Wednesday, May 18, 2022

FLOWERS: Thursday 19th May, 7.30 at the Elm Tree, Ringwood

 Janet Goring will be headlining with Tistou, the Boy who Made Flowers Grow, after which the floor will be open for the telling of floral tales!

Next month will be back on Zoom, for the benefit of those who live a little too far away to attend in person!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022



Don't you just love it when the trickster's tricked, the swindler swindled and the scammer scammed?
It happens often enough in stories - a pity that it happens less frequently in life!
But that's why we have the gift of narrative - to show the world the way it ought to be!
Come and listen, come and tell, and make your contribution to the improvement of life!
All you need to do is click here

Friday, March 18, 2022



Last month was the live, face-to-face Kalevala in the Elm Tree! (Marvellous – not least for the sense that Lemminkäinen was a foolish male loudmouth who was always getting himself into trouble and having to be rescued by his mother! We were left with the sensation that the subtitle should be: Wonderful Women of the North. Darning socks and sweaters for blokes was obviously just training for putting your son together out of bits of flesh and bone and entrail – the brain? Can you find one? Don’t worry – leave it out – he’ll never notice – he doesn’t use it, after all!)

This month, though, on Zoom, had the usual suspects, Ian, Dan, Paul, Jane, Gary and Mike as tellers, with Maddie, Norman, and a first-time guest Trixie Sparkles (who said she’d come again, and would like to learn some stories to tell) as listeners.

Jane started us with a self-composed story (done for a wedding) in which the princess, fleeing a marriage her father wanted to arrange with the next door Bluebeard-style king, becomes an ordinary woman (i.e. skilled at everything, child-minding, bone-setting, herb-lore, potions etc.) and attracts the attention of a wandering prince, who is running away from his responsibilities. Impressed by her skills and competence (as well as her inevitable beauty) he takes her back to meet his ailing father, and she, although she can’t save the king’s life, eases his passing. The couple marry, as the king had urged them to, and rule wisely and well, with great care and regard for their subjects.

Mike thought it was time for misery, so he told The Green Mist (one of his signature spring stories), though he did point out at the end that, though the young girl could only live until the first cowslip died, cowslips do still bloom again every year. You can read the original version here  and also find the other tales from the Lincolnshire Cars that all have a haunting quality (e.g. The Dead Moon), even though strict folklorists suspect Mrs Balfour may have made them up herself! (And why not? Somebody must have made up folktales in the very beginning… )

Dan’s Japanese story to do with springs (rather than Spring, as the theme had been presented) told us about the non-reading Hiro, on his way to a shrine in the west, to ask for a good harvest, who is asked by what he thinks is the kami (deity/spirit) of a spring he drinks from to take a written message to her sister, who lives in a spring near the shrine he is intending to visit. At the other end, an old man warns him against going to the spring, which is haunted by a yokai (demon) who eats travellers. The old man shows Hiro the characters on the written message which mean ‘eat’ and ‘food’, and then rewrites it, so that the yokai gives Hiro an earthenware pot to take back to her sister – which turns out to be full of gold! Hiro doesn’t take the gold back to the yokai in his home-spring, but does use some of it to build shrines at both springs, so that the yokai will be worshipped, which, we are assured, turns them into kami, and stops them being malevolent!

Paul told us (in the first person) the story of Eilmer, the Flying Monk of Malmesbury, whose aviation was inspired by the sight of Halley’s comet in his youth – though his failure to attach a tail to himself, in full imitation of the comet, led to the failure of his flight. He also lived to see the comet again in 1066 (so his broken legs definitely healed). Here is a link 

Ian gave us a Hungarian tale, in which a young, handsome, unmarried king is pursued by every woman in the kingdom, all of them cooking for him and giving him presents. The king’s valet recycles the food to the poor and the value of the presents to the kingdom’s finances, but is sacked by his mast er for showing too much initiative. The king then consults the Magic Well, in which he will see either who will marry, or how he will die (he gets someone else to actually take a look). The crucial features (hair-colour and beauty-spot) are hunted for – but only among the rich, whereas his cook’s daughter has them, but nobody notices her. A neighbouring duchess dyes her daughter’s hair and implants a black bean in her cheek, the king is fooled and marries her, but the daughter (whose hair-dye gradually grows out) is permanently uneasy at the deception, and when the bean SPROUTS, and has to be cut out, the game is up. Nonetheless, he remains loyal to her, but she dies of guilt, so the king starts looking again, and it is the valet who produces the cook’s daughter and the happy end.

