Last night I had a Drut'syla with my dinner. Now, my sybarite yeomen, you may now believe that this means I washed down the vitals with a large glass of fermented camels milk or that I enjoyed a side order of a filo parcel containing the highly spiced sweetmeats from a rare arctic mountain lion, but alas, you would be wrong.
Were this this the 1970's, at this point invite you to provide the answer on a postcard with the tantalising promise of a chance to win an empty gin bottle autographed by the Chuckle Brothers.
Sadly, times have moved on and such is society's clamour for instant gratification, the postcard is now longer viewed as an effective form of communication and the gin bottle was long since recycled. (see Note 1)
So, to keep you firmly focused on the matter in hand, I need to inform you that a Drut'syla is in fact a a storyteller from the Yiddish tradition.
Shonaleigh Cumbers is the aforementioned Drut'syla (See Note 2).
Last night, the Oundle Festival of Literature migrated to the outskirts of the town, to the banks of the River Nene, to provide us with 'Stories to Dine For'. The event actually served two purposes, one was the festival, the other was to have a nose around the Oundle Mill. (See Note 3)
The Oundle Mill has obviously been refurbished to a high standard. The food was OK too.
However, what I really enjoyed was the story telling. The best way to describe the stories themselves is Arabian Nights Tales with a bit of an edge. Given the derivation of the Arabian Nights Tales and that the Jewish tradition of the Drut'syla mixed into the complex nature of Middle Eastern politics it does seem rather an odd mix.
Not that it detracted from the stories. Having someone as obviously skilled and practiced as Shonaleigh deliver them was somehow nostalgic. That might seem an obscure way to describe it, but I think that is absolutely ages that somebody told me a story. The last time I remember having somebody tell me a story I must have been a child. Before bed, my father used to tell me stories of Coco the Clown and his mystical magical powers.
The atmosphere of Oundle Mill mixed with the story telling had an alchemy all of its own. The experience was really wonderful. I'm not sure that I needed the meal, it kind of got in the way, reduced the time for the stories and made it a late night for the middle of the working week. (see Note 4)
I am perhaps being a little picky about it because I get a touch grumpy when I don't get my sleep.
It was a great evening. The stories were enthralling and the atmosphere of the Mill added to the occasion.
It is just such a shame that the oral story telling tradition seems to be dying out. Shonaleigh believes there are only two other Drut'syla out there and so that particular story telling tradition is dying out.
Perhaps storytelling is something that Literary Festivals could look to encourage?
Note 1 : And such are the prices charged at The Oundle Mill for drinks, I can no longer afford to provide a substitute prize.
Note 2 : Not to be confused with an unfortunate fungal infection caught by rolling in damp lambswool with Albanian peasant girls.
Note 3 : The Oundle Mill seems to have been undergoing refurbishment for years. The sign at the entrance has been announcing an ever slipping opening date, but now it is open for business.
Note 4 : I get up just after 5:00 each morning, so as I type this I look a bit like a panda due to lack of sleep.