Wind was the highlight of this morning. We, Storytellers’ Studio, were setting up in the bandstand in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, UK.  Extended poles were stretched between support posts, from which we tried really hard to drape bright coloured satin lengths of material to give us a backdrop suitable for storytelling. We pegged, bricked, tied the material together, to the poles, to the supports. Whatever we did the wind blew away. After an hour and a half of thinking we had it licked an almighty gust came and the whole lot blew up in our faces! The next few minutes were spent chasing our leaflets which were dancing along the floor of the bandstand only to leap to uncertain future onto the paved area and thence to the grass.

Having righted the chairs we took it all down and had to rely on the story carpet and chairs to attract people.  To be honest there were few about even though this had been publicised as part of Birmingham’s Heritage Day. The fact there was an Arts Fest going on in the city centre at the same time might have something to do with it.

Three little ones with two parents started us off. I went first. I am experimenting with my modern version of Grimms’ The Frog and the Golden Ball, so I told that.

I had given a straight rendition in a club a couple of weeks ago, but listening to the others telling stories that they had rooted in the local area even though some of the stories were definitely not local, had given me food for thought. So I changed it to my home town of Newport, Gwent and the house I grew up in. That seemed to work in its second outing at a different club. Then I tried it on my grandchildren (4 & nearly 3), simplifying the cast of characters and some of the more adult aspects. Since they had no idea about Newport’s transporter bridge, they live in Scotland, it seemed pointless to put that in. Over the last couple of nights that they stayed with me I told them the same story. They liked it. They like any story to be honest, although they have strong preferences for dinosaurs and fairy princesses.

In the original there was a princess, now I had a little girl playing ball up against a wall. Her ball instead of dropping into a well now fell into a gooseberry bush ( we have one in the garden). The rest was pretty much the same until the frog got thrown against the wall. In the original he changed into a prince. In mine he died. However, before there are any screams of deceit and sacrilege, I had her draw a frog and write a story about him where he did change into a prince. The children today all accepted that as a good outcome. I was pleased with that as a young children’s story.

The more adult version has a lonely child in a big family wishing to be taken away into a land of dreams and through the death of the frog and her writing of the story her way was able to do so. She was making her world bearable by telling stories, don’t we all?

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