Bartholomew blogs

To follow my current thoughts and experiences as I navigate the world of storytelling read on. For earlier blogs follow the links


February 2021

Serendipity: n. faculty of making happy discoveries by accident, (also a track by John Martyn)

Not a lot to report at the moment, due to the current COVID lockdown, so let’s just pitch in with what I’ve told at the various Zoom meetings I’ve attended since the new year.


  • Southampton: The Stones of Plouhinec – a story from Brittany about treasure hunting on New Year’s Eve. This story has walking menhirs, a sneaky tramp and a young man trying to make his fortune so that he can marry his childhood sweetheart.
  • Sarum: Ivan and Wormwood (my title). I came across the detailed ending of the story in Russian Fairy Tales, A Choice Collection of Muscovite Folklore by Willian Ralston Sheddon. The set up to the story, only briefly outlined, seemed familiar but I couldn’t think what the European version referred to was – the Grimm brothers have version called Bearskin. So, I had a choice, I could either spend hours trying to track down the original or, have some fun and write my own beginning. Guess which option I went for? Before I told the story, which Mike referred to as a Russian/Tovey mash up, I explained what I’d done and was pleased at the end when one member of the audience asked where my part ended and the original started. So, I think, that was a great success.
  • Heads & Tales: the theme for the evening was Games and Riddles so I told the ‘nicer’ version of Riddles Wisely Expounded – see my June 2020 post for a full explanation of this.


  • Southampton: a chance to tell The Grey Goose Feather – a ‘true’ story dating from the time of the English Civil War. I’ve wanted to tell this story ever since I heard Hugh Lupton tell it at the Earth house several years ago.
  • Sarum: as the theme was Protection, I decided to tell the tale of Peredur Son of Evrawg an Arthurian story from the Mabinogion. I picked this story as Peredur’s mother takes him to live in the wilds, after her husband and 6 sons are killed, to ‘protect’ him from ideas of knighthood and chivalry, but like most stories, it all goes wrong in the end.
  • Heads & Tales: it’s serendipity time! At the beginning of the month, I was reading Trickster Makes This World by Lewis Hyde – Maddie had drawn our attention to the book at a meeting towards the end of last year and Dan bought me a copy for Christmas. There was a mention of a story in which Coyote becomes the sun but loses the job through his bad behaviour. ‘Looks interesting, but not enough to work with,’ I thought. A day or two later, I went to do my one day a week at Bournemouth Library. In the work room there was a trolly load of books that had been taken from the CT (Children’s Tales) shelf for some stock work. The books were in three piles with only one book cover visible – Who Will Be the Sun? by Geraldine McCaughrean. On the cover was a painting of … Coyote, I picked it up and started to read it and yes, it was the full version of the story I’d seen mentioned earlier. During my lunch break I borrowed the book and made some notes, then worked them up into ‘my’ version of the story. The theme for Heads & Tales in February was … Sun – sometimes stories have a way of telling you that they want to be told.