Terms of Endearment

 

In these socially – distanced times, I’ve been making an effort to be friendly, when I’m out. On my regular morning walk, I make a point of wishing passers-by a “Good Morning!” as we give each other a wide berth.

Good morning, darling!” replied the taxi man, parked by the curb reading his paper. I almost tripped and fell into a day-dream about terms of endearment, all the way home.

My father used the word ‘Flower’ re the women in the family. ‘Hen’ was handy when he forgot any woman’s name or was just plain tired. ‘Darling’ was not really on his list.

Cariad’ in Welsh means ‘darling.’ I always explain this when I’m telling the story of The Salmon Cariad and show how shocked and embarrassed that angler was when he hooked her.

In an Iranian fairy tale I tell, the story begins with the main character, a female cockroach, searching for a husband. Sent out into the world by her ill father, she dresses in her best and steps out along main street. When the grocer sees her passing, he calls out

“Hello there, Miss Cockroach. Where are you going all dressed up?”

[Remember this is a folktale. It’s a “What if?” challenge to our imagination, as well as a “How is this similar to, or different from life as I know it?” Traditional stories like fairy and folk tales are worth discussing]

The cockroach takes exception to being addressed so brusquely and replies,

“Cockroach yourself! Can’t you see that I am more fragile than a flower? I could be the crown of any man’s life.”

 

The man wonders, “If I can’t call you Miss Cockroach, what shall I call you? She replies,

“Call me sweet coz (cousin). Tell me you’re glad to see me. Ask me where I am going this fine day.”

The grocer complies but answers more questions unsuccessfully. Miss Cockroach walks on and repeats the process. She demands the same courteous greeting. This time she protests to the butcher

Can’t you see I’m more tender than a rose. I could be the light in any man’s eyes.

Then, to the blacksmith,

“Can’t you see I’m more delicate than a butterfly’s wing? I could quicken the beat of any man’s heart.”

This pattern of call and response repeats when each man’s answer is unacceptable. She then explains, in rhyming couplets, how she is in dire straits and to survive must marry an uncle in Hamadam. (I won’t quote that text here.) Surprisingly, each man listens and asks her to marry him instead – only to be rejected by their response to this final hypothetical question.

 “If I should marry you and if we should quarrel and if you would hit me, what would you hit me with?” 

At last, she meets a mouse, wearing elegant silver trousers as he waits outside his door. He’s been listening all along and calls out to her 

‘Oh sweet sweet coz in dress of silk and almond slippers as white as milk. Tis a pleasure to see you dressed up so. Pray tell me where is it you go?’

All Mr Mouse’s answers satisfy her. She decides he would be a loving husband (as the story goes on to reveal in a comic way). This suitor calls her ‘Light of my eyes,’ and ‘My beloved lady,’ as he proposes. Once they are married, Mistress Cockroach calls her husband ‘His Excellency, Mr Mouse, with Silver Trousers’ … and now their tale truly begins.

In my time I’ve been called all sorts of names. I remember “My Little Cabbage” “Ace” and “Possum.” Others tell me they’ve been called ‘My Lovely,’ ‘Wondy, ‘Lovey’ and of course, good old ‘Mate.’ One friend calls me ‘Moggy” which is an Australian term for just an ordinary  cat.

Of course, your tone of voice makes all the difference when using a term of endearment. I love it when Vera uses ‘Pet’’ to people in their place in a popular TV crime series from the UK. 

What terms of endearment do you remember? In Co-Vid times we need more of them. It’s the feeling underneath those particular words that make an instant connection across the distance between us.

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Check out some of the links below.

Sources

Coz http://www.finedictionary.com/Coz.html

Languages of love: 10 unusual terms of endearment in BBC News Magazine,30 May 2013.

Languages of love: Readers’ global terms of endearment, 9 June, 2013.

Mistress Cockroach in MEDEVI, Anne Sinclair. Persian Folk and Fairy Tales. Toronto, Random House, 1965. (p 81- 92)

 

The Salmon Cariad in GARNER, Alan. A Bag of Moonshine. illus P.J. Lynch. Collins. London, 1986 (p.63-67)

                                        All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Just an Ordinary Woman

As a storyteller, I sometimes sing a song to accompany my story. I especially love when the chorus soars and the audience at our local folk club joins in. When I was asked to sing a ‘Celebration’ song at the club last year, I went searching and found a Scottish one I liked.

