Wearing an iron age costume with a green cloak Talesman stands with cupped hands on a grassy bank before an audience

Talesman sits in an oak pillared hall, a log fire fills the foreground


Where do the stories come from?

In short “Days of Yore”!
I like stories with a bit of history, tales that have been matured in oak or earth and have roots that can be traced back through time. A recent lead took me to the Sumerian legends, written on clay tablets four and a half thousand years ago by the inventors of agriculture and the builders of the first cities, but they still speak strongly to us today. Some of the more widely spread “world stories” are believed to have been breathed in to life at the firesides of the tribes migrating out of africa for the very first time.

I’m a storyteller because I love the stories. Over the years I have collected about 9 metres of books filled with myths, legends and folktales from across Europe and beyond.

A lot of the original material was the entertainment of kings and warriors in their feasting halls, from the roundhouses of the Celts and longhouses of the Saxons to medieval banquets. These stories were told again in great barns for the festivities of ordinary communities and at Victorian parlour recitals before TV dumbed us all down. Many tales were created or kept alive at pub firesides (which still make some of my best regular bookings), where people can relax with a drink and enjoy being taken on an adventure.

How do you remember them all?

When I first started it was really hard but, like any muscle, the more you use your memory the easier it gets. If the story means something to you, then you get involved in the telling and it unfolds naturally as if there is no other way it could. I do have a couple of tricks to help the old grey matter along but if you really want to know you'll have to book a workshop!

So it’s actually your job then?

Yes indeed! Other things have grown from it over the years like historical interpretation, collaborations with musicians and some random workshops. I still make a few quid with my trusty bass and the odd bit of sound work but it’s the magic of the Gods, the strength of ancient heroes and the wit of clever princesses that pays my mortgage.

Do you have a CRB / insurance / Risk assesment?

Yes, yes and yes.
I've been CRB checked regularly over the years and am happy to provide the relevant information if you wish to carry out another (I am always grateful for a fresh copy).
As a member of Equity I have £10,000,000 public liability insurance. Risk assessments and documentation of the above can be provided on request.

How do you get work?

Being freelance is a tough business involving a lot of cold calling and sending out e-mails to prospective venues. My agent and I are always on the lookout for pubs, restaurants, woodlands, historic buildings and the like that we think would make good venues, so if you know of any likely spots for tales do let me know and tell them about me. I often get the best tellings when people like you decide you want it to happen, maybe you can talk your local pub in to it or club together with some friends and book a telling in your own house, garden or village hall. You can even choose your own theme.

How much do you charge?

The standard asking price is £250 per day plus travel at the tax rate of 45p per mile and accommodation if necessary (though I'm pretty easy to accommodate and will happily bring a sleeping bag and roll mat if there isn't a bed). local gigs can get significant discounts and we will do our best to find another gig in your direction to share the travel if you are a long way away.

Where are you based?

Well I live up to my name and will travel anywhere but home is in Morchard Bishop in Mid Devon.

How did you get started?

A long, long time ago, in the 1980s, I was playing in a band. The other band members used to spend lots of time adjusting keyboard sounds and guitar effects between each song (It were all analogue in them days!). Being the bassist it was left to me to fill the “dead air” so I began declaiming the Jaberwocky and constructing elaborate introductions to the songs. I found I enjoyed talking with the audience and wanted to do more. Then my parents took me along to the village gardening club Christmas dinner for company. The person doing the entertainment was good enough for 15 mins but couldn't sustain the 40 minute set that we sat through. With the arrogance of youth I said to my Dad (who was on the committee) “I could have done better than that”. The following year he said “I’ll put my money where your mouth is” and booked me to be the entertainment. Although my parents had always been very tolerant of my artistic activities, they had never appeared to take them seriously before so I was a bit surprised and determined not to let my father down. I scarfed up a bunch of Norse Gods stories and, (despite years of theatrical and musical performance experience) shaking like a leaf on a very breezy day, I stood up on my own and did my first storytelling… and was immediately booked for a gig in a local pub as a result!

Would you like a drink?

Water, thank you, preferably in a pint glass.
Before a gig you can tempt me with a herbal tea and at the end of the gig I quite enjoy a pint of real ale but while I'm working it's water (and keep it coming, it's thirsty work!).