BookMark Book Festival

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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." 



I greatly appreciated the superb organisation and was amazed at the level of enthusiasm for the Festival considering the relatively small size of the community.  It was well worth it for me to come up to Perthshire and I was only sorry I couldn‘t stay around for the main events the next day.

Rachel Crowther

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