Why Worry! You can't worry about what can't be changed. Can you?...Was I worried though? Was I frustrated though? Did it turn out OK? "You should have taken the train that's just left!"

The Highs and Lows of storytelling…

A paid gig. A  garden centre in Brighton for 4 x 30 minutes of Christmas stories for families with children up to eight years of age. What an opportunity for some travel and meeting people to  showcase stories. Train tickets purchased and the timetable worked out. Arrive Brighton about midnight and look around the town for a place to eat, hopefully over 24 hours, where I can lay my head down for an hour or so. What's to worry about?

Let's start outside my street where the bus stops to take me to the station, the 17.10 to Leamington. I arrived at 17.05 to sit with an elderly woman who had been there a while. We spoke for a while and then I glanced at my watch, 17.20. And so it went on-an on.

At 17.40 we both figured that the company had simply withdrawn that bus and the next one was 17.50. A long wait, but I had plenty of time before the 21.10 train to Birmingham for the first stop. At 18.00 the bus came, not the 17.50, it was the first bus, nearly an hour late because of traffic. But, no worries, I was on.

Twenty minutes later, the bus was stuck in traffic under a mile from the station.
"You'd be best get off and walk," the driver told both of us. I needed no second invitation to take her advice. I picked up my rucksack, slung it over my back and started to walk, eventually walking through the reception area, buying my tickets and sitting down to wait a few minutes for the connection. It arrived without too much wait. 

New Street Station:

20.30: Plenty of time to catch the 21.10 to Milton Keynes for stage three. Had a coffee and wandered down to the platform. There was a train in the going to Euston (I think) via Milton Keynes but it was the one before my scheduled one so I thought I'd wait-better stick to the plan, right? Out it went and wait for my train.
"The 21.10 to Euston via Milton Keynes has been delayed after a passenger was hit on the rails" I think those were the words, but I can't be sure. What the delay was going to be though, no one seemed to have any idea.
"I've got to be in Milton Keynes by 10.30" I told the man on the platform "do you have any idea when it will be?"
He replied he didn't know, but suggested I should have caught the train which had just left, that was going to Milton Keynes! Grrrrr.

Milton Keynes:
I arrived at Milton Keynes around midnight. Just a few minutes after the train to Clapham Junction had pulled out. Why was that significant? Yes! That was my next destination. The guard on the platform was, this time, really helpful.
He told me to forget my plans, go to Euston, underground to Victoria and then to Three Bridges.
That was the last but one stop on my schedule before Brighton.
This part of the journey was easy, a doddle compared with what I had put up with. The experience had been frustrating but nothing to worry about.

Three Bridges:
At last, one more stop before Brighton. One more train journey before I can lay my head down somewhere. STOP!
The line between Three Bridges and Brighton is undergoing maintenance. There is now a coach laid on which takes over an hour. Just one more little dig in the ribs, one more turn of the screw.
At least I will be able to sleep for an while, and to be fair I did. Until! At last. Brighton Station.

We all, I think, climbed off the bus weary and worse for wear. I know I did. But that was OK now because I had sussed out a 24 hour eatery on the sea front. That was just under a mile away. It was, however, 2.45 am, there weren't too many people about to ask which way the seafront was and the people who  were around, weren't really around if you know what I mean-the aroma of marijuana was thick in the air, even though the number of people around could be counted on one hand.
I walked in one direction until I came to a shop still selling goods and asked directions. I was on the right road.
"It's a straight road until you reach the seafront and then turn left."
I know what you're thinking. Once again I'd met a gremlin, a spanner in the works. No! He was spot on, straight for about 1,000 yards and turn left. Only, when I turned left it seemed that every night club in Brighton had closed at the same time and poured it's contents out onto the street, in various stages of inebriation and dress (or undress for the older readers). Every eating place from McDonalds to the fish and chip shop was heaving with humanity, squealing, shouting, laughing. I needed Buddies Restaurant but I have to say I was a bit wary of asking anyone where it was. But, in the end, there it was. A bright restaurant, with lights blazing and outside tables. It was packed.

Buddies Restaurant:
Now, Buddies, I have since found out is famous in Brighton. It certainly was on Saturday morning, but the staff found me a table for one and a menu of staple restaurant foods. I decided that the fish and chips, with garlic bread and a pot of tea would probably last me the longest-and thus mean the least time on the street.
It worked. I was able to make the meal last from 4 am until just gone 5, and then sort of melted into the background until 6 am. The staff didn't seem to care. They were still busy with people coming-or staggering in. (I have to praise the staff here. They were brilliant. The noise all night was deafening, many of the customers were in that state where they were either 'jack the lad' or 'Sally the ladette'.
Through it all the staff smiled took orders and served promptly. It did strike me later, that fish and chips at 4 am was a bit out of the ordinary.

The Last Leg?
Refreshed, food wise anyway, I left the restaurant to make my way back to the station to catch a bus, eventually, to the garden centre. It was still only 6 am so I thought a stop off at another, quieter café would at least give me the chance to get my head down for an hour or two. I bought a coffee, found a quiet corner, set my alarm and put my head down. A sort of sleep came. I woke at around 8.30 am and leaving the untouched coffee went for my bus on the final part of the journey.
"Wyevale Garden Centre please."
"That bus doesn't go from here, take the 7 into town and catch the 2."
OK, no problem, I'd been told that morning that the bus to the garden centre left from outside the station, but no problem.
"When's the next bus to the centre?"
"20 minutes. It would be quicker to walk!"

