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.)
Insight into the creation and meaning of the haunting Eynhallow holy island trilogy below is in Tom's blog for Orkney Museum.
Recorded in Orkney's wonderful Kirbuster Farm Museum, Tom tells The Hogboon of Helliehowe and Fara play "Hogboon Hoolie" created especially for this Orkney folktale.
A story of lost love from the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay
Showing how stories develops, this is a version of a story that I recorded earlier, but collected 1,000 years after the first one.
This is an epic Scottish Travellers tale which follows the adventures of Jack the Fool, who seeks his fortune ... and finds it.
The story is nearly two hours long, so you might want to listen to it in bits.
A strange selkie story from the Orkney island of Graemsay
A Scottish folk tale showing that good advice can be worth far more than money
A folk tale from Orkney about a man shipwrecked on Shetland who wanted to be home for Christmas
A folk tale from Iceland about a woman who was actually the queen of Elfland under a curse
Inspired by the Orkney tale, David Woodcock sings of the Mither o' the Sea
Some of these stories are also available in Tom's folklore books.
A Scottish folk tale about a clever girl who must outwit a giant
A Scottish Traveller tale from Duncan Williamson about a creature who is half man and half hedgehog
A much loved, classic Norwegian folk tale
A well known classic English fairy tale about a boy, some beans and a giant
An English folk tale ~ be careful what you beg for when building a house!
An English folk tale and the first story that I ever told, 50 years ago
A clever folklore/climate action/political-themed pantomime by Ragnhild Ljosland, Michael Bell & Orkney Children's Theatre Club, 2019
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!