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The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland & Wales, refreshed for the 21st century. By Brother Bernard, as told to Jem Roberts.

There are currently no books which bring together the ancient stories of England, Scotland, Wales and the Isles, and particularly none that aim, above all, to entertain the largest audience possible. There are lots of localised anthologies and expensive academic works, mythology-based books which remain ghetto-ised as ‘Special Interest’. But in this time of Brexit-based disunity, we believe that one thing which has always brought the people of this island together is our shared culture, and particularly our national treasury of tales, which have been retold afresh for each generation.

Each one of the 77 stories to be found in TALES OF BRITAIN – from the folktales of Dick Whittington, Robin Hood and King Arthur to heroes who deserve to be better known, like Mollie Whuppie, Bran the Blessed and Jack O’Kent – has been forged in performance to find the 21st century retelling to grab today’s audience, no matter what their age, gender, sexuality or creed. Some tales are moving, some bawdy, some downright weird, but above all, they have been retold with a crucial sense of anarchic fun, while restoring the true root of every legend in a way which should appeal to every Briton, whether first generation or thousandth – or indeed, lovers of great stories all around the world, from any background.

Inspiration for these Tales’ delivery comes not just from the magic of Dahl and Rowling, but the Grim Tales anarchy of Rik Mayall and Anthony Horowitz, the warmth of John Hurt’s Storyteller, and the enthusiasm of Tony Robinson’s Odysseus. What the Grimms did for German folklore, TALES OF BRITAIN will do for the British – with the added bonus that each story is rooted in the landscape, and so a tourist guide is provided for every tale, encouraging everyone to visit the places where each story ‘really happened’. Enjoy the tale on a Tuesday, and on Sunday afternoon, you can relive it.

This is not just a book, but a campaign, to enhance Britain’s standing as an island full of ancient story magic, and to revive and celebrate the shared culture of the United Kingdom, in a time of political uncertainty – and, above all, to have a lot of fun with it. With the enthusiastic support of #FolkloreThursday and an ever-growing online community of compassionate patriots and story lovers, this TALES OF BRITAIN collection is almost ready to share, and can be designed and released by Unbound as soon as the pledge target hits!

TALESOFBRITAIN.COM

Born in Ludlow in 1978 and graduating from Aberystwyth University in 2000, Jem Roberts has a publishing heritage which goes back over 20 years, with extensive magazine experience – as well as being a performer, with shows all round the United Kingdom.

Although he has made himself the biographer of choice for comedy’s elite – the official, authorised historian for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Blackadder, Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and now Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, in 2017’s Soupy Twists – Jem has been a committed children’s writer for a lot longer.

As a journalist, he edited titles including Pokémon World, Disney & Me and Disney’s Puzzle Land, and has been a contributor as storyteller for further publications – Muffin the Mule, Disney Girl, Winnie the Pooh and many more. His short story ‘Little Wee’ (about a very annoying baby llama) was published as part of charity fairytale collection Homespun Threads in 2012, and he continues to write his own tales as well as adapting traditional ones.

These Tales of Britain are also performed live at folky, family and all kinds of events, with Jem as Brother Bernard, and children’s TV star Kate Harbour (Bob the Builder, Shaun the Sheep) as Sister Sal, and a podcast audiobook project is currently in the works.

Jem Roberts lives in Bath, and finds the idea of moving very stressful.

JEMROBERTS.COM

CADOC & THE MOUSE

‘Being bored at school is just the worst – especially when you skipped breakfast.’

During King Arthur’s lifetime, in the hilly Brecon area of central Wales, there was a small but respected school in the tiny valleyside village of Llanspyddid. The students there were of all ages and abilities, but the brightest pupil of them all was probably Cadoc.

He’s more commonly known as Saint Cadoc, but young Cadoc was certainly no saint. He yawned through his classes, gazed out of the window daydreaming at clouds, and spent more time doodling than studying. This wasn’t because he was a bad lad at all, he was just far too bright for the lessons taught by his boring old teacher, Bachan. Cadoc had already travelled through Britain and Ireland learning so much about life from all angles, but he had returned to his Welsh home and was forced to sit through tiresome lessons such as…

‘And that, boys and chaps, is how we know that God created the mermaid to test us all. Now, get out your Science textbooks, and I will tell you all how flat the Earth is, and how quickly the sun spins around it. ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME, CADOC?’

Cadoc’s gaze left the window, and he turned to face his teacher in a flash. ‘Sorry, sir, no sir, I wasn’t!’ the dreamy lad replied – proving that he was anything but a liar. The teacher sighed, and continued to drawl his bad lessons to the dozy class.

It wasn’t just that Cadoc was bored of hearing these silly ‘facts’ he was quite certain were all far from correct, either. It was a humming hot day and everyone in the classroom had only had half a handful of green oats and a few hawthorns to eat that week, and it was nearly suppertime. The whole valley for miles around was in the grip of a terrible famine, and no grain was being grown in the stodgy, rotten fields. Cadoc’s ribs were sticking out of his tunic, and sometimes he got so hungry he was tempted to teach himself how to eat leaves, like the goats.

Suddenly, the teacher Bachan squealed, and leapt up onto his chair.

Read more...

Bristol Cream

Thursday, 20 July 2017

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Happy Folklore Thursday, lovers of British lore!

It may have escaped your notice that Tales of Britain has been featured every day this week on BBC Radio Bristol, in Laura Rawlings' afternoon show at about 4.25pm. Brother Bernard has performed specially truncated versions of 5 tales – 3 from the Somerset area, plus 1 each for Wales and Scotland – in the hope that Brizzle's loyal listeners will…

OGGY OGGY MABINOGION! OI OI OI!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Mabinogion map

Brother Bernard, Sister Sal, Jem, Kate, Kwaku, John and everyone battling to launch the 21st century British story treasury thank you all from the bottoms of our hearts and the hearts of our bottoms! All 35 of you who have stepped up to pledge so far, that is. 5% in one week still only leaves us in the foothills of the mountain we have to climb, but though this campaign may still take several months…

Help Us Revive Britain's Story Treasury TODAY!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Baremap

Happy Folklore Thursday, and welcome to the TALES OF BRITAIN campaign!

PLEASE join with us in creating and promoting this exciting new treasury of ancient tales from Scotland, Wales, England and the Isles.

Whether you love stories, or Britain, or both, or know anyone who would delight in a fresh anthology of British folklore, we see this as a movement to culturally re-unite the UK, from…

Daniel Jackson
Daniel Jackson asked:

Hi Jem,

Could you give a little more detail on the Live Show, please? Is it suitable for children, and can I bring mine with me if I pledge at this level?

Best wishes,
Daniel

Jem Roberts
Jem Roberts replied:

As for details of box office front of house come the show, it's hard to say, but I'd imagine a family coming on one pledge will be reasonable enough, depending on the show's popularity! We can dialogue when the book is funded, and the show is being arranged. :)

Daniel Jackson
Daniel Jackson asked:

Content removed by Moderator.

Jem Roberts
Jem Roberts replied:

Hi Daniel!

It is entirely crafted around being suitable for absolutely everyone of all ages, as is every element of Tales of Britain! Some of the book's stories get scary/bawdy etc., but the live shows in particular are intended for families. Hope to see you there! BBx

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