25th July 2021, I'll be taking part in an Under Canvas session at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, along with guitarist Liam Ross, and Highland poets.

 

23rd October 2021, my storytelling show Werewolves, Warlocks and Shape-shifting Moggies will premiere at the Dingwall Word On The Street festival at 3.00pm in the Dingwall Players Studio Theatre.

 

14th November 2021, join clarsair Bill Taylor, singer Chrissie Taylor and me (as storyteller) for the premiere of A Woman Walks In To a Bar... a commission by the Scottish International Storytelling Festival to take place at Coul House, Contin, at 2.30pm.

 

In November 2021, I shall be judging short story and poetry entries for the HighlandLIT writing competition, with the results to be announced in Beauly on the 16th.

I've been commissioned to create and record a story soundtrack for Scotrail, to cover the train journey from Edinburgh to Inverness. This follows on the heels of the official story soundtrack for the North Coast 500, which has has thousands of listeners, and which I devised and recorded, using Highland based storytellers and musicians, to include stories covering the entire NC 500 route.

Crawtherdale Tales

Fiddler's Cross
Crawtherdale Tales

May 2021. Graphic artist and folk singer Bruce Michael Baillie has published Crawtherdale Tales, a collection of illustrated stories and strip cartoons, based on songs written by Bruce and by Andy Sugden, and originally inspired by my own 1974 song Fiddler's Cross. Crawtherdale Tales is an account of music and devilment,  which begins in the Yorkshire Dales and extends back and forth in time as a demonic violin causes havoc in the lives of those who possess it. A must for fans of Gothic Folk Horror. 155 pages. Price is £13.99 plus P&P. Contact Bruce at crawtherdaletales@gmail.com for postage costs and to buy direct.

 

Storytelling Film commissions

In 2020 the Scottish International Storytelling Festival commissioned two films for showing online, as part of the festival's programme. The first was based on the Strath Garden Statues (see below), the second on the last days of the Irish saint, Maelrubha, which, according to legend, were spent on Isle Maree in Wester Ross. The short film is entitled Maelrubha's Day. The images are taken entirely from our garden during lockdown.

Songs from the Strath Gardens

Brahan Seer

Strathpeffer, the Highland village where I live, was once the most northerly spa in Britain. In its hey-day famous folk like Florence Nightingale, Robert Louis Stevenson, and George Bernard Shaw came here to take the waters. In 2007, in the Spa Gardens, five massive wooden sculptures appeared, seemingly overnight. They were carved by Allister Brebner, and were inspired by local history and legends. When Dingwall Choral Society commissioned me to write a set of lyrics which would be set to music by Edinburgh composer Chris Hutchings, we agreed that they should be based on the Spa statues.

The themes of the five pieces are The Brahan Seer (in the picture to the left), Scathach the Warrior Queen of Skye, Pictish iconography, the legend of Knockfarrel Hill, and the Three Norns (lyrics below). Songs from the Strath Gardens was premiered, to an enthusiastic audience, in the Spa Pavilion, Strathpeffer, on 7th December 2019.

The Song of the Three Sisters

 

Over the sea, in a land beyond borders
Deep in a valley stands a tall tree
Down in the roots, by a fathomless well
There we keep vigil, my sisters and me

 

All through night the sisters are weaving
Weaving while mortals snore in their beds
All through the night, shuttles are flying
The warp and the weft and the tying of threads

You may be a lord with a lover clandestine
You may be a spy with secrets to sell
We knew your deceit before you conceived it
Me and my sisters who weave at the well

 

Courtesans, conquerors, shop girls and slaves
Warriors who fought, warriors who fell
Your stories are told in the burgeoning tapestry
Woven by sisters down at the well

 

All through night the sisters are weaving
Weaving while mortals snore in their beds
All through the night, shuttles are flying
The warp and the weft, and the tying of threads

 

What do we hear in the still of the evening?
Whispers of trysts, rumours of war
The rumbling of empires rising and falling
The roar of the powerful, the cries of the poor

 

What do we see when we look in the water?
Unions, betrayals, battles at sea
Promises kept and promises broken
All that once was, and all that will be

 

All through night the sisters are weaving
Weaving while mortals snore in their beds
All through the night, shuttles are flying
The warp and the weft, and the tying of threads

 

Come, if you dare, to the land beyond borders
Come to the valley deep in the glen
Come to the pool in the roots of the tree
Boldest of women, bravest of men

 

Boldest of men, bravest of women
This is the place where dreams are unfurled
Questions are answered before they are uttered
Here by the well at the end of the world

 

All through night the sisters are weaving
Weaving while mortals snore in their beds
All through the night, shuttles are flying
The warp and the weft, and the tying of threads

 

Bob Pegg