Were you read to as a child? Magic, wasn’t it? And on the rare occasion when you have the opportunity to recreate that sublime enchantment, you take it, don’t you? Whether it be an audio book in the car or a sneaky listen as a nephew or niece is escorted off to bed.Advertisement
Dominic Kelly is a professional. Storyteller, that is. He has a business card that says “Storyteller” to prove it. On a sunny afternoon in August he gave a master class in the art in the gardens of Samlesbury Hall. Fear not if that is outside your parish as his home port is Yealand Redmayne near Carnforth.
Lavishly sideburned, waistcoated and wielding a pewter tankard, he looked fit to shoulder centuries of bardic tradition, although he confessed the tankard was charged with nothing more exotic than Adam’s ale. Reciting long tales from memory, he soon whisked his audience off into worlds where all princes were noble, all maidens had long tumbling tresses and vengeful giants marauded the midge-infested marshes. But these tales had levels of complexity, recursions and twists that could satisfy the older members of the audience. For two hour-long stints, he held tot and codger alike spellbound with his consummate pacing, phrasing and inflection.
Here was a man utterly in command of his craft. Each tale was preceded by an eccentric call-and-response routine whereby he would shout “socks” and the audience would bellow ” boots”. This was the vital contract between narrator and listener – the granting of access to monkey around in your mind. He could handle deft shifts of mood from humour to pathos to deadly drama. Agile on his feet, pacing from side to side like a weasel bewitching a rabbit, he stopped the clocks and invited us to soar on ravens’ backs over crumpled rugs of hills.
And I say “boots.”
This post originally appeared on The Lunacy Review.