Take 3 with the Storytelling Festival.
So, if you read by last post, you would have realised that the festival didn’t start too well. In fact, I went to bed and had a little cry in frustration. I woke up the next morning and had another little cry (sleep deprivation and listening to a particularly sad story on ‘The Moth’ podcasts, about a man who lost his 2 year old daughter to cancer – not a good combination). But, I dragged myself out of bed, feeling more than a little awful what with the rain and the cold the night before and went downstairs. The good news is that, after a tea (wonderful, wonderful tea!), some breakfast, some Nurofen and some soothers, I started to feel good. I started to feel great! I had a lovely chat to the hostel owner, then went for a quick walk to the pier and back before heading to a storytelling workshop headed by Graham Langley, one of the storytellers (the one from Birmingham that I particularly liked).
The workshop was quite interesting, though there were probably more people there than was possible to actually involve (he’d said a maximum of 30, but there must of been closer to 50 in the room). We talked a bit about the difference between acting and storytelling, and did a few exercises, which were very enjoyable. By the time we finished, the sun was also out, and I was in a far better mood.
Next on the agenda was a walk around the island, with a little bit of history and nature thrown in. I had a nice chat to Graham, who was also along for the walk, about his travels to Australia, about Birmingham and all sorts of other topics. The walk itself was great, though it was suddenly boiling hot, which was most unexpected, and actually irritating, as it meant peeling of various jumpers and scarves and attempting to find space for them in my bag. Crowded House actually wrote ‘4 Seasons in 1 Day’ for Ireland, I’m sure. I’ve had more use for that phrase this year than the entirety of my life in Australia.
I went straight from the walk to the ‘Story Swap’, which was an opportunity for the participants to stand up and tell a story. It was held at one of the pubs, and, of course, after half a pint of Bulmers in me, I decided I was definately getting up to do that. I had learnt some stories for ‘Home is Where the Art Is’, and had only gotten to use one (probably because my telling of that story was so very bad – I was terribly nervous – I pretty much screwed up the ending, almost forgot the whole point of the story), so I decided to use the Australian one I had learnt. I was very excited, but still very nervous, which meant that, instead of listening to the other storytellers, I just went through my own story in my head. Kind of a shame at a story SWAP, but, oh well. This story went much better, I got a couple of laughs, but, more importantly, it was quiet during the telling and I could see everyone listening, which was really cool. Its a real thrill when you realise you’re actually managing to hold people’s attention like that. I did still manage to screw up the ending a little bit. Not sure what problem I have about endings. Anyway, the story was ‘How the Kangaroo Came to Have Her Pouch’, and I’ll write it in another post and put it up here too in a little while.
After the story swap, there was time for some dinner before heading out to the evening concert. It was delightful weather that evening, so I decided to leave enough time to walk to the community school the concert was held at. This involved hiking up a hill comparable to Mount Everest. Ok, you got me, I’m exaggerating. It was more like K2. Anyway, the point is, it was steep, it was long, and it was suddenly bloody hot. I was reminded of how unfit I’ve become in the last year, and, as I wheezed by the side of the road, pretending to take a break to take some photos of the view, I made a mental note to get out the bike when I move to Kinsale, and use that bike to ride to the gym and swimming pool.
I was in a much better mood on the second night, and had a lovely time. I was sitting next to David Holt’s wife (also named Jenny!) for the second evening in a row and had a lovely chat to her. The concert ended, and the weather was still clear, so I headed down the hill towards the pub. On the way, I heard some distinctive dipthongs behind me, and I turned around to demand where the people making those sounds came from. ‘Bendig-oh, mate.’ Knew it. I chatted to the elderly couple for a little while, though they seemed a little reluctant to do so (I bet they’d been meeting Aussies all over Ireland and the UK too and were just as sick of them as I was), but they remembered the story and complimented me on it. Actually, now that I think of it, the reason they were probably so underwhelmed by the fact that I was Australian was not because they’d met so many other Aussies, but because they’d been there when I’d told my story, so they already knew I was Aussie. Oh. Right.
