Thursday, 12 November 2015


As promised, here's a little more detail on my next storytelling show, which is being performed at my regular performance haunt of No. 28 in the Market Square, Belper, Derbyshire. This is THE BALLAD OF THE DRIFTWOOD MERMAID.

This is my contemporary version of one of the classic Scottish folk tales, that of The Haunted Ships, as first collected - so far as I'm aware - in Allan Cunningham's "Traditional Tales Of The English And Scottish Peasantry" in the early 19th. century. The tale is native to the Scottish borders, to the area of the Solway Firth, that great sweep of water between South West Scotland and North West England. I've always felt a strong connection to that area - my Dad's boss used to have an upmarket log cabin in the area and we would go there for weekends away. Years later, it was in that selfsame log cabin that I had my honeymoon!

My version is set on the very edge of the Solway, at the tip of the Mull of Galloway (the same region where that other classic Scots horror tale, The Wicker Man, was filmed.) and is very definitely set in contemporary times. In the original, the fairies who haunt the Haunted Ships out in the Solway get their eye on the wife of a country Laird and try to tempt her from her husband into their underwater kingdom. The Laird does what he can to stop this happening... but the story comes to a rather abrupt end when the ghosts / fairies come up with a cunning plan to steal her away that is never actually put into practice. I decided, therefore, in my version to not only update the story to a contemporary setting but to develop the plot further - though of course I don't want to give too much away at this stage!

Anyway, in my story Jenny and David, making a fresh start after some marital difficulties in Glasgow, make a fresh start in a state of the art house they've had built on the Galloway cliffs. But they aren't quite over the problems with their marriage, these difficulties compounded when Jenny gets closer to Finn, a young fisherman who makes a hobby of carving extraordinary beautiful sculptures out of driftwood. And out among the great heap of sunken ships not far off the coast, the ghosts and the fairies are still covetous of human beauty....

The show was performed at the London Horror Festival where one wag said it was like "Scots folk tale meets H. P. Lovecraft" and maybe there's something in that. Certainly it's intended, for all its modern setting, to have the rich mix of romance and spookiness, beauty and the uncanny, that typifies the greatest folk tales.

The show is at 7.30pm on Dec 5th at No. 28 Market Square, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1FZ. Tickets are £7 full price & £5 concession. More details on the poster above.

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