Monday, September 28, 2009
Taffy had me telling in local schools, at a pub story share, in his famous storytelling Garden and at the village hall alongside, legendary performers Jan Blake and Peter Chand.
To read more about Taffy and his work, go to http://www.taffythomas.co.uk/
The countryside is spectacular and it is understandable how poems like below were penned
I wandered lonely as a cloud
It is interesting when you here how much he was assisted by the women in his life, for example the above poem was written from the notes in her journal ket by his sister Dorothy, compare
When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Travelling around with storytellers is great because they all have so many stories behind the stories. For instance in Chesterfield where the bus brought me to from London we wandered around for a while to have a look at this old market town. One of Chesterfield’s notable tourist destinations is St Mary and All Saints Parish church. The Spire to the Church has a very distinct characteristic, it is bent and twisted and distinctly crooked. Some of the explanations : SHOD DEVIL: The story asserts that a magician persuaded a local blacksmith to shoe the Devil. The man was so nervous that he drove a nail into the Devil's foot. The Devil flew off howling and, as he was passing the church, felt a twinge of real agony. He lashed out savagely with his foot which caught the Spire and twisted it, leaving also a footprint on one of the buttresses. VIRGIN: A story of Chaucerian flavour. The spire was so amazed to hear of a virgin being married in the church that it developed its intricate twist in an attempt to see such a wonder with its own eyes. In a slightly amended version the Spire owes its twist to its admiration of a virtuous maiden of such beauty entering the church that the spire bowed in admiration, and could not resume its normal position. INCENSED DEVIL: Some attribute the deflection to His Satanic Majesty. The legend goes that Lucifer, after a long day's journey, alighted for a moment on the apex of the Spire. It so happened that midnight mass was being celebrated and that the abundant incense from below so irritated his unholy nostrils that he gave a violent sneeze. He managed to keep his hold with his claws and tail around the Spire; next morning, however, the damage was there for all to see. Of course something more like the truth goes, when the spire was added to the tower about the year 1362 unseasoned (green) timber was used and there was an absence of skilled craftsmen due to the (Black Death) and they neglected the cross-bracing of the structure.
Rachel and Helen took me for a walk on Stanton Moor, site of a stone circle dating back to prehistoric times, 0ver 3,500 years ago. It is known as the nine ladies and the king. Legend has it these women were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath Burial mounds, field boundaries, ring cairns, more stone circles and the subtle traces of houses crowd the woodlands and lurk beneath heather. Who were the Nine Ladies and their King? As with stone circles, the Nine Ladies name comes from folklore. The standing stones of the circle are the women and the King Stone is the fiddler. We don’t know when the name was first used, except that it was probably some time after the arrival of Christianity. Dancing on Sundays during church services was punishable by excommunication from at least the 1500s, if not earlier. During the medieval period the Church linked many stone circles to devil worship as a way to wean people away from paganism. Follow the footsteps of our ancestors with a short 2 mile walk and explore the Life and death in prehistoryImagine Stanton Moor with timber roundhouses scattered among fields. This is what you would have seen here between 5,000 and 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists have mapped numerous sites that show where people lived, farmed, buried their dead and performed their ceremonies. These ancient farmers built roundhouses on circular, level platforms. They divided their fields with walls, hedges or fences. When they prepared the ground for farming, they removed stones from the fields and created cairns (heaps of stone) or dumped the stones against the boundaries they had made. Many sites survive on the moors because the moorland has been relatively undisturbed by later agriculture, unlike much of the surrounding area. More recent farmers have farmed more productive land.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Storytelling Cafe was set up by Graham Langley years ago, Aussies know him from attendance at our Canberra Storytelling Festival in 1999 and you can read about him on my website (http://www.anneestewart.com.au/) under the Swag of Yarns Interviews.
Graham was away but he left me in the very capable hands of local storytellers Rachel and Helen. I was guest teller and Helen MC’d and told a story as well another local Mike. They go to a lot of trouble to set the scene with back drop, candles and tablecloths and in upcoming performances luscious coffee and cake. They have great promotional material, very professional looking including posters and leaflets they distribute widely. There is a very vibrant storytelling scene in the UK with lots of enthusiastic tellers and it was great to meet some of them.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Great to be immersed in watching a couple of storytelling shows so soon in my trip
The Tristan Bates is a small intimate theatre and Sally had set the scene with draped sari to replicate her tent. She led into the stories by talking about her visit to Central Asia and showing us some of the artefacts she had collected. She engaged the audience with her questions about childhood games of make believe tents and stories from her book, very entertaining.
Ben Haggerty and Sianed Jones show “Frankenstein” was amazing. Taken from Mary Shelley’s version, Ben telling and Sianed supporting him with music and song told the story of the “Frankenstein’s creator and the evolution of the monster . Lighting and stage direction enhanced it all.
For over an hour and a half Ben held us clued with ‘an intense steam punk interpretation’ of Mary Shelley’s Work, questioning man and technology, Quite lilting tones gave way to monstrous diatribes. Songs were dream like enhancing characters thoughts and feelings.
Storytelling, enhanced by theatrical presentation, certainly a way to bring it into the adult world
What show could I develop like this, Amazzzing!!!!!!!!!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Of course I’m still on Ozzie time and after collapsing on my bed when I arrived, I woke up and flicked on the television in the wee hours of Friday, to see what time it was in London.
It was 2 am, and I was glued for the next hour or so to a documentary hosted by Peter C ( A Scotsman who starred in my favourite movie of all times, Local Hero) talking about Scottish Identity and artists.
Some of the names I need to explore when I connect to the internet. Oison./Oisson?, he started to define a Celtic, Scottish sensibility, way before Burns or Walter Scott. A contemporary artist called John Byrne worth investigating and others whose names I didn’t catch.
One of the things that struck me was the romantic notion of Scotland that was created around the time Balmoral Castle was rebuilt for Queen Victoria. This ideal attracted wealthy English tourists to travel to the Highlands but of course nothing was said of the highland clearances and the poverty and hard times endured by the local Scots.