Anyway, that evening at the pub was the most fun I have had since being in Ireland, I think. It was packed when I got in, and whilst I had chatted to a few of the people in there, I was a little hesitant about how to approach. So, first things first, I went for another Bulmers. By the bar, there was a particularly loud bunch, yelling and singing and falling over each other, as one of them played backing chords. I was rolling my eyes at a couple of them, but then the guitarist launched into ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd and I started singing along. One of the girls noticed me and told me to come over. I did, and when the song finished, they insisted I had to sing next. I was more than a little embarrassed, and flustered, but agreed, and ended up singing ‘Tippin’ it Up to Nancy’ the song I had heard the man on Inishbofin Island sing, and that I had taught myself in the weeks after. It went down a treat, the people in the circle were delighted and amazed, insisted I sing more songs and that I could be a professional and we all become fast friends. Eventually, we went out the back to a bigger audience, and my new friends insisted I sing ‘Tippin’ it Up’ again, which received even more applause, and more cries for encores. So, I sang ‘The Band Played…’ (AGAIN – I need to learn new songs!!!!!) In the end, I stayed up to 4:30am singing and talking and drinking. It was the best night ever. I talked to a lovely artist from Limerick who might be moving to Kinsale soon, an American journalist who was writing about the festival, one of the ferryman (who told me if I was an actor rather than a singer than he was desperate to see me act, because I was such a good singer, according to him – one too many beers in the man, one presumes, but still, lovely), and many others. There was just a small group of us left at 4:30, when the air suddenly turned cold and we decided to leave. The pub was already closed, so I had to stumble back with the guitar and my torch, promising my friends to return the instrument to the pub the next day.
I intended to sleep in on Sunday, but, of course, what with the other people in the dorm room and the light, I couldn’t sleep past 9:30. I dragged myself out of bed, washed my face, drank a gallon of water, had a big brekkie and headed out to the small concert with Kate Corkery and David Holt. This was probably my favourite session out of all of them. Both David and Kate told some great stories, and we had some sing-a-longs to hillbilly music, which I always like.
There was only the afternoon concert left, but in the meantime, I had to organise my way home. See, on the way to Cape Clear, I had gotten a bus from Bandon to Skibbereen to Baltimore, where you catch the ferry. But, it being a Sunday, there were no buses from Baltimore to Skibbereen. I asked my hostel owner what to do, expecting to get a price for a taxi. He told me not to bother with a taxi, but to just ask someone on the ferry to drive me to Skibbereen as there was bound to be lots of people heading back. I was uncertain of this plan, but thanked him and headed off to the concert.
I had to leave halfway through the afternoon concert, which was sad, but I had seen the tellers several times over by that point, so it wasn’t too upsetting. The ferry ride back was awful, cold, rainy and very bumpy, but we got through it. Plus, nothing can ever compare in my mind to the Inishbofin ferry anymore.
The whole trip back to the mainland I stared at the people in the ferry, attempting to locate the friendliest looking person, who was least likely to refuse me a lift to Skibbereen. Was it the middle-aged man who had moved his jacket so I could come inside out of the rain and sit down? Was it the Spanish-looking Irish family whose 16 year old son had been chatting to me the whole way back on the ferry? Was it the lady sitting on the life-jacket box holding her dog still? Was it the tall and incredibly handsome man in his hoody and his bright, but hardly gorgeous, girlfriend? By the time we were pulling into Baltimore I still didn’t have a lift and I was convinced I wasn’t going to get one. I was essentially attempting to hitchhike, and I realised I just wasn’t the sort of person that was able to do that. I was too convinced people would view me as an Ivan Milat-equivalent (yes, I know he was the one picking up hitchhikers, but, oh, you know what I mean). So, I resigned myself to paying 25 Euro for a taxi. But, as we got off the ship, waiting for our bags, the wind whipping us around the head, the rain pouring down, I happened to be standing next to a group of girls who looked about my age. One was loud and bright and enthusiastic sounding. A kind of mad impulse gripped me and I turned to her quickly, before I was able to think too much about it, and blurted out, ‘You’re not driving through Skibbereen are you?’ She was a little taken aback, but soon recovered and said, ‘I’m not sure.’ My predicament tumbled out of my mouth and she relaxed a little. ‘Oh, sure, I’ll go check with out drivers,’ she said. She came back a minute or two later. They were driving through Skibbereen and they would be delighted to give me a lift. A huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I chatted happily away to my new friends for the whole trip, very proud of my ball-sy, courageous self, laughing at the ridiculousness of my previous fears.
So, that was the trip. It was quite delightful. I’d been looking forward to the festival since about this time last year, and I think that may be why it wasn’t exactly what I had expected or built up in my mind. But, I still had an amazing time. I think, if I were to go again, I would try to go with friends if possible. I did manage to meet a few very lovely people and have some lovely conversations, but because the festival was reasonably short, and there were so many different people around, it would probably be nicer to go with people, instead of attempting to make friends there. Though, I am getting better at making friends and conversation with people these days. Excellent skill to have, really.
Ok, that’s it from me. Its my last Wednesday in Bandon, and I’m heading out with what’s left of the au pairs to our favourite pub, O’Harra’s, to farewell our favourite bartender. I’m actually getting a little sad and emotional. I’m surprised. I didn’t expect to get sad about leaving Bandon. Not that I hate the place, but its been a mixed experience being here, and the town itself is not the most amazing place I’ve ever lived. Pretty enough, but a little dull. But, here I am, two days until I move, and I’m getting all nostalgic. I guess I’m just not good at endings…
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