Small Stories Packs a Big Delivery with Tales for the Christmas Season

David J Rodger, Chris Cutting, Thomas D Parker and others read and perform their work at Bristol’s Small Stories event

Small stories is a monthly event. Lots of little tales, live illustration and an evening with other creative types in Bristol.

David J Rodger performs Cloudy Head at Bristol story telling event Small Stories

David J Rodger performs Cloudy Head at Small Stories

I’ve been to three of these now.  Each one has been excellent, and different.  Very well-organised and a wonderful mix of styles from local writers.  Entertaining with a superb venue and big beer.  They also provide writers a good platform to test their skills either reading or performing their work.  It’s a great way to test your content, too, seeing how a live audience respond to your words.

I’ve come to find the written-word can be a real barrier between you and the audience; primarily because you spend most of your time at the microphone with head-bowed, staring at the sheet of paper or digital tablet in your hands. At the previous Small Stories I tried something new, which was to ditch having anything to read from; learn the story, and just stand there and tell it – in the oral tradition.  I told Arnos Vale, a tale of grave-digging at the cemetery of the same name. It was a fantastic experience and really well-received by the audience and other writers, I felt.

This time I performed Cloudy Head, sticking with this month’s Christmas theme.  Cloudy Head is a story I wrote back in 2000, published in Alternate Species in 2001, but then didn’t do anything with until after the death of my father in 2006.  Norwegian artist Kenn-Ole Moen was at the funeral and we got to talking about the story; a week later I had a bunch of wonderful illustrations for it.  Cloudy Head is a spooky children’s story that also works for adults.  Indeed, when I went back to my seat, I found one of my friends had been reduced to tears at the end, as the story had unlocked something within him – a deep-rooted knot of emotion over his father, which Cloudy Head taps into.

There were other great performances this night, including Thomas D Parker, Chris Cutting, Tom C.B. Williams with his Joe The Crow and Nathan with his quick-fire poetry and short tale about corporate greed and drought. Apologies to the other superb talents that I’ve failed to mention here.

Chris Cutting gets a special mention here because of the insanity and energy he brings to his wonderful tales of revenge, greed, glory and, on occasion, gruesome gore within the circles of High Society, Am-Dram and Train Spotting aficionados.  Here is a video clip of him reading / performing his highly original piece:  “Ooo, I can see I’m not invited to tea!



Cloudy Head a spooky childrens story for bedtime and dreams by David J Rodger illustrations by Kenn-Ole Moen

Cloudy Head a spooky children’s story by David J Rodger ¦ illustrations by Kenn-Ole Moen

Jack has a unique gift that makes him very special. He can walk between our reality and a place made of dreams. But who is this mysterious figure Cloudy Head and what does he want with Jack?



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