Monday, May 30, 2011

Beware the mad fairies

A man emails me early in the morning following my folk tales presentation in a town several towns away from where I live.
I like best to tell stories of the hatchas that hang about the corners of the town where I live now, my mother's people's town. But last night I went foreign.
He is territorial, like many males in a historical society audience.
It's their history and their geography so agree with them, they say with their mind thoughts.
This can be hard when you don't know what's in their skull even when they eyeball you from the back of the room.
This man says he has consulted official maps and it would appear that the location where the brother disappeared with the fairy gold is not marked thereon. This from a story I told, too well.
I already explained that a large housing estate now grows where once the little people danced. I add the news that the developer went mad as a result. He now digs up footpaths seeking buried treasure when nobody is about.
This man is mad in a different way. He wants the treasure of knowledge he thinks I possess. He wants to know where the fairy rath is located.
I say it is where it is and know then that I have made someone madder with a bad answer.
I could have told him where the rath now lies; but I am scared in a mild class of a way.
You see, it's the fairies you need to stay clear of.
For, they are nuts altogether.
storytelling here

Monday, May 23, 2011

Losing your audience to a dress

I agree to talk about Phoenix Park in Dublin to an active retirement group. My first mistake is accepting an afternoon booking. The second is the fault of a rival attraction.
People would be interested in hearing the author of Phoenix Park: a History and Guidebook speak to them, I am told.
I agree, since I am that author.
The venue is within a complex at a church. I arrive early and see the bride sashay down the aisle to claim her new husband.
Back in my own area I stand on a platform to tell the people about the park. I determine to do well.
As gently as you could imagine, the first row falls asleep like nodding daffodils on a soft spring day. I push on with the second row.
The organiser whispers that I need to finish up soon because Michelle is due in to lead a gentle aerobics session.
Before that, they need to have tea. During the 19th century, the tea committee abandon the second row and leave the room to switch on the water boiler.
I have to shout to the back row when the bridal bells ring out at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony.
They stare at the door in case the groom wanders in seeking advice from the senior citizens on what he is to do next.
When he fails to appear, they rush out to see the bride as she poses for pictures.
I fall into conversation with the sole remaining listener.
When I look up the room is empty, tea is being had elsewhere, so I leave before Michelle arrives and includes me in her aerobics programme.
I am just in time to miss the departure of the active wedding party.
I wish them well and hope they never tire.
storytelling here

Monday, May 16, 2011

Home is where the scandal is

I arrive to tell stories in my hometown pro bono as part of the local homecoming festival.
 But nobody has come home for the festival, except me.
 Those who never left are too busy watching ads on TV to turn up to hear me tell stories about them, lightly disguised.
 The keyholder is nowhere to be seen though I strike the wooden door with my balled fist many times. 
 I wait outside the door wondering whether I should leave town again, and soon. I could always make a call to the organisers tomorrow and assure them I would be available at no cost in the future to tell no stories to no one outside a locked hall.
 But then, a few people wander along and when the crowd waiting outside has swollen to three, including me, the keyholder leans out the top window and says she will be down now.
 Seven seats fill up inside and I tell stories from here there and everywhere to my audience.
 When the town gossip takes a seat she makes mental note as I tell a spare scurrilous tale adapted from 1001 Arabian Nights and bowlderised for local telling.
 She goes away convinced she has heard the truth about her neighbours, which in a way she has --- though not in the way she thinks.
 I finish, I accept the plaudits and go to where I live now.
 Home may be home forever; but it is a hard place to play, without screaming.
storytelling here

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Red lights and happy nights

I am late leaving a meeting in a city hotel.
Outside while walking to my car another lategoer stops me to talk about nothing. He seems afraid to be alone, to go home.
Some people are like that. I grow even more vague in my answers and finally he leaves.

I get the car out of the parking area and drive up to the traffic lights a little way up the street. They go red. I stop.
Sitting in your car at a red light, late at night can be a lonely time, especially when you have just come from a meeting where conversation flowed like water from a burst main.
What happens, I tell myself afterwards was not my fault.

I am looking along the street when a lone woman comes along and nods at me. Being polite and thinking she knows me I nod back.
She smiles, I smile and wonder where I know her from.
Then she is sitting in the passenger seat sighing with her eyes closed like someone who has come a long journey and is just glad to be sitting down.

The light goes green and I drive off, with a woman I realise I do not know in my car. Techically, I have kidnapper her. I ask her what she wants and she asks me the same question.
It is then I realise I am dealing with a professional. The nods and the smiles were an offer to treat and to discuss terms.

I make an illegal U-turn and drive back towards the traffic lights all the while explaining to my companion that it was a mistake and I am tired.
She says she is also tired and as soon as I pay her the 100 per cent cancellation fee we can call it a night and will I give her a lift home?
Which is how I finally settle on a get-out-of-the-car fee just as the other lategoer drives up to the lights in his car.

It is too much to hope that he has not seen me paying off a night worker in my car at a red light.
I have a reputation as a party man ever since and sometimes get calls from men who ask me to say where action might be found.
I just tell them to drive around, it will find them.

Just don't stop for red lights, I say.

storytelling here