Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Shemi’s Tall Tales’

Storytelling Starters ~ Passing it on

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Duke Street with Shemi superimposedA set of tall tales that were told by the old Welsh storyteller Shemi Wâd provided the theme of the Research Seminar I gave this week at the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling in Cardiff. I loved preparing and giving the lecture.  An added pleasure was when a veritable posse of Cardiff storytellers turned up to join the academics in the audience.

One question that came up after my talk was whether the motifs of Shemi’s stories were shared with other storytellers of his time (he died in 1897) or whether they were special to him. A mixture of both, I’d say. As a sea port, Goodwick where he lived and its twin town Fishguard had plenty of sea-captains among their residents. And, as we all know, stories travel.

Certainly Shemi didn’t get his ideas from books. He was illiterate. The only book in his tiny cottage was a leather-bound copy of the Book of Revelation and, from one of our main sources on Shemi, the eminent Welsh writer Dewi Emrys,  we know that Shemi used it only to strop his razor every other day. When Dewi Emrys was a boy –  for, as a boy, he used to hang out with Shemi – he opened the cover of that leather-bound book and an enormous great cloud of the dust of ages flew out.

How a tradition grows: (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ My storytelling goes for a walk

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

P1060967The sky was bright blue. Sun poured through the window. My friend rang up: ‘Let’s walk. We’ll meet for coffee.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ll set off right now.’ It was the right thing to do. Later can so easily become never. Besides the long walk to Tooting Common from Brixton allowed time for my thoughts to dip in and out of my mind and settle. Here are some of them:

How lovely it was…

. . . to get two excellent comments on last week’s blog. Liz said she’d tried the Doors visualisation to powerful effect. She’d closed her eyes and over the next 20 minutes had brought to mind all the doors that had opened up in her life and led her to where she is now. Karen wrote about a boy who’d had extremely distressing eczema and who was taught a visualisation that brought him great relief in which he saw a cellar door that led down to a calming pool in which he could immerse himself. From mind to body, it’s powerful stuff.

How grateful I felt

. . . for all the care that was taken by my host for my two performances in North Wales last week. In Llangollen last Friday, Fiona Collins (who is a storyteller of great and wide experience and also my very old friend) carefully arranged the tables and chairs, put up two lovely pieces of fabric behind my performing space, lit the candles she’d brought for each table and created such a warm and friendly atmosphere. The same kind of thing happened in Llandudno the following night. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Crab for your tea

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

IMAG3051‘Did you bring anything back from your holidays?’ It’s a good question for inviting stories from children as well as adults. But beware! Whatever little treasures you acquired yourself, they’re likely to remain in your home for a very long time. They start off precious and they go on being precious and they also add to the stuff you’ll one day feel you need to get rid of. Take my word for it. I know.

Meantime, I remain dazzled by the sun-bleached crab shell I picked up from one of my Pembrokeshire beaches on one of my forays back home from London. Its delicacy and intricacy capture my admiration every time I look at it. It has the additional attraction that  it reminds me of one of my favourite Shemi stories.

Shemi’s stories are ones that children of all ages get absolutely hooked by. The fact that Shemi was real – he died in 1897, a well-known tall-tale-teller in his locality (North Pembrokeshire) and by all accounts much-loved – only adds to the huge attraction. So here’s that particular tale of his of which I’m reminded by my crab-shell. You can find it in a fuller version under the title, Crab Meat for Supper, in my book Shemi’s Tall Tales. (And you can order Shemi’s Tall Tales from me if you wish by clicking on My Publications on my website).

Shemi and the Enormous Crab

One day when he was out fishing, Shemi pulled a huge big sewin out of the river. But as soon as he’d hauled it up onto the river-bank, a great big heron flew down and swallowed it whole. Shemi shouted at the heron: not only had his sewin disappeared into the heron’s gullet, his fish-hook had gone there as well.  (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Vote Now!

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

The website is open, voting has started and this year’s BASE awards are now being decided. The numerous categories range from Outstanding Male or Female Storyteller to Trailblazer and Life Achievement. The voting deadline is the witching hour of midnight on September 27. The results get announced the next day.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award is what I’m up for. If you’d like to give me your vote (and the three of us shortlisted include Sheila Stewart and Taffy Thomas), here are the steps to take. Be patient, they’re quite straightforward but a bit long-winded:
  1. Go to http://www.storyawards.org.uk/
    Click on Register to Vote
  2. On the USER ACCOUNT page that comes up, fill in the boxes marked Full Name / Username / E-mail address and Word verification and then click on Register
  3. Note that a message then comes up at the top of the page saying an acknowledgement email is being sent at once to your email address
  4. When you look up that email, click on the link that is given so that, on the form that comes up, you can set a password
  5. On the form that comes up, fill in your Username and select a password
  6. Click on Save
  7. Now at the top of the page click on Vote
  8. In the first category – Lifetime Achievement Award – click on Vote (hopefully for me!)

If you do give me a vote – and thanks so much if you do – I’ll see it as an affirmation of all the 30 years of extraordinary, ordinary stuff that storytellers like me get up to – the schools, the workshops, the training, the performing, the supporting, the talking, the sharing.

‘Thank you for teaching us thinking’

Stuff, in fact, like at Craig Yr Hesg school this last week. The school is small and very friendly – about 100 children – and in a pretty deprived area of South Wales. My Shemi stories went down well and, with the 5 and 6 year olds, there was also a very lively response to the excellent Pembrokeshire legend of Skomar Oddy, the giant who sleeps under the Preseli Hills.

Bringing such stories to children always feels like a privilege. It’s a joy to see them becoming absorbed and a pleasure to stimulate them into responding in a whole variety of ways. It made me remember how a Junior-age child once wrote to me after a session: ‘Thank you for teaching us thinking.’ (more…)