I travelled interstate to a good mate’s 70th birthday. There was a massive family party, huge laughter, huge memories and huge food, and of course, huge storytelling.
When there’s nothing else, it’s just me
His four children used to be my biggest fans. In the seventies, I produced a series of story cassettes and they went to sleep every night listening to my stories. They lived in a remote part of Papua Niugini where there was no TV, no radio serials and limited books so they knew Uncle Colin’s stories by heart. When they came home for holidays they’d ask me to tell their favourite story by cassette number.
Here we go again
These children now have children of their own, so before the party started the mums and dads pressed me into a storytelling session. It was a déjà vu experience. The grandchildren acted just like their parents had so many years ago, all goggle-eyed, mouths agape, laughing in the right places, jumping in fright on cue. And the cutest thing was, the parents lived it all again.
What is it about stories and storytellers?
It’s a mystery
I have studied the art and effect of storytelling all my life and it’s power still remains a great mystery. Do you know this beautiful paragraph in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows? It is my favourite piece of English literature. It captures the Mole’s bliss as he sees a river for the first time. I thought about it as I was telling the new audience one of my oldest stories.
Spell-bound by exciting stories
Wind in the Willows online or you can read it for free here. This is paragraph five in Chapter One
He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
Are you an exciting storyteller?
Whether you are teaching kindergarten or selling or chairing a corporation you ought to be telling stories. Otherwise, you might be a mind-boggling bore and not know it.
Would you like to be one?
I can make that happen.
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