The Fairytale Confessional by Sandra Horn

Logo  of the Crick Crack Club

In the weeks before lockdown began, we had block-booked tickets for all the concerts in the Purbeck International Chamber Music Festival, ditto the West Meon Festival, several concerts at the Turner Sims and all the Crick Crack Club storytelling at the Earth House in Cranborne. All gone with the wind, of course. Not having the live music and stories is a big wrench, but infinitely worse for the performers than for us. We were able to contribute a bit towards cancellation fees for them, but even so they will all miss a chunk of vital income. All these wonderful talented people in theatre, music and the arts generally, not able to work – it’s a tragedy, not only for them but for all of us. Many people have put wonderful stuff online, however, free of charge, bless ‘em all. This earns them nothing but keeps them doing what they do best and gives us joy.

 The latest such initiative I came across was by the Crick Crack Club (storytelling for grown-ups). I’ve blogged about them before. This new idea is ‘The Fairytale Confessional’ and it involves an online session, via Zoom, with an artist, Sophie Herxheimer. It sounded good to me so I signed up for it. She began by asking about a story that has particular resonance for me and followed it with some probing questions. Then she drew a picture from our conversation.

Artemis, for credit follow link

I started with Persephone, which has preoccupied me for aeons and about which I’ve written a play, a monologue, a story, several poems… but I also wanted to mention the magical whole-day Crick Crack Club session at the earth House in Cranborne. Two stand-out things from it were meeting Alice Oswald (!!!) and a riveting talk by an academic about Artemis and the cult of the bear. The onset of puberty in girls was framed as being ‘scratched by the bear’ and was a cause for celebration. That blood is the fountainhead of life, after all. There would be no new life without it. I had a vision of a girl dancing into school and saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got my period!’ rather than trying to pretend it wasn’t happening, through the shame we have somehow tainted it with (bad grammar, sorry). For Persephone, however, but more particularly for her mother, the transition was death-in-life. The child/childhood was lost forever and a period of mourning (Winter) for that loss necessarily preceded a celebration for the emerging woman (Spring). Both such powerful stories.

The picture Sophie drew from all this was of a girl holding up a giant pomegranate in one hand and a fountain in the other. Life and death. We had talked about the lush redness of the pomegranate seeds, the bitter and sweet of the taste, and wondered why they had been typified as the food of the dead. There were words on the picture. ‘Fountainhead of life’ concluded them.  The whole session with Sophie lasted just half an hour and was the best fun I’ve had in ages. She has a collection of pictures from the Confessionals now and they’ll be going on a website.

This was just one of the brilliant initiatives devised by our creative folk to help us and them through lockdown. They (the creatives, including writers!) make my heart sing and enrich the lives of all of us immeasurably. 

Find out more about Sandra Horn at her website


sandra horn said…
Thank you, Susan Price for rescuing and embellishing this post! It looks great! It was more-than-usually brief and pictureless because my right hand had seized up
Griselda Heppel said…
Ooh lots of wonderful images here. Thank you for brightening these wretched covid lockdown days with talk of bears, pomegranates, Artemis and Persephone. I like the idea of being scratched by the bear as a metaphor for puberty. Oh, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with your grammar by the way.

Have to confess to not following the Persephone puberty metaphor though. I (perhaps naively) thought the story was about the seasons and just the seasons: Ceres, goddess of the crops, going into mourning and laying waste to the earth because her daughter had been carried off to the Underworld. Only when Persephone returns does Spring come for Ceres too. If on a deeper level it symbolises puberty, how is the repetition explained, of mourning/rejoicing happening every 6 months? Exhausting for mother and daughter alike.

Er, perhaps I am too literal at times.

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