Tales of Britain

By Jem Roberts

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

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Home Springs Eternal


First of all – our website has been updated with the latest season of blogs from here, and if you check out the media player, you'll also find Brother Bernard's appearance on Cerys Matthews' 6music show available for a cosy listen! Just click HERE for loads of folkloric goodness.

And now, still off-theme, a note away from home! Monday was our first ever London show – complete with Dick Whittington finale, performing a tale set only a short stroll away from our venue, The Owl & Hitchhiker! It wasn't a huge crowd, but a very friendly and enthusiastic one, and both Brother Bernard and Sister Sal (Kate Harbour) hope it won't be our last! There is an imminent chance to make up for missing the show, though – we're back on HOME turf next Saturday at noon, kicking off the Bath Comedy Festival 2019 with our Bath book launch!

These two shows were for pledgers to claim their pledge rewards as VIPs – but we're not sure how many of those who pledged for this level have actually turned up! Unbound have warned us that with all their books, the majority of pledge rewards remain unclaimed, once the book is out, as folk forget what they pledged for! Nonetheless, our offer to write a special personalised folktale has been claimed and is in the works, and we're happy to hear from anyone expecting their paid-for rewards – are you the person who paid to come to Bath and hear the legend of the founding of the city by Prince Bladud in the actual fields of Swainswick, where the tale is based? Get in touch if so, we're still up for it!

Bath's founding legend wasn't the very first story we told of these 77 (or 82 if you include further tales not in the book), but may be the one we have performed the most, and we kicked off the London show with it. Living in this astonishing city undoubtedly helped form the campaign we are still fighting, to celebrate Britain's folklore in the places where the stories took root, so swamped with myth and mystery stretching back millennia is this bit of Somerset. If a career in the publishing industry had taken your author to, say, Birmingham or Chiswick, maybe the absence of any full British folktale collection would not have become so apparent. But in these ancient legendary hills, we're surrounded by stories, inescapably, and we're proud to share our own main legend with the world.

Not that we really believe a historical Bladud was the father of King Leir, or that he tried to fly from a tower in London with man-made wings, but the idea that there may well have been a Bronze or Iron Age leader who founded a settlement around the hot bubbly spa waters here in NE Somerset – and who may indeed have herded pigs, and may have had a rather nasty skin condition healed by the waters – played a huge part in establishing this warm, deep feeling that many of our stories have some original basis in reality. And to Hades with those academics who reduce all stories down to thesis, antithesis and synthesis, and deny any historicity in any of our celebrated so-called 'mythical' figures! There's no fun in that, and we're here for the FUN.

This is Bath's home legend anyway, but if you take a look at our LIVE page, you will see that we love performing in YOUR hometown too, and maybe even your own local legends! Get in touch via Twitter or however you like, to have BB or both BB and SS rock up to your place for a storytelling show, we'd love to visit, and sharing these tales is what it's all about.

Finally, we've heard some lovely things about the book from some of you already, but please do remember that online reviews for Amazon and Goodreads and suchlike really do make all the difference to a book's success. We're a bit cheesed off that our first two print runs have been so very cautiously tiny (still not even 1,000 books printed!) but the more folk share their positivity and perhaps even ask shops to stock copies, the more celebrated our national treasury of tales will be! Now the book is out, we're not sure how long we will keep up this Unbound blog (don't worry, we won't miss a Folklore Thursday, but migration may be necessary soon), not least as we get no alerts when someone comments, and we only just noticed this lovely message from Lesley Cookman, which has made our day:

Thanks you, Lesley. So please keep that feedback coming! And see you right here in Bath on Saturday at noon, when we will offer you a warm welcome you to our home turf!

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