Storytelling in Lockdown

At the beginning of Lockdown, when schools were issuing guidance to parents about how to organise home schooling during the forthcoming weeks, my son and daughter in law prepared a timetable for the children’s daily activities. This included traditional learning, reading, maths, writing practice etc but also some more creative and diverting sessions such as painting and physical exercises. I knew the parents would be under pressure as they were both trying to work from home (one part-time and the other full-time) as well as home schooling, so I asked if I could help with any of the activities. After having my arm practically pulled off, I agreed to do a “Storytime” session via Facebook for half an hour every weekday in the 3 to 3.30pm slot.

I looked out all the children’s books we had kept here but a lot were now a bit too young for Jack and Alice (aged 7 and 4). Nevertheless, I ploughed very quickly through the ones that still seemed appropriate. Each session included questions afterwards to test how much the children had taken in. When I finished our store I saw an opportunity to look up some of my classic favourites. I sought out information and lots of images on the internet for Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Snow White, Aladdin and a few others. I pasted the images I had downloaded on to Pages and held them up to the camera. That all went down very well but as the weeks went by and the demand continued, I had exhausted every suitable story I could think of. I decided I would have to write my own if we were to carry on with story time. I also remembered that my Grandma used to make up stories with me in them and I enjoyed those most of all.

So after racking my brains I wrote a story about a children’s cricket match in which Jack and Alice saved the day and were feted all round. The text looked rather dull so I got out my tin of water colour paints and produced some illustrations to go with the story. When I say “illustrations” I don’t mean anything of the quality of Axel Schiffer – they were more like cartoons with match stick figures representing the individual characters…Lowry-esque might be putting it a bit strongly too. However the response was immediate and surprising. Both children loved the story and asked for it to be sent to their parents along with the pictures so they could hear it again.

Since then I have written several “Jack and Alice” short stories, usually around an adventure in which the children manage to come out of it well and are soundly praised! Each is illustrated with one or more of my very amateurish paintings but they are much in demand and easily the most popular of the stories so far. It has kept me busy during this strange, unfamiliar time and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity.

I have also been practising the piano a lot and was lucky enough to have a Face Time lesson from my music teacher Linda Woolston. She ingeniously positioned an I Pad on a music stand so it showed her piano keyboard and her hands. She played through the new pieces and commented on the bits I might find tricky. It was really helpful and has kept me motivated to practise and improve.

Carol Townend