The Spinner’s Wedding by Mary Brooksbank from Dundee, hooked me in. It tells of a spontaneous celebration in a jute mill, when all the women in a section stop work to dance, sing and give gifts. Knowing very little of the Scottish Jute industry (I’d never seen raw jute or even been to Dundee.) I added ‘Jute mill’ to my up-coming travel plans and began learning more about the songwriter.

                                (Dundee’s Jute Trade Routes in its heyday)

Two months later, one cold Monday morning, I read aloud a green sign, ‘ Verdant Works Open Wed – Sat.’  My companion protested, “Oh no! When you wanted so much to come here. This place is the main reason we came to Dundee! Why did no-one tell us it doesn’t open on a Monday?”

Stepping away from the solid wooden gate onto the cobbles in that narrow lane, I looked up at the stone wall and sighed. I couldn’t see over it. What were we going to do now?

Suddenly, the big gates rattled and opened as a large industrial bin came trundling towards us. “Good Morning!” shouted the head behind it. The look on our faces stopped the man in his tracks. We lamented and pointed to the board. His eyebrows went up at this.

“Och! We’re open in 2 minutes! We’ve changed the times on the website but not that sign there yet! Just go in! The café’s already open.”

The Verdant Works, once a noisy jute mill built in 1853 in the Blackness area of Dundee, opened as a museum in 1996. The High Mill was revamped in 2015 and the whole site is now an award-winning, tourist attraction. When asked what had brought us to the mill site, I told our guide, “A folk song got me here!” and added that I wanted to know more about women working in mills.

They smiled and carried on with their spiel about the history of this place. The High Mill built in 1833 employed 500 workers by 1864. Their 3 steam engines ran 70 powered looms with total of 2800 spindles. At that time, there were 61 such steam-powered mills in Dundee, mostly built round the Scouring Burn as it flowed down to the sea.

By 1901, there were over 100 jute mills in Dundee and two-thirds of their 39,752 workers were women. With 3 times as many women as men working in the mills, Dundee was often referred to as ‘She-Town.’ By 1950 there were only 39 mills left.

 (Breadwinners of all ages)

We were invited to wander through the museum at our leisure and ask questions of any of the volunteers. I became totally engrossed in the history of mill work, the complex machinery and the noise! Some of the exhibits featured sound recordings retelling the worker’s tasks and experiences. I found out where the jute came from.

Up in the rafters of the High Mill, I heard Mary’s voice, as she sang one of her well-known songs.

Oh, dear me, I wish the day was done.

Running up and doon the Pass is no nae fun;

Shiftin’, piecin’, spinnin’ warp weft and twine,

Tae feed and cled my bairnie affen ten and nine.

                       

      ( Renovated High Mill with raw jute and end products)

Imagine a 12 year old starting a twelve-hour shift at six am. In 1909 Mary did just that. Her family’s poverty made her lie about her age. She was taken on as a bobbin ‘Shifter’ but was soon found out. It took another two years, staying home to look after her four younger brothers, before she got an official job. Mary later said that her wishes, desires, hopes, ambitions (were) dutifully suppressed in the interests of those I loved, my father, mother and (four) brothers.’

Five had already died in infancy and Mary had been born blind. At the time, the doctor gave her mother eye-drops, a torch and not much hope. Rose Soutar checked and attended to her baby’s eyes daily. She was so overjoyed that her 14 month-old girl was finally able to see that she ran down to the docks to tell her husband the news!

Mary’s father, Sandy Soutar had been a docker and Unionist, who was black-listed because he founded the Dock Workers Union in the port of Aberdeen. In search of work in 1905, he’d brought his family down to Dundee on a coal boat. Sandy was rarely employed even after that. He continued to be an active Unionist, attending meetings. In the main room of their home, Mary likely witnessed visits, talks, plans, songs and stories from many of the leading Scottish union activists of the day.

