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Rory’s Stories

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Storytelling was a tradition in our family, but not just that. Storytelling became some sort of a habit, a daily routine; a ritual that we swore by, and couldn’t let the day pass without. It started on the way home from school, work, and everything in between where I’d tell stories about school, work and everything in between. Every moment of silence was a moment wasted; where I could’ve been telling a story, I could’ve been elaborating heavily on a new character’s entire personality, or structured descriptions of a certain road I visited (as if I was building my own universe).

In recent years I’ve met a handful of people that can’t tell stories for the life of them. Fair enough, they get the point across but they often fail to leave the listener on the edge of their seat, or withholding any great reactions towards the tale. In fact, the majority of the time I’m waiting for the story to end so I can change the topic onto some mildly interesting fable (whether it’s me or someone else telling it).

At least this has only been a handful of people. I’m glad, in that sense. I firmly believe the gift of storytelling is in the soil beneath us; plants the potatoes we eat, and travels all around us as we scoff a bag of chips. I never liked the word ‘scoff.’ I actually would go as far as saying as I hate the word scoff. Although it depicts exactly what I’m trying to make you imagine; someone digging into a bag of chips haphazardly oblivious to the talent they are about to succumb to.

That’s the natural gift of the storyteller. Being able to decide which word suits and which word doesn’t. Some might say it’s harder in poetry; between the rhythm and rhyme (if you’re into that stuff). I’d say the difficulty lies in prose writing. Maybe that’s because - first and foremost - I am a prose writer. It’s the freedom; the ability to be able to choose any word from the dictionary as well as the thesaurus and on top of that the encyclopaedia to elaborate on what you’re saying.

I went to school up the road, so the stories on the way home were never too intricate. When I got home the true storytelling began. Part of our ritual in my house is to stand at the radiator in the kitchen. This radiator is perpendicular to the television. Therefore the listener has to make an important decision; whether they want to listen to you or watch the telly. There’s several rules to this game and my mother before me would kill me for calling this routine a ‘game’ but the sheer fact is it involves so much fun that it might as well be a sport.

1. One must not tell stories during the times of seven to eight-thirty in the evening; only during the soap opera’s ad breaks.

2. One must tell the story in full; no cutting corners or bypassing important information.

And finally:

3. One must perform (you heard that right, perform) the most accurate and amplified impressions of each character mentioned in one’s story.

Having been raised this way, impressions come as naturally to me as sitting on a checkout or scrolling on my phone. It’s like a sixth sense; an ability to recognise a certain phrase someone repeats often enough for it to become their hallmark, or a particular crescendo they might have in their voice. I’ve been obsessed with impressions since I was a child. I have clear memories of taking off the man from the TV Licence ad when I was six, and my parents telling me to perform this impression to everyone we met.

It’s not just me. My mother does a fierce impression when she wants to. Hers tend to be overdramatised; women screaming and roaring, or ould farmers that haven’t a notion about the world outside the sillage pit. Her family are a long line of taker-offers as well. My uncles have their token phrases; most of which I’ve heard so often they’re engraved into my mind. My grandfather, riddled with acting talent, made use of props during his performances. A pencil would double as a moustache, and a dishcloth could be a headscarf.

I like to establish people’s personalities through taking them off to my friends. Friends that have never touched my hometown have created strong opinions of the characters in my hometown through my impressions or vast descriptions of them. Although I’m the same for their hometowns, and the characters in them. I think that’s the element that brings us all together; that appreciation for a good story is nothing to be laughed at.

When I was a child I refused to go to sleep unless my father had told me a bedtime story. I’d lie there cuddled up for ages waiting for him to climb up the stairs. Little did I know that he only used to create these stories on his way up the stairs. I’d have my teddies surround me - like an audience - and my blankets would be tucked in. I’m not entirely sure how my father made up such incredible stories in a few seconds, or even as he was going along. I’d be brimming with questions, why didn’t the man do that? or what does that mean?.

My favourite story of all time was about a woman called ‘WillYouMarryMe.’ When her boyfriend proposed to her, he asked “Will you marry me, WillYouMarryMe?” That couple went on to have a child called ‘Ibegyourpardon.’ Whenever someone asked him his name, he replied ‘Ibegyourpardon.’ This was a nightmare to deal with, as you can imagine. I can’t remember what happens at the end of the story; whether Ibegyourpardon changes his name, or deals with it, or comes up with a new way of responding to that question. These bedtime stories always had a beginning, middle, and an end. They always made sense. They always had a moral. Still, I can’t remember much of the endings, just the stories themselves. I can’t remember when the ending of these stories came; when my father told me the last bedtime story as I lay tucked in with my teddies around me. I don’t like thinking about that too much. Really, there was no ending. He tells me stories every day; through phone calls, or texts, or emails, and even in person. And the stories he told me live on in me, just like the impressions do, or the daily routine of telling everyone about my day. Regardless of the radiator, or the kitchen, or what time the soaps are on. In cafés, and lecture halls, and pubs, and checkouts. To people that have never been to my town, or never heard of my school, or never met my parents. New stories, new impressions, new characters, new universes to build.

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