Gary gave us a splendidly modern version of Kore/Persephone and Hades, with bikers’ leathers for the bloke and a Goth-look for the girl, who was swamped by her mother, and shouldn’t have eaten the addictive pomegranate-seed snacks…

And Jane brought us to our conclusion with My Lord Bag-of-Rice, which you can read here

and remember, if you want to kill a giant centipede, you have to spit on your arrow, otherwise it won’t work! (Human saliva has, of course, many other uses, though it’s not quite as good an anti-bacterial as dog-slobber.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2022



What does Spring mean to you? Is it the daffodils? The hares boxing in the fields? The birds building nests? Sun and showers? The extra light in the sky and the longer days? Next month is the official time to go off on a pilgrimage and tell stories – but let's start early!

Click here

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


 What a story! An old man and a young girl! (That can't end well, can it?)

The beginning of the world - from an egg!

A frisky young man, out looking for a bride! (He's already found one - but it doesn't work out, so he carries on, because he won't be told... and that isn't going to end well, either!)

A smith, who can forge the Magic Thing that will grant prosperity to the whole land - well, to the people who have it!

Which means that others will want to take it away from them by force!

Enough characters and events for at least three seasons on Netflix - all compressed into a single evening, for your personal delight!

And when we say "personal", we mean IN PERSON!

Indoors, and face-to-face, at our old stomping ground, the Elm Tree in Hightown, Ringwood.

£5 admission, because we have to pay to hire the room...

See you there!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022



How many stories start with a mill? Water-mill, windmill, tidemill - a mill that grinds anything you want, like salt, for instance? (There's one of those at the bottom of the sea - or didn't you know that?

Are you a Spanish knight, looking for giants to charge at with your lance? Well, we should be able to fit you up with an opponent or two that'll knock your socks off! (Or knock you off your socks...)

How honest are millers? And what about the poor donkeys that serve them? And their pretty daughters... (the millers', that is, not the donkeys'!)

Come and listen, come and tell - but click here first

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

ZOOM TO STORIES TOMORROW! 18th November 19.30-22.00

Everyone knows Aesop's Fable of the Sun and the Wind - and also that in this country of variable weather you can experience all four seasons in one day, so there should be no shortage of stories for people to tell and listen to!

Click here to join us 

- but you don't need to wrap up warm!

Monday, October 18, 2021


 Spine-chilling Stories for the Spooky Season!

14 Sea Road,Boscombe,BH5 1DB,GB 

Tickets £5 on the door

Can't get to Boscombe? Join us through the Magic of Zoom!

Friday, September 17, 2021



Present were: Nicole, Paul, Gary, Dan, Raph, Mike as tellers; Maddie, Janet, Juliet as listeners; and Jane as anecdoteuse.

Raph began with a version of The Wizards Apprentice, which started with the sale of a Hebridean crofters useless son to a stranger in a boat for £20, a bargain renewed for a couple of years at the same rate, but after three years the stranger did not reappear with the boy... and his parents concern for him should be taken as emotional, rather than financial, since the father sets off to look for him... and eventually his son, much older, finds him, near the castle where he, the son, is one of the Wizard’s twelve apprentices, but anxious to escape and strike out on his own, so he tells his father that he will be the dove with a broken tail-feather when the Wizard offers him a bargain for hospitality. (This is usually the kind of way the lad knows his beloved from the rest of the wizards daughters...)

Once the lad has escaped, he and his father make money by selling the transformed lad as a dog, as a bull, and finally as a horse for exponentially increasing sums of money, always with the proviso that the golden collar, the golden nose-ring and the golden bridle should be retained, out of which, when thrown on to a green hillock, the lad will re-emerge. However, as the lad knows, the purchaser on each occasion (though disguised) is the Wizard, who doesnt want to let his best apprentice escape, and when he buys the horse he jumps on its back, snatches the bridle from the fathers hands and rides off.

