one side of which was an aluminium hut. Between the trees that circled the clearing were clothes-lines to which were clipped such things as a dustpan and brush, a hat, a fishing net and the odd piece of clothing. We learned that this was the summer-time home of a man who mainly lived in Athens. He always looked very contented.

We felt at home as well. Mama Katerina and Basilio, her husband, invited us up to the village for supper. When we arrived, we were greeted by the delicious smell from a pot of beans slow-cooking in olive oil on the stove. But where was Basilio? Mama Katerina took us to the shed next door. Basilio was nowhere in evidence until we saw his head pop up from the most almighty cask in the corner. Then we also saw the pinkish-red liquid gurgling out from the pipe at the bottom of the cask. Basilio was treading his grapes. When we left for home at the end of our stay, he gave us two bottles of his wine to take with us.

Times present

That friendship with Mama Katerina and Basilio remains strong in my mind. We wrote to them afterwards and sent small presents. We didn’t expect to hear back and we didn’t. But that didn’t matter. They will always be a part of me, their friendship an affirmation of their simple goodness and how bonds can be formed without shared language but through smiles and actions.

Next Saturday, we’ll be back in London. Who knows? Hopefully (though perhaps rather late in the day) I’ll have a photo to share of somewhere lovely in Corfu. Or maybe there’ll be a story of someone or something else that will never be forgotten. Happy days!

PS: Essential adjunct to a holiday, the camera has become the staple provider of prompts to memory. But the story doll does just as well or better. This one was a gift to me from Society for Storytelling patron, Kevin Crossley-Holland.

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