We've been watching a fascinating series on the BBC recently; The Story of China, narrated by Michael Wood. It has been a proper, old-fashioned documentary, with no stupid gimmicks or annoying music, and I've learned a lot about a country of which I knew very little.
One feature of contemporary Chinese life that has featured in the documentary has been the professional storytellers. It seems that the Chinese people love to listen to both history and legends, and it is a very specific art form. The storytellers are beautifully dressed, and use what I imagine are traditional intonations and gestures to tell their tales.
Watching them made me realise how much I would enjoy listening to English history and legends - for example, King Arthur, or Robin Hood - told by a professional storyteller. But if such people exist, they seem only to share their skills with children.
I know from my years as a minister that the "children's" story is often the most popular and memorable part of a service, and have been enchanted by stories told at big Unitarian gatherings such as Summer School or the GA Annual Meetings.
I think it would be really lovely if we could do as the Chinese do, and go along to a cafe to listen to tales of our national heritage, so that they are not lost. Because it's not as though people in this country don't still love stories. But nowadays we either read them in books, or watch them in films or on TV. Or go to the theatre, which is the nearest to the living oral tradition.
Tell me a story ... please.