Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Storytelling Starters ~Making memories

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

“We never thought of telling him a story”: the comment came from a smiling young couple with a boy in a pushchair after a talk I’d given at a nursery school. It will always ring in my mind. Stories, memories, family tales: they are not always happy but they are always important.

Going on holiday

As for actual events … well, by the time you read this blog, dear reader, I will be in Corfu. Hooray! A whole week’s holiday, hopefully in lovely warm sun. The weather forecast for Corfu seems pretty confident it’s going to be glorious there. But whatever the weather it’ll be time to read, swim, lie about, be reminded of the taste of ouzo and perhaps make one or two forays to admire the scenery.  (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Enduring Friendships

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

P1080298Two wise sayings ring through my mind as I write this. The first I heard earlier this week. I was  coming out of my local Sainsbury’s shop with a copy of the day’s Guardian newspaper under my arm. The front-page headline was about Donald Trump and when the Security Guard at the shop door saw it, he made a suitably disparaging remark which led to us having a long conversation.  The conversation came to an end with this remark, all the more memorable for the rich Jamaican tones in which it was said:

‘No one is intelligent by size but by heart and by reason.’

The second of my wise sayings was said to me on 24th October exactly ten years ago. And why do I remember the date so well? Because 23rd October is my birthday and this remark was made to me on the following day. You’ll see why from the story below. It’s a personal tale, one of a collection of such tales I’ve been writing. Enduring Friendships is the title I’ve given this one – and with a modicum of intelligence you’ll be able to work out from it exactly how old I’ll be tomorrow. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ A unique story

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

P1070361In the Africa section of my boxes of stories, I have a file of stories from Benjamin Kipkorir, my Kenyan friend. They’re animal stories in the main, many about clever Rabbit, and they’re the stories Ben and his friends used to tell as children. In the evenings,  gathered round the fire with their elders, they’d rival each other to tell them and – as Ben put it – to tell them well. Ben gave them to me years ago after I’d got involved with storytelling. 

On Thursday morning this week, Paul and I got a message from one of Ben’s twin daughters telling us he’d died the day before, peacefully and surrounded by his family at his home in Nairobi. In the succeeding hours, in the midst of my sadness, I felt another story – the extraordinary story of Ben’s own life and how I’d come to know him – all coming together inside me like a massive part of me that has been there, persisting and enriching, for a very long time.

Short story of a very long friendship

Ben was a member of the Marakwet  people. He grew up a poor boy, walking a long distance to school. When he got into High School, he began to do extremely well. After Makerere University and later Cambridge, where he came to do his PhD, he became a University history teacher. Later, he was appointed Chairman of Kenya Commercial Bank and made a great difference to Kenya’s economy by extending the Bank’s presence to cover the whole country. Then he was made Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States.

I first met Ben when I was 18 and in Kenya doing Voluntary Service Overseas. I met him because one of the unmarried mothers at the convent where I worked arranged for me to meet her friend Lea, the wonderful woman Ben later married who sadly died some years ago. The friendship strengthened when Ben came to Cambridge (I was by then at Girton College) and when Lea came to join him for their wedding. It has survived and grown ever since. It’s very hard to know it has gone – except it hasn’t. Ben’s dear family is still there and my relationship with him and Lea will always live on inside me surrounded by all the awareness of Africa the friendship gave me. 

‘When an old person dies,’ says the African proverb, ‘ a whole library goes up in flames.’ Ben was only in his 70s. But what a huge library his story was. And here’s one of his childhood’s animal tales. (more…)