Reaching the castle, in whose courtyard his intellectually challenged daughters are heating water in a giant cauldron, the Wizard tells them to boil the horse till its dead, but the horse (whom they know to be the number one apprentice) persuades them that hot water cannot harm someone who is magically transformed, so they go off to get cold water to fill the cauldron and drown him, giving him the chance to rub the bridle off against a wall, run out of the castle and hide as a trout in a stream – however, the lady of the manor tickles him out and puts him in her apron, though when she gets home she finds a gold ring in her apron instead of a fish.

At that very moment, The Wizard, his eleven remaining apprentices and three daughters arrive, pretend to be tinkers and servants, offer to do work for her and demand, as payment, the gold ring, which she refuses, at first, to hand over, but when she changes her mind it leaps from her finger into the ashes in the fireplace, where the hunters are about to find it, when it becomes a pea, and jumps into a sack of peas, so the hunters change into doves, to peck through the peas, but the pea turns into a fox and eats them all UP!

After which, father and son go home to the Hebrides…

[At this point, there was a lengthy discussion of the physics of transformation, where the extra matter involved came from or went to in lad>bull or lad>pea. Other dimensions were suggested, like a hall of luggage-lockers, where each wizard deposited the relevant material till it was needed, but Mike trumped this with the proposal that the Dark Matter (which we know exists, but can’t find) is the source and repository, thereby explaining Magic and solving a major problem in physics. We wait for the Nobel Prize.]

Nicole painted an endless war, from which three hungry, nay, hangry soldiers, Wilhelm, Benek and Andrek intend to desert by hiding in the cornfield while the rest of the army simply moves off. Only they don’t. Not that day, nor the next, nor the next… The Great Dragon spots them, offers them seven years’ worth of inexhaustible sacks of gold, in return for seven years of service to him, renewable for an unspecified period… Andrek (the kind of man who DOESN’T accept cookies) quibbles, so the Dragon concedes the standard three-riddle get-out before he takes them into his service.

As the day approaches, and they return to their rendezvous in the cornfield, it is only Andrek who responds courteously to an old woman’s question about why they look so worried… he can see that she is really Ježibaba, and because he is nice to her she sends him to the Great Dragon’s Granny, who is fed up with her grandson’s bossy ways – not least the way in which he turns up and demands to be fed! So, over lunch, with Andrek hidden and listening, she quizzes him on the riddles he is planning to ask, playing Silly Old Granny to let him play Clever Young Grandson.

A nice touch at the end, as the three soldiers are able to go off with their sacks of endless gold, having answered the riddles, is that Andrek reveals the source of their knowledge, and tells the Great Dragon just what his Granny thinks of him!

Paul told The Glass Cabinet (beautifully embroidered with wheelbarrows and cobblestones) from Terry Jones’ Fairy Tales, which emphasised that you can’t get something for nothing without a great explosion at the end, because the Cabinet always required that something be put into it that was equivalent to what it so magically provided.

Mike’s story, The Cap that Bought the Drinks, from page 28 of Volume 2 of the Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, recounted a carefully prepared scam, in which the con-man made it appear that the possession of a particular cap guaranteed free drinks… and auctioned the cap at the end of an evening during which he had demonstrated its powers, making a considerable profit on the sums he had previously invested in the pubs concerned before ever taking his marks into them. Speculate, to accumulate, that’s the motto! (But also caveat emptor – and, at the bottom of any estimate, e. & o. e.)

Dan’s sad story dealt with the price of love, you might say. Once, the wolf had a lovely voice, when she sang in the moonlight, and a young prince was so taken with it that he camped out in the woods night after night to hear it, and even applauded… which bound the wolf even more closely to him, though she knew that if he saw her, and didn’t just hear her, he would be repelled, so she always retreated after she heard the applause. However, one night, the prince wanted to see where the voice came from and, thinking the noise he made by applauding, must be frightening the singer away, he climbed up the hill silently. When she saw him so close, she put out her paw to prevent him seeing her, but she forgot her lupine nature, and her claws ripped out his eyes.

