Thursday, March 23, 2017


Graham Rogers posted this on the Facebook page of The Sting in the Tale:

Many of you will have heard the sad news of Pete Gritton, who died last week in Spain. For many years he performed in the Sting in the Tale festival, New Forest Storytellers, Heads & Tales storytelling club, Jigfoot band and took part in many other events and theatrical performances.
He was a lovely storyteller and talented musician, with a passion for Vikings and Norse sagas, a commanding presence and wonderful sense of humour. His storytelling and music must have left an impression on thousands of people and he will be sadly missed.
However, our loss is Odin's gain and if you gaze up into the moonlit sky this Spring you'll surely hear all those in the great hall of Valhalla, in Asgard, roaring with laughter as Pete tells his tale of Loki and Thor.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Tim is a singer and musician as well as a storyteller and a guardian of Dorset heritage.
He will be occupying the first two sessions of our meeting on Thursday 16th March - this is the new format, with an earlier start and two intervals - and in the third session the floor will be open to other tellers. So come along and listen - and then tell!

Thursday, February 23, 2017


... which is a much nastier tale than one might imagine. The rich man, who has been trapped up there, is waiting for the crows to peck him to death with their iron beaks...


Russian Tales spiked with Stalin [the narrative equivalent of vodka with chillies, which Stalin used to serve at the parties he held in his dacha in Kuntsevo] included the following: The Golden Mountain, Master Misery, The Hare, the Bear, the Peasant and the Fox, The Snow-Maiden, and Beautiful Vasilisa. They were spiked with Proverbs from Mingrelia. After Mike, Jason told The Bride among the Pines [of his own composing], Janet told us about Yuri and the Geese of Baba Jaga, Raph told us about the Russian fear of people with ginger hair, and Maddie was overtaken by time.

Here are the Mingrelian proverbs:

Here's The Golden Mountain

Here's Master Misery

Here's The Hare, the Bear, the Peasant and the Fox

Here's The Snow Maiden

And here is Beautiful Vasilisa

Friday, February 10, 2017


This is a great chance for anyone who wants to get started - and it's run by two of our storytellers!

Saturday, February 25th, 10am to 4pm in Christchurch Library

A snip at £5!


The first half will be occupied by Mike Rogers, telling Russian Tales, Spiked with Stalin - rather like vodka with chillies in, he says.

The second half will be open to anyone who wants to tell a story...

Remember, to fit all this in, we will be starting earlier than we used to, at 7.30pm...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Local storytellers display their wares, telling whatever comes out of their storybags!

And, of course, all-comers can join in...

Note the earlier starting-time: 19.30...


Only two listeners - but three tellers! Maddie told Fox and Bear Go Fishing; Mike told Felicity and the Christmas Crib; Raph told How Old Duck Egg Cured A Little Girl And A Little Fox; Maddie told Gawain and the Green Knight. After the interval, Mike told Dancing Dan's Christmas [you can google the original by Damon Runyon]; Raph told How Coyote Acquired A Blanket; and Maddie told a stonking version of Old Appletreeman. A good preparation for Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016



Snow? Ice? Warm fires? Mulled wine? Who knows? Come along and find out! Or even contribute your own story - stories told in December count as December stories!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Seven tellers – it would have been eight, but one had to cry off at the last minute – told the story – or stories of Loki, the Mischief-Maker [and sometimes a Maker of Worse Than Mischief].

Paul started us off, and put everything in context, with bright and shiny new Asgard needing protection from the Giants of Ice and Snow and Frost... and when an itinerant mason, with a talented horse, offers to build a wall... though the price is a bit steep...

After that, Mike stepped in for absent Alan, and told, out of strict order [we'll change it next time] Thor's Journey to Utgard – with Loki...

Then Raphael told us how Idun was kidnapped [the Giants were after her apples]. Loki was, I'm afraid, to blame – but he also sorted it out... and even made Skadi laugh [we'll not go into how, not on a family page] after her father had been killed, and she'd married the wrong man...

After that Mike conducted the Assembled Storytellers in a corporate account of The Loss of Sif's Hair [Loki? Yep!] and The Competition of the Dwarves at Smithing [from which Mjöllnir, Thor's Hammer, emerges, despite Loki's insectile intervention Рand we also find out how Loki got his crooked smile...]

Mishca told us all about Loki's Children [a nasty lot!]

Jason gave us a hilarious account of Thor's Drag Act [Loki's fault? Well... probably. It was certainly Loki's idea...] which he had to do to get his hammer back. A God doesn't feel like a God without his Hammer.

Darren's dark version of The Death of Baldr was all the more powerful for coming after Jason's hilarity.

Maddie did full justice to the verbal violence which Loki unleashed on “his friends, the Gods” in his Flyting – the kind of party you don't want to be invited to!

Then Mike wrapped up Loki's career – how he hid in a waterfall and was trapped by his own invention, the net, and then secured and punished until the end of the world.

