Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Still a few available!

March 19th, 2018

 

I’ve still got a few copies left of my collection of short fiction The Uses of ‘a’ – and other stories. Also of A Long Run in Short Shorts , a collection of my own personal tales.

If you’ve already read them, you might like to consider giving them as lock-down stocking fillers to family or friends.  If they’re new to you, here’s an opportunity to enjoy for yourself books which drew some lovely comments and reviews.

On The Uses of ‘a’ – and other stories:

‘The whole collection has kaleidoscopic variety and tremendous energy.’ John Pole, singer-songwriter, in Facts and Fiction magazine.

‘Your stories are so beautifully written and so deliciously enigmatic and so wise too.’ Margaret Jull Costa, translator of Javier Marías and José Saramago.

On A Long Run in Short Shorts:

‘A delight. It reflects a mind that’s observant, inquisitive and alert to new discoveries, and a vivid, warm personality grateful for those small, simple pleasures that brighten our — if we know how to appreciate them.” ~ Valerie Grove, journalist and author.

‘I’m savouring each story – just like unwrapping another Christmas chocolate – I’ll just have one more’. Hilary Minns, University of Warwick.

Each book now costs  £6 (down from £9.50 and £8.50 respectively) or you can get both for £11. If you would like copies, please go to www.paypal.me/StoryworksPress and add £1.80 p&p for the UK – it’s the same for one or both books.

Just email memary.medlicott@storyworks.org.uk , to tell me if you’d like dedications.

Crisis , the charity for homeless people, will receive £1.00 for every copy sold.

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Lovable people

September 18th, 2021

In the middle of Thursday night when I couldn’t sleep, I got out of bed and went downstairs, made a cup of tea and repaired to the jigsaw we’re currently working on. It’s set out on the kitchen table and the picture is that famous one by the American artist, Edward Hopper – Night Hawks and on Thursday night this felt very appropriate except that, unlike in the painting, I was the only person in this immediate vicinity who was awake. Paul as normal was fast asleep.

Whatever is it that accounts for a bad night? Some people I know have lots of them. I generally don’t. But when I do – and, alas, I think they’ve become more frequent both with chemotherapy treatment and getting older – my mind fills up with all kinds of stuff.  Things I might write, jobs I might do, people I must phone … the list becomes quite endless because on these occasions my mind also begins filling with memories. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Doing nothing

September 11th, 2021

‘When will you learn to do nothing?’ my father said to me on one occasion as I was looking round for the newspaper so I could do the crossword. ‘Well, that’s what I’m doing right now,’ I replied. ‘I’m doing nothing.’ ‘No,’ he retorted. ‘I mean nothing.’

By now, I’m beginning to know what he meant. He was a great specialist in doing nothing, or rather what looked like doing nothing.  I have only just begun to learn it. Yet I already know how valuable it is to have those times when you’re not searching for a pencil to do the crossword, not picking up the phone to phone a friend, not wondering where you’ve put the book you’re currently reading. Instead, you’re just sitting, perhaps vaguely watching the day outside, the clouds scuttling through the sky, the birds settling on the wire. That can be more than enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Life’s gifts

September 4th, 2021

Isn’t it strange how, from time to time, something very appropriate but not expected turns up out of the blue – as if to sympathise with a need you’re feeling? Well, this morning that’s what happened. Somehow or other – had I been moving notebooks around some days ago and thus changing the arrangement of things on a shelf? – a very attractive-looking notebook was suddenly visible, sitting on its own on a shelf in the big cupboard in my workroom. I picked it up and saw that on it was a label I’d put there – Tobago 2005.

Well, I’ve only been to Tobago the once and of course it was to spend a week storytelling at the invitation of the great Grace Hallworth whose funeral took place this week. I wasn’t able to go to her funeral (the stomach cancer is still causing trouble) but Paul did go and, indeed, did a reading at it of a tribute that he and I had put together. Meantime, I stayed at home in bed, revisiting my thoughts and memories of her.

One of the memories that came to mind was her account of a time when, at home alone in the house that she and her husband Trevor kept in Tobago, there was a knock at the door. When she went to the door, it was no friend but a man with a machete. Grace, redoubtable as always, shouted at him and chased him through the garden and not only out on to the road but down the road as well. He’s lucky he was able to get away from the beating and the telling-off that, had she caught him, I feel sure she would have delivered. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Finding the way

August 28th, 2021

OK, I have to admit it. Finding my way around my own blog is not necessarily easy. Every now and again, I forget the procedures. I may even temporarily forget my own proposed theme. So what is to be done?

Well, I generally end up trusting to some kind of habit and in the end it usually works out OK.

And when it doesn’t on some particular occasion,  my first resort and last one too always has to be Paul.  But what if his help was not available on a particular occasion?

Let me admit it.  I’d be strapped, completely lost. Which just goes to show how vulnerable I am and, no doubt, thousands like me. But there we are, as we say in Wales. I could quite easily get to the point where I’d feel at a loss on a long-distance country walk. Wherever next? But perhaps there’s something good about such a quandary too. It’s maybe where your wits have to come in to support what you formerly regarded as your knowledge. Its certainly when you have to resort to those wits, and putting  this particular walk in some kind of context, remember how you found your way  before.

