Chris Bostock at Age

The final storytelling session of the Festival moved to a new venue, as a select group crowded into Age Bar and Kitchen on Claypath, to hear Chris Bostock, the Storyteller weaves together stories from Durham folklore (and some from more recent imagination. The setting was atmospheric: the restaurant space upstairs at Age was decorated with branches and fairy lights, creating a magical stage where Rachel Unthank sat, playing the cello. When everyone was settled, and provided with drinks, the lights were lowered and Chris Bostock began his story, with the promising words: "There was a grave to be dug..."

Rachel Unthank

One traditional tale was entwined with another, as, for the second time in the Festival the story of a hunt - this time, the hunt of the white hare brought the hunter face to face with magic. But this time, the story was not set in the enchanted forests of Brittany but in very prosaic Easington. In Chris Bostock's rendition, the huntsman's frustration led naturally into the next phase of the story. Who knows how the old Traveller's Rest pub found the name "Age"? The proprietors are not letting on: so the story teller was free to imagine the tale of a baby found wrapped in a red shawl, clutching a wooden crucifix, and given the name Agnes Grainger Edwards. Rachel Unthank set the tone for this romantic tale with her singing of Bonny at Morn. The young woman's progress towards Durham is woven into Reginald of Durham's account of the founding of the city, including the legend of the Dun Cow which had already cropped up at the Festival to inspire the creators of Dun Elm City, and a song about the dangers of flash company.

The tale wound on, meandering like the River Wear itself, past the house of the Little Count, and on to Lampton and Hylton Castle - where a description of the chaos caused in the kitchens by the Cauld Lad was the excuse for a deft reminder to Age's kitchen team that ten minutes would be a good time to take a break.

Chris Bostock

After another tale of fairy mischief, Rachel Unthank returned to the theme of food with Tommy Armstrong's Hedgehog Pie, followed by a virtuoso display of clogging. Not to be outdone, Chris Bostock retaliated with a tales of murder most foul, but Rachel Unthank soothed the audience with Johnny Handle's Guard yer man weel:

Guard yer man weel through the night
Hold him at dawn's early light
For come the long day now he'll be far away
Deep down in the rock far from sight.
Chris Bostock took his cue from the inscriptions on the walls around him, as he wound up his tale of poor Agnes, who had been unable to guard her man. On the eve of their wedding he was, according to the story, found murdered under Prebends Bridge, and she lived a long and lonely life as an innkeeper, giving to strangers the warmth and comfort that she had not known in her own life.

Chris Bostock wound up the evening by thanking Alison Lister, Festival Manager, for suggesting the theme and venue, and for "good vibrations". He invited anyone with a hunger for more storytelling to visit the A Bit Crack website, to learn about further events.

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