Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Life’s gifts

Isn’t it strange how, from time to time, something very appropriate but not expected turns up out of the blue – as if to sympathise with a need you’re feeling? Well, this morning that’s what happened. Somehow or other – had I been moving notebooks around some days ago and thus changing the arrangement of things on a shelf? – a very attractive-looking notebook was suddenly visible, sitting on its own on a shelf in the big cupboard in my workroom. I picked it up and saw that on it was a label I’d put there – Tobago 2005.

Well, I’ve only been to Tobago the once and of course it was to spend a week storytelling at the invitation of the great Grace Hallworth whose funeral took place this week. I wasn’t able to go to her funeral (the stomach cancer is still causing trouble) but Paul did go and, indeed, did a reading at it of a tribute that he and I had put together. Meantime, I stayed at home in bed, revisiting my thoughts and memories of her.

One of the memories that came to mind was her account of a time when, at home alone in the house that she and her husband Trevor kept in Tobago, there was a knock at the door. When she went to the door, it was no friend but a man with a machete. Grace, redoubtable as always, shouted at him and chased him through the garden and not only out on to the road but down the road as well. He’s lucky he was able to get away from the beating and the telling-off that, had she caught him, I feel sure she would have delivered.


She had a lot of courage. Courage – for it does take courage – to sit calmly and quietly waiting on the stage until it was her turn at some storytelling event to be called to tell a story. Courage not to tell, or not to start with, the story she’d been expecting to start with but with some other of which she’d been reminded by the previous speaker. Courage to survive the death of her husband and not give up all interest in life but carry on being the storyteller that everyone loved and respected. Courage to be sorting her papers – and she was in this process when she died – so as to be able to send them to Ireland to a library that had requested them. Courage – and this, perhaps, is a very special courage that not all female storytellers possess – to keep herself looking marvellous both in her dress and her appearance and thus, when she stood up to speak – to be able to draw and hold the attention of all present.

Dear Grace, I am missing you very much. I think I always will.

PS: The extraordinary china cat in the first illustration came from Grace. She knew that Paul and I love cats and this  was something she’d put by for us to have. What a wonderful gift! The second illustration is from Tobago.

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Life’s gifts”

  1. Helen East Says:

    Dear Mary
    I loved your latest writing about Grace . My First thoughts were about watching Grace telling stories to a large group of small children and how they inched closer and closer until she was almost on her knee…
    I’m sending something to you -a lovely cd Rick has put together of all sorts of sounds recorded all over the world. words, memories and
    thoughts for you -and most especially to make sure you can always hear the birds we always look out for at different times of day

Leave a Reply