The blinded prince was excluded from the royal succession and locked away. The wolf, who had dreamed of being transformed into a human being and becoming his wife, went to a witch who promised to restore the prince’s sight. She put a spell on the wolf that would let her seem human, except in bright light, and the wolf went off and succeeded in rescuing the prince from his prison and bringing him back to the witch, whose potion gave him back his eyes. The price for this is the wolf’s beautiful voice. As she leads the sighted prince away from the witch’s hut, confident that he will marry the woman who has made him see again, the wind blows the clouds away from the moon. He sees her – the hand he holds is revealed, even to his touch, as a paw with claws, and he pulls free and runs away.

And that is why wolves howl now, when the moon is full.

Gary gave us a cheerier conclusion, with the tale of Cadedd who sets off to find his father, who had gone in search of the North Wind. On his way, he passes an inn with an unfriendly and exploitative landlord, but, in the next valley, on his way to the summit, he finds a spring with stones placed around it, and a willow-grove from which a voice speaks to him, urging him to go to an ancient stone hut at the peak, where Llwyd Hen, a wise man, known as the North Wind, had once lived, and to bring back a rag which, when struck with a willow wand, will provide food.

Cadedd, on his return, stays at the inn and tells the tale of what he has done, and demonstrates the rag. But when he gets back to his family, the rag has lost its properties.

He sets off again, and the voice from the willow-trees advises him to take the goatskin from the hut, since gold coins will pour from its ear. Again, the foolish boy stays at the inn and relates what has befallen him. Again, the magic of the skin fails at home.

On his third journey, the voice in the trees tells him how the inn-keeper has robbed and cheated him, and urges him to take the cudgel from the hut, which will hit whoever he tells it to for as long as he wants. The voice also says that his father will protect him and be with him, though not in bodily form. Cadedd uses the cudgel to regain the real rag and the real goatskin from the inn-keeper and goes home – but the inn-keeper, to have his revenge, tells the local king, a war-lord, about the two magic gifts (though not about the cudgel) and the war-lord goes to call on Cadedd with his war-band of archers. Though the war-lord snatches the gifts, the cudgel sets about him, so that he is forced to drop them, and the archers’ arrows, that might have spelt death to Cadedd, are diverted by the North Wind, and turned back against them.

The frustrated war-lord goes back to the inn-keeper, to ask why he had not mentioned the cudgel, and, not receiving a satisfactory answer, hangs him. Being already half-way there, he and his war-band continued to Llwyd Hen’s stone hut, to search it for further magical objects or things of value, but a terrible storm springs up, and they shelter within it, until a mighty bolt of lightning shatters it, and when the dust has settled and the North Wind calmed down there stand fourteen stones in a circle, one for the King and each member of his war-band. And there they stand to this day.

After which, as a closer, Mike reminded us of the ultimate fate of acquisitiveness and the pursuit of profit, with the story of The Magic Cask, which you can read here:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


 Who pays? is our theme... There ought to be this, there ought to be that... but who pays? Where does money come from? Where does money go to? When people - or animals - are too old to earn their keep, what happens to them? What can stories tell us about these problems, and how we might choose to solve them?

Come and listen, come and tell...

Clicking here won't cost you anything!

This man knows who pays, because he's a Moneylender

Monday, July 12, 2021


 But NOT on Zooooom!

Instead, it will be in Jubilee Gardens, West Street, Ringwood, BH24 1DY...

The themes will be Journeys and Face to Face, because you will all have travelled to get there, and you will be encountering living, breathing human beings in the flesh, without any technical mediation! (If any of you are holograms, now is the time to come clean about it...)

Practicalities: Park either

 in West Street - on street parking opposite shops/cafes
The Fish Inn - The Bridges, West St, Ringwood BH24 2AA

Please note that you can no longer use the slip road from the A31, instead you have to approach it from the town centre.

It's a short walk from either.

Bring a deck chair, blanket, brolly and refreshments (or cash to buy from the pub)

And here is a map in French about human relationships, in case any of you have forgotten...

Wednesday, June 16, 2021



are our theme

and this is the root

to get there....

Come and listen, come and tell!

Friday, May 21, 2021




Mike, Maddie, Jane, Dan, Ian, Raph, Gary told; Janet, Babs, Norman and Gill largely listened.

