Last night at the Bath Storytelling Circle, Firesprings – the Bath and Stroud based storytelling troupe I belong to along with Anthony, Kirsty, David and Richard – launched An Ecobardic Manifesto: a vision for the arts in a time of environmental crisis. We each performed – (Richard, hosting, did his Cow wonder tale and a version of Alan Garner’s mummers’ play; I did Baldur and the Golden Bough; Anthony, The Story of People on Earth; David, a ballad of Scottish pirates; and Kirsty, an amusing Jack tale). It was really special having us all there – a rare occasion these days, due to the demands of our busy lives. We all met at the circle, became friends and shortly after formed Firesprings. The Bath Storytelling Circle was founded by Anthony Nanson in late 1999 – I hosted for five years when Anthony and Kirsty left for Arcadia, but had to hand over due to somewhat more prosaic teaching commitments, which I was finally free from after 12 weeks. And after nearly ten years (we celebrate the first decade next winter) it is still going strong – we get on average forty people, and that’s without even a listing in the Chron. Word of mouth brings newcomers every month. Yet there is a bedrock of core regulars who have provided a through-line of quality and consistency over the years. It was nice to see some of them last night – considering it’s a busy time of year, socially, we had a healthy turn out and the atmosphere was merry, enhanced by some excellent performances, both seasonal and timeless. David provided an introduction to the manifesto shortly before the interval – it seemed to do the trick, as 18 were sold (albeit with special circle discount). We gathered briefly for a hasty photo shoot – for the press release. Afterwards, we finally managed to gather around the same table and raise a glass to our collective ‘baby’. It was a satisfying and affirming conclusion to the year. Firesprings’ journey has run parallel with the circle’s – they started within six months of each other, the former emerging from the latter (like an away team shuttle craft from the Starship Enterprise!). As with the Bard of Bath and The Book of the Bardic Chair, it is good to have something to show for the time, but in this instance it fulls like not the end of a chapter, but a new beginning. After a pleasant chat after the ‘business’ of the evening had ended – over a mug of ‘Bristletoe’ – we departed on a feel-good high. After a tough year, when the integrity of many things have been challenged (and continue to be) it’s heartening to feel that our tiny vessel and its ‘mothership’ feels
stronger than ever.