Fiona Eadie’s new book — Tales from the Towpath
Val Kirby spoke at the book launch at Stroud Museum in the Park
Below is an extract from Val’s introduction
No one knows exactly when human beings developed speech, but it was certainly hundreds of thousands of years ago. I feel sure that as soon as people began telling each other where the best berries were, or about a good spot for fishing, or that a wolf or a bear was ‘behind you!’, they also started reminiscing.
Can you imagine sitting around your family fire on a dark evening in the stone age and NOT telling stories? You would start with telling about things that actually happened, and then you would embellish: ‘it was that big …. Oh no, it was THAT big! ….. and then your imagination would kick in – and the art of storytelling was born.
Of course, the spoken word leaves no record, so we have no proof of the birth of story-telling. It would be many thousands of years before people started to write the stories down, starting the tradition that Fiona Eadie is so eloquently continuing.
In the subtitle of her book ‘Tales from the Towpath’ Fiona mentions stories and histories in the same breath. You might question this, if you think that stories are fiction and history is fact.
But the origins of the word ‘history’ puts it firmly in story territory. History, until recently usually written only by the winners, is simply a version of reality – and sometimes a very partial version. It can be dressed up with reference to facts – who ran that organisation? Who campaigned to stop canals being built?
Who invented that piece of lock gearing?
But I am sure we can all think of cases where the ‘facts’ are debatable. And there are many cases where we will never know: for example, who built the first Trow? All this is fertile territory for creative storytelling.