Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Retirement?

Retiring and retirement are interesting. Sometimes they turn out to be boring, sometimes full of good new things. This week, a good storytelling friend, Jean Edmiston, has announced her retirement from working as a professional storyteller. This has brought lots of thoughts to mind.

First, it has made me remember how Jean and I  first met.  It was in the Ladies Room of the Drill Hall Arts Centre in Chenies Street in Central London. It was nearly time for the start of one of what had become known as the Drill Hall Storytelling Workshops and Jean and I were both washing our hands. The Drill Hall workshops were the four-hour long sessions I used to put on in the late 1980s and early 1990s with friend and colleague Karen Tovell. Monthly things that used to happen on Saturdays, they attracted fascinating people (including on one occasion a Town Crier) and in terms of story, they proved powerful events, full of all kinds of story and different ways of exploring them.

On this particular Saturday, I was in the Ladies Room and there beside me was Jean with her long dark hair and her lovely Scottish voice. How many years have gone by since? By now Jean and I  have shared so many stories, so many phone calls, so much about our personal and professional lives. I want to wish her all the very best in her retirement which, I think, will be not quite the ‘gold watch’ kind of retirement that occurs for so many people. For a start her daughter, Amanda, is following in her tracks. Amanda is a herbalist and also a storyteller. They will have so much to share.

Second, Jean’s announcement has brought to mind the retirement of my father and what it enabled him to do. My father, D.W. James, was a headmaster. All his working life he’d been in schools, first as an English teacher and then in charge of Ysgol Dewi Sant, the Secondary School in St David’s in Pembrokeshire. He’d always said that when he retired, he was going to write a book. I’m not sure that I believed him. For years, he’d been writing lots of articles, mainly history pieces about the St David’s area, and he’d been sending these to various periodicals and getting them published. But a book?

Day One of retirement, my father began his research for his book. It included many visits to fascinating people in the St David’s area, hours of research in the library of St David’s Cathedral, all kinds of consultations with professors of history and others. So this retirement wasn’t much of a retirement at all. The book that resulted, St David’s and Dewisland, became a new beginning. It was followed by another, Twice to St David’s, the title reflecting the widely-held belief  in the Anglican church that two pilgrimages to St David’s were equal to one to Rome.

Retirement can release all kinds of energies which hadn’t previously had time for expression. And of course it can be time to relax.

Very best wishes to you, Jean.

PS: I see Jean as a Storytelling Spreader. More Spreaders next week.

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3 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Retirement?”

  1. Jean Edmiston Says:

    Hi Mary — thank you for the blog mention xx- feels strange seeing my name and picture on the page. — Absolutely no gold watches and officially retired maybe — but forever and always a storyteller — ‘ once upon a time there was a storyteller — and story goes on ———- 3 wee books in the pipeline — and feeling light and free to evolve into next storytelling manifestation —– talk soon — with love Jean x

  2. Karen Tovell Says:

    “What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.”
    (Lao Tzu)
    Fly, Jean, fly and enjoy every second of your retirement. Kxx

  3. Fiona Says:

    How lovely to see this picture of Jean
    I haven’t seen you for years, Jean, but you look just the same! I have so many happy memories of those creative workshops.

    Mary and Karen worked miracles and created many friendships between people at those workshops, as well as deepening friendships with stories!

    All the very best and good wishes for being retired without being retiring!

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