Well, it’s not always easy.  And in the event, finding your way probably turns out to be a very good challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Coming round the mountain

August 21st, 2021

According to the definition given in my Chambers English Dictionary, a hotchpotch (sometimes spelt ‘hodgepodge’) is ‘a confused mass of ingredients shaken or mixed together in the same pot.’ And now that I come to think about it, I feel of a mind to say that, particularly in my present circumstances, the same definition could quite often be used for the contents of my mind.

Not too often, I do hope. But certainly it’s not so surprising in the aftermath of the dose of chemotherapy treatment I received at the beginning of the week.  My current treatment is meant to deal with the fifth occurrence of cancer that I’ve experienced. It’s going to go on until Christmas and this dose has pretty much knocked me out. By now, however, as well as the sense of being quite wrecked, the feelings incurred are giving me a renewed sense of sympathy with all the people in this country, let alone across the world, whose minds and bodies are being similarly affected right now by cancer and by its treatment.

At the same time, it has to be said, what illness and its treatment can also give you is a bit of time out. Time when you’re not quite able to do what you normally do, or not as much. And time when you’re not necessarily reflecting on your past in any organised way. But time, when you’re having to rest, when things can be allowed to drift in and out of your mind. Sometimes it’s surprising where that process can take you such as right back into childhood or teenage experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Grace

August 14th, 2021

Perhaps the inner grace of her nature was spotted so early on that she simply had to be named Grace. Certainly that inner grace prevailed throughout her life. Together with a lively sense of fun and a wicked laugh, it made her a lovely companion, always full of a compassionate interest in others and an untiring desire to know what was going on.

Grace Hallworth became known among us professional storytellers as The Duchess. As a performer, which is how I first became aware of her, her assets included a lovely deep voice, and in more informal story-sharing sessions, a wicked laugh. She’d grown up in Trinidad. She trained as a librarian and became one, and at one time she was wooed by Tom Mboya, then the rising star of Kenyan politics. A course at the Institute of Education with Harold Rosen brought her a change of direction and as storytelling became a recognised art in this country, she became one of those who spent more and more of her time professing it, combining an ability to retain an informality in her approach with an engaging confidence in getting into the telling of an important story. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Catching up

August 7th, 2021

Ever feel like this? Unaccountably exhausted after a long journey and maybe sensing there’s absolutely nothing else to do except give your soul time to catch up with your body?

Last night we got back to London from our Pembrokeshire place. All was well here in the London house. There were no problems in letters that had come in the post, not even new spider-webs in strange places. But today, I’m quite a bit of a wreck. Too much to process emotionally (I never like leaving) and also, it seems on this occasion, too much for my body to cope with in the long journey even though, apart from ensuring our Pembrokeshire place was clean and tidy before we left (cousins were coming to stay), there’d been nothing extra or untoward with which we’d had to cope.  Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Cloudscape

July 31st, 2021

 

Yesterday morning, the weather here in North Pembrokeshire was utterly different from before. All week the sky had been blue, though often with those fulsome clouds that look like strange flying creatures. Now it was rain-filled and grey.  I’m not sure why, perhaps as a comfort, but as I came downstairs in the morning, I began thinking about old friends. One of the dearest who came into my mind was Leah.

Let me tell you how we met. I was 18 years old and in Kenya as a VSO (Volunteer for Service Overseas) at a time when VSOs could still be unqualified school-leavers. My job was teaching at a home called Edelvale which was run by mainly Irish Catholic nuns on the outskirts of Nairobi. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Important moments

July 24th, 2021

Looking forward to the Lions v Springboks match in Cape Town today made me think of an important moment for me. It happened in a storytelling workshop I was running in South Africa. The occasion was organised by a wonderful man called Alan Kenyon, alas  now no longer alive.

In one part of the workshop, I asked people to get into twos and share their experience of first leaving home. I was with a young black man who gave me a moving account of leaving his village to go away for the very first time. He described walking along the path that left the village, then stopping and looking back.

Another thing I remember of that same young man is that he also looked up at me and said: ‘This is the first time I have ever looked a white woman in the eyes.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Clearing the decks

July 17th, 2021

Clearing the table, clearing your mind, clearing the air, clearing your diary, clearing the windscreen, clearing the weeds from the garden:  from the abundance of associated phrases and sayings, clearing is clearly a major human activity. Certainly it is in my life right now. For right now I am completely occupied with the conviction that I just want to clear the decks and be shot of stuff.

Part of the reason is no doubt to make room for the flow of new stuff that arrives in the house. Just inside my study door, for instance, is an ever-growing pile of recently acquired books which has now almost reached to the level on the wall of two lovely watercolours painted by my mother, one of our first beloved cat Hannah-Jane, the other of a typical Welsh cottage washed in pink. There’s certainly no room for more books in my bookshelves. Read the rest of this entry »