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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Sisters and Aunties

October 16th, 2021

This week on Thursday my sister Ann and her husband John came down to London to visit. They came on the train – all the way from Leeds – and it was an enormous pleasure to see them here. They brought armfuls of flowers as well as pots of marmalade and jam that Ann had made and we spent lots of time talking and eating and some of the time looking through the album of family photos that I brought downstairs from my study.

What is it that’s such fun about looking at those old photos? Partly, of course, it’s that so many of the situations they show were shared. As you remember them, they seem to come to life again. Another part of the fun is noticing the changes. Do you remember when you cut your hair that time? And so on.

So much is brought to mind that you carry on remembering when your visitors have left to catch the train home. It makes you wonder what people did before there were cameras. Well, I feel sure – indeed I am sure – that memories were just as much remembered and shared. I used to love it when, as a child, I’d listen to my grandparents or my aunties recalling incidents which had involved me. And of course I’d love it even more if they got onto the subject of what life was like when they were children. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ New experience

October 9th, 2021

After a very long Lockdown, Paul has started singing again – and not only with the choirs he sings in. He’s also singing again with David Poole, our very good friend who accompanies him on the piano in practice sessions and, occasionally, in performances with our WiPs (Works in Progress) group.

But Paul singing again will also mean me getting back to playing the piano again to accompany him when he practises. I shall confess at once. I am not a very good pianist. I thoroughly enjoyed the longish period when our friend, the well-known New Zealand pianist Richard Mapp, was living in London, indeed in South London. I’d go for weekly lessons with him. With his kindness and guidance and understanding of the music, I flourished. But now and for a number of past years, I have lapsed.

And yet I enjoy it. Earlier today, I spent a while thinking about how that enjoyment got built into me.  The answer, undoubtedly, was Miss Harries. Miss Harries was our elderly neighbour when I was growing up in Fishguard. She herself had grown up on the Pencaer peninsula, walking miles to school every day. She’d become a very reliable piano teacher, getting her pupils successfully through their grades, and she was a great friend of my redoubtable Aunty Mali who lived up the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Home and Away

October 2nd, 2021

So far as subject is concerned, today’s blog has arisen purely because, in bed this morning (and we’re still in Pembrokeshire), Paul showed me a couple of photos on his phone of the lifebuoy down at Whitesands beach. Had I been thinking about lifebuoys as something to write about today? Well not lifebuoys, not at all. Yet, come to think of it, it’s not an unproductive subject.

For instance, I think of the friends who are and have been lifebuoys in the past. I remember how one of the best pronounced that, the minute I’d finished the treatment for the cancer I had at the time, I must go and stay in her home and for as long as I wanted. I would have nothing to do, I could just rest. What a lifebuoy that proved to be!Another lifebuoy over the course of the years has been Pembrokeshire itself. What did Samuel Johnson say? The man who is tired of London is tired of life. Well, though I speak as a woman and a London-lover,  I think I can also say that it’s nice to have a break from it from time to time. It’s probably the hustle and bustle of it, the number of people, the fact that although one may live in a quiet area, there is always that bit of a hum that arises from traffic, talk, people, machinery. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Enough

September 25th, 2021

The jobbing gardener in our Pembrokeshire village hasn’t been round as we’d hoped to attend to our small patch of garden or to clear away his plastic sacks which have been lying idle outside since we were last here. But, hey, that’s par for the course. We hadn’t really expected anything different. He doesn’t depend on us for work and according to friends down the road, gardeners and other local workers have been saying yes to jobs that people want done – but not till after Christmas!

Ah! Lockdown! It has left lots of things in its wake, good and bad. Meantime, the birdsong here in Mathri, where we arrived on Wednesday, has been so beautiful I just have to stop quite frequently and make time to listen. Not that time is under pressure in this quiet place. That’s one of the things I love about it. I feel I have time to think, time to do a jigsaw and time to rest (much needed).

Of course there are many other pleasures too. One of the unexpected ones was finding our fridge packed with good things to eat when we arrived. That’s my friend Beryl for you! Quiche, cake: it’s all there waiting, and all Beryl-made, of course. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »