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True Stories Told Live has been suspended until further notice

Thanks very much to everyone who’s supported us over the last three years and helped make the monthly gatherings such unique experiences.

A particularly big thank-you to anyone who stood up to tell a story.

We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

In jail in Atlanta, up Ben Nevis without a paddle and other stories from last night’s TSTL

This was our third evening at the Forge and also the first TSTL of what we laughingly call summer. That meant we could have the windows open at the top of the venue to keep the temperature pleasant and it was not quite dark when we finished. A packed house (as ever) heard Julia Eccleshare tell the story of a family expedition up Ben Nevis in the days before mobile phones and the wrapping of children in cotton wool. Author, journalist and performer Virginia Ironside described what it was like to be adopted by a pigeon. Our musician was Jake Wilson who sang a song from his record All’s Well about the five men who didn’t return from Scott’s expedition to the South Pole. Richard Williamson described how as a 19 year old in Atlanta he’d chosen to go to prison rather than miss out on the chance of a trip to Europe with a girl. Finally Bobby Bakerrecalled life in Sidcup in the 50s when an exploded bomb would be removed by a policeman on a bike.

Thanks to everyone who came and took part. Stay tuned for details of the time and place of our next event.

Mauled by lions, engaged to the Bee Gees and other stories from last night’s TSTL

This was our second time at The Forge in Camden Town, which is certainly good for being able to see and hear OK. After volunteering in a retirement home, Matt Sherman decided that he really ought to get to know his own grandmother, which led to his reuniting her with her long-lost brother via the miracle of something called Google, Jim Thornton told an astonishing story about his mother going into hospital when he was 17 which we won’t spoil for you here in case you bump into him and Mari Wilson talked about her pre-teen crush on Barry Gibb and sang “The First of May”, which is on her new album “Cover Stories”. Naomi Alderman got the second half under way with the story of the night that she thought her rejection of her Orthodox Jewish upbringing had triggered a supernatural response and cameraman Peter Henderson talked about getting his hand chewed off by a lioness. Kerry Shale was MC as usual.

In other TSTL-related events playwright and comedian A.L. Kennedy is talking tonight at Large Glass in Caledonian Road in the latest in a series of events celebrating postcards. Tickets are £10 which includes a glass of wine. Details here. And there’s another reading of Kerry’s play The Prince Of West End Lane at the Jewish Museum on May 24th. Tickets here.

OK, you daren’t do it but do you know someone who’s got a great story to tell?

You may not want to tell your own story but the chances are you know somebody who’s had an exceptional life experience which they could recount at True Stories Told Live. They’ve probably told you the story already. Why not volunteer them? We’re always looking for new faces who’ve had interesting experiences. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t got any experience of standing up in front of people and talking. We’d be delighted to help them prepare.

If you want to give them an idea of what it’s all about just direct them to this audio package. It gives you a flavour of the event and features voices from True Stories events in London, Cardiff and Brighton. Just click below to listen:

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True Stories at the Forge, Camden Town

Last night our wanderings took us to The Forge in Camden Town. This a very attractive new arts venue with a good restaurant called The Foundry attached. Obviously it felt a bit different but the staff made us very welcome and we’ll be mulling over our impressions in the next few days. If you went we’d love to know what you thought.

If you went you’ll know that Piney Gir very kindly stood in at an hour’s notice when one of our turns had to go to A&E with a small child. (All fine.) She told the story of how a five year old in Kansas, unused to the ways of barbecue, was disturbed by the sight of seeing a pig apparently disinterred and then eaten. Chelsea fan Lekiddo selflessly gave up the chance to watch his team get into the last eight in the Champions League in order to tell the story of how he was mistaken for goalscorer Eddie Newton in the wake of the 1997 Cup Final and ended up on the front page of The Sun. Our musical turn Stephen Coates, who performs under the name of The Real Tuesday Weld, described how his personal journey led to his being one of the last civilians allowed to go beneath London’s streets to explore the Fleet River.

In the second half Alexis Le Franc held the room in the palm of his hand as he described how his family reacted to finding an envelope in their late father’s study labelled “to be destroyed in the event of my death without opening”. And finally David Wilson told a story of lost Renaissance art treasures in the former Yugoslavia and men with revolvers in their belts. Thanks very much as ever to everyone who came.

