And you really did miss a rare treat, because Graham Langley and Pam Bishop are not down this end of the country all that often... a pity, then, that so few of our regulars managed to get there - put off, perhaps, by last month's hiccup in the venue. This time, everything was absolutely fine.
We did our best as warm-up acts for the main event: Mike, following the 'borrowed' theme, told a story he had heard the previous night in Winchester from Alastair Daniel, who tells at Wykeham Tales and Three Heads in a Well, and also teaches the art of storytelling to his students at the University of Winchester. [The story was about the Seeker for Knowledge and what he must exchange for what, in order to get Knowledge from the Sufi, who has enough and to spare of it.]
Then Paul reprised, by general request, the story he told last month, about the origin of the concertina, in honour of one of the instruments that Pam was playing. Finally, Jill told a story 'borrowed' from Tim Lacock, about the rival pigs in the village, a tin of blue paint and the vicar's prize lavender.
Graham certainly gave us fifty shades of himself, with a great variety of stories, varied in source, tone, mood and length, united only in their high quality. He began by picking up the theme of 'musical gifts acquired in exchange for one's soul', suggesting incidentally how the first jukebox came to New Zealand, and moved on to stories he had heard from his father, Enoch and Eli stories from the Black Country, and other tales that he had localised there: thus we heard about the pony that was too tall for the mine, how Enoch and Eli kept two horses in the one field and told them apart, how Enoch taught his son the value of honesty, how the gardener helped the curate answer the bishop's questions, how a Derbyshire funeral was disrupted, how fish and stars change places, the need to be nice to animals and cross Cromford bridge before the moon is high in the sky, and finally [with Pam on flageolet and not concertina] one of the most moving accounts of Sedna, the Skeleton Woman of the Inuit, that I have ever heard - from Aston Villa to the Arctic! What a range!