After which, as Paul reminded us, there was [for Baldr, at least, as Odin muttered into his dead ear] the chance of Rebirth...

Friday, October 21, 2016


Eight of us - seven tellers and one listener, but one teller had been unwell and didn't tell - but what an enormously varied evening!

Paul took us to the shtetlach in the Pale of Settlement of Tsarist Russia, where the rich Jewish doctor, who had failed to cure the cobbler's wife, lost his fat fee, thanks to the Rebbe's Talmudic precision of interpretation.

Then Jason took us to a fantasy land, where the Blue Ettin caused havoc and the King made the usual offer of sex and property to the successful pest control officer. Sir Bragadoccio's squire, Ulrich, proved braver and cleverer and more successful than his master, but his reward was his master's dagger in his ribs. However, music and magic saw to it that justice was done. [I would advertise Jason's Halloween gig, including this story, at The Art House on October 27th - but it's sold out! Watch for a repeat...]

Darren had us all silent and scared with his superb account of an Edinburgh hotel which was not altogether canny... he called it The Unquiet.

Alan's venture into Scotland, which he had from Duncan Williamson, was about Angus MacDonald MacDougal Maclean and the presumption of innocence. [I'm not going to spoil a good story by giving away too much! I want to tell it myself.]

Maddie told a version of the Juniper Tree which contained all the elements from the traditional tale out of Grimm, but somehow managed to make them completely fresh and new-minted.

Finally, in a story that he specifically situated on All Hallows' Eve, Mike took us to Eling churchyard, above Southampton Water, and told us what happened to Mary on that night, right through until dawn, and a little bit afterwards.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Which category do you belong to? Come along and find out tomorrow at The Boston Tea Party in Ringwood!

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Eight of us were there, and four told. Raph reprised Hank Nicholson and the Temple of Sin from Sarum Story Club on Tuesday - look it up on facebook if you want to see the Chinese characters for Wrath and Mirth, the two stone temple dogs which play such a decisive role in the story. Then Maddie told Jack and the Devil, which she had from Daniel Morden at Beyond the Border, and which explains the presence of all the little creatures, fairies and pixies and piskies and so forth, and extols the virtues of reading aloud [though, as we all know, proper storytelling is better]. After the interval, Michelle told her second story ever, which was as clear and concise and powerful a version of The Man who Went Looking for His Luck as I have ever heard [certainly better than this one]. Now we look forward to her third story! Finally, Mike updated and modified the Grimm story, Bearskin, whose original version you can read here.

Friday, August 19, 2016


A modest gathering assembled for Holiday Tales - I expect the rest were away on holiday. Seven people and two dogs we were. Maddie told us a story she had brought home from holiday, having learnt it in a workshop at Beyond the Border, the great biennial storytelling at St Donat's in Wales. Moreover, it is a Welsh story, recorded in the 12th century by Gerald de Barri, a Welsh-born Norman churchman. You can read the original version here - it starts on p. 68. Mike, too, told a story he heard at St Donat's, told there by Clare Muireann Murphy in her show with Daniel Morden. It was all about a Frenchwoman whose baking was so good and so appropriate that people suspected her of witchcraft - so she sailed away to another country, and there helped two women over the matter of a baby that was both wanted and unwanted. A dog was also involved - and the mention of this fact definitely got the attention of two members of our audience. Mark read us a most amusing account of his holiday and the preparations for it in terms of purchasing clothes and footwear.

In the second half, Michelle told her first ever story, about the King of the East and the King of the West and The Perfect Garden. Now that she's started, we look forward to hearing her tell every time.

Mike gave us what purported to be a reminiscence of a holiday on the mysterious West Coast of Scotland, which you can read here, and Maddie concluded the evening with another story she had studied in the workshop at St Donat's, Cap o' Rushes, which you can read here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Paul led off our series of up-to-date stories with concerned parents in a paediatrician's waiting-room - following Horace's instructions in his Ars Poetica 147-9 to plunge in medias res, 'into the thick of it', rather than beginning ab ovo, 'from the egg' [Horace meant the one from which Helen, later Helen of Troy, was hatched - but that would have required a gynaecologist's, or an obstetrician's, or maybe a vet's waiting-room]. The story turned out to be The Pickpockets' Child - but none the worse for that, nor for the fact that he admitted having stolen it from Jane, who told us that she had stolen it [at one remove] from Taffy Thomas, who had stolen it from...
Then Raphael told us how easily people can be deceived - a mediaeval Spanish, Moorish-derived version of The Emperor's New Clothes, which we were free to apply to whatever recent events we chose. Maddie told us The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, which was an enormously consoling conclusion to the first half, suggesting that things may turn out all right after all.
Mark, absent for a long while, told us about Tudor tailors, and the true origin of the word'garbage'. Then Jane brought us really up to date, with the story of a young man whose home was not his sanctuary but his prison, and how he fought to free himself from it, out of concern for a woman whose daily appearance in her delivery-van had always been a bright spot in his life, and whose absence spurred him on to take charge of his life, and visit her in hospital.
Mike told a story created in 2012, the story of Tim Rakewell, the software-designing, upwardly socially mobile hero of Grayson Perry's series of six tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences, all the way from his childhood in Sunderland [The Adoration of the Cage-Fighters] to his pointless death in a middle-aged macho motor duel in an Essex retail park, with his shaken and bloodstained new trophy-wife looking on.
But you can't end an evening like that, with a star-screened i-phone as a memento mori, so Paul told The Wonderful Pig, and we all went home smiling [except for the vegans and vegetarians, of course.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Sometimes, the tales that storytellers tell seem to be set in a distant past, with no planes, no trains, no automobiles, no computers and certainly no mobile phones. That means they don't 'look' modern - but it doesn't mean that what happens, or the way people behave to one another, isn't just like what goes on all around us, right here, right now.

