My first stories.February 25, 2011
An idle dinner table conversation has rekindled a whole bunch of new memories.
The “Storyteller” series was a collection of children’s stories read by a variety of famous voices from the British theatrical scene in the 80’s (Brian Blessed included.)
I lived and breathed these stories when I was a child. I used to sit with the book on my lap, listening to the accompanying cassette. If I hit a word I couldn’t read, I would rewind the tape and try again. These stories taught me to read, taught me the joy of hearing a story read, and filled my head with all sorts of fragments I haven’t been quite able to place since. They were my first stories, and even though the exact words of them are lost, I can still remember how it felt to hear them.
Reading the titles today, I get a rush of fragile imagery, and an unmistakable shudder of emotion. “Petrushka,” and “The Inn of Donkeys” and “Hugo and the Man Who Stole Colours” scared and fascinated me. Every time they began on the tape, I contemplated fast forwarding to be safe from the scary story within. But I could never quite bear to look away.
“Shorty and the Shooting Star” and “Gatecrashers” and “Party in the sky” delighted me in ways I can’t remember. But the names make me smile.
They gave me my first brush with the wonderful patchwork of stories from across the world. King Arthur, Noggin, Anansi and Br’er Rabbit and so many more. These are stories I know better now, but my memory of their first tellings is fragmentary and irresistibly magical.
The memory of the “storyteller” collection is a treasured thing, even though it’s incomplete and barely tangible, and I would love so very much to hear those stories again, to see how many of them have worked their way into my thoughts and stories without me ever being able to remember why that fragment lurked in my mind.