Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ The Call of Stories

Being on cancer treatment makes for a kind of half-life. Getting to the hospital, sitting through the chemo transfusion (typically for me about eight hours from sitting down to getting out), feeling strange for several days afterwards with not much else going on because of the after- effects. Sometimes getting up much earlier than usual, sometimes very much later and rarely going out in the evenings because of generally feeling knackered.

Brightening things up:

But always there are kind contacts from friends and neighbours, phone calls and cards with enquiries as to how it’s all going and many messages of goodwill. In the odd way that illness produces, there’s even the brightening of relationships with some long-term neighbours in the street. Never before on particular talking terms,  having learned what’s going on, they now always enquire how things are going.

Meantime, you’re looking for more ways to make life feel brighter. Crosswords and word wheels are good, but I find they can only last a relatively short time. Reading is a must but you need other things too.

Missing the storytelling:

And I miss the storytelling. I ask myself if it will ever come back. Programmes of stories begin to form in my mind, stories for children, stories for adults, ideas of stories I’d like to tell and how I’d like to tell them. Short ones, long ones, quirky ones, ones that have happened in my own real life: they present themselves to my attention, swirling out from choppy seas or clouds of mist and wanting to get acknowledged. Writing them down is one thing. Telling them is quite another. I hope I’ll get or make the chance to be telling them again.

One of my father’s many stories: 

Meantime, here’s one of my favourite personal stories that my father used to tell me. I know I’ve told it in this blog before. But because it always give me enormous pleasure when I am reminded of it, it feels OK to tell it again.

During the Second World War, my father was being sent home to the UK on a tanker. He’d got a bullet in his leg. It was extremely hot and he was very, very bored. Traipsing aimlessly round the lower and top decks of the ship, he poked around in every corner (including, he told me, the captain’s cabin) looking for some entertainment. He’d already read, several times over, the couple of books he had in his knapsack. Could he not find something else to read? That’s when he saw a trapdoor in the wooden floor of the top deck. He pulled on the brass ring that lifted it up and underneath, as if in direct response to his need, he found two books, one of which was Great Expectations.

PS: The top photo is a favourite brass candlestick made by Paul’s great-grandfather. The second is me telling stories at Effra Nursery School, Brixton, in 2018. The third is not exactly a tanker but at least a sea-going craft.

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