Janet Goring, aka Bluebird the Storyteller, came all the way from Portsmouth to tell us stories – and what a range of stories she has to offer!
She began with the tale of The Handsome Young Sailor and Betty Mundy, a full-bodied fairy lass who gave the aforesaid youthful and well-favoured tar three magic gifts, an ever-full purse, a travelling cloak, and a summoning horn, out of which he was swindled by a scheming princess from Stephen's Castle. Instead of reproaching her contrite swain, Betty showed him the secret of the nose-lengthening apples and the nose-shortening pears, by means of which he was able to recover the magic treasures, and, recognising that, as a man, he was not really fitted for responsibility, he agreed to place his future in Betty's hands, in recognition of which [and you can check the OS map if you don't believe this] Sailor's Lane leads to Betty Mundy's Bottom. [Mike O'Leary's book of Hampshire Tales contains a version of this story.]
Then Janet told us Why the Sky is Far Away, a Nigerian folk-tale which has been retold by Mary-Joan Gerson. She followed this with a Celtic story about a young mother whose baby is taken by the Sidhe, and who, with the advice of a wise-woman, manages to recover the child and live happily ever after.
Janet's second session began on a much more personal note, as she discovered and explored the fate of her great-uncle Henry Whitmore Turner in the First World War, and visited those acres of war-graves that stretch across France and Belgium, and saw the fields of corn where the plough still disinters remnants of humanity.
Finally, she told us how a travelling fellow found a wishing-well, and with his wish spread the well's powers into all the water that falls from the sky. Open your mouth when it rains – you may be lucky! [But – be careful what you wish for...]
In the third session, Raph told us of The Remarkable Coincidence, and then gave us The Sword and the Trumpet, in which communication triumphs over simple aggression. Maddie followed this with The Island where Dreams are Made, from the Western Isles. Alan shared his personal regret that he had not asked in more detail about his great-uncle's connection with the Angels of Mons, and told us that story. Jason, with an excellent crow-impersonation, gave us his own story, The Boy who Turned into a Bird, and Mike told his 10-day old story, The Truth about Nettles, to finish the evening.