Winter Newsletter 2015

More Than Two Minutes of Fame : Berkshire Folk Tales

20_dragon croppedMy expected two minutes of fame on BBC Countryfile last year was reduced to 76 seconds of fame, the rest finishing up on the cutting room floor, including my telling of King Gaarge and the Dragon, as Sandira O’Connell and I stood overlooking Dragon Hill.

I got my chance to tell King Gaarge and the Dragon and other Berkshire tales on the Paul Ross show, BBC Berkshire, on 30 October, a good twenty minutes of air time. I got into serious trouble with Paul, an excellent and charming interviewer, for using the word “SH*T” on air – talking about King Alfred, who also got into trouble for burning the cakes and had to spend the night sitting in the sh*t of the pigsty. Paul quickly made an apology on behalf of his guest to offended listeners, well he would wouldn’t he given his brother’s well known on-air respect and courtesy.

I was also on prime time radio on Wednesday 9 September, a fifteen minute program on BBC 4 at 1.45pm, part of the week long Lore of the Land series. I spoke about the wonderful tale of Herne the Hunter as we wandered in Windsor Forest. Being under the Heathrow flight path it took us three hours to record thirteen minutes, probably the most stressful experience of my professional life, but also exhilarating. I was pleased with the result.

I hope to get some of this on my storytelling website when I have worked out how to do it. If you know how to extract the audio from a video recording, please let me know.

My friend and Slough Writers colleague Mike Pearcy has filmed me telling the tale ‘Dining with the Vicar of Bray’, another Berkshire Folk Tales story. You can find it on YouTube by selecting ‘David England reading the Vicar of Bray’. You can also see me on YouTube with my son Ed, performing the tale of the Kintbury Bell (including Ed playing two violas at once), by selecting ‘David England Berkshire Folk Tales’, which also selects several terrific Berkshire Folk Tunes performed by Ed, all filmed by Ed’s wife, my daughter in law Jo, and my grandson Jacob.

By the way, signed copies of my books Berkshire Folk Tales and Lancashire Folk Tales are available here and the books are also available from good bookshops and on Kindle.

Storytelling and Public Speaking

As I say on my website home page, I love telling stories, and especially it is such a joy to spend a day in school telling tales to children and a week at Oxford Dance Camp, and at the same time listening to the children telling their stories and the way they embellish my stories with such spontaneous humour and imagination.

One of the highlights of my storytelling year was at the Cookham Festival. I gave a two hour rolling storytelling for children on the Saturday morning, and in the evening Ed and I gave a performance of Berkshire Tales and Tunes to a receptive audience in a packed venue.

Last year, I began to give talks and readings and after dinner speeches, and have had lots of bookings. My first talk is called ‘History, Myth and Mystery in Berkshire Folk Tales’, though I tend to adapt the talk to include tales local to the audiences, which have included local history societies, museums, and Rotary clubs.

My most scary talk was to Holyport WI, scary for me that is. Talking about the so called Witches of Windsor, hanged at Abingdon in 1579, when I said rhetorica24 Battle of prestonlly, ‘Put up your hands if you think someone can be killed by witchcraft,’ half the audience raised their hands. Talking about the Battle of Preston – a Lancashire Folk Tales story –  and how the ‘the very beautyfull laydys of Preston and their courting and ffeasting’ were the undoing of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, when I made a passing derogatory reference to Yorkshire tea, the other half of the audience rose in rebellion.

Undeterred, I am planning a talk for 2016 called ‘Defiant Saxon Queens’.

To add to your festive fare, why not read my version of the fabulous seasonal tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

My Psychotherapy and Counselling Practice

My Psychotherapy and Counselling Practice continues to be the main focus of my professional work. Of course, I cannot say anything about it beyond what appears on my website (, except that the work is deeply fulfilling, demanding, and at times joyous.

My Soulfulness Shamanic Practice

City of Avenues GardenI ran the Soulfulness Shamanic Group in Cookham for fifteen months. After a break over Summer, it didn’t prove possible for me to recommence in Autumn, but I plan to start the group again in the New Year. Please, keep an eye on my website for news (

North American shamanism traces its origins, philosophy and psychology to the Mayan ‘Flower Soldiers’ of Yucatan three thousand years ago, who opposed slavery and human sacrifice, who believed in democracy and full gender equality, and who built the City of the Great Avenues, a defensible metropolis of fifty thousand people, with sewers and running water for everyone and renowned for having vast, beautiful gardens. To find out more, I recommend ‘Lightningbolt’ by Hyemeyohsts Storm, a truly beautiful book.

I have given two talks on shamanism to the Cookham Therapists Network, one on the shamanic journey and soul retrieval, the other on shamanic psychology. I am also well on with my book, ‘Soulfulness : The Marriage of Shamanic and Contemporary Psychology’, because I believe it is important to bring the wisdom of the ancient healing practice of shamanism together with the insights of contemporary psychology, as I seek to do in my professional practice.

My Book of the Year

beesMy accolade for Book of the Year goes to ‘The Bees’ by Laline Paull. This is a truly remarkable and original book. Within its pages you will find drama, fear, horror, cruelty, passion, love, tenderness, courage, flying sex, and all its well drawn characters are bees, save for a few nasty wasps.

Every good wish for 2016.