• Jem Roberts

Travelling By Bear: The Green Glen

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Happy Folklore Thursday, folksters!

It is, I fear, a necessarily rushed folktale blog this week, due to a double deadline clashing with the book launch for Soupy Twists in London on Wednesday, and then a recording of Great Lives on Douglas Adams for Radio 4 in Bristol today. And then, after all that metropolitan publicity, I'm spending the weekend in a tent at the countryside, wrapped in a green velvet cloak telling Tales of Britain as part of a candlelit folk evening in Somerset... quite a week.

But nonetheless, when it comes ot the theme of transport, we have one recommendation for you: TRAVEL BROWN BEAR! The ancient – and very very silly Scottish story of The Brown Bear Of The Green Glen has no specific home. We placed it in Inveraray, as that was where the original folklorist James Campbell heard a version, but if anything its spirit survives through all the Western Isles.

The plot is about as pat as they come – youngest of three, sent on a mission, meets a number of very quizzical beasts, returns home victorious, is cheated by evil older siblings, but finally good wins through. We had trouble making our retelling as distinct as possible from Molly Whuppie, for a start! Also, we consider this one of the silliest tales of our 77, you could almost hear the old nurse desperately waiting for her audience to fall asleep, as she was forced to come up with yet another stage of tests for the hero to go through before achieving his goal.

But none of it is possible without the help of the kind, brave, strong – and extremely convenient Brown Bear of the Green Glen, who invites our hero onto his back, and flies from Isle to Isle, completely free of charge! If only flying by brown bear was still a possibility today…

We may well perform this story at The Inn at Freshford this Saturday evening, as part of their candlelit folk nights! If you're in the area, Brother Bernard hopes to see you there! If you don't live in the area... catch a brown bear?

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Publication date: March 2019
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