One of the newest members of the Clearbox team is Vicci, our office manager. We love telling stories. She loves telling stories. During a recent chat in the office, she thought it would be nice to ask the team about everyone’s favourite story from their childhood. That chat paved the way for her first blog post since joining the company. Enjoy!
I’m a newbie here at Clearbox and to the wonderful, crazy world of PR, and have found myself propelled into a place surrounded by the most amazingly creative and interesting team, and my days are now filled with concepts, brainstorming sessions, fabulous words and amazing stories.
It is always strange starting out somewhere new learning about your role and the work can be daunting, as can meeting and developing relationships with your new work family. However, here at Clearbox, I can honestly say, it has been easy and the reason for this is our love of sharing stories… and believe me there are some stories!
In amongst the flurry of work, yoga and photoshoots, the time has flown by, and somehow we have swiftly moved into the month of May, which just happens to be National Share a Story month, where we celebrate the power of sharing stories with our children.
This has made me reminisce about growing up and the importance of story sharing throughout my childhood. From the bedtime books, to the stories my papa told me about growing up during war time, to the night time fights with my sister, who always wanted to leave the bedroom light on late to “read one more chapter” (we shared a room). I realised this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about my Clearbox team mates and the stories that helped shape them into who they are today and gave them such a love of words and story sharing, that they choose to make it their career.
My father is the king of storytelling. I have so many wonderful memories as a child of my dad putting me to bed with his wild tales of adventure. We are a big Lord of the Rings, Hobbit and Star Wars family, so stories were always about far away lands, mystical universes and epic battles of good v. evil. I remember my dad reading the Hobbit to me and loving every word of it. It is probably why I enjoy Game of Thrones so much.
We also used to play this game before bedtime with my siblings where we would spin a globe of the world and take turns stopping the globe on a random spot. Whatever spot on the map we landed on, my dad would create an amazing story about the location. If we landed in the Arctic, we would pretend to be freezing and warding off Polar Bears, or if we landed in Australia, there would be Kangaroos hoping around as we made our way through the wilderness. I hope to pass this fun game of story telling and imagination along...
There are so many stories that stick out to me from my childhood, from ’The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (which was a bit of a self fulfilling prophesy because I was a really fat child) when I was very young to the Goosebumps series when I was a little older. If I had to pick a favourite though, it would be family stories that I was told as a child. These weren’t always before bed, these came as anecdotes sitting around the kitchen table after dinner, or when my aunts and uncles got together at a family event, or just when it was just my mum, dad and I chilling together, and they regaled tales from their childhood. These stories were particularly poignant because I lost three of my grandparents very young, and all at a similar time, so I really loved hearing about their antics, and all about their childhood. I’m fascinated by the contrast in our experiences growing up and really enjoyed hearing all the craic!
Oh, and I’m totally a butterfly now.
My uncles used to tell me all sorts of tales when I was growing up, but instead of talking about their dodgy stories, I’ll mention my favourite series of books when I was a boy - the Little Vampire. It was (and still is, according to a search on Amazon while writing this) a series of books about a wee lad who makes friends with a vampire, who is also a kid. The vampire is called Rudolph and his mate is called Tony and they get up to all sorts of mischief together.
The series was turned into a TV show that wasn’t as good as the books (that’s such a pedestrian comment, sorry) and the story inspired me to read another book about vampires when I was younger, called Interview with the Vampire. Safe to say they’re VERY different and you shouldn’t let your kids read the latter.
The books were originally written in German, and the vampire’s name was Rudiger, which may have inspired my later life obsession with Germany. It did not, however, inspire me to bite people’s necks.
My favourite story as a child was The Twelve Dancing Princesses by The Brothers Grimm. My mum would take me and my younger sister to the library every few weeks and I must have taken this book out ten times! It tells the story of twelve princesses whose father locked them in their bedrooms each night, but by morning their shoes were worn out after they would sneak out to dance with twelve princes in a mystical, underground castle. I loved this story and the book was filled with elaborate, amazing pictures of the princesses and their dresses - seven year old Charlotte was obsessed!
The first story I remember as a child was Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff. It was an adventurous tale about a seal, who leaves the zoo for a day and heads out into the big city, meeting school children and learning to read along the way! My mum or dad read this to me every night. I absolutely loved this story and getting some quality time with my parents. My dad still complains (I think secretly boasts) that he can recite “that story” from memory.
This book was just the start of finding my own love of reading, I have spent many evenings and holidays in the depths of a novel, in a world miles from reality. However, things have changed in recent years as I now I have a family of my own, so I have switched out my Linwood Barkley crime novels for The Gruffalo, When the Tiger Came To Tea and of course Sammy the Seal, but I don’t mind at all as I am now teaching my daughter and son about the magic of reading, I am sharing not only stories with them but also getting precious time with them and creating memories for when they grow up and start sharing stories of their own.
When I was a child I liked to live in a fantasy land most of the time, which if I’m honest, is something I have carried through to adulthood. And reading played a big part in transporting me to far-off lands of wonderment, therefore tasking me with choosing my favourite childhood book is a big ask. Although, seeing as I’m being hard pressed for an answer, I would have to go with the GOAT of children’s literature, Roald Dahl. His stories are captivating and me and my sister constantly listened to his audiobooks on long car journeys, so they bring back happy memories. I love so many of his books but I think my favourite has to be Revolting Rhymes. "The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers. She whips a pistol from her knickers.” I mean, with lines like that, how could you NOT just love this book!
Honourable mention has to go out to The Br're Rabbit collection by Enid Blyton. Many wonderful bedtimes were spent with my incredible mother donning the voices of all the different characters. Honestly, the woman’s wasted her talents!
Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles…
This was one of my favourite books as a child. Plot spoiler to follow…Young Phoebe has a collection of 157 hot water bottles, all presents from her forgetful father. Her house catches fire and she uses the hot water bottles to put it out and finally achieves her dream present from her grateful father, a puppy.
My auntie ‘Pouche Pouche’ bought it for me one Christmas but for some reason, we kept it her house in Scotland so I only got to read it a couple of times a year when visiting. I think that’s what made it so special and I have such fond memories of curling up with her on a couch reading it. It also definitely fuelled my hot water bottle obsession. I can’t sleep without one (yes, even in the summer).
I’ve tried to purchase the book again as an adult but it fell out of print after being criticised by the fire brigade for putting children at risk. There’s a couple of original editions on eBay though, so if anyone is ever wondering what to buy me as a gift…
My Dad was always an elaborate story teller. He told many stories and I loved listening to them all, especially as I grew older and appreciated them more.
Some of my favourite stories of his were from his days at Mackies where he worked as an engineer. In 1966 he travelled to Pakistan to build mills for the company (missing the birth of my brother whilst he was gone, never to be forgiven by my Mum!) His time there was colourful and he loved talking about it - from the people he met, the food he experienced, the long days of work in the blazing heat ...to learning Urdu and surviving two plane crashes! Just one of the many amazing stories that has a special place in my heart.
Storytelling has been around before records began, and although the method of telling them has changed, from caveman drawings and carving on stone pillars, to books, tablets and social media, the desire for us all to tell and hear stories remains the same. The most amazing part is that the stories we share will continue to shape and influence us and those we share them with and also create wonderful memories along the way, just like these stories have for our lovely team here at Clearbox.