Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Learning to fly

What is it about doing something new that you’ve never done before? The nerves? Worry that you’ll mess it up? Thursday morning I was to do an interview on Skype with Kathy Brodie who runs and presents Early Years TV. I’d not heard either of her or Early Years TV until a recent email relating to the promotion of my new book.

Early Years TV offers a weekly interview done by Kathy with all kinds of people who do early years work. When I got in touch with her after the email from my indefatigable Marketing Manager at Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Kathy said yes to my being one of her interviewees. It would be an interview about storytelling and it would happen via Skype at a mutually convenient date and time, the resulting video to appear on Early Years TV at some as yet to be scheduled date in the future.


This Thursday was it. Before it began, I was a bag of nerves in my study – partly about how the interview would go, a lot about dealing with Skype and another big bundle about me getting it right. At some point after the interview was done, Kathy would be providing me with an edited video of it.  Aaagh! I would see myself! Would I see that I’d gabbled? Or failed to get my ideas across?

In the event, it went off well. As soon as the Skype connection was made (and that did produce an initial hiccup or two), it all felt comfortable. Indeed, enjoyable. Kathy is a lovely warm person, the sort that immediately puts you at ease. She also has a smile and a level of interest that enable you to become and stay engaged.

But back to those nerves. Perhaps it was useful that I’d been experiencing them before the interview began because such  apprehensions were precisely one of the things I needed to talk about in the interview itself. So many people experience them before their first experience of telling a story. Sometimes it puts them off completely. But in conversation with Kathy as in so many workshops I’ve run, I was able to point out that nerves are normal. In a way they’re necessary because they put us on our mettle. We just have to accept them and get on with the job.

Now back to birds:

Last week it was swallows in Corfu. So this week when a Pembrokeshire friend told me on the phone that she was just off to visit Nanhyfer (Nevern in English), I immediately recalled the notice that was pinned to the church door there last year: Please keep the door shut as the baby swallows are learning to fly.

Birds were also much in evidence on Wednesday this week when a London friend took me to Walthamstow Wetlands. This haven of nature has been created around a number of reservoirs. On Wednesday, there was an abundance of geese with delightful young. Also lots of swans.  And looking across to Cormorant Island was like being back on the Pembrokeshire coast except that here was a whole town of these extraordinary birds. Luckily for my camera, one was drying its wings right beside one of the paths.

Meantime, hooray, I must report with pleasure that the parakeets have stopped coming to our new bird feeder (probably because we’ve temporarily run out of fat balls). With parakeets no longer a nuisance, two pairs of great tits are now visiting. So, even more frequently, are the two goldfinch pairs.  And to think that, prior to this, the only goldfinch I’d ever knowingly encountered was in Donna Tart’s novel, The Goldfinch (and that one wasn’t even a living goldfinch but the one in the famous painting by Carel Fabritius, the Dutch master painter who died in 1654.)

Also meantime, blogs from the BTO cuckoo-tracking project I follow have brought the news that several of their tagged cuckoos are now back in the UK from their annual migration. Typically each one returns to precisely the same place where it went to breed last year. And typically, reading BTO blogs about their immensely long annual journeys, I feel a catch in my throat.

Strange, isn’t it, how a theme can develop in your life without you realising it until it is there?  In my current situation in which I’m specifically looking for new stories to tell, I’m feeling especially conscious of birds and the way they’ve flown into my thoughts. Will they become a theme in the new programmes of stories I’m currently planning? In a way it’s nice to know that I don’t yet know. You can’t know before you’ve found out.

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One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Learning to fly”

  1. Jean Says:

    Dear Mary — very surprised to hear at 5.30am the other day — a cuckoo — in Wanlockhead — Scotland’s highest village — I excitedly posted on Facebook — to be told by several fellow villagers — that yes it had been cuckooing for a week or more, and now i hear it all the time — haven’t seen it yet tho a neighbour reported seeing it in their garden. Meanwhile the red kites and buzzards circle round and round and the martins and wagtails are back – oh and the midges. It’s amazing how many birds there are this year — curlews — oyster catchers — larks — pipits – and the year round favourites that visit my garden – collared doves, chaffinches and red legged partridges. Look forward to hearing more about the new programme of stories — bird stories — i love the sad story of the halcyon /kingfisher and the residents of the 2 care homes i visit enjoyed the wren outwitting the eagle. Talk soon Mary and I hope you’re enjoying these glorious summer days . Jeanxx

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