This meeting is dedicated to removing the olde-worlde patina, and polishing the tales up a bit for the present day. One strand will be A Rake's Progress, not Hogarth's from the eighteenth century, but Grayson Perry's from the twenty-first, as shown in the six tapestries of his series, The Vanity of Small Differences, currently on display at the National Trust property, Croome, in Worcestershire. Be prepared to have your preconceptions adjusted. Storytelling is the art of getting the pictures from the teller's head into the listener's.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Excitement! We had a coach-party [well, more less, I'm a storyteller, I'm allowed to exaggerate a bit] from Farnborough in Hampshire, celebrating  the eightieth birthday of a gentleman who is a regular at Three Heads in a Well and wanted to convert his friends to the joys of storytelling for adults. On our mettle, we responded as follows: Maddie told a Hodja/Nasruddin story, The Smell of a Sausage, the Sound of a Coin, and followed it up with The Origin of Strawberries, a Cherokee tale. In the second half she gave us Count Corky, who knew all about life from books, but was brought to experience it for itself, as a child again. Raphael told us a Bohemian story, about Jana, her unreasonable step-sister, and the Months of the Year, and in the second half the Chinese story of The Two Brothers, one nice, one nasty, and how the nasty one got his comeuppance. Alan recounted how Nasruddin avoided preaching, and then gave us an insight into the effects of wine [not personally, you understand!]. Mike told two of his favourites, Silver on the Hearth and The King Who Always Worried and in between The Boy Israel and the Witch, all part of an advertising campaign for Shonaleigh, the wonderful Jewish storyteller on July 7th at The Art House in Southampton.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


What do you think of as quintessentially English? Morris Dancing? Charles Dickens? [We had Shakespeare last month!] Cream Teas? [I know a story about them!] Come along and have your expectations confirmed or confounded!


Shakespeare was the theme. Mike reminded us of the trouble Shakespeare nearly got into in 1601, when those conspiring with the Earl of Essex to depose Queen Elizabeth ordered a performance of Richard II as an appropriate propaganda preparation on the Saturday before [they paid 40/- for it, since the players said it was too old a play to get a good house].
Then Raph told the original story of Amleth from Saxo Grammaticus, which you can read here
After that, Maddie told King Thrushbeard [Grimm52…/gri…/52thrushbeard.html] which greatly resembles The Taming of the Shrew. Steve Tonkin, who can only attend when the nights are light [otherwise he has to be doing astronomy] told us the original version of Pyramus and Thisbe [with an astronomical connection, Thisbe's veil in the constellation Leo] Read it here:…/Pyramus%20and%20Thisb…
Finally, Mike told the tale of Cymbeline and his daughter Imogen... long, and complicated!

Friday, March 18, 2016


It being Saint Patrick's Day, the theme chose itself, sure it did. But we didn't have any of that stuff. We had Raphael, telling us about fairy thornbushes and the paths that fairies take, which need to be left open, so that if you build a house across one, then there must be a door on one side lined up with the door on the other side for rapid and easy transit. He backed up his story with evidence from the Newmarket-on-Fergus and Ennis bypass, which you can read about here and see here.
Maddie told us how Paddy-McGee-the-Boy-With-No-Story acquired a story - and a scary story it was, to be sure! [You can read it here.] And Mike told us about The Irishman Who Saved Barcelona, by holding the club together and taking it on a lucrative tour to Mexico and the US during the Spanish Civil War. The sources were here and here and here and an Irish documentary with a soundtrack in Irish, English, Spanish and Catalan [there are English subtitles, for the less linguistically gifted].

In the second half, Jason told us more about The Smith who appeared in one of his earlier stories, and how he stopped the mortals from breaking through the last gate into Fairyland. Finally, Maddie told us a charming Irish version of the Bremen City Musicians.

Next time our theme will be Shakespeare!