True Stories Told Live at Charterhouse Bar

Last night was our first venture beyond the Compass, the venue where we’ve staged the last twenty-five TSTLs. We want to thank Phil Ross and his team at Charterhouse Bar for making us so welcome. The room is long and narrow, as befits a building which looks like Smithfield’s answer to New York’s Flatiron Building but there is a stage and a very good P.A. system. If you have any thoughts on this venue or any other we’d like to hear them.

Our turns began with former policeman Steve Roberts, who talked about what it was like to be behind the plastic shields during the riots which followed the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976, and James Mitchell with his story of Dave, the man his mother married. He’s posted more about it here. Our musician story-teller was Mat Priest of Dodgy who described the time he invented an entire news story all about The Stone Roses and told it to the Guardian. He climaxed the tale by “playing” “Fool’s Gold” on the bongos! Dodgy are on tour now.

Susan Marling began our second half with the story of how a relative built a speedboat on the top floor of an old house in Brixton. The actor Edward Petherbridge told the story of how a tribute to a Japanese god has been paying dividends in the shape of residuals cheques from ITV. Kerry Shale once more MCd and treated us to his celebrated impressions of rodents.

As ever.


True Stories Told Live is on the road

Thanks to everyone who suggested alternative homes for True Stories Told Live.

We looked at a lot of them and we decided to try Charterhouse Bar. This is housed in, as you can see, a striking building in Smithfield, the staff are very welcoming and we’ll be in the upstairs bar on the first floor. The nearest tubes are Barbican and Farringdon.

We’ll be sending out the link for the February 15th tickets in the next 24 hours. Please only book if you’re definitely going to come. We will be checking people’s names off at the door via my enormously impressive iPhone app.

If you have friends who want to get an invite tell them to register for our mailing list over on the right. Hurry.

Can you help us find a new home?

The Compass, which is where we’ve been based for the past three years, is under new management and we can’t predict what’s going to happen there in the near future. Therefore we need a new place to hold our monthly storytelling evenings. And we could use your help in finding one.

Do you know any venues that might be suitable? Do you run any places that might be suitable? We prefer Islington, Camden, Kings Cross, Bloomsbury or the West End. We need to be within easy reach of a tube station. We’d like a room in a pub or restaurant. We need to be able to seat 80 to 120 people. Ideally we’d like somewhere with a small stage, a PA and some lighting but we’ll look at anything.

What do we bring with us? A unique evening which has been widely covered in press and on radio. GQ called it “one of the capital’s hippest nights out”. We operate a mailing list with the names of thousands of people interested in speech entertainment, people who like a drink and are always looking for new places to eat. To give you an idea, we had over 150 names on the waiting list for last Wednesday’s gathering. We can bring a lot of customers to the right place.

Our first True Stories of 2012

This was the first True Stories Told Live in which the audience had been convened via our first-come first served automatic booking system and it seemed to go strangely well. We had approximately the traditional mix of first-timers and been-befores and, as usual, the “audience” proved themselves every bit as important to the success of the evening as the “turns”.

The first of these was Laurel Lefkow, currently starring in Radio 4′s morning drama “Ethan Frome”, who related the story of how the peremptory firing of her journalist father led to a childhood of hazardous happiness in India. She was followed by Jeff Poulter, who talked about how a motorcycling holiday down the left coast of America climaxed in a bizarre encounter with a geoduck, one of the creatures that exists to remind us what a strange place that country is. Piney Gir, our musical turn, who was somewhat delayed by having mistakenly turned up at the home of host Kerry Shale, regaled us with a story from her childhood scrapbook and sang “River Song” from her new album “Geronimo!”.

Following the break Carolyn Drake held the room rapt while she recounted the events following the difficult birth of her daughter and finally Betsy De Lotbiniere recalled the year when she decided to spend the festive season in Scotland, despite being heavily pregnant and not realising the extent of the nation’s devotion to the celebration of the New Year.

In other news, Kerry Shale’s play, “The Prince Of West End Lane”, is being given a staged reading at the Globe on January 29th.

Next Wednesday’s True Stories

We launched our new first-come first-served automatic booking system today. So far it seems to work.

If you’re on the list then we can just check you off at the door. You don’t strictly have to print out the ticket. Oh, and sorry for getting the year wrong. It is 2012, not 2011. Sorry about that.

Likewise, sorry if you didn’t get on the list. Demand is always greater than supply. If you’ve added your name to the wait list then you will be automatically promoted as and when spaces become free.