A goth night story

Mark Scott reviews a recent Stow Tellers event, The Hidden People – Tales of Cunning and Beauty

St Mary's Church

St Mary’s Church in Walthamstow Village, location of the monthly storytelling event, Stow Tellers. Credit: Martin Belam

It’s a dark, Baltic, January night in deepest, darkest E17 and yet, for some reason, I’m inclined to visit a church.

Don’t leave me this way, non-believers. For I have a tale to tell. On this night, St. Mary’s in Walthamstow Village is home to a night of ghastly, spookish tales hosted by Stow Tellers, a collective of very talented individuals in our lovely borough.

I alighted there with my partner around 7.25pm for a 7.30pm kick-off. The beauty of the church dumbfounded us and I was fixated on the grandeur of this rather special place. Luckily, a very friendly lady enquired as to whether my fellow conspirator and I were there for the choir. My mind was briefly entranced by the idea that this was all part of the event; a gothic collective of songstresses to lead us into the darkness, mystery and misery beyond. It was not.

When I explained that we were there for a night of ghoulish tales and satanic verses, we were kindly ushered to the exit and informed to try the welcome centre instead.

After a short foray through over some cobbled stones and underground bones we arrived at the welcome centre. A plethora of Jaffa Cakes and tea awaited as the woman on the door guided us in. We took our place on a fold-down chair at the back and patiently waited.

“What is this?” whispered my friend (as I had not informed him beforehand). “I’m not actually sure,” came my retort.

Well, I’m certainly glad that I took a leap into the unknown!

An enthralling evening of ghoulish tails, English folklore and gothic beauty was our treat for a bargain three quid.

To warm up, stories were taken from the floor. Themes of comedy and terror were covered by three fine storytellers who came forth to perform.

After some brief introductions by the Stowteller hosts, the main event began.

Starting off was an eccentric looking gentleman by the name of George Hoyle, who treated us to a ditty in the finest English folk tradition.

Then it was time for London Dreamtime, a name used by Vanessa Woolf, a London-based storyteller.

An explanation was given that we would be traipsing outside to the cemetery at the end of the evening. Spines shivered, but there was a chance to back out for the less adventurous — staying within the confides of the church hall.

Woolf’s story was based on the power and evil of fairies. Those beings who make things in your house disappear. Vile creatures who are after your offspring. According to Dreamtime, there’s a girl in Hackney who can testify to their evil. She apparently has first-hand experience of the hurt they cause. It might be someone you know. Have you ever thought of asking?

Stow Tellers is a monthly event. Get yourself along to one to experience the joys of adult storytelling.


For more information on Stow Tellers:

Visit www.sfs.org.uk/clubs/stow-tellers-walthamstow-storytelling-club

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