Tom's original greeting from what has become the Tales for Troubled Times folklore archive:
"In these surreal days of illness and self-isolation due to COVID-19 I found myself wondering what more I can do to help people get through the long days. If ever there was a need for stories, then this is it.
I'm recording rough, one-take stories of favourite folk tales. I must admit, they are rougher than I would normally do. All the stumbles are left in. This is not about showcasing my storytelling skills. It's not about 'me', it's about us.
These are stories that I don't normally tell, as well as old favourites. The lack of an audience is a great miss. It is just me, alone in an attic bedroom with a small recording device on a cushion.
I hope you find some tales that help to get you through the day and imagine better days. Please take care and stay safe.
(Tales especially for the bairns are here.)
A Scottish Traveller's story of terrible retribution
A wee, macabre tale from the Orkney island of Stronsay
An Irish tale about a lazy lout
Orkney folklore springing from a famous battle
Illustration by Bryce Wilson
The Nordic myth
A selkie story from the island of Sanday of an unexpected guest and another from Yesnaby about a missing woman
A "true" story from the Orkney island of Westray, told to Tom by his mother
A Nordic Myth, where Loki betrays Idun and her apples of youth
A Germanic legend of the master of all smiths, and his terrible revenge on his abductor
~ NOT suitable for children ~
A Shetland selkie story from the late, great Lawrence Tulloch
A Norwegian folk tale of how a brave young soldier saves the princesses from trolls
A Viking tale from the Orkneyinga Saga, showing that Vikings are not good at sharing
A tale from the Orkneyinga Saga about those tricksey Vikings
(Apologies for the abrupt ending - technical difficulties)
A ghostly Irish tale
A wonderful, tragic story written by Oscar Wilde
* Dedicated to Tom's daughter, Josie, who made the stories happen again
A traditional folktale from Denmark
A traditional Highlands Scottish kelpie tale
A Shetland water horse tale
A tender-hearted queen tries to help her people in this story by Helena Nyblom from Sweden
A traditional, creepy Orkney folktale from the island of Sanday. Probably not a good story for young children, but older kids will love it.
* Illustration by Bryce Wilson
Some of these stories are also available in Tom's folklore books.
A classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen
Another Andersen classic story
The classic fairytale
A classic tale of kindness
The French version of this classic story
A different version of Cinderella collected by the Brothers Grimm
A classic Norwegian folk tale
A Slovenian folk tale about a poor boy trust who trusts to luck
A tale I heard from my friend, the great storyteller Audrey Parks from Northern Ireland.
This is my favourite story from her enchanting CD 'On
the Tip of my Tongue', which I highly recommend.
A Russian wonder tale of a hero's quest to save his mother
A Norwegian folktale that feminists will love
* Dedicated to Rhonda's mother, Cindy
A haunting folktale from France
* Dedicated to Rhonda
A folktale from the Faroe Islands
Art by Anna Anglemark
A Slovenian folktale showing that beauty is more than skin deep
A Norwegian folktale about a mysterious servant
A Jack story showing why everybody needs a few good friends
A Scottish Travellers' Christmas tale
Mermaid image (Rhonda's pages) and storyteller image (Tom's pages), and all other illustrations except where noted are here by the courtesy of our dear friend - Stromness author, artist and historian, Bryce Wilson MBE, who owns all copyrights. Thanks, Bryce!