Raph shared some recently acquired Jewish folktales at various points through the evening… The first was to do with a cast-off wife, rather than cast-off clothes – or, to be more accurate, two cast-off wives, the Devil’s and that of the man with whom He made a bargain, which He later chose to break (why should God have all the Capital Letters?) But the clever man knew how to drive the Devil out of the possessed Princess… by persuading Him that His Wife was approaching!

Jane gave us, since we were in the realm of relationships between the sexes, the story of the man with eleven children who, at the imminent arrival of the twelfth, rushed so precipitately to fetch the midwife, that he forgot to put any clothes on, and was arrested for exposing himself. The sympathetic magistrate found him not guilty, since it was no crime to advertise one’s business…

Mike shared, in this context, the story of the man whose spouse was ill, and, running to fetch the doctor, cannoned into a policeman, who asked the reason for his haste. “I don’t like the look of my wife!” said the man, before carrying on running. Surprised, as he pounded off up the street, to find the policeman puffing to keep up with him, the man said, “And why are you running with me?” to which the policeman replied, “I don’t like the look of mine, either!”

Raph told the Tale of Adam’s Diamond… and the repeated Fall… which turns up, in context, in Shonaleigh’s Stories.

Ian gave us a tale you can read here, that we recognised as The Three Aunts:

(Maddie has told it in her own way before, and Mike localises it, with social detail, in Wimborne, or Lymington, or somewhere down that way… and blames the mother-in-law’s meanness… )

As we’d got on to spinning, spiders entered our general conversation (because we don’t just tell stories, we sometimes talk about other things), and the use of cobwebs in first-aid (cutting-edge in the sixteenth-century, to stop bleeding!) or the weird webs spiders spin when they’re on drugs… and neurology. Spinning flax, we all agreed, was a really nasty test!

Maddie’s story fitted perfectly, both with the theme, and with Ian’s, because it came from the same collection: it was Prince Lindwurm, which you can find here

in a wonderfully illustrated edition (and do look at the Public Domain Review, because it takes you to all the things that are available for free on the web, and have not been monetised by alamy or shutterstock or any of that lot, with their watermarks!) The clever girl, advised by the Wise Woman, saves herself with what is really a form of strip poker… and if the lesson might be that a woman always has one more layer of mystery than a man – well, why not?

Raph popped in Moses and the Ants, in which God justifies collateral damage as a consequence of annoyance. (Application to current events is left to your discretion.)

Dan told us about a Japanese rascal who stole a straw coat which conferred invisibility from a tengu and used it to play tricks and steal fish. However, his tidy mother burnt the coat, because it was dirty and smelly. Nonetheless, the rascal found that the ashes still had magical power, so he stripped off, coated his body with them, went to the tavern and drank saké invisibly for free – but when he began getting drunk and spilling and slobbering, the ashes were washed off. The rest of the customers chased him. Being fat and out of condition, he sweated, and the rest of the ashes ran down his body with the perspiration. His pursuers judged that the shame of being seen completely naked would be punishment enough, and let him go.

Jane reminded us of the dons, sunbathing naked in the punt, who, when observed, covered their private parts – all but one, who said, “Surely it’s my FACE they would recognise, gentlemen?”

Mike told his version of The Dancing Princesses, which involved a young lad with one leg shorter than the other who therefore became a cobbler, and a thirteenth princess in the same position who wasn’t taken on the nocturnal expeditions, and therefore revealed the secret of the worn-out shoes. At the end, the twelve princesses and their mother stay with their dancing partners on the far side of the enchanted lake, and the king is left with the thirteenth (the only one who is his own child) and the young cobbler who has corrected her limp, so that the pair of them can dance in the deserted castle.

And so there was a discussion of cobblers who needed to wear corrective footwear, and dancing – Janet told us about her work in carehomes, where one of the residents danced with her (the others assuring her that she would be safe, because he was an excellent dancer – which he was!) and how the story could have different dance-music as an accompaniment, to which the residents eagerly responded! And she also passed on a tale from another resident, who told how she had to climb out of her bedroom (with her mother’s connivance) to go dancing when her father had forbidden it…

And Maddie told us about a frosty moonlit night in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, after a party in Woodstock…

And finally, returning to clothes, Gary told us how Lies and Truth stripped off on a hot day, but Lies climbed out of the cool pool first and ran off through the world with Truth’s clothes, and has them still – which is why people cluster round gaily-garbed Lies and shun Naked Truth!

