Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Making tracks

09P1020528Last weekend, we were trying to find our way round to Door 3 of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (we were there to sing on the pitch before the Wales/Fiji rugby game). When we got to Door 5 and the way wasn’t obvious, we asked an official standing in the road: ‘How do we get round to Door 3?’ His answer made us laugh (typical South Wales humour!): 

‘One foot in front of the other is usually recommended.’

I love people’s odd little ways of saying things. In recollection, they often turn into the kind of tiny tale I find so useful in my storytelling. They come direct from people’s perceptions. They’re true-life tales – fabulous for putting into the interstices of a storytelling session as connectors, sometimes because they’re odd or funny, sometimes because they can introduce the theme of a story I’m about to tell.

Maori style:

Here’s another of those unforgettable little moments – this one from a New Zealand trip when Paul and I were on a recce to locate a Maori village where I was due to be storytelling the following day. Seeing a group of men chatting at a crossroads we stopped. 

‘Can we have some directions?’ said Paul.

‘Well, heaven’s that way,’ said one of the men pointing thoughtfully up at the sky. 

Africa style:

P1000334An old man is sitting dozing by the side of the road when a traveller comes walking along and asks how long it will take him to get to the next village.

‘Well, walk,’ replies the old man.

‘That’s what I’m doing,’ replies the traveller. ‘I just want to know how long it will take.’

‘Well, walk,’ repeats the old man.

This time the traveller is cross. ‘It’s a simple question. How long will it take? Why won’t you give me an answer?’

‘How can I know how long it will take,’ says the old man,  ‘until I see how fast you walk.’

Dylan Thomas style:

P1050017That Millennium Stadium official really got me going on the subject of making tracks! So, talking of South Wales humour, let me end this week’s blog with that wonderful remark by Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, the marvellously pernickety housewife in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood who harasses her two husbands at every turn with her fussy demands. On the occasion of this particular instruction, what she says always makes me laugh and wonder at the same time with its evocative image of the sun arriving at her house and knocking on her front door:

‘And before you let the sun in,’ says Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, ‘mind it wipes its shoes.’


My choice of photos this week had to be on the theme of making tracks. The paint-prints in the top photo were (maybe still are?) in the yard of a college round the corner from me in Brixton. The second photo I took in New Zealand – a zany display of old flip-flops (they call them jandals), all fastened to a fence out in the middle of nowhere. The third is of tracks (not sure from what!) on a Pembrokeshire beach.    


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