Tag Archives: stories

Scheherazade

8 Nov

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I have always been a sucker for a good story. I like telling them and I love listening to them, so, as a little boy I looked forward to bed time because that was when our Mam would read to my brother Tim and I.

Reading Winnie the Pooh, my mother would use different voices to characterise each of the animals. Her pompous Owl, and miserable Eeyore always made me cry laughing. She read us Hans Christian Anderson and, best of all, Tales from the Arabian Nights.

Much later when I had a daughter (Polly) of my own I was able to read to her.

In time, and from an early age, her main preoccupation was to spend almost every waking hour with her nose shoved into a book – to the extent that her mum and I made her a bed that was tall enough for her to construct a reading den, complete with light and curtains underneath. Polly’s Nan also refurbished the airing cupboard in her house with cushions and a lamp, so that she could hide in a cubby hole and read.

Polly now has her own little bookworm to inspire.

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Scheherazade and the Tales of the Arabian Nights

The story goes that long ago a Persian King – Shahryar – had developed the custom of marrying a beautiful princess, spending the night with her, then having the princess beheaded in the morning in order to be sure she retained her faithfulness and virtue.

The grand Vizier’s daughter, Scheherazade, offered to spend a night with the King – against everyone’s advice. Scheherazade asked the King if she may bid farewell to her sister Dunyazade.

The first night, Sheherezade told an enchanting story, spinning it out until the dawn. She left the story unfinished. The birth of Soap, I suspect. The King, eager to hear the ending spared her life for a day and in the evening Sheherezade completed the tale and started a new one with the covert help of her sister Dunyazade. Again and again for 1001 nights, Scheherazade spun her tales until the King fell in love with her and forgot his idiotic paranoid obsessions about female virtue.

Centuries of years later I could be entranced by Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves.

Imagination needs stimulation, unfortunately my imagination occasionally needs a metaphorical cold shower, because it can be a bit hyperactive. Whilst I adore flights of fancy, it is hard reality which keeps me sane.

Fortunately I have my own Sheherezade.

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The other day I was offered the chance of a very interesting commission from a respected client. It was open ended – the design could either be useful, or a purely artistic/decorative object. I came up with a couple of ideas: a new headboard for the master bedroom or a carved salad bowl as a centrepiece for the dining table and ran them enthusiastically past my wife.

Clare “Headboard, or bowl. Headboard…….bowl….” and to underline her point “The client doesn’t like salad.”

It was like being hit by a bucket of ice cold water.

It had the effect of galvanising my thinking and I was able to then generate four entirely better, and, hopefully more creative ideas.

I bow to Cat Stevens and Scheherazade:

The virtues of a good woman are ability to spin a yarn, apply a bucket of ice water and to be hard headed. These qualities give good temper in my experience.

Wren

4 Jul

I think my favourite bird has to be the humble wren. I have been carving a wren into a chair back for a lovely commission: a story chair for a primary school.
The Head Teacher of this school is on the point of retiring after over thirty years of faithful service to generations of fortunate school children. When she asked for a bird carving, I immediately suggested a wren.

Industrious, discrete, vigorous and enthusiastic, highly intelligent and very smart, and perhaps a little shy – all qualities I admire. Appropriate too, for such a game bird.

The chair is nearly finished, all I have to do is hunt out an interesting piece of gnarly root stock for the arm rests. Then the children will be able to tell tall stories from on high to their fellow students as Jenny Wren continues to watch over her charges.

More pictures to follow!

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The finished piece, complete with rhododendron arms:

Story Chair

 

The chair being installed at Mudella School. Mrs Bush and some of the children sanding it:

Story Chair Mudella School HL

Tell us a story

 

watch my knuckles

 

The finished piece before installation and varnishing:

Story chair un varnished