Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘glass eye’

Storytelling Starters ~ A helping hand

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

The day was bright and the school, inside, looked fresh and clean with several new classrooms and corridors added from last year. Four little scenes remain in my mind from the day.

A storytelling day: four memories

P1070779Most striking was the boy that came out front to describe his visualisation from the story I’d just told his class. It was the story (recounted here last week) where Kaa the Thunderbird expresses his jealous anger for Earth Mother Nokomis whom he believes is more loved than him. What I won’t forget is this boy’s conviction as he painted his word pictures of Kaa and Nokomis at the beginning of the story. I could see he really had seen them, especially when he described Kaa with his strong claws gripping the edge of the mountains and his ‘electric wings’ outspread (and then as he quietly added, turning to me, ‘you know, the electricity that comes from them’).

Funniest was the response of the oldest class when I wondered if any of them remembered my visit last year. All over the room there was nodding assent as one girl spoke out, ‘Is it you who told us that story of the glass eye?’ Ah yes, I thought, I’m not surprised they’ve remembered that one. (It’s the gruesome story included in my posting for February 13, 2016). 

Most thought-provoking was the boy who, as his class was coming into the hall, was described to me by a member of staff as someone who is always causing trouble and who simply cannot concentrate. This boy made at least four sensible contributions to questions I asked and he listened throughout.

Most dramatic was the moment when, on the first of the two sessions in which I told The Great Rain,  all the pots of daffodils ranged on the window ledges behind me landed with a whoosh and a clatter on the wooden floor, pots and flowers and water and all. ‘Whoo!’ was the response from all in the room and not just because of what had happened but because of its timing. To introduce the story, I’d led the children in making rain with clicking fingers and tapping hands, and by now I was describing the storm that was brewing as Kaa’s rage mounted to the point of exploding. The strong gust of wind that blew those daffodils over must have been fully aware of where the story had got to!

Of course, after such a day in a school, the storyteller thinks back. Did I choose the right stories? Can I judge their effect on the children? Will anything have been remembered by the children or their teachers?  And what kind of difference would I like to have made?

As it happens, thinking those thoughts from Monday, I feel conscious of what is perhaps a new aspiration that comes from the totally different kind of day I experienced this Wednesday when I had my second cataract operation.

A hospital day: a lasting effect

Stones - stepping stonesThe eye surgeon on Wednesday was hugely impressive in a very quiet and straightforward way. He introduced himself clearly and with no sense of self-importance. When I was lying down ready, he told me quite clearly what he wanted me to do but also said that, if there was anything different that was needed as he proceeded, he would tell me and also that if I needed anything, such as to move, I could say so to him.

During the operation, he told me from time to time, quietly, simply and very briefly, what he was going to be doing next. At some point, he said we were now about half way through. And on several occasions, he said, ‘You are a wonderful patient’. I’m sure he says the same thing to all his patients but I found it wonderfully reassuring.

But the thing that affected me most is that, as I sat up when the operation was over, he put out his hand to help me up onto my feet and then, instead of handing me over to a nurse, himself led me out of the operating room and all the way to the waiting room. It was only a short walk. But the experience of him doing that affected me greatly both at the time and since. What a humility of approach, what a kindness.

And what a difference it has made. Following the quiet simplicity of that surgeon’s approach, the particular kindness of that hand is something I will never forget. It helped me back into the day and it has helped me see quite clearly the kind of path I’d like my storytelling to follow.

 PS: My camera takes snapshots and I hope can represent the sort of snapshots you get from a storytelling day. Stepping stones making a path into a wood can, I hope, represent my idea of a storytelling path that I’d like to follow. 

Storytelling Starters ~ Riddle-me-See

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Cropped paperweightRiddle-me-See: this week it’s eyes. Riddle-me-See is a deliciously gruesome story. When I told it, ages back, to storyteller Kate Portal who is blind, she said she loved it, she’d add it to her collection of eye stories. But first, a word about the Comments that flooded in response to last week’s Blog.

Empathetic, innovative, optimistic, creative, sentimental, thoughtful and deliciously perfumed: so many qualities made themselves felt in the answers to Riddle-me-Rose. Look back and you’ll see.

The answer to the question – how did the gardener know which rose was his wife? – is, of course, down-to-earth. He’s a gardener. He knows that, in early morning, the blossoms in the rose-bed will sparkle with dew. The rose that is his wife does not. She’s been inside the cottage with him long enough for any dew-drops to disappear.

Karen, I think, might have known or guessed but gave her answer an innovative twist in making dew-drops into tears. Delicious clouds of perfume emanated from nearly everyone else – Jean, Claire, Sal, Larry – and, Larry, the Shakespearean reference feels very apt. Liz thought he knew his wife by looking into the eyes of the flower, for it’s in the eye that you see another person’s soul. As for Annalee’s suggestion – that the wife was the rose with a name-tag – it immediately reminded me of that extraordinary occasion some ten years after I got married when, in the course of weeding my garden, I pulled out a piece of columbine and saw, hanging from its root,  the wedding ring I’d lost eight years before. The ring glistened. I felt amazed.

Eyes: a riddle (more…)