Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Archive for the ‘Personal experience’ 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 ~ 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 ~ 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 ~ 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…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Reflections

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

I’m interested in coincidences. Not so much in why they happen but in the fact that they seem to happen to some people more than others, and that they fascinate us. The great psychologist Jung was very interested in them. As I recall he called them synchronicities. What do they tell us about ourselves and the world we live in?

Well, I don’t have any explanations. I just know I love them and enjoy them when they happen. So I was intrigued by one that occurred this week. It happened after I thought I must have lost a favourite shawl of mine and then, after much searching for the shawl and not finding it, I came across it folded up on a little-used chair in our front room. Nothing odd about that, you might say. Mislaying things happens all the time and so does finding them again if you’re lucky. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Keeping busy

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

‘Raining here,’ said a Pembrokeshire friend on the phone two mornings ago. ‘Lovely sunshine in London,’ I replied and the day went on just so. Early on, there were two foxes in the garden. Then, as the light began to fade in the early evening, our local blackbird was there, singing its heart out. Such was the strength of its singing, it brought to my mind that very well-known line from my much-loved poem by Dylan Thomas: Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

But the bird wasn’t raging. It was singing so sweetly, it almost brought tears to my eyes. Tears wouldn’t have helped at that stage, however. I was sitting at the table in the Conservatory-end of our kitchen working at our current jigsaw puzzle. As I learned from an article in the Guardian that very day or soon before, doing jigsaws has proved a favoured occupation during Lockdown. Certainly it has for Paul and me and of course, what doing jigsaws requires is focused eyesight and concentration – and patience. (more…)

A fond childhood memory revisited

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

As the needle hovered above the disc on the record player, I felt almost fearful with expectation. When the needle was lowered and out came the first words of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, I felt as if what I was hearing had been created especially for me. It felt as if every word had been written with intention and love to convey what it is to be Welsh and to be in Wales at Christmas time.

The ritual listening to A Child’s Christmas in Wales took place each and every Christmas when I was a child of an appropriate age to listen to it.  The lead-up was always the same. Upon leaving the house where my family lived at No. 16 Vergam Terrace in Fishguard, I’d turn left and cross the road to the first house on the other side, No 1. At the front door, I’d reach up, lift the heavy brass knocker, knock three times and wait for the sounds of Aunty Mali coming to the door, pushing the draft excluder out of the way with her foot, opening the door and greeting me with her resonant ‘Hello!’

Inside the house, the fire would be roaring in the living-room grate. Already set out on the table would be cups, saucers and plates and, in a prominent position, the big, square gramophone with, beside it, a small pile of LPs in their brown paper sleeves. I knew what I was going to hear. I was going to hear the resonant voice of the famous Welsh actor Emlyn Williams, reading Dylan Thomas’s wonderful evocation of being a child in Wales at Christmas time. (more…)