Twas Midsummer’s Eve and WynnAlice took to the road to collect tales in the great city of London. Twas a short walk… to the train station, and perhaps therein lies the lesson. For a Storyweaver is born to walk, not to ride…
For it was that WynnAlice tripped over, well over nothing at all, but fell well and truly, flat on her face, to be helped up by a kindly gentle man, and overcome by the sight of all the blood streaming down her face, he suggested the hospital.
But WynnAlice had tales to collect, and was soon on her way again, climbing aboard her train, blood soaked tissue held to her face, soon to be the possessor of a black eye and a thick lip! Now why they call them black eyes is a mystery, for they are wondrous things to behold; shades of plum, purple, yellow and green, quite theatrical in their appearance.
And certainly they attracted attention that day, those bright colours adorning WynnAlice’s left eye, not to mention the bloody cut above her lip. On arrival at the home of the Princess of South Hill Park arnica was soon provided and WynnAlice was off, to talk to She of Fun & Games about schools and kids and what the folk of Belsize Park had been enjoying doing, making giant puppets out of recycled stuff.
Soon after a merry band of transitionistas gathered at the entrance to Hampstead Heath to wend their way to a tree they had chosen in the centre of their heath, to share tales and celebrate Midsummer’s Eve. A merry band indeed they were; there was the Strong Defender of Belsize Park himself, there was the Princess of South Hill Park, there was She of Eco-Psychology fame, there was Beth of the Magic Potions, there was the Italian Walker, and there was Mummy Luka and her small boy. Many others too, She of Fun and Games, and the King of Stories were there, and others too besides.
Heard they did the tales of WynnAlice, but not before checking first that there were no bands of assaulters needing sorting out as retribution for the damage to their storyteller’s face. Had she fallen out with Rob of the Great Renown they asked in wonder, and truth be told, a tale of falling flat on one’s face, was not so very exciting a tale to expect from a storyteller’s bag!
They perked up a little at the tale of the black silky knickers; here it is, they said to themselves in anticipation, here a tale to make up for the lack of drama in the tale of the black eye, but no, twas not to be a night of drama, for those of you who followed the tales of 2010 will remember the gift of the Gateway to the World, the lingerie made from offcuts of silk by refugee women , that was carried all the way to Forest Row, to He of the Open Mike… and if you want to know what happened to them next, well you might well ask him at the Gathering of Transitionistas in the place of the Pool of the Liver bird less than a moon from now.
The tales, they were all told, and then came the moment Wynn Alice had been waiting for. Well over a year it had been since she had been guided over this very same heath, by She the Favoured One, and only now was she able to gather the tales of the Strong Defender and the Princess of the settlement.
With great pleasure WynnAlice settled down to hear the tale of the birth of Transition Belsize Park, born of the partnership of the Strong Defender & the Princess, and their shared belief that they could make a difference.
From the golden tongued Alexis came the tale, of how it was that inspired by Rebecca of the far away Modbury, Belsize Park had determined to rid themselves forever of the plague of the Plastic Bags, and in making this happen met the Emperor of Budgins, a man dressed in nylon from head to foot, an empire around him, and deep inside a Good Heart just waiting to be heard.
And so it was that the Emperor of Budgins supported their fight against the plague, and along this journey met the Blue Angel, who transformed him through and through, till pretty soon the Empire of Budgins was doing Good Works all around. The Princess of South Hill Park recounted the project of a community stall to be placed in front of every Budgins store, selling local produce, home grown or home crafted.
The Strong Defender and the Princess, not content with their victory over the Plague of Plastic Bags and the Empire of Budgins, soon held fairs all over their lands, until the day came that they put out a call for more people, and sixty came and Transition Belsize Park began in earnest.