 (9 mill-workers pose – from bobbins to bales of sacking)

Alongside her mother, Mary was officially taken on at Kydd’s Mill aged 14. Her (male) gaffer (boss) saw her as quick to learn – ‘ a richt wee smerter.’ Their jobs were sporadic and they both worked in any mill they could. If not, they might be lucky to get piece work and sew sacks – five pence for 25. Her four brothers might have been employed in a mill from the age of 8, cleaning up under the looms as they clattered. In 1900 there were 5000 children still working in this industry. Only 2800 of them had been granted an exemption from full-time schooling. Even if her brothers had unskilled work, they’d be sacked at 18. Women workers were cheaper in the mills – paid half men’s wages.

For many years, houses for mill workers in Dundee were said to be some of the worst slums in Europe. Most workers wanted to live close to the mill and rented in tall tenements – usually two rooms with an average of 7 occupants. There were middens in the streets. One privy served the tenants in a four level block. Outbreaks of Cholera, Typhus and Scarlet Fever were not uncommon. Many children didn’t live past infancy. Despite many reports about that rundown, insanitary housing, the mainly private investors took no action because ‘improving working class housing just did not pay.’ When Mary married Ernest Brooksbank in 1924 and saw their first home near the mill, she wept, saying it was ‘no better than a large dog kennel.’ Decisive slum clearing didn’t start till the late 1920’s. Yet some families were loath to leave their close, tenement community.

When the Soutars moved to Dundee, Mary had quickly learned to play the violin. Across the landing on their stair lived a family of Scots Travellers who would often sing and play music at night and invite everyone in. She liked to say that even at the hardest times “There’s naething that can daunt me long, Gin I have the power tae sing a sang.”

Some months after Mary began work in 1911, the carters went on strike for better pay. They refused to bring the bales of raw Indian jute up from the docks. Fourteen year old Mary joined the other women in her section to successfully demand fairer pay. They got a rise of 15%. This was the beginning of more than a hundred protests by Dundee workers between 1889 -1914.

As she grew more politically active, Mary also became anti-war. As a 21 year old at the 1918 Armistice Day celebration, she led a protest against the shoddy treatment of returned veterans . She was arrested with 20 others, charged with Breach of the Peace and sentenced to 3 weeks in Perth Prison. This was the same year she gave up Roman Catholicism, became an atheist and joined the Communist Party (C.P.) to fight for women’s rights, equality and the demise of capitalism.

Once out of prison, Mary was unable to get mill-work and so went into domestic service at her mother’s insistence. However, working in an opulent ‘Jute Baron’s’ mansion made her all the more determined to follow her strong feelings against inequality. On her days off, during a third domestic post, she attended lectures at The Scottish Labour College given by a famous socialist organiser and orator, John McLean.

 At the age of 23 in 1920 (when The Great Depression began), she was involved in more protests and represented jobless, rental defaulters at Rent Tribunals. She lobbied for Unemployment Benefits for those out of work. Her next arrest was for heckling at a meeting about the unreasonable amount of money workers had to contribute as part of the new Unemployment Insurance Act. Authorities at the time tried to question her sanity – a charge later ‘not proven’ by a judge who found her ‘utterly sound’ in health and judgment.

Within the C.P. Mary established the Working Women’s Guild of Dundee in 1930 which focused on improving public health and social housing. They lobbied successfully for significant improvements to the city’s poorhouse, as well as other housing. A lasting legacy was this group’s commitment to help their 300+ members develop public speaking skills, as well as how to chair and organize, productive meetings.

When she was 34 in 1931, following another demonstration, Mary was arrested for sedition and sentenced this time to 3 months. Crowds gathered outside the Perth Prison gates to sing in protest. The petition for her release had 10,000 signatures. Members of the Railway Women’s Guild in Perth brought her food daily. She wrote poems.

On her release, Mary found out the success of the Women’s Guild in the local branch of the C.P. had caused dissent She publicly expressed doubts about Stalin’s leadership and questioned the allocation of the money they’d raised. In 1932 she was thrown out of the C.P.  From then on, she called herself an Independent Socialist.                      

