Thursday, August 9, 2018

Gael Cresp: Stories for Grown-ups Wonthaggi Library

August 8th was the final session in my current series of story sessions for grown ups held in Wonthaggi Library.
Gael Cresp (from the archives - library unknown)
I had an astonishing turnout: not only the majority of my usual listeners, there were several groups of people who just turned up out of the blue. All in all, there were 23 people (extra chairs had to be fetched more than once!) including one older man and three men in their twenties.

The topic I'd chosen was 'Politeness'.

The first story was 'The Lion's Whisker' an Ethiopian tale about a woman taming her step son.

Second, I told the 'Legend of Knockgarten' an Irish story about a man with a hump who had his hump removed by the faeries and a man who was rude and had his hump doubled.

Various versions of both of these can be found via a quick internet search.

The final story was 'The Toy Princess' by Mary de Morgan.
This story is about a country where everyone  'became so polite that they hardly ever spoke to each other. And they never said more than was quite necessary, as "Just so," "Yes, indeed," 'Thank you," and "If you please".'

No one spoke about feelings, likes or dislikes or anything of that nature.

When the King married, the new Queen died of a broken heart, but not before she'd given birth to little Ursula.

The crux of this story is that Taboret, the fairy god mother replaced the child with a doll who suited the kingdom most wonderfully well and took Ursula to a fisherman's cottage where she grew up with his sons and daughter.

Well you can guess the outcome - the eldest son and Ursula fell in love and when Taboret discovered it she endeavored to re-place the doll with the living princess.

She could not believe it when the entire kingdom voted to keep the doll, much to Ursula's relief as this left her free to marry her beau and live a normal life.

My version of this story came from 'The Hamish Hamilton Book of Princesses' first published in 1963. (This book came to me via the good offices of Susan Pepper when she was having a clean out - for this I thank her very much as I find much inspiration in its pages.)

What occurred to me last night as I did one final read though - just as I got to the end where they choose the toy who ALWAYS says the predictable thing -  is that the whole story could be seen as an analogy for the voters of the US and their choice of  their current president.
I didn't share this thought with my listeners but offer it to you all to ponder as it reinforces my belief that the old stories have so much to offer us as we attempt to make sense of our world.

Search and you shall find your stories....

Gael Cresp

Thank you Gael for this generous post on storytelling for adults in the Wonthaggi Library. Ed