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The Craneskin Bag.
Robin Williamson.
Canongate £9.95.

Some readers may remember Robin Williamson as one half of the Incredible String Band, and they may not know what he has been doing recently. He returned to an old interest in Celtic music, and his records include old and new Celtic tunes and songs. He composed the music for the performance of the Mabinogion, which took place a few years ago at Cardiff Castle, and which was shown on TV. Most recently he has become a teller (and singer) of stories. His concerts now include stories, songs, and instrumental pieces. His current tour covers London, Leicester, Bristol and other towns and continues until at least early November. He has produced several cassettes of his stories.

This book (whose US title is The Wise and Foolish Tongue) contains a selection from the stories he tells. They are both serious and humorous, ranging from The Wooing of Isolde, through The Spoils of Annwn and Thomas the Rhymer, all the way to The Man who Never Dreamed and to Wee Jack and the King. Though the printed stories are somewhat shortened from the versions he performs, they are a fine remembrance of his telling, and those who have not heard him will still be able to sense the rhythms and style of the spoken tales. This collection by a modern bard is a delight.

The publishers, Canongate, specialise in material with a Celtic, especially Scottish, interest. Several of their books are likely to appeal to our readers. (Added 2005. Canongate have just commenced a major international series of modern stories based on old myths.)

Wood and Water 33, Autumn 1990
© Daniel Cohen                                

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