By this time, Mary could only find occasional work – picking berries, working in canning factories or sewing sacks. When her younger brother died, she took in his son. When her husband of 20 years fell ill in 1943, Mary felt her only option was to catch the ferry across to Tayport, in Fife and play her violin in the streets to get money. Ernest died later that year. She took her parents in to live with her.

By 1948 Mary was no longer employed. While nursing her dying mother, she wrote more poems and songs like The Spinner’s Wedding, full of the ordinary details of her working life, and shared them with her.

Oh, ye’ll no make muckle siller
Nae maitter hoo ye try
But hoard your love an loyalty,
That’s what money canna buy.

IIn the 1960’s and 7o’s Mary began singing in Old Folks Homes. She was Chairperson of the Old Age Pensioners Association for some these years. After a chance meeting at a concert, the popular folk-singer Ewan McColl sang some of her songs and championed her song writing. She sang then at the Dundee Folk Club, at the Blairgowrie Music Festivals and on TV & Radio. Her poems and songs were published in Sidlaw Breezes as well as in her autobiography, Nae Sae Lang Syne; a tale of this city.

She was always willing to speak out, step up and help wherever it was needed. In 1970 during the war in Vietnam she went to Hanoi to help the wounded and to rebuild the ruined city. She was 73.

Mary never gave up her Dundee/Scots dialect. She was 5 foot tall, ordinary on the outside and a powerhouse inside. She poured her energy into making life better for others – actively making her city a fairer, more just community. She died in a Dundee hospital in 1978 aged 82.

Hamish Henderson, founding member of the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, called Mary

 a heroine of the working class movement in Dundee, and a free – spoken, free – thinking, old rebel who got thrown out of the C.P. for denouncing Stalin in the early Thirties!

In 2009, four lines from her song about jute work ‘Oh Dear Me’ were carved into granite in the new Scottish Parliament’s Wall of Quotations in Edinburgh – the only woman quoted in the 26 selected quotes thus far.

           “Oh, dear me, the warld’s ill-divided

          Them that works the hardest are aye wi’ least provided.

          But I maun bide contented, dark, deep or fine

          But there’s no much pleasure livin’ affen ten and nine.”

Mary’s actions show her life-long commitment to social justice and caring for others in need. Just an ordinary woman to look up to … and not forget.

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Some of the many Sources I used. (There’s lots more)

BROOKSBANK, Mary. The Spinner’s Wedding (Lyrics) and singing this song

INNES, Ewan. et al. (ed) Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women. Edinburgh. E.U.P. 2006: 46-7.

HENDERSON, Mary. Dundee Women’s Trail: Twenty-five footsteps over four centuries. Dundee. Dundee Women’s Trail. 2008: 46-48. http://www.dundeewomenstrail.org.uk/

POLWART, Karine. “The Other Mary” in A. J. TAUDEVIN. Mrs Balfour’s Daughters. Oberon Press. 2015. (This post took a while. Finding this essay really helped me pull my writing together. I commend Karine’s work to you – a well-known Scots folksinger, she sings and talks about Mary on YouTube ‘The Jute Song’ with The Shee.)

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                               All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp. Copyright © under Australian Law.

Story 1 ? It’s Dun Telve

Yes, it’s certainly ancient and abandoned, but not quite as old as Newgrange in Ireland or Stonehenge, in England.

This is the remains of a broch just down the road from the village of Glenelg, Inverness-shire, Scotland.

This was not a ceremonial site. It’s an Iron-age fortified house with dry-stone walls built to protect a family group and their animals 2000+ years ago. It predates the Roman invasion of Britain.

You can see the walls have a space between. This allowed stairs and passageways to reach upper floors. There’s a possibility these brochs were built by itinerant craftsmen given such skilled work found in various parts of the country. This broch is one of the better preserved examples on the mainland – the best is on the island of Mousa in Shetland.

The wooden frame also supported a thatched roof.

This stone lintel would have been man-handled into position. There was a cubby in the wall on the right … for dogs.

We were the only visitors.

Here’s the gap above the entrance way showing the location of passageways.

The drive into Glenelg is well worth the view from the top of the Mam Rattagan Pass. Here’s the The Five Sisters of Kintail, popular with hill-walkers.

