Since my last post, I have been engrossed in Somerstown Stories, which will be coming to an end during September this year. It’s a rare and special opportunity I think, to be involved in a project such as this, and to have the freedom and flexibility to explore some of the new and unexpected doors that have opened up along the way.
The Museum of Somerstown is one such door, and whilst it was never part of the original plan, I think it’s probably been one of the most successful features of the whole project. Steve Bomford and Daniel O’Neill are the faces behind NebMedia www.nebweb.co.uk, a successful Portsmouth based social enterprise, whose focus is making the most of the variety of new media that’s now available to us. I commissioned them to run some kind of evaluation event as part of the closing stages of Somerstown Stories, and #MuSo was the result.
Drawing on their background of photography and utilising their considerable knowledge and social media networks, Daniel and Steve have transformed an empty shop on St James Road into a temporary museum, and by the end of the weekend, it may have welcomed over 100 visitors. With the help of the fabulous Sarah Dyer, (a student volunteer whom I met whilst she was on Industrial Placement at Enterprise car hire!) visitors are invited to explore the maps and photographs of Somerstown, and the feedback, both in person and via the Facebook page, has been very positive! Having the opportunity to have a virtual presence running alongside a physical space has been very successful and the two mediums, whilst obviously very different, seem to compliment each other well.
I have never attempted an empty shop/pop-up shop project before, but this whole experience has been so positive (especially the part where the owners, Guinness Hermitage, allowed us to use the space for free!) I would definitely consider it again.
In other news, I have been preparing my new story for North End Playscheme which runs from 6th-10th August at Mayfield School. The scheme has run for over ten years and provides 5 days of safe, creative and fun activities for primary age children, out of a large marquee on the school field. They also have a Parent & Toddler tent offering play, crafts and stories for 0-4 year olds.
My husband and I had been involved in Playscheme in the past, as team helpers and for two years as the Stage Team, leading the fun and antics in the main tent and with myself as a storyteller. We also helped with planning on the Management Team, but we haven’t been involved for about 4 years now, since my daughter was born. This year however, circumstances have settled themselves in such a way that we can get involved again, and I was delighted t0 be invited back again to tell a story to the 100 or so children who’ll be attending that week, including my children.
Usually, if I’m preparing a new story to be told to a group, I will road-test it on my children first – see which bits they think are funny, which bits seem to drag or don’t flow as easily. Once I’ve refined it I can then tell it to the group it’s intended for. Often I’ll tell stories on the bus, as it makes the journey less boring, and in the past it has been known for other passengers to listen in and even occasionally comment on the fact that they were enjoying it!
Today was one of those days I was telling the first part of the story to my children while we were sat on the two seats closest to the bus driver. The story features Lucy, (one of my favourite characters that I have a collection of stories about) and a host of new characters including Rob, Lucy’s classmate, Florence Harding and the dastardly Marcus! We’d got to the bit where the main plot driver was being revealed and Marcus dreadful scheme was being unfurled, and I paused to ask my son to press the bell as we were soon getting off.
To my astonishment the bus driver suddenly called out: “You can’t get off yet! I want to know what going to happen next in the story! I’ve been listening for the last 15 minutes!”
Priceless! I laughed very loudly (and probably embarrassed my children) and continued the story until the very last minute until we got off the bus.
So, for the driver of the 40, who dropped off the storytelling lady and her two kids on Winston Churchill Avenue this morning: Thanks so much for your encouraging comments! The story is currently titled: Lucy and the Race to Save the Olympics and I’m planning to serialise it here each day, (after I’ve told it to the children!) I hope you enjoy it, and do invite your family & friends to read it too!