Thursday, 17 October 2013

FAMILY FOLKLORE FANTASY



Since childhood, the notion of storytelling has completely and utterly fascinated me.  My first memory of my favourite pastime comes from listening to a cassette of fairy tales that my parents had bought for me for Christmas.  Bringing back memories of princess pink bed covers and listening to ‘The Princess and the Pea.'  The words painting vivid pixelated pictures in my head of the Princess trying desperately to sleep on thirteen mattresses.

My foray back to childhood was prompted by thoughts of my next story; piquing an interest in my favourite folklore.  In the midst of the search, I began to think about my own family folklore, rekindling an interest in the stories that have stitched and weaved through the fabric of the lives intertwined with mine.

There is story about my Nana and the ruby wedding ring.  During World War Two, my Nana had a pen friend from New Zealand, a gentleman named Claude who sustained injury during a campaign.  Although she refused a marriage proposal from Claude, she continued the friendship until she met and married my granddad in 1952.  As a gesture of friendship, he sent her a treasured possession; his gold ruby ring as a wedding gift for the girl he hoped to marry but was never destined to.  My granddad wore that ring until he left us.  Now my Dad wears it, to remember the man we lost and still miss every day and Claude, who died shortly after my grandparents married, is forever remember for his kindness to my family.

Then there is the tale from my Mum’s side of the family centring on my Granddad and his return from Kelty Club on a Saturday night in the 70s.  My Granddad, a loveable rogue of a man, was so intent on saying goodbye to friends that he spun unexpectedly and face planted into the hedge behind him.  Until the wee hours the only sounds that could be heard in the house were the bursts of giggles coming from my Gran as she remembered what happened.

Then there was the time, my Mum, Dad, brother and I were on Stirling High Street and my Dad suddenly stopped walking.  When we turned round to see what the matter he gasped out “Did you see that?” and pointed to a woman walking down the road.  “That was….Gloria Estefan!”  Bemused, we turned around to see a woman with curly red hair getting into a battered old mini.  To this day and with complete justification, we continue to tease my Dad mercilessly about his fan boy moment but he remains adamant that one day in the early 1990s Gloria Estefan was in Stirling – keeping it real.

My exploration of family lore has prompted an interested in fabled and hidden treasure, inspiring a trip to Rosslyn Chapel, made infamous by The Da Vinci Code.  My visit encouraged not just by the musings of Dan Brown, but by the stories of Knights Templar Treasure that is rumoured to be hidden beneath the walls, protected by the intricate carvings dotted around the structure.  My recent musings on storytelling led me to ponder a question.  Where do we the modern storytellers of the digital age sit amongst these legends of lore?  What will my ancestors think of my creative mutterings hundreds of years from now?  I guess that’s one question I'll never have an answer to.  I still feel the same hope that I do with the readers with me in this time, that somewhere among the twisted sentences and verb formations that a word or a sentence strikes those who need it and helps them become the person they are meant to be.  That’s what I think my job as a Writer is; to add a little splodge of colour to the great creative landscape.   To add a little part of me that will stay within this space and mean something to someone…somewhere.  That’s what happens to me when I see a painting, a photograph, hear a song or read a poem or story.  For a moment while my eyes adjust to the colours and my mind takes in the words; I am transported on a journey manifested by the person who created it.  It’s invisible, untouchable and pure unfathomable magic.

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; tell your fable.  When I open the cover of a new book, I feel a frisson of excitement as my eyes hungrily scan the words unread and yet to be realised within my imagination.  The 6 year old hiding within me does a little victory dance, in celebration of all things creative and my everlasting belief in what you can’t see is just as special as what you can.  We are all living lore.  So splash paint over your cave wall and share your hopes, dreams and stories.  Leave your imprint to be celebrated and mused over by future generations.  I dare you.

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