R.I.P Story Teller

The art of story telling runs through my Irish heritage. My father loved to tell ‘yarns’. He would stretch a story till the line between fact and fiction was blurred. They put us to sleep many a night. When I travelled to Ireland, I’d sit in small pubs, where people sat around a fire and told stories.

One man earnestly asked me, “Lass, do you have goblins in your back yard?” And proceeded to explain how they wreck your turnips and ‘tates’ (potatoes). And if I could buy him a Guinness, he could surely explain how to rid ‘them devils’ from a vegetable plot.

tuartWhen the story telling of North America came to Australian radios, the sound of Garrison Keillor’s ‘Prairie Home Companion’ opened a new world to us. Then I was introduced to The Vinyl Café and the long intricate tales of Stuart McLean. There is a unique sense of timing, dry humour and homespun psychology behind his stories. To listen to a live audience in provinces all over Canada, react, laugh, gasp or just be still as he talked, was so much part of it as well. Accounts of canning explosions in basements, sliding off rooves while clearing snow, words like Winnebago and skidoo were all foreign to us. Stuart’s voice had the lilting rhythm I now hear in rural Canada. I’ll miss the story teller.

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