Remind me to tell you my version of ‘The Five Sister’s of Kintail ” sometime. I’d tell it differently from the Secret Scotland Tour guide.

Information from other sources

Local area info – Secret Scotland Tour guide to Glenelg

Undiscovered Scotland: Dun Telve

All text (other sources listed) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Tobermory: Lens Artists Challenge #65 – Pick a Place and Catch its Spirit

The British Fisheries Society established Tobermory as a fishing port on the island of Mull, Scotland in 1788. The cliffs around its natural harbour were scoured back to make room for a road and houses along to a deep water pier.

High tide October 2016 ©MegPhilp

Tobermory comes from the Gaelic “Tobar Mhoire” meaning ‘Mary’s Well.’ One dedicated to St Mary is located at the top end of the cliff. When I got there in 2016 the well had been long capped. The tap didn’t work so I couldn’t try the waters’ healing power.

No matter what, water rushes down from the cliff tops towards the sea. Everywhere you walk you can hear, and find, running, clear water. They make whisky in Tobermory.

When the nearby Strathearn Waterworks were completed in 1883, this Cherub Fountain was presented to the Burgh of Tobermory by Robert Strathearn. It no longer spouts water but there’s still a basin at the foot for thirsty canines.

The An Tobar Art Centre, once a primary school, is now a collective, community-run gallery (since 1998). This statue high up on the cafe wall caught my eye. I’d hazard a guess that this is St Mungo, Patron Saint and Founder of the city of Glasgow. There’s the bell from the legend, though the bird on his shoulder is too big to be the robin.

Addendum – This statue depicts St Columba, who founded the first Christian monastery on the nearby island of Iona in 563AD . The piece was made in 2007 by sculptor/mechanic Eduard Bersudsky of the Sharmanka Theatre group, who are based in Glasgow. Made of oak from the island, it’s an automated sculpture, with the small shoulder-perched bird ringing the bell on cue. [Thanks to Ester Morrison (Front of House Manager) who answered my emailed query.]

Is this St Mungo?©2016MegPhilp

And you can’t go past a local hero – The Tobermory Cat. A picture book about him by Debi Gliori was published in 2012. Here’s a second generation cat who carries on the tradition and patrols the main street and houses in town.

We came upon this little West Highland Terrier in a corner one of the craft shops. The woman behind the counter said she was keeping an watchful eye on him. Her neighbour had recently passed away and this had been his dog.

What kind folk there are in the world!

There’s only a few fishing boats in the harbour these days but its still a peaceful haven for locals, visitors and furry friends.

OOOOOOOOOOO

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Linked to Tina’s Lens Artists Challenge #65

More Sources at

Balamory children’s TV program. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Balamory. Downloaded 5 October 2019.

St Columba. https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/St-Columba-the-Isle-of-Iona/. Downloaded 21 October 2019.

The Tobermory Cat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8gLztkXwbc. Downloaded 5 October 2019

Remember That Coat

 

That coat was the colour of the sea on a sunny day, all green-blue with sand and seaweed tossed together … or was it darker … the colour I saw from the old bridge at Lossiemouth beach.

 

I loved the colour of it. I don’t know who had worn it before me. In our small family, children’s clothes were passed on to cousins. I was surprised when my mother produced it one day and made me put it on. Here was a ‘good’ coat. It was so heavy it flapped when I walked or walloped my legs if I ran. The label inside proclaimed ‘Harris Tweed.’ On the outside were brown, shiny leather buttons, a pocket each side with a silky soft, slippery lining and a staunch belt with a buckle I found hard to handle. The fabric felt the same as my dad’s good jacket, but his was mostly grey, with purple-pink bits when you looked really closely.

Dad explained how the cloth was woven on a loom and then dyed with all sorts of things, but mostly plants. Peering at my sleeve, I fingered the threads looking for a pattern. Sunday School was the perfect place to study the weaving, scratch at the different colours, pull off straggly fine hairs and fluff, all while humming softly. How were those buttons made? I wobbled one so much it had to be sewn back on again, tightly, while I stood watching.

The collar against my neck made me itchy so I had to put one of my Mum’s headscarves between coat and skin. Looking back, I think wearing that coat marked the beginning of my fashion sense, something that I did not share with my mother.

