Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ From one thing to another

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.’

Meantime, I’d been listening with such enormous pleasure to the singing of ‘our black bird’ each morning and evening that I’d begun to decide that blackbirds must be my theme this week. Numbers of garden birds in the UK are apparently in serious decline. Surely, I decided and do believe, that if nothing else can do it, the pleasure that blackbirds give must act as a warning prompt to us all to take whatever action we can to support our birds.

Prince Philip talking to 6th formers at Ysgol Dewi Sant in 1995.

Then, yesterday, came the news that Prince Philip had died. Poor man, he’d obviously been poorly for some time. News of his death immediately brought to my mind a memorable event from 1995 (I’ve checked the date) when he and the Queen made a royal visit to St David’s to confer upon it the official designation of city. Up to then, St David’s had in fact been widely referred to as a city, doubtless because of its Cathedral and its status as the birthplace of St David, the patron saint of Wales. Now the designation became official.

Naturally enough, a number of special events were planned for the visit of the royal pair. One was to take place at Ysgol Dewi Sant, the Secondary School of which my father had been the headmaster. Local people of note were to come along to be officially introduced and because my father’s second book, Twice to St David’s, was on the verge of publication, it was planned that some early copies be biked to St David’s so that one could be presented to the Duke. The timing was touch-and-go. Two early copies, hot off the press, arrived by motorbike and when my father presented one of these to the Duke, he memorably asked my father (memorably because both he and my father were both getting on): ‘Do you think you’ve got another one in you, Sir?’

As it happens, my father never did publish another book though he certainly had enough material stored in boxes and in his head to fill one. However, he did publish lots of magazine articles. I’ve recently been looking through a boxful of his notes for these and admiring how he kept himself going.

From one kind of box to another kind of box, that’s it for this week. I conclude with many good wishes to all lovely blog-readers for lots more sunshine and for the quick return of all of those parts of ourselves that have been feeling a bit too locked up of late.

PS: Pictures this week: a rather cross tiger and a photo I took myself during Prince Philip’s visit.

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