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Around the campfire


I’m a storyteller. People keep telling me so; sometimes approvingly; and I figure they’re right. The amount of time I spend telling and writing stories is probably what gives it away.

I always loved stories – I was one of those flashlight-under-bedclothes-at-midnight kids – and I took it for granted that I’d return the favour by telling them. I’ve even entertained the idea of making a living that way. Us storytellers are fantasists.

Brett’s always called me The Storyteller and he should know. People sure tell a few about him. Brett’s ex-wife, Irina, once complimented my storytelling and she’s Storyteller nobility. But I think it was his children, Rikki and Zeke, who started it. When they were young I liked to keep them wide-eyed with my tales of adventure in the jungles and oceans and ashrams of Asia. Soon they were asking after “Michael the storyteller” and my status was formalised.

Today Brett and I were comrades-in-arms again. It’s been a while between campaigns for me but he never gives up the fight. He’s even had a few wins since we last met. I gained new comrades today too.

So what did I do?
I told stories of course.

I told my new friends stories of Brett’s past battles. You’d never guess Brett was modest but he’d neglected to mention them. I told some of my story and they told some of theirs and we all told some of ours and it probably would have gone on all day like that, but the people from the Productivity Commission arrived. So we told them stories.

We told them our stories and those of absent friends. Some couldn’t be there because they’re locked in prisons or psychiatric hospitals. Some are dead.

We told stories of pain and madness and abuse and indifference. Of people chained and silenced by their labels and by our fears. At one point I found myself reading the stunned bureaucrats a smuggled story from a comrade who has spent 18 years in the psychiatric unit of Long Bay Prison. He had some things to say. I think they heard. It was a proud moment.

I’m a storyteller. It matters to me. But today I was reminded there’s something infinitely more precious than storytelling.


From → autobiography

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