I can’t help it. I cannot stop telling stories either telling them aloud or writing them down because I was born in a magic place full of stories. These included Cantre Gwelod , a city beneath the waves; Ceridwen, the witch, who threw the baby Taliesin into the ocean in a leather bag, and a white lady who emerges from caves in the cliffs. This place is Borth, a tiny seaside village on the west coast of Wales.
The village of Borth
It was a lovely place to grow in because it had the most beautiful beach with a splendid prehistoric submerged forest, which even now is becoming increasing visible as more and more storms arrive. The village stretches out in a long line along the beach and behind it lays a great stretch of bogland, which because of the danger of sinking into peat, is always treated with respect. The old hag who lived there on the bog was said to afflict all who met her with a shaking sickness. Then at the far end of the beach was a cliff pocked with holes which could become caves where mysterious creatures lived. Out at sea there where porpoises and maybe the odd mermaid gambolled and best of all there are the most glorious sunsets.
The cliffs where the white lady lives
I was a sickly shy child, who missed a lot of school when I was very young. My mother was such a good storyteller that I was slow to read for myself and then when I did learn to read, I read everything I could lay my hands on including those great favourites of the 1950’s - Enid Blyton’s adventure stories, any illustrated books of fairy tales and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ , just the sort of books we call Vintage now and of which March books have such a fine selection.
My battle with shyness meant that I was determined when I was an adult to help children overcome this problem. When I became a teacher, I began to teach more and more Drama. I spent 4 years in Moncton, Canada where we used Drama to try to deal with the difficulties of the French – English hostilities in the town.
Secretly I was feeling the urge to become a performer myself and was delighted to discover the art of traditional oral storytelling from Taffy Thomas and so for several years I wandered around Essex telling stories in schools and historic buildings. By this time I was living in Brightlingsea, Essex, which still has fine sailing boats Then to my delight, I was asked by History Press to put all these stories in a book called ‘Essex Folk Tales’ and I discovered more tales of smugglers, ghosts, battles and witches and surprising six dragons!
It was hard work but I was always encouraged in my labours by Mrs Puskin, my cat has always sits by my side while I type. She even sometimes tries to press the keyboard to help! So to please her, my latest book has been “An Amazing Storytelling Cat”.
The Amazing storytelling cat
Now this cat is called Kiyoko and he is a Japanese bob tail cat with one green eye and one blue eye who tells enchanting tales to his five lost cats. What a collection the stories are as they include is a ghost story from China, a Halloween tale from America, a humorous tale of the mouse who fell in a beer barrel, an Egyptian cat goddess and a queenly white cat from Ireland !
The lost cats who listen to Kiyoko
To find them, just look me up on Amazon or go to my web site www.Janwilltell.co.uk
Jan in Essex
Thank you so much Jan, I'm sure readers of this blog will enjoy your lovely post, Barbara.