So I walk back the way I'd come earlier that morning to catch the bus to the garden centre. It was, by now about 9.10 and I'd seen that the journey would take 20 minutes, which would be fine. Except the only bus to the garden centre was 'due'  in 18 minutes which was cutting it fine. The traffic in the town was snarled anyway and I had no idea whether that would increase the travel time.
Now I was worried...not frustrated or angry (too tired for that), worried that I would miss the stipulated 10 am arrive time and forfeit the contract.
Last resort, a taxi.
I arrived at the garden centre at 9.50 am, had the stand set up by 10 am and ready to go at 10.30 am.
The rest of the day was smooth sailing...stories told, children sat through (mainly) and the parents happy with the event. Home in two hours less than it took to get to Brighton and time to sleep.

Frustrated-At times
Angry-Not really
Worried-Only once.
Result: A story to tell. An invite to return in December. A life lesson learned. Plans are great until the first shot is fired, then just handle it.

Coyote...The First April Fool?

“They say that First Man sent Coyote to discover the source of the dawn. The first thing he did was to steal two of Water Monster’s children, keeping them tucked under his arm while great flood ravaged the land, but that certainly isn’t the worst thing he did.

First Man gave him the name Coyote, which ruffled his fur the wrong way, so he renamed him First Angry, which, in the end, he accepted, and went on his way. It was after that, however, that he stole the polestar, which First Man and First Woman had laid out on the piece of blue velvet; then tried to steal the sun, but it was too hot to hold on his tongue, and he had to spit it out. (from Tunkashila…a Mythological Saga of Native Americans)

The tales of the fool have probably been told since people began to gather together and live in one place, but the way we treat the fool , and the story of the fool differs between cultures. The Native Americans and many other aboriginals treated their ‘fools’ as special, with the gift to bring humour and much needed laughter to the tribe. In the west we often had a different approach to ‘fools’.

On March 22nd we, at StoryTelling Corner honour April 1st and all ‘fools’.

StoryTelling Corner is a complete success...

       StoryTelling Corner Is A Huge Success….says the audience.

   Storytelling returned to Leamington on Thursday 25th January at Slate Art Gallery with the three compelling storytellers, Julie Goddard, Stephanie Summers and Jo Howarth, entertaining and educating an audience ranging from our youngest ever visitor under six to two of our stalwarts let’s say, over 60.

   The evening began with socialising in the creative interior of Slate Art Gallery with wine, beer and snacks provided by the gallery-owner Kate Livingston. The art on show for the final week was a series of nudes, by Neil Moor entitled ‘Sympathetic Magic'

   Kate told us that although each portrait showed a single nude figure, the artist purposely mixed up the body parts from different models to emphasise womanhood rather than one woman. This theme tied in perfectly with our aim to provide equality of opportunity for female storytellers. The aura of creative art and compelling stories was created with that first half hour as the storytellers and the audience mixed and got to know each other.

   The evening was opened with a welcome from Ernie Boxall who delivered a short monologue on an experience which, spread over some forty years, led him to believe it was a historic connection to Kenilworth Castle which led to ‘How I Got Here’.

   Our first storyteller, Julie Goddard, educated us with her knowledge of bronze age Briton…and the myth of ‘What the Romans did for us!’ Roads, language, art and community were all established long before the Romans defeated the various tribes scattered across the country. Julie has the ability to bring the stories of the past into our times by linking her own life-experiences-being continually told she shouldn’t follow her dreams or that her grades made success in her chosen field almost impossible. Julie ended the evening being asked about her business ‘Woodgate Consulting’ helping people ‘be the best they can be.’

Julie’s takeaway lesson is:
“You are the heroine of your own quest. Listen to your supporting characters wisely-we all need people who challenge as well as champion us!”

   Stephanie Summer, the owner of Zoubisou in Leamington amazed us all with her story of how her early life-experiences were almost perfectly set up to allow her to become a successful, published author of a series of eight books under the title ‘Indigo Lost’ following the story of a female with some extraordinary powers, a little like Stephanie herself who combines prolific writing with the long hours running her business. Stephanie closed the evening signing all the books she sold on the evening.

   Finally, it was an honour and privilege to have Jo ‘Happiness’ Howard drive down from Liverpool to deliver an inspirational, and sometimes the tear-inducing story of an actress who was often ‘resting’ and was in a relationship which certainly wasn’t making her ‘happy’. Over the next twenty minutes, Jo used her story, her experience and her exuberance to show us the happiness involved in making a cup of tea.

Jo’s Take Away Lesson:
“Happiness is a choice we are all capable of making every day, regardless of the difficulties we might be facing!”

   Ernie closed the event by thanking everyone for supporting StoryTelling Corner especially Rich Amore Wilks for his professional production of audio/video content. Rich honoured us by being the main storyteller at or November event with his tales of climbing and adventuring around the world.

   Special thanks go to Simmie Korotane for her PR and her enthusiasm for StoryTelling Corner. Simmie has been invaluable over the last five months as we have grown from inception to our first steps. (Perhaps also a thank you to Simmie’s Mom Nim…who came along for her first visit to our venue before flying back home.

   Our next StoryTelling Corner is on Thursday 22nd March at Slate Art Gallery and the theme ‘April Fool’. So, are you a storyteller…are you a female storyteller who could entertain us for twenty-minutes…are you a male with a story to make people laugh.

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