Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Taking time

How weird! I was walking along towards the main road. Near the corner of my street was an apple core. It drew my attention because it was sitting on top of a food waste box. ‘How weird!’ was my immediate thought. ‘Why did whoever left that apple core not open the food waste box and put the apple core inside?’

‘Well,’ I answer now as I write, ‘perhaps whoever had eaten the apple (and even the core looked nice and juicy) had not wanted to see what was inside the food waste box. A small dead bird? A seething mess of rotting stuff?  Or perhaps the person who’d eaten the apple was in such a hurry that he or she, adult or child, didn’t even want to pause as long as it would take to open the box.’

How the mind can savour a situation, chew it over and digest it. Perhaps it only does this when there’s nothing much else to think about. Or maybe it’s when there’s not only the time but the opportunity to consider the situation and then, perhaps, to tell the story of it. Otherwise when something odd presents itself, it probably flits only briefly across our vision, rarely succeeding in progressing into the digestive process of our thoughts and probably even then being quickly overwhelmed with something else.


In country or town, there’s so much to see, so much to digest. Sky, clouds, the way ahead: a lot depends on what you’re looking for, a lot more on what you’re prepared to see. At home in London, I regularly go out looking for plastic bottles. Before leaving the house, I hoick down from its  hook  the large plastic carrier bag into which I’ll put whatever plastic bottles I pick up. When I’m back from my walk, these go into the Recycling Bin thus ensuring that when they’re picked up, they’ll go into recycling, not general rubbish. Perhaps it’s because of doing this that, by now,  even when I’m not doing one of my Pick-Up walks, I really, really notice the plastic bottles thoughtlessly chucked down in the gutter.

Plastic is one of our world’s biggest problems (along with Donald Trump). When I’m waging my personal war against it, I feel a small sense of being able to make a difference. I just wish the difference was not so small.

Four good proverbs:

No story this week. Instead, three proverbs about taking time from various parts of Africa.

  1. If you are patient, you will see the eyes of the snail. (Bantu)
  2. He who waits to see a crab wink will tarry long upon the shore. (Yoruba)
  3. Hurry, hurry, has no blessing. (Swahili)

And here’s another saying whose origin I obviously forgot to write down in the notebook where I record such things. I think it is very lovely. And it currently feels more and more true every day:

As a white colt flashes past a gap in the hedge, even so do our days pass.

PS:  It’s the feeling that Autumn’s either here or just round the corner that is responsible for my two photos this week. Apples always feel like heralds of Autumn. So does the scene in my bottom photo – a common scene in our streets right now.

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