This week we talk to one of our very very favourites. Yan Tan Tethera – AKA Prof Jigget!
There is always a queue when he is story telling at Our Kids Social events and it’s easy to see why. Captivating and mesmerising for all ages – The Prof is the King of all faeries, goblins and fables. We find out more about his real life, his inspiration and the best kitchen disco playlist we have ever seen. Head to our Fb page for our kitchen disco competition involving his wonderful playlist and win Family OKS tickets!
What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name is Oliver Bishop and I come from the land of the black pudding – Bury, North Manchester.
Tell us a bit about Yan Tan Tethera, what does it mean?
Yan Tan Tethera means ‘1,2,3’ in the old shepherding language of the north. It comes from the traditional poem used to count sheep up on the hillsides or down in a dale. There are a multitude of local variations but the one I use and remember is as follows:
How did you become involved in the magical world of story telling?
I’ve always loved the world of folklore – of faeries, goblins, knights and dragons – but I never thought I’d make a living from it! Yet, while at university, studying for my PhD, I began leading guided walks around the newly created arboretum throughout the campus. To make the walks more interesting I would tell the stories associated with the trees in the arboretum. I enjoyed this but it wasn’t something I had thought of doing full time. Then, by the time I completed my PhD I had a nervous breakdown and suffered heavily from depression and anxiety. It was a horrible and horrific time. But when I got better I re-evaluated what makes me happy and what is important. And I thought back to the goblins, faeries, knights and dragons. And it was then that I decided I wanted to make other people happy – using the things that give me such pleasure. Now I get to tell stories to smiling faces and mess around with costumes, puppets and, of course, goblins.
Who is Professor Jigget?
Prof. Jigget is the bombastic voice inside my head that said ‘just do it – what’s the worst that can happen!’ He is an explorer, a faerie hunter, a goblin scientist and a storyteller. He lives for discovery and adventure. He loves to learn and to share this information to anyone listening (and anyone who isn’t listening, or at least wasn’t listening to begin with but now has a booming voice in their ear forcing them to listen!).
Describe him in 3 words!
Stories, adventure, nonsense!
You’ve been a regular at Our Kids Social events from the beginning, what’s been your favourite event and why?
Oooooooh, I think it has to be the Let’s Glo Social! The Prof. asked the children to help wake up Allerion the King of The Birds. To do this they decorated a large puppet and learnt a special song and dance. At the end of the event the Prof. rode in on the back of Allerion and everyone danced for him! It was fantastic!
What is on the kitchen disco play-list in your house?
Hall and Oates – you make my dreams Harry Belafonte – Jump in the line
Rusted Roots – Send my on my way Talking Heads – This must be the place
Paolo Nutini – Pencil full of lead Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere
Steve Winwood – Higher love
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – Cheek to cheek
The Cure – Close to me Led Zepellin – Rock ‘n roll
Where are your favorite places for a knees up without the nippers?
For a proper dance it used to be Tiger Lounge but it’s gone now (RIP)! Now a quiet local will do. Love a tapas restaurant in Ramsbottom called Levanter.
What was the first album / single you bought and what format did you buy it on?
I think it was The Offspring’s Americana on CD. I remember buying it from Asda – it was that or Sisqo’s Thong Song (as that is what everyone in school liked). I think, all things considered, I made the right choice!
What would be your band T-shirt of choice?
The only band shirt I own is the Spooky Mans Choral Choir (go check them out if you haven’t already!) but given the choice I would like a T-Shirt of the band I use to be in, Thugs on Wolves.
That was pre kids! Then I could reminisce about being ‘cool’.
In your opinion, why is story telling essential to childhood (and adulthood)
Ah, to answer this I’ll have to borrow from the late great Sir Terry Pratchett:
‘People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact it’s the other way around’
Top tips for creating stories with your children at home.
Just getting the inspiration going is the most important thing! Try make your own story stones (give it a google- loads of ideas out there). Or try giving your children an interesting item (a strange looking antique) and telling them you (or a long gone ancestor) found it at an interesting location(e.g in a cave at the bottom of a waterfall) and then asking them who do you think it belonged to? How did it get there? Is anyone looking for it? What powers could it have? This gets them thinking – gets them inspired to create!
Apart from Our Kids Social (obviously) what would you recommend for family fun in the North West?
Well Chester Zoo have some great events on and their staff love telling stories (and you know it will be good as we have given them some training!). The champions of magical, family focus events has to be Wild Rumpus! Oh, and if you like theatre come to Bury and watch a show at the Met Theatre.
What are you looking forward to most at future OKS events?
ALL OF THEM!!!!!!
we are super excited because The Prof is back with OKS this September at Happy Sundaze – we cant wait to hear his stories. You can get tickets for this and all OKS events at http://www.ourkids.social