Story characters often set out on a journey. Like many in Scottish folktales, they announce their departure. “Mother! Bake me a bannock and roast me a collop. I’m off to seek my fortune!” As Dick Whittington, Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs they have a task, a goal to accomplish, in the hope of a better life. Even nursery rhymes set us up for the road.
I had a friend, a people – watcher, and on sunny Saturdays, as we sat on the beach together, we would make up stories about people as they passed by, based on the way they walked.
Often I do the same myself when people catch my eye This man was walking away after throwing keys into the Seine. I saw them, flung from his hand, and curve in the air. The back story (now a fad, thanks to a TV program) is that lovers have their names inscribed on a padlock. They lock it onto a bridge and throw the keys in the river as a symbol of their eternal love. ( My brother tells me that they’ve had to cut all the padlocks off one particular bridge in Scotland – the weight of so many was endangering the safety of the structure … so much for the stereotype of dour Scots!)
Yet, here in Paris, he was on his own. Where was his partner? And he was plodding along, not strolling. Had they argued? Was he going to catch up with them. When you love someone, you can pick them out in a crowd by the way they walk …There must be another story here. What do you think?
Everyone walks differently. Actors know this. They can alter their body shape to add to their role. As a storyteller, I tend to gloss over the way a character walks in a story.
Let me see … age would have to be a factor, as well as …
what’s on their feet.
or the ground underfoot could be tricky.
Even the time of day can influence the way we walk our walk. When there’s no rush and you can stroll, saunter and enjoy the scenery.
I have loved the freedom of walking since I was small. In this amazing world of ours, I am so glad I have feet and legs. Yes. Wings might have been handy. But to get from one place to the next you just step out putting one foot in front of the other, slowly, faster, softly, nimbly, steadily, appreciatively … and the world moves on as it does.
Once long ago, Nasreddin Hodja was working in his garden and a passer-by asked him, “How long will it take me to get to the next village following this road?” The Hodja didn’t answer. The stranger repeated the question but the Hodja just looked him up and down, a couple of times, and went back to his work. The man shrugged his shoulders, turned away, and continued walking. When he had gone a little way, the Hodja shouted after him, “You’ll get there in about two hours!” The man stopped in his tracks, turned and yelled back,“Why didn’t you say that before?” To which the Hodja replied “I couldn’t tell you how long it would take, until I’d seen the way you walked.” (Adapted)
PS. The last five posts have featured a Hodja story – one more to go in my set of seven!
Source for walking tale: Özdemir, Nebi The Philosopher’s Philosopher Nasreddin Hodja. Trans: M. Angela Roome. Ankara: Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2011. Philosopher’s Philosopher: Nasreddin Hoja
All other text and photos by Meg
Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License