I was delighted that, with permission from my troupe of goblins, I could enjoy an evening out: a storytelling event at my local bookshop. I thought I should go along, and hear some Orkney tales from a human’s perspective for once. The story of the man lured into the fairy hill for a year varied wildly from Guppo’s Trow-Foot’s version.
The human storyteller’s in question were Tom Muir and Fran Flett Hollinrake. They told their tales beautifully – even Trupptrink shut up his grumblings to listen. Some stories told the miracles of St Magnus: the Saint, Martyr, and Viking Good Guy. I decided not to sketch one of his many miracles involving wolves regurgitating human flesh. We heard a bad-breathed polar bear escapade from Shetland and a personal account of an irritable guardian-angel-type figure. And, of course, we were also treated to folktales from the hills and households of Orkney.
As you might expect, I tried to capture a few of the images flitting about the room, by snagging them to paper. I decided to do little illustrations to two of the tales.
Tom Muir told of a baby whisked away by fairies… It was replaced by an ugly, wizened changeling, who wailed day and night. The changeling however gave the game away when it demanded, in a gruff voice, whiskey from the baby sitter.
Here he is: yowling blue murder in his cot, then playing his penny whistled created with straw from the byre. I’ve never met this faery, but I hear he sometimes busks outside Orkney whiskey distilleries, hoping for a free dram.
Another image to captivate my inner-eye, was a tale that included a cute baby dragon.
St Magnus – a different fella to Orkney’s Magnus – performed miracles in Germany by slaying troublesome dragons. Personally I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding between human and dragon, but these were olden times and people don’t appreciate being eaten.
Anyway, St Magnus the Dragon Slayer spared this wee hatchling because of it’s innocence. And because it was adorable, obviously. The saved dragon is still mooching around the Swiss hills, thoroughly miffed with humans, as we all come to be eventually. Best leave him be.
I had a delightful evening, and so did everyone else by the look of it. I was particularly pleased that no books were shredded by the sprites who escaped from my handbag. And I successfully managed to convince an ogre not to read melancholy poetry that can last up to eight hours.
Take a look at the Orcadian Story Trust (links below), and if you’re in Orkney, watch out for future Storytelling Festival events. If you see an harassed looking English lady in the audience, swatting invisible pixies from her hair, and whispering to her shoulder, that’s me!
All words and artworks created by Ellen and belongs to a cantankerous goblin called Trupptrink.