At which point, naturally, there was nothing more to say, and so we stopped.

Sunday, May 16, 2021



May will shortly be out, so we should try to get used to discarding clothing - whether because it's warm, or because we're wet through, or for some other reason, e.g. the clothes no longer fit or are no longer fashionable, or are no longer necessary for what we're about to do... 

Surely there must be stories about these things? And surely we can tell them and listen to them?

After all, on Zoom no one needs to know how you're dressed!

Strip and click!

Friday, March 19, 2021


 There were 17 of us in all – poor Nicole too ill to attend! Babs and Omay and Edward and Emma and Jane and Dan and Juliet and Norman listened, while Paul topped and tailed and the rest told, as listed below:

Andy the Viking: How Robin Became an Outlaw

Jill Barr: When Little John went into the Sheriff’s Service…

Janet Goring: The Wedding of Allan-a-Dale

Raph Perry: Guy of Gisbourne

Ian Tovey: Robin Hood and the Beggar

Mike Rogers: Robin and the Storyteller

Gary Llewellyn: How Robin Won the Golden Arrow

Madeleine Grantham: Robin Hood and the Abbot

Some of it (Andy and Janet) was more or less as narrated by Howard Pyle (who drew the pictures, as well as doing the writing)

(this is the version with all the pictures).

Other tellers had their own sources, and their own takes on our National Hero. (You can read Mike’s here )

All in all, it was an enormously varied and exciting evening, and the only question is: what will we do next year?

Friday, March 12, 2021



Gilgamesh, Herakles, Loki, Tristan and Isold, The Arabian Nights - exotic locations, larger-than-life characters - and now - we bring you Nottingham, and Butchers and Tinkers - in the end, you have to come home - and in the crowd, disguised, all the usual suspects - and how did that goose-feathered arrow suddenly grow out of that man's chest?

What could be more topical than The Redistribution of Wealth? (And treachery in Yorkshire!)

Scamper with us through thickets and forest glades, stalk prey, four-legged and two-legged, deceive (and sometimes be deceived) and enjoy your evening!

Join us! And be prepared to hiss the villains and cheer the heroes!

You don’t need a bow and arrow to hit this mark:

Just your cursor.

Friday, February 19, 2021


Thirteen connected devices (briefly a fourteenth, with Henry), but no problems with the number of people at table, because Rob and Monica were on one, and edward also had a companion. They, together with Babs and Juliet, made up the listeners, and Paul, who, though he said he wasn’t going to tell, contributed to the chat, and the lively discussions that interspersed the stories (particularly by defending Birmingham as a suitable name for a lunar crater – though research reveals that that particular depression is connected with an astronomer, and not a city ). Edna thought she would only be a listener, but her account of the unexpected contents of a WW2 care package from the US earned her the status of a teller. We look forward to her reappearance at subsequent events, and further contributions.

Raph started us off with a marvellous piece of Aztec mythology, relating how the Big Gods needed to replace Sun No. 4,  Chalchiuhtlicue, who had been so upset by Tezcatlipoca’s accusation that she only faked kindness out of selfishness, to get people to like her, that she cried tears of blood for the next fifty-two years, drowning the world. (Humans had to become fish, in order to survive.)

There were two candidates for the job, qualification for which involved sacrificing oneself by fire. Nanahuatzin, a lower-class god with a spotty face (which some suggest indicates syphilitic infection) was brave enough to walk straight in, but rich and powerful Tecciztecatl was hesitant, and ended up in the cooler part of the bonfire, thus becoming the moon. One of the other gods, annoyed by this display of cowardice, throws a rabbit/ hare at him, and, as we can all see, the moon bears the imprint of the animal to this day.

Nicole turned to the Kalevala, for the story of Ilmatar, who, made pregnant by the wind, lay down in the waters for aeons, waiting for the birth of her son Väinämöinen, during which time a Great Bird laid six golden eggs and one iron one in a nest it had built on her knees, as they projected above the waters. Shifting her position (as you do, after a few centuries) caused the eggs to fall off. The iron one naturally sank to the centre of the earth, to be the source of all iron (in its turn the source of all trouble for the future). The golden eggs broke, and the yolk became the sun, the white became the moon, and the fragments of the shells became the stars. (Gives a new resonance to sunnyside up, doesn’t it?) 

