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Telling stories to pass the time is probably one of the oldest forms of human entertainment – and this spellbinding evening admirably demonstrated why it still survives today. There was no high-end technology, no interactive gadgets and no elaborate staging; just a man and his voice and a few percussion instruments to use to set the scene and yet the audience sat enthralled as time washed over them.  Nor was this just a few committed enthusiasts of “a certain age” for the audience was a cross-section of ages with a mixture of locals and visitors all held captive by the age-old ways in which a story draws people together. In the first half of the programme we were entertained by tales from Russia, which the teller first heard as part of “Old Peter’s  Russian Tales” in a book compiled by his great uncle, the author Arthur Ransome.  The first of these was the story of The Firebird, a tale with great resonance in 1916 as it tells of the overthrow of a Tzar. With simple, elegant gestures and skilful use of repetition Lupton re-told the story of the hunter who ignores advice and takes up the feather from the firebird and so learns the true meaning of fear. Like all good stories it has a twist in the tail – or tale – and so kept the audience entranced to the end. This was followed by the tale of a peasant musician whose music captures the heart of the Tzar of the Seas and eventually gains him the hand of the Tzar’s youngest daughter – only for him to wake to find it simply a dream. Interspersed with the tales were reminiscences about Arthur Ransome and his wife Evgenia, former secretary to Trotsky, and their time in Bolshevik Russia. This strange mixture of folk tale, everyday actions and the hint of hidden dangers made for a heady mix which came to fruition in the second half of the programme when Lupton tells the story of Ransome and Evgenia’s escape from Moscow in 1919. The story swaps between their actual escape and Ransome’s dreams and recollections of childhood events and yet itself follows the path of a traditional tale with the couple overcoming trials by giving appeasing gifts, playing games of skill and chance and knowing always that troubles come in threes – and like all tales there’s a twist! The fact that on arriving in England they found themselves in Scotland Yard, having to prove they weren’t spies! It’s hard to actually analyse what held the audience so completely; something in the wonderful use of language; the eloquent cadences of his voice; the rhythm of stories which were new but whose structure is already known – or maybe a combination of all the parts which make a sum greater than its parts. Whatever it is – it works, and will surely go on working for as long as people are able to go on listening.


A kilt, a kimono and a Kamishibai bicycle and a rainy afternoon was transformed as the audience was transported to Japan and Scotland for an hour of pure magic. Kamishibai storytellers traditionally cycled from village to village using simple picture boards to illustrate their stories, each with a moral to it and often told in serial form to ensure that the audience would return on the next visit. Mio Shapley and Fergus McNichol have adapted this art to suit their own tales and together kept a predominantly primary aged audience and their parents enthralled as they regaled them with the Japanese tale of the Peach Boy and a wonderful Scottish story of a girl who was afraid of nothing before concluding the afternoon with an amazing feat of memory in the tale of the boy with the extremely long name! The afternoon was brought to a close with a silent Japanese tea ritual, which clearly intrigued the young members of the audience. Interspersed throughout the stories were songs – in an outlandish mixture of Scottish and Japanese, which encouraged considerable audience participation.  Involving the audience was a real keynote for this performance with youngsters being encouraged to come to the front and don simple masks and costumes to become characters in the story or to hold up picture boards which helped to illustrate the tales. However the children of Settle proved that  they really showed that they were more than equal to any professional story teller when asked to help create the creatures in one story and made some particularly imaginative suggestions! What was intriguing was the number who very swiftly adopted the language of story-telling with monsters that were not just gruesome but “as high as a house” or “as tall as a mountain”, much to the delight of Fergus McNichol who then improvised his story around these creative suggestions. This was a delightful session and an excellent example of how stories draw people in so that the story itself is something owned by everyone. Fergus McNichol demonstrated a stunning range of skills and amazing rapport with his young audience throughout and while some of the children seemed almost in awe of Mio Shapley there was absolutely no doubt that the afternoon was a tremendous hit with everyone. Even the adults enjoyed the chance to join in and be energised by the power of the dragon – and did so with great gusto!


