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Traditional Tales from Traveller Jess Smith

21st Oct 2013

Renowned traditional story-teller Jess Smith had audience members captivated during a BOOKMARK fringe event at Kirkmichael Session House on Saturday. 
Jess Smith in Kirkmichael

Jess Smith in Kirkmichael

The large crowd was given a fascinating insight into Jess's life growing up as a member of the travelling community, moving from place to place in her father's converted Bedford bus. 

One memorable tale revealed how, as a young girl, she was once woken in Manchester by what she thought was a monster, only to find out that the figure was, in fact, a police officer. The incident left Jess with the lasting impression that police officers had strange-shaped heads.

There was also the story of a lone piper who, when caught in a blizzard on New Year's Eve, took shelter in a farmer's barn after removing a pair of boots from a corpse lying in the snow.  In the morning, as the piper had changed into his newly-acquired footwear and left his sodden boots behind, the farmer's wife thought a cow had, according to Jess, gobbled the piper and left boots as a kind of calling card!

Jess's many years of writing and telling stories stems from a promise she made to her father to keep travelling traditions alive.  Her book Way of the Wanderers charts the story of her ancestors and includes a detailed history of life in Perthshire, particularly Blairgowrie. 

Afterwards, one audience member said: "It was a great talk in an intimate venue, both inclusive and local." 



Thank you for inviting me to Blairgowrie.  It was a very agreeable and friendly festival - with a good and appreciative audience.  There was an atmosphere of genuine enthusiasm

Allan Massie, author

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