Many things were done, and some in ignorance, as these things are wont to be when enthusiasm for the new is fresh, and knowledge of the past has been forgotten. So it was that Mummy Luka and her small boy told the tale of the wild garlic that might have been bluebell leaves…
So in preparation for a splendid evening of local food at the time of the Great Gathering of the Ones Who Thought They Knew Best in the city of the Merchant’s Harbour across the ocean, the Strong Defender went out with Mummy Luka and the small boy to collect sheaves of wild garlic leaves for a local pesto to end all local pestos. Feeling sleepy, Mummy Luka and the small boy took a nap by the stream, and the Strong Defender leapt into the task of collecting the wild garlic. Much was gathered and the happy trio wound their way home for Mummy Luka and the small boy to make pesto. Away to a Council was called the Strong Defender, and the pesto making continued…. till it came to pass that it was discovered that wild garlic leaves have a very similar appearance to bluebell leaves, and a night of frantic phone calls were made to all they knew to find out if the dishes full of freshly made pesto the small boy had consumed were in fact full of bluebell leaves, and if they were, what could they do to the insides of a small boy…
All that night Mummy Luka checked on her small son’s breathing, and in the morning he arose, fit as a fiddle, but the moral of this tale is never pick wild garlic till the bluebell flowers are out, just in case!
In illustrious company was WynnAlice for here was the Princess of South Hill Park, dweller in the home of the renowned but sadly deceased Dr Lean Economy, and guardian of his books, creator of Draught Busters, famed already across the land of Transition. And here too She of Eco-Psychology, speaker of many truths at gatherings across the land, snuggled in her blanket in the lap of a loved one, looking just the cosiest of story listeners ever to be seen.
And too, there were new friends to be made, and tales of other flavours, but ones that added substance and body to the new tales that Transition has birthed. Wynn Alice heard of Domestic Theatre, rhyming couplet plays, purpose written and taken into homes and communities, for free, for the love of the writing, the sharing, and the good outcomes, for 30 years or more, by She of the May. You can read one here and post a comment below of you want contact details
She of the May, so renamed for the bottle she had brought of a beverage for us all to share; May Brandy, after a local food feast, on blankets beneath our trees, who whispered and whistled in response to our tales, after homemade nut hummous, fresh local pesto (we hope of no bluebells, though we are all still here to tell the tale), freshly made pizza, strawberries, and more, had a tale to tell of May day.
If you go out at dawn on the first day of May, or maybe the 13th, depending on which calendar you trust, to collect the May blossoms from the hawthorn, and take it and steep it in brandy, and after strain it, a liqueur will you have, that only improves upon the keeping, of the finest almond flavour, as that of amaretto, and if much you make, as She of the May had collected on the first year of the century, you will be able to protect yourself and all of your friends from heartbreak for ever more.
One teaspoon each were the merry band fed, to be protected for ever more from heart ache in love, and the remains of that very fine vintage were given in gift to WynnAlice to take away from that place to the folk of the town that was not too big and not too small, and the recipe freely given to all who read this tale.
A fine evening it was, and the merry transitionistas made their way to Parliament Hill and looked down over the great and glistening city far below, and the Princess of South Hill Park told WynnAlice the tales of those parts, of the great ancient hills of London town , here in the north where they stood, and far to the south east, in Greenwich where she would go on the morrow, and the lines of energy that passed under the city, following river banks, the dark river Thames, prominent and masculine, and the hidden Fleet, the feminine river buried now below the city buildings, waiting to be rediscovered and brought back into the light.
And as they walked back along the streets of Belsize Park, the Princess told WynnAlice how they all linked up until it was that WynnAlice felt as welcomed and as at home as she could in any small cosy village. Back home they talked the night away and WynnAlice learnt the great and wonderful news that the much awaited works of Dr Lean Economy, though he is sadly deceased, were to be cloth bound, embossed with a woodcutting chosen by him, if the Princess has her way, and printed and published, having been carefully edited and indexed by his family, and his dear friend He of High Rank & Graciousness.
Well rested after a night in the bedroom of the famed and humble deceased doctor, WynnAlice took her leave of the Well Placed Park and the Princess took her to see the raised beds in the corner of a very ordinary car park of a very commonplace hotel, in the very centre of their settlement, their very first community garden.