It all came out when we were getting ready to go to a summer wedding in town. Billy McTavish, who used to dandle me on his knee as a toddler, was getting married to a big girl I’d only met once. I adored this tall, young man and had been hoping he’d wait for me to grow up but here, now, he wasn’t.

My summer dress I liked. It was soft, white cotton scattered with little purple roses. It had two pockets. My white, hand-knitted cardigan had been taken out from under the carpet, peeled from its paper wrapping and held up beautifully pressed. This year’s Clark’s sandals had been freshly whitened. My white ankle socks were new.

I baulked as my mother approached bearing that tweed coat. I cried, which was as much of a tantrum I could ever muster then. I got worse when Mum got our straw hats down from the top of the wardrobe. How to explain what I felt? How could I explain why a straw hat does not go with a tweed coat? My younger sister was always more outspoken than I and surprised me some weeks later with retorts like “I’m not wearing that!” even on school days.

 

I cried more … unlucky before a wedding. My mother bargained. If I wore the coat I could carry the white basket (shaped like a flower pot with two life-like cherries on the side) that my aunty gave me when she came back from her big holiday. My sister beamed at this news. She’d get hers if I got mine! These two treasures had been locked in the china cabinet since the day Aunty went home, ages ago.

With my coat on, my precious basket was placed into my hands. My straw hat was straightened again. It looked like a flying saucer after an unsuccessful landing and was held in place by elastic which always left a red mark under my chin. There is a B&W photo somewhere in one of our family albums to prove all this. There we stood before the ceremony, holding the pose on the steps outside the kirk. Despite the basket,  you could tell how I was feeling by the look on my face, under that hat, in that coat.

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That Coat – Text, Drawings and photo from Lossiemouth Bridge by Meg Philp©2019

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Windows: Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #14

Taking a good photo is a challenge. Sometimes I see things that aren’t there.

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Image taken Balmerino Abbey ruins, one grey day.

This abbey has been in ruins since the Reformation in the 16th Century.  First it was the English who attacked the monastery, then it was the Scottish Protestants.

 I heard  Judy Small sing her ‘Walls and Windows” in Brisbane years ago.  She wrote great songs but gave up folksinging and is now a judge in the Family Law Court.

Here’s the last verse from that song-

Oh may we live to see the day when walls of words and fear
No longer stand between the truth and dreams
When walls of windows rise into the darkness and we dare
To look into the mirror and see peace.
   from Judy Small's song "Walls and Windows"

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Finding Your Treasure

Searching for stories that appeal and that I’d want to tell is like hunting for treasure. Lately, I’ve been searching for stories and images about treasure.

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I’ve had loan of a carefully wrapped 1919 collection of Hindu tales that Anne’s mother used to read aloud to her sister and she. They would talk about every story afterwards.

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This one is about a Brahmin, a much- revered holy beggar, who hoards the money and jewels he is given and then, to keep it safe, buries it all in the forest. When he discovers it’s been stolen, he announces he will starve himself to death, unless his treasure is returned! His treasure is returned when the king of that district cleverly finds the thief, whom he then pardons but whom the Brahmin will not. The story sets up the need to talk about it more by ending thus –

Every one who has read this wonderful story would, of course, want to know what became of him after that, but nothing more is told about him.

Stories need to be talked through, mulled over, repeated and given to someone else.

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Many a good story is shared over a cuppa. What a pot! There is a story there.

As I was walking a treasure to school on Wednesday, she talked about how, as part of Book Week celebrations,  a teacher had come dressed as a pirate. “She had lots of gold in a box, “she said. “Of course, it wasn’t real,” she added, sounding a bit disappointed.

Remember being excited as a kid by the notion of a treat kept in a special place you weren’t allowed to go?

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I used to be impressed by these cars … never drove one!

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A ‘Leaper’ bonnet mascot from an older Jaguar car.