Dan’s Japanese story featured the sun peripherally in its account of the rule-bending priest of Dojo Temple and his simple-minded apprentice – and if you want to know what happens in it, come along next time and ask him to tell it again! We’d all love to hear it repeated.

Ian told us how Destiny forced him to tell the story of How Coyote Took on the Role of the Sun, from a book by Geraldine McCaughrean that Bournemouth Library had marked as possibly redundant… Previous discredited candidates had been Raven (too dark), Chickenhawk (too yellow), Woodpecker (too red). Coyote was too hot, and animals all bear the mark of his over-enthusiasm on their black-burnt backs, and ermine’s black-tipped tail (he hid almost all of himself in shade). The surveillance opportunities enjoyed by the sun were over-exploited by the gossip-loving Coyote, so there was another reason to give the job of Sun to the elder Lynx brother and the job of Moon to the younger one, which separated them and stopped them fighting with one another. Coyote’s jealousy led him to fire an arrow at the Sun – but of course it caught fire, and fell back down, igniting the prairie grass. As the blaze swept towards him, clever Coyote knew the only way to save himself was lie down on a beaten trail, where no grass grew, a trick which humans imitate successfully.

Gary had an ethnically mixed tale. The French first half was a version of the traditional Mouse’s Marriage, in which the Sun features as the first powerful figure whose daughter’s hand is sought, to be replaced by the Cloud, by the Wind, and finally by The Wall, who admits that the Mouse (in Gary’s version the Vole) is more powerful, and can undermine him. The Vole now marries a female vole he finds living in the Wall, and they have three daughters. To provide food for a feast in celebration, the Vole fetches oats from the barn, but drops them on the way, and asks for help in finding them, offering his daughters in marriage in return. The Sun can help – but not in the shadows. When the Sun has set, the Moon’s help is sought. Finally, Crow Crowson (Voron Voronovich) gets the last oats and the third daughter. Visits to in-laws are interesting , but not entirely successful, and, as perceptive listeners had already suspected would be the case, the one to Crow Crowson is as fatal for the father as the marriage was for the daughter. Here is a version in Russian with charming pictures, and people rather than voles! 

[At this point in the evening, there was a vast discussion about cremation, and teeth, and recycled replacement joints, and ashes sent through the post… which I cannot possibly reproduce… You had to be there!]

Maddie told us how Glooscap captured the Great Bird whose flapping wings made the wind blow – and then, finding how disastrous a completely still world was, released it.

Mike turned to the story of Phaethon, the son of Helios, whose disastrous attempt at driving his father’s sun-chariot created the Sahara and burnt the inhabitants of Africa black, before Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt, and his lifeless body fell into the River Po, where his lamenting sisters were turned into poplar trees. You can read the details here 

Finally, Janet told us how the Moon, who was having a great life up in the sky, partying every night with the stars, eluded the Sun’s attempt to marry her by demanding that he provide her with a dress that fitted her before she would say yes – only every time he came with one, having taken her measurements in advance, she was bigger or smaller… so she continues to enjoy herself up there!


Saturday, February 13, 2021


 On Thursday 18th February, in a virtual Ringwood, this Sun will be rising at 7.30 pm and setting at 10pm 

That time of year, when we're looking for the Sun… in the sky, in the brochures, in stories! Come and listen, come and tell – bring some rays of it with you, and share them with others!  Here, for you to chase and click on, is a sunbeam

Where would we be without Sun? In the dark! It illuminates us all – and so, of course, do stories! What more appropriate theme could there be?

Saturday, January 16, 2021



In Europe (remember where that is? We used to be part of it...) it's Carnival-Time, and will be up to and including Shrove Tuesday. Why is the British idea of Having a Good Time confined to using up all our eggs and butter (and sugar and lemons) before Lent?

Get out the jollier kind of Masks, and join in the Fun!

We start at 19.30 on Thursday 21st January and finish at 22.00...

All you have to do is click here

Saturday, December 19, 2020



More people attended than one preZoomed would!

Maddie, Paul, Taprisha, Dan, Ian, Iona, Mike and Raph all told, while Liz, Norman, Tom, Juliet, Janet and John listened.

