Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

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February 20th, 2021

A friend of mine has been writing an autobiographical account of growing up in Argentina. Very good it is too. One lovely feature is that the manuscript is sprinkled with delicious-sounding recipes. This made me think. Why not put a recipe into my blog this week? I’ve done it before. Why not do it again?

No sooner did this idea arise in my mind than I thought of  Bara One-Two. Bara is the Welsh word for bread and Bara One-Two is a kind of bread-cake that couldn’t be easier to put together. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Reflections

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Keeping busy

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Stuck

January 30th, 2021

Well, it had to happen sometime. Feeling stuck is not a pleasant feeling. And it’s what I’ve been experiencing this morning. By now, it’s the afternoon. Several hours ago, I started composing this week’s blog and by now, all I’ve succeeded in doing is finding myself continually going round the houses, by which I mean that I still haven’t sorted out what I want to be saying.

So instead of continuing to wrestle with myself and my muddled mind and the resulting mud of muddled mind, I am deciding to do two things. First is to remind you of that daft old joke. Here it is.

Two old women got stuck down a hole. What on earth could they do? Well, everything turned out OK because one of them remembered she had a ladder in her tights. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Into the bin

January 23rd, 2021

Old bag. Old hat. Old news. Old times. Old paperwork. It’s the paperwork that’s been especially on my mind this week. Slowly the papers are being sorted and wherever possible they’re getting into my wastepaper basket. For the most recent big decision made in this house has been to clear the decks, sort the papers and throw away as much as we possibly can. The storytelling gear? Well, perhaps that’s going to have to wait.

But yesterday afternoon, I sat on the little settee in my study going through a large pile of files from the past about storytelling bookings. Name and address of the venue, a note of whoever made the booking, details of how many sessions there’d be, who’d be attending the sessions and what ages they’d be, any special advice on themes for the stories, notes on how to get to the venue and what the payment would be: in quite a lot of instances, all this info is followed by my subsequent remarks on how the sessions went, interesting things said by pupils or staff and anything of especial interest that arose about the stories I’d chosen to tell. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Something for all

January 16th, 2021

A capital letter makes a lot of difference. It can make someone feel official, authentic – as if whatever they do is much more than playing about. So consider how it can categorise a person too. Is someone who writes things inevitably a Writer? What about someone who just writes? You don’t have to use the capital letter. Perhaps the writer is someone the world in general can regard as a writer. But what about someone who writes, perhaps even writes a lot, who isn’t publicly recognised as such?

I started thinking about this knotty question because of a friend of mine in Pembrokeshire. (Liz, this is you.) She writes. She writes stories, sends them off to magazines and sometimes gets them published. She also writes stories which she reads to her grandchildren. They love her stories and often ask her for another. Is this friend of mine to be regarded as a writer? Officially, I suppose not. She doesn’t fill her time with it. It’s something she does along with all the other things she does. Yet I think the world needs to think again about her and people like her. For in a way, the world has probably become too categorising, separating what’s done professionally from what’s simply but genuinely done as part of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Blockdown

January 9th, 2021

Add the letter ‘b’ and the word becomes ‘blocked’. That is remarkably apt since blocked is how it feels, as if there’s a malevolent force that now impedes me, stopping me from doing all kinds of things I really want to do. Like getting in the car and driving the six hours to my place in Wales, the part where I normally go, where I’d be spending time on the beach, striding across the sand, feeling the wind in my hair, the stretch in my legs, the air in my nostrils. OK, that’s Blockdown for you. Going to Wales from London is not allowed.

But blocked is also how it feels in regard to things I might be inspired to create.  Create? Things like I saw in a book of my drawings I came across the other day while sorting the big old cupboard in my study where I keep such things. A wooden horse, a cactus plant, a pathway between trees: they made me wonder. Why am I not making drawings now? Plenty of time to do it but I don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Storyworks Blog: Back in time

January 2nd, 2021

Overweight but very well corseted, my Aunty Mali carried herself with distinction. Grey hair pulled into a bun, invariably smartly dressed and shod, she was well-known to many people in Wales and highly regarded as a conductor and leader of the Welsh hymn-singing festivals known as Cymanfa Ganu. She is particularly present in my mind at Christmas and New Year. Christmas Day she’d come to spend with my family and, at New Year, on several occasions she took me to the very special New Year celebrations out in the Gwaun Valley. We’d go there in Aunty Mali’s Morris Minor. It wasn’t a long journey. But for me as a child it was like going to another country.

In the Gwaun Valley in North Pembrokeshire, New Year was traditionally celebrated – and so far as I know still is – not on the commonly recognised New Year’s Eve but on January 13th, the New Year’s Eve of the old calendar. This has been so ever since the calendar changed back in 1752.  It has given me one of the memories I most treasure. Read the rest of this entry »

A fond childhood memory revisited

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Memory of place

December 19th, 2020

A week today it will be Boxing Day. Because I don’t like boxing as a sport, I always used to feel a bit disconcerted about what Boxing Day was all about. Then I began to realise that it had nothing to do with the smashing of fists, person against person. What it meant – am I right? – was giving people bits of money in what might be called their begging box.

This year on Boxing Day I’ll be feeling deprived. Normally I’d be in Pembrokeshire and, unless the weather was absolutely ghastly, I’d surely be walking on Whitesands Beach at some point during the day. But this year, Covid restrictions have got in the way, preventing us from driving down to West Wales and staying there a week or two as we usually do. So until the restrictions relax, I’m missing my beach and the little headland where my father used to tell me how the raging monster, the Twrch Trwyth,   came rampaging onto land after its journey across the sea from Ireland. Or where, in contrast, he would also tell me how it was the place of peace from which St Patrick set out on his journey across the sea to convert the Irish people to Christianity.

Especially when the tide is out, Whitesands is a huge expanse of sand. It’s one of the places where I used regularly to go to swim when I was a teenager. In younger years, my family had stayed there for caravan holidays. Even now, it’s the place to which I return in my mind when I need to be calm. Yet, although in that sense it is essentially, for me, a place of solace and peace, it is also now in practical fact abuzz with visitors on most days at most times of the year. Surfers in wet-suits abound. Likewise people of all ages consuming ice-cream cones. Read the rest of this entry »