Monday, March 21, 2011

Accordion stories

I agree to tell stories in a day-ward.
Only then do I ask what age they are, the listeners.
Not old, the youngest is 84 years old.
I arrive to find six patients matched with six minders.
The minders do not have much English and I tell local stories to listeners who are locals grown old who will recognise the references.
One man mistakes me for a country and western accordion player with the same first name. He asks me to sing his/my greatest hits.
When I say I am a storyteller he goes into a huff until I finish telling a story to a 90-year-old who thinks she is in nursery school and who would rather be outside playing in the rain.
When I don't sing requests, the man goes off to bed in the middle of my finale and the woman throws a plastic cup at a rival across the room before I leave.
The booker says they had a great time and will I come again?
Not until I learn to play the accordion I say as I step out into the real world.
storytelling here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wild Times in Phoenix Park

I am on a radio station. Actually, I am on the national radio station at peak listening time.
It is a Monday at the beginning of a year when the Sunday is the public holiday and everyone is on a day off in lieu the following day, even if they are not.
Lots of people are travelling home in their cars and listening to radio when they would usually be doing something else.
I am being interviewed on my book: Phoenix Park: a History and Guidebook.
The interview goes well and I say there is a part of the national park in Dublin that is allowed to run a little wild.
When a branch falls or an old tree topples over it is left there if safe to do so. Natural woodland growth goes on around the fallen tree.
Next day, a listener rings me to ask where this wilderness area is located and is it safe to bring her children there while they are on school holiday?
I say it's wild in the sense that vegetation is allowed grow wild in a controlled way to create natural woodland.
She asks if there are many wild animals there that might attack her kids.
I say no and we finish the call.
Afterwards, I wonder if what she really wants is to find a place where wild animals can eat her school holiday children and she can get some peace.
A little knowledge for wild people is a dangerous thing and I wonder what she did with what I said.
Are there now feral kids in that area and would they attack me if I discover them?
park website

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stop that Barking

It seems like a good idea to self-sell my collection of original stories at fairs and exhibitions.
I decide a good name for the humorous nearly-true stories should be Barking Mad: Tales of Liars, Lovers, Loonies and Layabouts.
A fat man ask if it's a training manual for dogs?
No, it's a book of stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, I add in anticipation of a sale.
I need to train my dog, says my huffing customer.
Another wants to know if it will stop his neighbour's dog from barking. Only if you throw it at him, I say beneath my breath as he wanders away.
Who owns the dog a squinting woman asks of the cover model. I do, I lie wondering if that will make a difference?
I don't want to buy a picture of your dog, she says firmly.
Two lovers buy matching copies. I sign for both of them. The gorgeous girl can hardly breathe with excitement in the presence of her lover.
I sell the rest as gifts for your own true love.
I sell a dozen in a full day of blathering and re-load the remainder into my car breathless from hauling books to people who don't understand high literature.
Next time I'll call the book Tales of Mystery and Longing and print with a blank cover.
It might help.
buy the book yourself as a download