Meat Of The Tongue

By Tony May

Ever cast your mind back to the days of your childhood and think of when family and friends used to entertain each other with a story, a song, a poem or maybe a tickle of the ivories?

You do! Then you should consider making the effort to come out to Mistletoe Barn on the first Friday of every month to experience the magic that is ‘Meet Of The Tongue’.

Compered by our old friend, Ben Fairlight, and fellow professional storyteller, Hilary Watkins, MOTT is a throwback to the olden days of family life. Long before television, the Internet, texts and mobile phones (and perhaps even as far back as the days when we lived in caves and sat huddled around a camp fire) family life and community revolved around personal contact and shared experiences. Instead of sharing a link online, chatting on Skype or sitting glued to a DVD in front of a television screen, living used to be about people getting together and making their own entertainment.

Now, before you lot start thinking of ‘entertainment’ of another sort, I should point out that in spite of the title nothing of that sort goes on! (I don’t know what I’m going to do with you lot….)

No, seriously, ‘Meet Of The Tongue’ is as its advertising blurb accurately states ‘a feast of music, poems, songs & stories’. Set in the middle of nowhere in amongst beautiful rural countryside, Mistletoe Barn in Hurst Green is the ideal venue for such a natural get-together and every time you visit the venue you feel free, refreshed and so much more in touch with Mother Nature and aware of the turning of the seasons.

Now, if I’m starting to sound a bit like an old hippie and conjuring up visions for you of ‘religious cults’ and ‘weird goings on’ you only need to stop for a moment to ask yourself whether any religion or cult would want an ‘old reprobate’ like me within its midst? The answer to that is of course that my participation in anything of that sort is about as likely to happen as the W.I. inviting John Mc Cririck to be their patron!

In fact, exactly the opposite is the case. Hilary, Ben (and others) often do recount old folk tales and stories of ‘the little people’ and their magic powers to us but in every story there is a ‘lesson’ or a ‘teaching’ weaved within and it’s a fascinating thing to know that you are listening to a story that has been told for many hundreds (or thousands) of years…

That these stories thrust you out of your daily comfort zone and challenge you to connect with ancient feelings within you is great because the freshness you feel from leaving the world of familiarity really re-charges your batteries and gives you something exciting and unpredictable to look forward to each month and to think about afterwards for a few days.The greatest thing about MOTT though is that everyone is welcome and (as long as performers take care when children are present) any kind of contribution welcomed. Since I have been going I have told Page Twenty-One funny stories, recited deep and meaningful poems, sung old songs, sung new songs and generally presented whatever I have wanted to and people have welcomed, listened and clapped me every time…

Whatever your need to contribute, whatever you need to express, you are always welcome and the quality of listening at MOTT is second to none. Indeed, if you only want to come along to add your ears to the proceedings you are welcome – it is after all a ‘people’ evening and all of us are different and have different needs.

If you like singing you will also love MOTT! Ben and Hilary often get us all singing along to a chorus or to an ancient lullaby. As you already know, I’m a big fan of Ben and his music and his wistful, romantic and informative ‘songs of life and nature’ and ‘troubadour like’ style of performing is the perfect accompaniment to each evening. We are always in safe hands with Ben and Hilary (Hils) at the helm and I can always be relied upon to add a touch of unexpected humour to proceedings from the ‘back benches’, naughty boy that I am!

Occasionally, professional performers are drafted in to take one half of the evening. Fabulous guests like musician and singer, Mike Hatchard, storyteller supreme, Ashley Ramsden, entertainer, Justin Coe and others have taken to the floor or sat in the storytelling chair since MOTT began. Last month poet, Kate Tym, entertained us with her witty, sharply observant and tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) feministic poems.

Kate was great and really poked fun at us poor guys chastising us for our ‘man flu’ and the way we turn into 2 year olds when we are ill (boo!). Of course, when she’d finished, yours truly had to get up and ask to be allowed to ‘put forth the case for the defence m’lord’. I think I gave as good as us fellas got lads (hooray!).

So come on, what are you waiting for? Book the next first Friday of the month in your diaries now as ‘trip to Meet Of The Tongue’ and come and join in the fun. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to ‘roll with the punches’ a bit when out of your comfort zone and you will have a fabulous time! Entry cost £4 or £3 (for concessions).

For more information on upcoming events and to obtain a map on how to get to Mistletoe Barn (and believe me you will need one!) contact Hilary Watkins at the following e mail address; [email protected]

Or Ben Fairlight via

PLEASE NOTE: The venue is subject to change so always contact Hilary or Ben if planning to visit for the first time.See you there!

“Rye’s Own” March 2013

All articles, photographs, films and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement. (Hard Copy Back Numbers Still Available) © World Copyright 2017 Cinque Ports Magazines Rye Ltd., Guinea Hall Lodge Sellindge TN25 6EG