SETTLE STORY TELLING FESTIVAL: Stories from the singing gourd

From the opening atmospheric sitar solo through to the closing word the audience sat mesmerised as Tuup and Sheema Mukherjee wove their tales like an exotic tapestry to delight and enfold the listeners. Not that all of these Indian and African tales were exactly easy listening and the construction of a story within a story was an excellent device to ensure that the attention never wandered. In amongst the apparently simple tales there were real moral dilemmas, and questions of blame to be apportioned and decisions to be made – as well as some very gruesome situations! There were strange spirits, demons and deceivers, kings and demi-gods as well as a particularly knotty family relationship issue to be unravelled!  What bound them all together was the wonderful stage presence of the two storytellers. From the first moment of his entry into the hall Tuup ensured that the audience were totally involved in the tales; his physical presence and incredible intonation dominated the room as with deceptively simple gestures he drew the audience every deeper into the stories while all the while the amazing music underscored the mood of the tale.  Sheema Mukherjee herself was amazing to watch, both for the hypnotic quality of her playing but also for her stunning acting in the role of the spirit – her voice became another instrument accompanying the tale and she changed from gnarled demon to goddess and back in the twinkling of an eye.  In stories seven long years seem always to pass slowly, and yet in the presence of magic of this nature the hours seemed to fly and the night went far too quickly  and seven long years would not be enough to hear all the tales they have to tell. More importantly, if as they would have us believe every tale told and repeated adds a day to your life then I could quite happily grow old listening to such stories. Yet another amazing session in the stunning festival  – I can’t wait for next time!


What better way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon than to share a pot of tea and a plate of home-made cakes with Bill Mitchell, the greatest living Yorkshireman!  Add in the music and humour of Nick Hennessey and you know you are in for a real treat! The fact that people were willing to queue in the rain for return tickets for this session would suggest that I wasn’t the only one to feel this way. Nor did it disappoint. This was a gentle canter through familiar places, not necessarily dramatic but thoroughly enjoyable as Bill reminisced about places he knew and people he had met; conjuring up images of JB Priestley puffing on his pipe as he wrote, or Alfred Wainwright striding back to Settle station in flapping shoes and raincoat having walked to Hadrian’s wall and back.  As a writer Bill declared himself to be more interested in people than in things and this showed through wonderfully in his recollections of various encounters in Methodist chapels across the dales and in his desire to ensure that these encounters should be remembered and past on in order to ensure that they still continue to live!  This was a theme also picked up by Nick Hennessey whose wit and wisdom conjured stories out the most unlikely events and peopled them with characters such as Mad Michael the tramp, Hobby Noble who found out the folly of talking too much; the murderous Ed the Head and the haunting red haired Ann, the tinker man’s daughter. Whether sung or narrated his tales transported the audience to new worlds and you literally could’ve heard a pin drop. His stories ranged from the dramatic to the wildly comic and some were both at once, while others were simply eerie! There were wonderful comic asides  and tales to fire the imagination mixed with lyrical poetry which simply left you wanting more.  This was an afternoon to cherish and even though there were a hundred or more present, each person surely felt that it had simply been a conversation with old friends – and a wonderful way to pass the time.



The winner of the storytelling on line competition was Vera Jacques. Ninety year old Vera was present at the Tea and Tales event and retold her story, a comic tale of a ugly baby. Vera, from Bradford, was a children’s librarian for a number of years and regularly told stories to groups of children – including this popular tale.  The prize was provided by the Bannisters of Coniston Cold Hotel and Vera is looking forward to her stay at the hotel.  Second place in the competition was awarded to Amelia Fawcett, a pupil at Settle Middle School. Amelia receives a meal for herself and her family at The Lion in Settle. Both stories can be viewed on line at the Settle Storytelling festival website at

The competition and the festival itself have proven to be an enormous success and plans are already underway to ensure that next year’s festival is even bigger and better!


A reminder that Settle Voices Community Choir will meet in the Friends Meeting House, Kirkgate on Monday afternoon from 1pm to 3pm. There is an annual fee of £5 plus £4 per session. New members are very welcome. For more information please see website or ring (01729) 822771



On Friday 14 October, there will be a one-night only concert by Mike Harding as the “grandfather of alternative comedy” returns to his roots with a series of daft stories, monologues and his guitar. On 24-29 October Settle Amateur Operatic Society take to the stage for their annual performance. This year they will be staging “When the Lights Go On Again”, an original musical set in a small Northern town during WWII with many old favourite songs encouraging audience participation. Details of times and tickets for all events are available from the box office on 01729 825718.



The exhibition at The Folly entitled ‘Challenge and Change: 350 years in the life of a house and its region’ is currently open to the public on Tues. 10.30 – 4.30 Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. and Bank Holidays 12.30 – 4.30.



The Gallery on the Green exhibition is currently featuring a selection of stunning black and white images from a Mariana Cook’s new book on stone walls around the world. Familiar scenes from the Yorkshire Dales are contrasted with walls from places around the world including Peru, Majorca, Ireland and North America. This exhibition will run through to December.




The next play reading get together is this evening, Thursday 13th October to read “Running Riot” a farce by Derek Benfield. It will be held at the Friends’ Meeting House, 7:30 pm. All welcome.



Settle Football Club is holding a Stars in their Eyes event at Settle Social Club on 14 October at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5 and further details are available from Tiger at the Social Club.



