I love stories. My mum told me stories before I even existed, of my Russian and Irish family and ancestors. When I was tiny, she told me tales of witches and princesses. My dad read me Ivor the Engine, doing all the voices. I love how we shape ourselves through stories. The things we relate, whether fantastical or true, glue us together and build new worlds.
In 2010, I toured around Europe, singing for my supper, being a troubadour, singing my stories and hearing the stories of others.
Complete strangers told me tales of heartbreak, of family kidnapping, of hilarious misdeeds and of strange events. This is one of my favourites (it is all true)...
Marco was a successful children's book illustrator in Milan. He loved being creative but got sick of the city life so he bought a farmhouse in a tiny village in Umbria and started a bee farm and organic artist's retreat.
Now, in the woods near this village, a rather unusual festival was held. Metal hooks would be hung from the trees in the forest. People would gather from all over and, on these hooks, they would swing in the trees, bleeding out their stresses and their troubles, purging themselves and trying to reach a purer place. Most of the villagers weren't in favour of this event and wanted it to end, but Marco opened his home to the participants and dressed their wounds with propolis from his bees. After a few days these people would return to their city lives in their air-conditioned cars.
Marco and his wife Ornella would wash the bloodstained sheets and go back to tending their bees, humming in the air.
I'll be singing this story and others this weekend at Nabakov's Artsclub and maybe you can tell me a tale or two if I see you...