Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Voices

What follows are three incidents, each in its own way quite small, yet each in its own way quite magical, which have been part of my experience this last week.

A brilliant childminder:

Lilian, the childminder who lives in the next street from us, is always brightly engaged and active with the children she looks after. On Thursday, we passed each other on the street as I walked to one of our local shops. With her were two small children barely past toddler age. Each had a bag in his or her hand and both were looking carefully at the ground.

‘We’re going on a leaf hunt,’ says Lilian. Both children raised their bags for me to see what was in them.

It’s not the hugest deal in the world. But considering that ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ is something most young children get to know, calling it a leaf hunt has a particular ring to it. And what a good way of enabling children to become aware of the nature that is around them even in a city.

Four smiling young women:

Four smiling young women were sitting hugger-mugger on the steps of one of the houses on my way back from my Sainsbury’s Local. I was wearing my red anorak in case there’d be another cataclysmic  shower and also, as it happens, my red jumper and trousers. In my hand was my red cloth bag in which were the things I’d purchased.

‘You look lovely in red,’ called one of the four young women, beaming at me the while. ‘Like Little Red Riding Hood,’ she added.

‘Ah,’ I replied, pausing and smiling back. ‘But am I going to meet a wolf?’

‘Ooh,’ they responded. ‘Maybe.’

‘And have I got cakes in my bag?’ I asked, raising my cloth bag before moving on and hoping they remembered the whole story.

My friend of 101-and-a-half:

Down in Wales last Monday, we were visiting our very special friend who is now 101-and-a-half years old and still spry and full of conversation.

During this particular visit, she talked about a commemorative service that had been held the previous day in the chapel of which she’s been a member since childhood. As it happens, Paul and I had driven past that chapel the previous day and, noticing a large number of cars parked outside, we’d wondered what was going on.

Now we heard the explanation and, with it, a little story I won’t forget in a hu19rry. The service in the chapel the previous day had been in commemoration of  two young men who’d been members of the chapel until they’d lost their lives in 1918 just before the end of the First World War.

The minister of the chapel, a wonderfully bearded and flowing-haired man like an Old Testament prophet, had been giving the address. In the course of it, talking about the two young men now being remembered, he raised one aspect of their story in the following terms, ‘Of course none of us now know …’

At which point, a voice in the congregation spoke up and said, ‘I do.’ Because she did. She may be 101-and-a-half. But she not only has a wonderful memory, she is able and ready to share it.

Coming away after our visit, I remembered one of the songs we used to sing on the school bus coming back from events away. ‘He’s got the whole world. In his hands he’s got the whole world …’

I’d like to change the song to refer to our friend:  ‘In her head, she’s got the whole world. In her head she’s got the whole world …’

In an area where much of the old Welsh way of life has gone, our friend remembers so much – the people, the families, the farms, the stories, who married who, who sold what, who died and why, who travelled and who came back. Thank goodness she now has the gumption and organisation of mind to be able to come out with it all. I can just imagine her sitting in that congregation, refuting the minister’s ‘none of us know,’ with that clear and assertive, ‘I do.’

PS: Leaves, leaves, leaves: I leave you with good wishes for nice encounters and experiences that stay in your mind.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply