Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Age Range’ Category

Storytelling Starters ~ A Morning Walk in Pembrokeshire

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Yesterday morning, waking early in Wales, the light is so lovely that I’m prompted to get quickly out of bed, throw on some clothes, go down the stairs, unlock the front door and enter the world outside. It’s a beautiful morning, cold but bright. No-one else is about.

Now a short early morning walk begins as I go up the small hill beside Mathri village green, the green to my left and Mathri church on the right. When I get to the road at the top of the green, I turn right to walk along in the general direction of the sea. The road takes me past what used to be the village shop. It’s been closed and empty for a long time now. I used to see that lying sadly in the window was a poster for one of my storytelling shows, an evening of Shemi’s Tall Tales. This time, I noticed it was no longer there. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ In transit

Saturday, April 24th, 2021

Brixton bluebells

In transit is where many people are. At any one time, huge numbers of us humans will be on the move – in planes or trains, buses or cars or, indeed, on foot. Each time Paul and I go to Wales, that physical process of being in transit takes six or seven hours depending on the traffic and whether we stop for coffee or a snack on the way.
But at least when we go to Wales these days, it’s because we want to go. Rarely do we absolutely have to make the journey. Yes, we absolutely had to go in order to be there when my mother or, years later, my father were in the last stages of their lives. Then it was a question of needing to be with them and to support or look after them. Nowadays I’d say that it’s for our own pleasure that we go except that, especially in my case, there is also a sense of need that drives me. It’s need for the North Pembrokeshire air, the sea and the beaches and the countryside. And, of course, for the many old friends who live there. Added to that in my case is the need to reconnect with my Welshness. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Cats or birds

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

Birds were tweeting to me today. After being somewhat sidelined in my last few blogs, it seemed they were finally wanting to take precedence. However, cats got in first, I suppose, because of a visit I had to make to our dentist a few days ago. The dentist’s surgery happens to be just round the corner from the flat where we used to live in Pimlico although when we first started going there, it was down in Victoria. Its current location proves richly stirring of memory each time I have to visit (and I’m currently in the middle of a string of sessions). This is because the street where the surgery is now located was where the lady lived that gave us our first cat. We called her – the cat not the lady – Hannah-Jane. She was very much beloved and she became the first in the much-honoured line of cats that have been ours. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ From one thing to another

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

A day or two ago, I was wondering what theme to choose for the blog  this week when my mind turned to the unlikely possibility of boxes. Perhaps this was prompted in my mind by a story in the Guardian the other day about a young man who, unable to afford the airfare to get back to the UK from somewhere far afield, as I recall it was Australia, decided to get himself sent as cargo. So he commissioned his friends to make him a life-size crate, then equipped it with a pillow, a bottle of water, a book and some food. His verdict on his experience of the journey was that he didn’t recommend it.

The young man’s box reminded me of that wonderful colonial-era story of the young Englishman killed by a tiger when on duty in India. His family in England asked that his body be sent home for burial. So when a very large parcel eventually arrived, the family assumed it was the young man’s body. When they opened the parcel, however, they instead found the body of a tiger. Dismayed, they sent a sorrowful message pointing out that what they wanted was the body of their son. Back from India came the reply: ‘Tiger in box. Sahib in tiger.’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ What we’ve been missing

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Disgruntled is how I feel. Not about any particular person or situation. Just disgruntled – and all the more so as Lockdown trundles towards an end. On Wednesday this week, as if to emphasise what we’ve been missing, Paul and I were royally entertained to lunch by some friends, one of whom is a most fantastic cook. Thankfully Wednesday’s weather  came up trumps for, of course, we needed to sit outside for this lunch. So sit outside we did, enjoying the food, the talk, the garden and the company of two affectionate dogs. It was altogether a pleasure.

So why, you may ask, did it produce that subsequent feeling of disgruntlement (if disgruntlement is a word)? Well, only because the occasion itself was a reminder of the social life of which Lockdown has generally been depriving us. For life before Lockdown was peopled by friends. By now, we’ve probably all become acclimatised to doing without the social pleasures that friends bring. But as I was reminded of how much we’ve been missing, it did make me feel a bit sad. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Excluded

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

Reading the Guardian on Thursday morning brought back to my mind a time when I was excluded. Not from school as such, though it did happen while I was at Primary School, but from the group of friends of which I was normally a part. One morning they announced that they weren’t going to talk with me any more and they weren’t going to go about with me either, I couldn’t be part of their gang.

It hurt. I remember telling our teacher about it when she called me to her and said she’d noticed what was happening. This teacher was very pretty and very approachable. She was someone you could talk to. So when she said she’d seen what was going on, I felt I could tell her about it. I don’t recall that she spoke to the ‘friends’ who’d excluded me but at least I felt glad I’d been able to talk to her about it. Eventually I suppose it blew over. I never discovered what lay behind it though perhaps there was a clue in the fact that, during the period when they weren’t talking to me, my erstwhile friends were calling me Jezebel. This hurt. It all hurt. I was familiar with the name, Jezebel, as that of a woman in the Old Testament who attracted the hatred or scorn of others. At the time, I didn’t know why. Only now, all these years later, have I looked her up in my Biographical Encyclopaedia. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Birdsong and bark

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

My mother loved birds. One day many years ago when I was still a schoolgirl, she saw a hoopoe in our garden. So excited was she by the sight of it – for a hoopoe is a very distinctive bird and a rare visitor in this country – that she immediately telephoned Mr Griffiths, the Chemistry teacher over at school who was renowned as a bird-watcher. Evidently, upon receiving her telephone call, Griff Chem as he was generally known rushed across to our house at once and together he and my mother admired the hoopoe through our kitchen window.

As for me, I know shamefully little about birds in general. But I can say that, for quite a few days now, I’ve been enraptured by the song of the blackbird who has taken up residence somewhere in the gardens at the back of our house. What gorgeous sounds he makes and how long the song continues! Each time I hear it I know that the world of nature is full of wonders and that this blackbird’s song is surely one of them. Maybe it’s a common-or-garden bird (for indeed it’s just out there in the garden). But its song feels like just as much of a blessing as that of the nightingale that Paul and I used regularly to hear from our bedroom during a holiday we once had on the isle of Iona. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Flags or shirts?

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

It’s lovely to have a day that’s not pre-determined, a day when anything might happen. But there can also be enormous pleasure in a day where you know exactly what you’re going to do. So today I know that, barring the sky falling in or some other equally unforeseen event, I shall be sitting down in front of the TV at 2.15.

That’s when the 6 Nations Rugby programme begins today and I have to be watching because Wales is playing and by my presence in front of the TV, I feel I’ll be contributing towards the hwyl, the spirit that I think makes all the difference. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Parakeets and pigeons

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

We’ve got both. Lots of both. Lots of parakeets and lots of pigeons. The parakeets fly to the bird feeder in the middle of what passes for our lawn. There they crowd and cling and gorge themselves. The pigeons mostly cluster on the ground below, munching up the tit-bits of food that fall and generally talking to each other. For it really does sound like a kind of talking. A much-loved friend of ours, Adam Curle, alas long since passed away, used to do a wonderful imitation. Never mind that he was a very eminent Quaker and Professor of Peace Studies, he was never pompous, never too eminent to be a good laugh.

We got to know Adam and his wife Anne because their daughter, Deborah, had become our lodger. How we initially met has faded into the mists of my increasingly misty memory. But it’s a wonderful feature of that  misty memory that the mist can also part upon many unforgettably bright scenes from the past, including Adam doing his unfailingly convincing imitation of a pigeon talking. ‘Who do poo-poo? We do poo-poo. D’you do poo-poo?’ (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ A day with a view

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

‘Your language is dead.’ The voice rang out from immediately above where Paul and I were seated at a late night Prom concert in the Royal Albert Hall. It did so in response to the singer and Radio 6 presenter Cerys Matthews introducing the next piece she was about to sing by its Welsh name. Wisely, she made no response to the rudeness but simply continued with her performance. Born of patent ignorance, I see the rudeness as a form of racism and I’ve never forgotten it.

I expect it will come into my mind again at some point this next Monday. For Monday will be March 1st and March 1st is St David’s Day, the day for the celebration of Wales’s patron saint. On the day, were it not for Lockdown, there would undoubtedly be celebrations of St David all over Wales (and elsewhere too) in services and performances in schools and community venues. On the day also, despite Lockdown, many children and adults will undoubtedly wear either a daffodil or a leek. In the school I went to – which as it happens was in St David’s – the girls wore daffodils and the boys wore leeks, chewing them almost to nothing in the course of the day and glorying in the resultingly oniony smell on their breath. (more…)