Raph began with a story in which a Canadian trapper is pleased to hear that other trappers avoid a particular area of the forests because they believe it is haunted by a werewolf. A deserted forest means better pickings for him, thinks Baptiste Durand. However, firstly he finds himself hunted by the Devil’s Flying Canoe ( and then his lead dog slips the traces. He flounders through the snow, grabs the dog, puts him back in the traces, and whips up the team. But something wolf-like is pursuing him, and gaining! He fires twice, but misses! The shape leaps on him – and licks his face! It is Loup, his lead-dog, who had been left behind… but if this is his lead-dog, who is in the traces? A grateful werewolf, freed from enchantment, of course! And with the lead-dog back in place, he can outrun the Canoe!

For those who want to know more about the Cursed Canoe, I recommend this splendid song in Quebec French

But if you want to know what they’re singing about, you’ll need the words:

Paul continued with a Haida story from Canada’s Pacific Northwest about a man oppressed by his mother-in-law whose quiet response is to transform himself into a Wasgo,, a sea-monster whom he first has to kill, but whose enormous strength enables him to bring increasingly vast quantities of sea-food (culminating in three killer-whales) to feed the family. The mother-in-law boastfully ascribes the plentiful provision of meat on the doorstep to her prayers to the Sea-God. Disabused by the appearance of the Wasgo, she faints and dies. Her daughter recognises the Wasgo as her husband by his eyes, but knows he will never return to her, though he continues to deliver fish daily on the doorstep.

Iona followed this with something equally exotic, if a little closer to home: an account of her native Shetland Yule customs, and the sad tale of two children left at home alone who were stolen away by the trowies and subsequently found dead, all because their mother, keen to go partying, had omitted elementary precautions…

Ian lifted the mood slightly with a version of Frost the Bridegroom, which has two dead girls and one rich one at the end of it. Here is the way that Arthur Ransome tells it

Taprisha told us the story of an urbanised Nenet family ( whose father takes them into the wilderness, where, because the children are slow to bank up the fire, the Blizzard Witch steals away the mother, while the father is out hunting. But, when the blizzard dies, the children (Daughter with Knife, Son with Bow) go out on the snow, where the Sun gives the boy Three Arrows of Light. Helped by the Reindeer, after one Arrow of Light has frightened away the Wolf, they come, crossing a Chasm thanks to the Daughter spinning a rope from her long hair, which she cuts off, to the Ice Palace in which the Mother is trapped. A second Arrow of Light brings the Uncles of the Northern Lights to dance. The final Arrow of Light kills the Blizzard Witch, and the Wind, which had been cold, turns warm, melts the Ice Palace and frees the Mother, so they can all go home to their tent where their Father is waiting.

Since we were already in the snow, it made sense for Mike to tell one of the many possible stories of the Yuki-Onna (see though he tells it his way, with a little carved woodcutter, and many references to Japanese woodcuts, based on Lafcadio Hearn’s version, but without personal names. (He first heard it told by Giles Abbott in the Earthouse, but has read round it since, and feels it’s become his own.)

And after that, Dan, our Japanese expert, discussed the other versions, and told them in bare-bones form, including the tale of the tsurara-onna

( the Icicle Woman, who melts when she bathes in an onsen (hot spring).

Maddie brought proceedings to an official conclusion with a wonderful and lovingly detailed version of Old Appletree Man. (Here, as a curiosity, is what looks like a Google-translated version of the story out of Russian )

Those who didn’t have to go to bed immediately were treated to Raph telling/reading The Spirit of the Snows, a tale from Shadow Forms, by Manly P. Hall (a source of one or two other stories that Raph tells) in which a Japanese in Canada tells a Canadian about the Yuki-Onna, and the Canadian experiences this New World variant, in which the beloved who froze to death becomes a spirit with whom he is reunited by also freezing to death…

And then we all went to bed, to get warm… but took great care, because Dan had told us about the Japanese belief that the soul leaves the body when we sleep, and sometimes, if our pillows end up in funny positions, cannot get back in again, so that we are assumed to be dead… !

Here, finally, is the little woodcutter figure that the woodcutter carved for his child in the Yuki-Onna story