And onwards went the StoryWeaver, for there were tales this Midsummer’s day, to be had from the teenagers of Greenwich, across the river, to the South.
Enchanted by her stay in the Well Placed Park, WynnAlice arrived at the John Roan school to be greeted by a host of young men and women of 15 or 16, in groups of passionate project were they arranged, all eager and fired up to make their community project happen. Eager they were for advice from our storyweaver, (and perhaps a tale or two of by how she came of that black eye!) and eager was she to hear new tales from the lips of these young warriors.
Wondrous they were, moved to tears was she, idealistic, creative, caring, good hearted, puzzled and sad by the lack of trust they engendered by those who were older and should have know better than to fear their youth, who only asked for love, respect, and the opportunities to try their wings.
What did they want for their local community? Why cycle paths, night clubs for 13-16 year olds that raised money for local charities, facilities for all ages to meet and connect in the local playground, youth clubs in disused buildings, and football pitches on disused scraps of land, and sports facilities to keep fit instead of living for the computer, a local skate park to replace the one that had been taken from them in the name of the god of sport the Olympics, that taker of the local for its own purposes and identity, that taker of local parks and green spaces for 2 years or more of the community’s life, promiser of local jobs yet in reality deliverer of volunteer opportunities if you pay for your ticket to enter your own park.
The faces of these young people, set free from exams and lessons for two whole days, freed up to use their imaginations, creativity and give wings to their ideals, shone with good will, energy and pure spirit. It was as if WynnAlice had been bathed in the light of a new race. Joyful felt she, for the future, with these people growing to become the next adults.
They talked of how they didn’t really believe the Olympics were a good thing, for they did not promote the local, and they encouraged cheating and supreme competiveness between individuals and between nations, they talked of their yearning to be respected for who they are by their elders, for dialogue between the generations, they talked of the desire to have their ways understood and not scapegoated, they talked of their fear of gangs on their streets, and the need to protect themselves and feel protected by others.
More than 100 young people that morning did Wynn Alice meet, every size, colour, religion, & race, and yet shining out of each and every face was the longing to be seen, truly seen for what they brought, their ideals, their energy, their belief in their place and their purpose. Humbled WynnAlice left, hear t gladdened by the smiles of acceptance on their faces, their eager soaking up of the only words of wisdom she had for them; speak of your passion with enthusiasm, believe in it, and enthuse others, talk of it to friends, family, colleagues, and everyone you meet.
“Come back next year”
called out the last class teacher as WynnAlice left and waved goodbye, and WynnAlice looked forward in her heart, to their next meeting, and resolved to add the tales of these inspirational projects to her storytellers’ bag.
The rain it poured as WynnAlive flip flopped her way to the South Bank to spend an hour plotting storytelling with the Queen of Tooting, and then onwards to meet He of Great Creativity and a walk around Richmond Park with the games maker of the New Economics Foundation. Much was to be said between the two game makers, and 3 hours later, as he left her at the doorstep of her great friends and their tiny one year old boy , neither could quite believe they had talked the evening away. Of skills, resources, the four scenarios described in a myriad different ways, of interactive ways of engaging with changing the stories of our times, the two game makers set their creative minds to exchange and to create anew, and the kindred nature of their two great tribes was evident and who knows what might grow from the talking on that walk across the park?
Great things WynnAlice learnt from He Of Great Creativity, and saw how there were things that had been created by him that Transitionistas might learn about and should you want to learn more you can search him out here http://www.neweconomics.org/about/perry-walker .
Well satisfied, stories anew lightening her bag, WynnAlice settled down to some hours in the company of a small one year old boy, who thought she had come especially to lend her right forefinger to his new challenge, of walking across the living room floor, and what he greatly admired about her presence, so much that to sit on her knee was a delight from the first instant, was the mother of pearl pendant that swung around her neck.
Let us leave Wynn Alice here then, in the company of the little child, on the edge of Richmond Park, in another small settlement, in the heart of the great city of London. For all stories are about people and their places, and it isn’t drama that warms up our hearts.