Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘cockerel’

Storytelling Starters ~ Three items to entertain you

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

I’ve been sorting. Sorting is a very satisfying thing to do at any time but especially at this time of the year. My file box labelled Songs, Poems, Sayings has produced three items I’d love to share with you.

Item 1 – part of a poem:

When a day passes it is no longer there.
What remains of it? Nothing more than a story.
If stories weren’t told or books weren’t
written, man would live like beasts – only
for the day.
Today, we live, but by tomorrow today
will be a story.
The whole world, all human life
is one long story.

These lovely lines come from Naftali and His Horse, a children’s book by Isaac Bashevis Singer. (more…)

Storytelling Starters – Where Words Can Take You

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Walking across Green Park a few days ago, a friend and I were bemoaning how dusk comes too early at this time of the year. Then we cheered up by reminding ourselves that, by now, the days are already drawing out.

CockerelA journey of words:

Cam ceiliog is the phrase that was always used by the mother of my Welsh friend, Beryl. No sooner had the shortest day gone by than she’d be reminding us how, from now on, the days would be drawing out. Cam ceiliog is Welsh for the cockerel’s step, the general inference being that, while the days get longer only bit by bit, we can all be certain that the steps do happen.

On our walk through Green Park, the Welsh phrase caused some discussion. Could there be any connection with the Scottish word, capercaillie which so brilliantly summons up the idea of stepping? Next day – for the friend in question was the renowned translator, Margaret Jull Costa – I got an email from her elucidating this question. Any connection between ceiliog and capercaillie? ‘No,’ she said, detailing the relevant etymologies, ‘no connection at all.’

However, word-expert and word-forager as my friend is, I received another email from her a day or two later. This one referred to the fact that, on our walk,  I’d happened to say that ceiliog, the Welsh word for cockerel, reminded me of Kellogg’s, the company that makes Cornflakes and so many other breakfast cereals.

Ah now! Margaret had pursued this link and was now writing to tell me it wasn’t just me that had seen a connection between that Welsh word for cockerel and Kellogg’s. Someone else had done exactly the same quite a few years ago: none other than the world-famous harpist, Nansi Richards, who died back in 1979. Evidently, during a harp-playing tour in the United States, Nansi Richards had at one point visited the home of Will Kellogg who, at the time, had been looking for a marketing emblem for his company.

And what had he finally chosen? Why, a cockerel. And why did he choose it? Well, according to the story, because Nansi Richards had told him how his surname, Kellogg, reminded her of the Welsh word, ceiliog. So that’s how the cockerel became the Kelloggs emblem and although Wikipedia says the story may be apocryphal, I like it – and even more so  because that same Wikipedia entry led me to another intriguing association. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Cam Ceiliog

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

The stride of the cockerel may not be massive but it’s certainly very determined – a purposeful strut! And that’s why I love the Welsh phrase, cam ceiliog.

Ceiliog means cockerel, cam is a step or a stride, and cam ceiliog describes the way in which the light draws out after the Winter solstice. It happens by small but sure degrees, not in one giant leap. At this time of the year – and Happy New Year by the way – you really begin to notice the change. After the darkness of late December, and perhaps with the resoluteness of the New Year spirit, you start to notice the earlier light in the mornings, the evenings going on longer. ‘Cam ceiliog’ does it as the mother of one of my schoolfriends always used to remind us. She was a very positive woman.

That link between the cockerel and the coming of light is an appealing association. I remember the cockerel’s distinctive doodle-doo-ing from childhood mornings on my grandparents’ smallholding. I remember it too from more recent times, for instance on holiday in the Sierra Tejeda in Spain. The wake-up call would sound out round the village (and sometimes, because it recurred all day, it would finally become exasperating).

Stories that link us to the earth and its creatures

I love associations between human beings and nature. To me, they’re one reason why we could do worse at the start of a year than remind ourselves of the numerous stories that link us to the earth and its creatures. For where would we be as humans if we lost a sense of those links? For one thing, we’d be at risk of losing a proper sense of the richness of this planet and our place as one – but only one – of the species that inhabit it. (more…)