Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Travels With My Welsh Aunt’

Storytelling Starters ~ Talk about remembering!

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Storytelling workshops I used to run had one noticeable effect on some of the people who attended. They’d suddenly acquire a new interest in their own past. No doubt this was partly prompted by the fact that I take a wide view of story: in my storytelling world, personal and family story co-exist with myth and folk-tale and legend. The new interest of people coming to workshops would doubtless arise from a fresh perception of how influential memory is in our lives and how strongly it is linked with imagination.

I remember several who attended workshops subsequently deciding to investigate their own parents’ lives and perhaps write books about them. Now I’m hoist with my own petard. Or should I put that differently and say similarly challenged? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Flotsam and jetsam

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

03A beachcomber is what I’ve become. These days, when back in Pembrokeshire and going to a beach for a walk, I go with a bag and spend some time walking along the tide-line picking up bits of plastic rubbish. It’s amazing how much gets found – large and small lengths of plastic twine, sodden old plastic bags, broken flip-flops, fishing gear. Plastic is poison to sea-creatures. It is good to get rid of it.

Yesterday, collecting along the long length of Newgale beach, it occurred to me that this beachcombing is not unlike something I do as a storyteller. I don’t know if you do the same – namely, collect odd bits of story. They may be overheard pieces of conversation, sometimes perhaps just a single exclamation. Or they may be odd coincidences that happen over the course of a day or a week.

A hot-water bottle from the past: 

For instance, at an event in my native Fishguard at the beginning of this week, I met a young Welsh woman who’d also grown up in the town. As well as making me feel very happy by recounting the effect my storytelling had had on a young pupil of hers some years ago (always nice to hear such a thing), she recalled the person I knew as Aunty Mali although she wasn’t a blood relation. This young woman’s particular memory was of Aunty Mali often turning up at chapel in the winter with a hot water bottle for putting on her knees beneath a small rug she also carried. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Travels

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Between 4 and 5 p.m. on Saturday 5th October, I’ll be giving a performance at the London Welsh Centre. My session is part of the London Welsh Literature Festival, three days of Welsh culture with poetry, fiction, music, drama and talks as well as my storytelling.

My preparations have made me think about what revisiting a sequence of stories involves. Do come along! See booking details below.

Travels With My Welsh Aunt

Travels With My Welsh Aunt was the first whole-evening, one-woman show that I did. Actually, it wasn’t quite a one-woman show: the storytelling all came from me, but there were points where singing welled up from the audience from some of my fellow-members of the London Welsh Chorale, the choir in which I sing. Of course, this had been prepared. I’d asked them if they’d be willing to participate and their apparently spontaneous joining-in with some hymns and songs added greatly to the evening’s atmosphere. It added too to my theme. For my Aunty Mali, on whom Travels With My Welsh Aunt is based, was a notable music teacher also well known for her conducting of hymn-singing Cymanfa Ganu festivals in Wales long before it was normal for a woman to be seen in that role.

Travels With My Welsh Aunt first got performed in full in 1999. (I’d previously done a pilot at Festival at the Edge.)

Revisiting it now on October 5th, it’s going to feel very different. For a start, it will be up in the bar at the London Welsh Centre and not in the main hall so less formal. Also, the piece will be shorter. Back in 1999, as on subsequent occasions in Village Halls and other venues , it consisted of two halves, each of about three-quarters of an hour. This time, it will last an hour.

Besides, I’ll be returning to a piece that has lived in my mind for a long time since I first brought my conception of it into being. So I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what happens when a storyteller revisits a favourite story or stories. Of course, it’s something storytellers do frequently. You have stories you love: you retell them and, in the process, you observe how much they’ve changed or stayed the same as the last time. You also become highly aware of how venues, the weather, season and different audiences affect the telling. However, specifically setting out to revisit a whole series of stories in a piece that’s especially important to you – well, maybe that involves a process all of its own. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Memory Work 1

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

What better time for thinking about memory than the start of a new year. And thinking about memory is what I plan to do in this blog over the next few weeks. I want to write about it in a descriptive way, paying account to how different kinds of remembering interconnect with each other. I hope you might respond with points from your own experience. Maybe they’ll tally with mine, maybe not.

Getting ready

As National Storytelling Week comes closer at the end of this month (details at, there’ll be people all over the UK engaged in work on remembering stories. Some may be nervously planning to tell a story for the very first time. Others will be old hands at both remembering and telling. Yet, though well-practised in the techniques, they too will be engaged in memory work – perhaps preparing a new story for one or other of the week’s events or maybe ‘re-remembering’, namely revisiting a story that they already know in preparation for retelling.

Some of my most fascinating chats about how memory works have been with a concert-pianist friend of mine who used to be my piano teacher. He has dozens of large-scale pieces of music literally at his finger-tips. If he was so disposed, he could sit down and play any or all of them straight off. Poor me, in contrast, I’m daunted at the prospect of memorising even one single page of music. How on earth do pianists do it? (more…)