Years ago the Storyteller sat, in rank, next to the king. Since then, things have gone a bit down hill. Mind you, we didn’t have blogs in the time of King Arthur – or even my grandfather. They didn’t even have standards for spelling. Very few people had books and stories such as Little Red Riding Hood was first scratched and stamped onto a series of clay tablets, cooked in an ancient kiln and passed around among the few readers who existed nearby.
The picture on the top left is of Belle, the dog, Dolly the ever patient horse and me, sitting on the steps of my Romani vardo. The window in the back of the vardo is a lead-light of one of the oldest of stories, the Green Man. I’m sad to say that some five years ago, my beautiful Dolly died. She didn’t pass over into the great pasture in the sky, or is telling tales of human follies to wide eyed fillies – she died and my life has been less ever since. When she was with me, we traveled to folk, word and multicultural festivals where I would sit on the steps and tell stories. For children I told stories of mythological horses and nomadic Gypsy children. For adults I told stories from the lives of men and women from India, The UK, Spain and Australia.
Nowadays I sit in more comfortable halls and restaurants and tell stories from Medieval times or Australia’s convict past. Probably my favourite venue is the Folkloric Tent at the Woodford Folk Festival, known internationally as the World’s most important folk event.
At Woodford, over a period of 14 years straight, I was able to present performance storytelling on The Holy Grail, The Sephardic diaspora, The musical history of the Romani nation of Paraguay, The Canterbury Tales, tales of King Arthur, Fionn, legendary seals and dolphins and a few wonderful women who changed the world.
I am perhaps world famous as a bad speller. It is probably for that reason I was first attracted to storytelling as a serious profession. I still am. I love writing, but when I tell stories I as one with the old men in the Caves. When I tell stories to the tunes of the ancient, soft-sounding bagpipe I am as one with the bards of the Celtic nations. I love telling stories – although I am a bit uncomfortable when I am introduced to an audience as a “Storyteller from Canberra”.
So, until next week, when I have learned to use this newfangled technology (and especially correcting typos and spelling mistakes), I hope you will join me in this new journey
Stories and the oral tradition, rule everything I do. So, before that time when you read any one of my stories, I suggest you occasionally ease off the reading, sit with your eyes closed and see the story.