Saturday, January 16, 2010

True stories

Following on from my last post - and preceding the potentially awesome/awful - events of next week's storytelling epic, I spent Wednesday evening listening to a bunch of other people tell some stories of their own.

Back before Christmas I found out about a monthly event called True Stories Told Live from Xfm DJ Marsha, who listed it on her mailer and described it as having the "feeling of being the beginning of a phenomenon." It sounded like the sort of thing I'd like, particularly as I'm thinking I'd like to organise something along similar lines (albeit with fiction) when I really start ramping up work on my little publishing company. That being the case, I emailed Marsha and asked if I could tag along to the next one.

There are three key criteria behind the concept of True Stories Told Live; the first is that the story told must be true; the second is that it must be told without the use of any notes; the third is that you must be alive. There are five 'anecdotalists' at each event, and one of them is always a musician, so you get a bit of a jig and some gentle head-bobbing going on halfway through. The anecdotalists at this month's event included a former husband of Ulrika Jonsson (his story did not feature her), a young lady who recounted how she realised that the job of cabin crew was not for her moments after her first flight left the ground, a singer who ended up playing without any instruments at an open mic poetry night in New York the day before Thanksgiving, a music journalist who revealed Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant's somewhat unlikely appreciation of Welsh choirs, and a chap who appeared alongside Barbra Streisand in Yentl talking about the link between the Nazis and the Austrian village where his family spent their summers.

Each story lasted at most around 10 minutes or so, and they were all wonderfully told, easily holding the attention of the audience of around 50 people, all of whom were crammed into the small upstairs room of The Compass pub in Islington. Of all the stories, it was the last one that I found particularly riveting. To cut a short story shorter, it dealt with fond childhood memories of a small village in Austria being rocked by the discovery that it was a key Nazi holdout during the war. Powerful stuff, beautifully told; the storyteller did a very good job of keeping things light and humorous at the beginning, before revealing the 'twist.' I stopped him afterwards to thank him for telling it.

So anyway, a very enjoyable evening was had, and I'll certainly be going along to the next one in February. I really think I'd like to actually tell a story at some point, too. But on the basis of what I heard on Wednesday, I really can't think of anything suitable … I've never been married to Ulrika (one of the few), never taken on a job I couldn't bear the prospect of, never sung in New York, never met Robert Plant, and certainly never had my childhood memories shattered. I'm thinking I must've written some witty anecdote from my life down in this blog somewhere … if anyone can think of anything memorable I've done that would make a good story, please let me know!


Tara said...

That "True Stories" event sounds like something I'd really enjoy attending.

I know who Robert Plant is, but...forgive me...who is Ulrika?

Let's see...well you did go on a bit of crusade to find the bastards who stole your brother's car, so there's a story...

And of course there's the idea of you starting your own publishing company! You could offer it up to anyone at the next event and voila, you've got some clients!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

How about that time you did the Mentos/Coke experiment outside your office?
Or one of the many cycle-based adventures that included evil bunnies on a tow-path, Bill Bailey or William Shatner's gaily-clothed double?
Or the time that you went swimming for the first time in ages? Ohhhhhh... Dreamy in Speedos (drools a la Homer Simpson)

Tim said...

Tara - Ulrika … well, she started as a weather girl, then became a presenter of loads of popular shows, then she became somewhat better know for her private life, which led to the UK tabloids pretty much vilifying her.

Hmmm… I want to find a story that's got a bit of humour about it; I like the idea of making people laugh! And the publishing company story is just beginning!!

Inexplicable Device - Mentos and bunny stories don't really have a beginning-middle-end to them. Did I meet a gaily-clothed Shatner double?!

I'm never going to live down dreamy in speedos, am I?

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I think the gaily-clothed William Shatner double was something like a compere at one of the races you've taken part in - I can't remember if it was for running or cycling, but I'm sure on one occasion he wore a yellow jacket as if he was in Hi-De-Hi.

As for Dreamy in Speedos: No. You will not.

Tim said...

Oh, god, yes - at the Richmond to Windsor bike ride. Love fake Shatner, he's almost as good as the real thing.

According to my site meter someone just Googled dreamy in speedos and found that particular entry. I reread it to refresh my memoey - it's such a small mention - i can't believe it's lived on in infamy!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I've just googled it again for a 'wwwWOW!' I'm working on. You know what comes up? Just you and me! Google is telling us something, I think?

However, WV is telling me something else. It's 'exeman'