Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Riddle-me-See

Cropped paperweightRiddle-me-See: this week it’s eyes. Riddle-me-See is a deliciously gruesome story. When I told it, ages back, to storyteller Kate Portal who is blind, she said she loved it, she’d add it to her collection of eye stories. But first, a word about the Comments that flooded in response to last week’s Blog.

Empathetic, innovative, optimistic, creative, sentimental, thoughtful and deliciously perfumed: so many qualities made themselves felt in the answers to Riddle-me-Rose. Look back and you’ll see.

The answer to the question – how did the gardener know which rose was his wife? – is, of course, down-to-earth. He’s a gardener. He knows that, in early morning, the blossoms in the rose-bed will sparkle with dew. The rose that is his wife does not. She’s been inside the cottage with him long enough for any dew-drops to disappear.

Karen, I think, might have known or guessed but gave her answer an innovative twist in making dew-drops into tears. Delicious clouds of perfume emanated from nearly everyone else – Jean, Claire, Sal, Larry – and, Larry, the Shakespearean reference feels very apt. Liz thought he knew his wife by looking into the eyes of the flower, for it’s in the eye that you see another person’s soul. As for Annalee’s suggestion – that the wife was the rose with a name-tag – it immediately reminded me of that extraordinary occasion some ten years after I got married when, in the course of weeding my garden, I pulled out a piece of columbine and saw, hanging from its root,  the wedding ring I’d lost eight years before. The ring glistened. I felt amazed.

Eyes: a riddle

Cropped blue eyeNow over to eyes and, first, a riddle I’ve related before. I heard it from storyteller, Taffy Thomas, and I think it’s worth repeating.

Question: What does a man have in his eye if he has a bee in his hand?

Answer: Beauty – for beauty is in the eye of the be(e)-holder.

Next, here’s that gruesome story, great for telling to older children.

A riddling story: Riddle-me-See

There’s a man who has one glass eye. He goes to a doctor in Harley Street who can apparently perform marvellously successful eye-transplants. ‘Yes,’ says the doctor, ‘I can, but you have to supply me with the eye. And it really  ought to be one that colour-matches your existing live eye.’

The man went away and did everything he could to try and obtain a suitable eye. He’d almost given up when, to give himself a break, he went on a walking holiday in Scotland. There he witnessed a terrible car-crash. Out in the middle of the countryside, a car came speeding down a nearby hill, obviously out of control, and slammed into a stone bridge at the bottom. The man ran over to it with great trepidation sensing that whoever was inside must be dead. He was right. There was one man inside, the driver, and yes he was stone-cold dead. His eyes stared out blankly from the driving seat. There was nothing to be done for him.

Cropped marbleThe man of our story began walking away when it suddenly occurred to him that, surely, the eyes of the dead driver had been the same colour as his own live eye. He went back and, yes, they were! So he took out the spoon he’d been carrying round in his pocket throughout the time of his search, leant over and scooped out the eye of the driver that was the nearest to him. Then he wrapped the eye up in his handkerchief and put it in his pocket. But just as he turned away, he thought ‘No, fair’s fair, I should give something back in return.’ So he reached up and removed his glass eye from its socket. Then he put in the space from which he’d taken the car driver’s eye.

Back in Harley Street, the eye-operation worked a treat and, a year later, the man decided to make a celebratory trip back up to Scotland, to the place where the car accident had occurred. As he passed the stone bridge where he’d got his new eye, he felt enormous gratitude and at the pub in the nearby village, bought himself a large drink.

The pub landlord was a chatty man. He said, ‘No, not much has happened round here lately. Mind you, there was that terrible accident this time last year. Car must have gone out of control. Careered down the hill. Smashed into the bridge at the bottom. Driver dead. Police luckily did manage to find out who he was. Funny thing, though, they never could work out how he’d made it all the way up to these parts from Glasgow with two glass eyes.’

P1060706Get it? Answers welcome on one side of the paper only or in the Comment box below. The story always makes me squirm. But tell it to older kids, teenagers or even other adults and you’ll probably see their eyes glaze over for a second. Then some sit up, they’ve got it. Some need a bit of prompting. How about you? Come back next week to find the explanation.

And, since we’re talking about next week, please note that you can subscribe to this Blog (no charge!) by filling in the box on the top left. You will then get an email each week when my new weekly posting goes up.

P.S. Photos this week are of some of the ‘eyes’  I carry round in my Story Bag.

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