A 13th century poet, Rumi, told of a poor man of Baghdad who had the same dream on several nights, telling him to go to Cairo where he would find treasure in a certain quarter, at a certain spot. He followed that dream, made the long journey, only to be captured by the night patrol while begging for food. He confessed to his captor why he had come to Cairo, who then admitted he’d had ignored a similar dream. His dream had told of treasure buried in Baghdad, in a certain street, in a particular house yard. As he listened, the captive realised it was in  his garden! As soon as he was set free, the poor man hurried home to find his treasure. What did he find?

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Plovers’ eggs which did eventually hatch, grow and fly the nest in a local park.

There’s a more recent (2007) Palestinian version of that ancient story called The Farmer Who Followed His Dream in a children’s collection by Sonia Nimr.   (I included this map of it in my last post.)

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It was when I told my version of the story again to a live, adult audience that the ending changed. A stranger came up and said how much they liked it. A regular  grinned and whispered across to me as I sat down, “Vintage Meg!”

The meaning made hangs on the storyteller’s intonation.

Without changing the final words,  I’d said them differently, for I was feeling and seeing what his treasure truly was when he reached home – family and children.

Treasure, for me, is the same  … and includes my extended family – the dear people I have as friends.

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A new grandson for a longtime friend.

References:

In Cairo Dreaming of  Baghdad, In Baghdad Dreaming of Cairo in Delicious Laughter: Rambunctious Teaching Stories from the Mathnawi of Jelaluddin Rumi. Versions by Coleman Barks. Athens, Georgia. Maypop Books, 1990.

A Royal Thief-Catcher in MITRA, S.M. (trans) Hindu Tales from the Sanskrit. Adapted by Mrs Arthur Bell. London Macmillan, 1919. pp 30 – 45.

The Farmer Who Followed his Dream in NIMR, Sonia. Ghadder the Ghoul and Other Palestinian Stories. London, Francis Lincoln, 2007. pp23 – 27.

All text and photos (except last one) by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

 

 

 

Story Maps and Spirals: Retelling

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During my last storytelling session at a local school, teachers were keen for me to show the students the maps I draw to help me retell a story.

These are working documents. The first map is for a Palestinian story. Like many folk tales, the protagonist leaves home on a quest. They solve their problem and return home with new understanding, having learned from their experience.

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In more complicated stories, I find drawing spiral maps helpful. This story map is about the break-up of a friendship,

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In retelling, I need the routine to make a stable base for the story. Tone of voice is crucial to set the mood for a good story and for the suspense that will come. When we’re introduced to a character and nothing out of the ordinary happens, then they’re stuck in a same old routine – not much of a story.

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Jack Maguire in his book ‘Creative Storytelling’ said it this way .

“Another fundamental of a good children’s story is that the plot revolves around an element of tension.” (1985:51)

A good story spirals into action, moving from ‘The Way it Was’ to ‘The Way it is Now’

Life can go up or down in half a second. Often a trigger / jolt / problem shifts characters out of their ordinary ways. Then more problems and possibilities arise.

Characters’ actions and speech build the tension either up to a better, satisfactory, resolution or down to an unhappy, unsatisfying one.

The ending must pull everything together.

Sometimes a story spiralling upward is funny. Moving this spiral clearly shows how the teller has been ‘winding up’ the audience, especially when kids don’t get the punch line of the joke, at first. ‘Shaggy Dog’ stories are a classic of this type.

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Source of quote

Jack Maguire. 1985 Creative Storytelling: choosing, inventing and sharing tales for children. New York, McGraw-Hill.

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is  Copyright © under Australian Law.

Serene Sail: Weekly Photo Challenge

On a summer trip to Edinburgh some years back, I went out one day to Cramond, to the park there and followed the River Almond down to the inlet.

All was quiet. Not a soul around, hardly a breeze. There was a scatter of sailing boats at anchor. The tide was out. What caught my eye was a line of swans gliding in.

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I had to get closer and enjoyed watching them sail in.

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… just beautiful and serene.

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As my granny used to say, “You can’t beat Scotland on a sunny day.”

Serene
For more info about Cramond, see the highlighted link for the Wikiwand article. Evidence of human habitation goes back to 8500BC. The Romans built a fort there, hence the name, which comes from Celtic word meaning ‘fort on the river.’

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All text and photos (trusty pocket Fuji) by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and is also Copyright © under Australian Law.