Langcliffe Singers invite you to join them for a chance to come and sing when they perform Handel’s “Messiah” at Christ Church in Skipton on 15 October. There will be a rehearsal at 2pm followed by a full performance at 7pm. Tickets cost £10 for singers and performance and are available from Settle Music, Cave and Crag in Settle, Bentham Post Office or on the door. For further details contact 07732 352771.



Settle Rugby Club are hosting a 70s and 80s disco on 15 October. This will run from 8 till late and tickets are £5. Fancy dress is optional and proceeds will be split between Ashfield residential home and British Legion. Tickets available via 01524 251061.



The Stompers are holding a line dance and afternoon tea on 16 October at St John’s Church Hall. This will run from 2-6pm and admission is £5. All proceeds to charity.  All welcome.





This Year’s Christmas Shopping Trip is on Wednesday 16th November to The Trafford Centre, leaving Whitefriars Car Park at 9.30am.  Cost £10, non-WI members are welcome to join us.  Contact Joy Calvert (824340) to book.

This month’s Drama Group meeting is on Monday 17th October and the Luncheon Club is on Wednesday 19th October to the Boar’s Head, Long Preston.  Meet in the Market Place to catch the 11.30 bus.  Contact Pauline Longford for details. The next Walking Group outing is on Thursday 20th October.  Meet in the market Place to catch the 9.30 bus to Slaidburn, returning about 3pm.  Contact Pat Whitton for details. Sheila Gudgeon was congratulated for winning the Clara Brown Trophy for best entry in the handicrafts section at the Ingleborough Group Show, and Helen Kirby on her recent 80th Birthday. The speakers were Jean & John Broadbent who spoke and showed slides on the pottery designs of Clarice Cliff.  They were thanked by Sandra Fox.  The competition for ‘a piece of pottery’ was won by Maisie Holmes. The next meeting is on Wednesday 2nd November when the speaker will be Rex Stott on ‘Magic, Mirth and Mystery’.  There will also be a Bring & Buy stall.




The group will meet on October 17 at 7.30pm at Friends meeting house and members are reminded to submit their gallery photos based on last month’s talk by Frank Ash prior to this event.  The speaker will be Mike Atkinson who will talk on the theme of “Digital Infra-red Photography”. New members welcome.




There will be a pre-schooler party at The Playbarn on 21 October from 12pm onwards, cost £5. This will include lunch, a singalong session and creepy cake decorating. Please come in fancy dress. On 29 October there will be Halloween themed events all day including ghoulish games and a spooky disco. Again fancy dress is welcome and admission is £3.50. There will also be creepy cake decorating for a 50p supplement.



The church will be hosting a display of crafts over the weekend of 22nd and 23rd October to celebrate the talents of local people. As part of this there will be a display of quilts by the late Win Wilks and an opportunity to purchase a number of her handmade patchwork quilts. These are truly stunning and took many hours to design and create. These will be sold by silent auction in aid of church funds, with a reserve price set by her family. The church will be open from 10-4 on the Saturday and from 12-4 on the Sunday to view the displays and place bids for the quilts. Light refreshments will be served throughout the open periods.





The next event at the theatre is a gallery exhibition in the Foyer gallery by artists Susan Parker, Ann Dyson and Norma Stephenson. The three local artists will exhibit views of the “Hills, Dales and Glimpses of Giggleswick”. The exhibition is open from 1-5pm on 8,9,15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 October or by prior appointment via the school. On 16 October there will be a showing of “Cars 2” at 3.30pm.  Cost £4.70 details via 893180.



St Alkelda’s church invite you to come along and join them for a light hearted quiz night at Settle Primary School on Friday 21 October at 7pm. There will be a range of rounds to get the brain cell firing and a light supper for essential sustenance. Please feel free to bring your own drinks and join us for a fun night out either as an individual or as a team of 4. Admission £3. To reserve a place contact 823537.



Class 3 enjoyed their recent visit to Settle College’s Open Day and many more families and pupils visited during the evening, as well. During our visit, pupils took part in a quiz, after which there was a prize draw. Congratulations to Oliver Nash, who won a £5 gift voucher. Pupils in Y3 recently  participated in the first cluster schools’ sports event of the year – Y3 Orienteering. Our team included: Louisa, Matthew, Ethan, Honey, Ella, Martha, Nell, all of whom participated well.


The PTA invite you to join them for an evening of Autumn Shopping and a fashion show on 3 November in the Richard Whiteley Theatre. The shopping session commences at 6pm with the fashion show at 7.30pm. There will be a wide range of stalls on offer and the fashion show will feature Browse ladies’ fashions, children’s wear by Hansel and Gretel, and products by World of Hair and Beauty.  Tickets cost £7.50 (£5 concessions) and are available via 01729  893100.

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