It’s National Storytelling Week! The week when storytellers everywhere can spin the most amazing fantasies and nobody can argue with them about, say, the existence of unicorns or enchanted forests or magic faraway
trees (with or without the presence of Saucepan Man.)
Yes, like many others of my Great Age, I grew up on the delights of Enid Blyton, moving seamlessly from Noddy
and Friends (including the Big Eared One) and progressing to tales of jolly hockey-playing gals at boarding school, and mystery solvers like the Famous Five and the Secret Seven. It never occurred to me that Mrs Blyton’s storytelling might lack a certain
erudition as far her vocabulary was concerned. For me it was always, but always, about the story.
Once I had read my way through all the books in the Junior Library,
I was face with a quandary. Many of the books in the Adult Section covered themes I simply didn’t understand. So I turned to crime. Not in terms of actually carrying out a burglary or fraud (I think I was too young to understand what fraud was, to be
honest) - instead I turned to Agatha Christie, Edgar Wallace, Conan Doyle and the Father Brown stories by G K Chesterton, now showing on TV in the afternoon. Proving that a good story never fades.
I have, as you would expect, woven a few stories of my own over the years - starting with the tales I used to tell my Little Sister every night in the bed we shared, sleeping “top to toe”, desperately trying to
keep her awake because I knew, once she fell asleep, I would have to face the night terrors overhead all on my own. More recently, it’s the grandchildren I have sought to entertain - but rather than keeping them awake, I’ve been trying to send
them to sleep.
Grandson Sam is a storyteller. He could never keep quiet during one of my stories about The Jolly Boat in which he and his brothers sailed to distant
Animal Related Lands - he always liked to add his own embellishments. I rather think Tala (older of the Twins by one important minute) may also be a storyteller. Having informed the health visitor at her two year check that she wasn’t a girl or a boy
but a tiger - this week, when asked by her mother, Middle of the Darling Daughters, what she wanted to be when she grew up, she responded “a Penguin!” That girl has an imagination, you can tell.
Next Tuesday I am meeting up with someone who loves a good story every bit as much as I do. We met for the first time six and a half years ago on the Summer Reading Challenge Desk at the local library where we had both volunteered
to help littl’uns through the challenge of reading six books over the course of the summer holidays. If they could tell us about the books they had read, then we would reward them with scratch and sniff stickers, DVD vouchers and - the final accolade
- a certificate and “gold” medal. During slack moments, my fellow volunteer and I would chat. Mostly about books and Stories We Had Read. I was old enough to be her grandmother but we got on like a House On Fire.
One of the books we chatted about was Andrea Levy’s Small Island - my young friend said it was her favourite book. So when another of the author’s books, The Long Song, was televised recently,
I emailed my friend to ask if she had seen it. I wasn’t sure if my message would reach her - I hadn’t seen her since she sallied off to college and email addresses have a habit of changing. But it did - and we have arranged to get together
again, in the Happy Teapot, just across the road from our happy stamping ground. Also known as The Library. Will we recognise each other, I wonder, after all these years? Should we, perhaps, each carry a copy of Small Island? I mentioned that it was National
Storytelling Week and she responded that she has “lots to tell!” I can’t wait.
Kitchen sink drama or fabulous fantasy, a whodunnit or a fairy
tale, science fiction or an Aga Saga - doesn’t everyone love a good story?