Interview with Tim Porteus – storytelling legend but most of all, devoted dad!
Today I have an amazing opportunity to introduce to you another Rockin’ Dad- Tim Porteus. Scottish storyteller, author and columnist. Campaigner for gender equality and social justice. Tim – thank you for sharing your story with us.
How did you become a storyteller and how often do you have a chance to test your skills with your children?
I became a registered storyteller ten years ago but was a storyteller long before that. I always loved stories when I was wee, all types of stories, but from the classical world in particular, and native American legends. I came to a greater understanding of the importance of oral traditions while studying history at University, and developed my interest in storytelling when I was involved in community education projects. This began with reminiscence work with older members of the community, but then I realised storytelling is a vital way for people to have a voice, both personal and community. I used storytelling in my community education work with people who had experienced homelessness and addiction and won a bursary award for this. I had a project called Tales for Transformation, working with people who had experienced social and economic marginalisation.
So when I became a dad I was already a storyteller by trade. Having children gave a whole new meaning to storytelling. I tried to immerse my children in stories, all kinds, from faerie tales to stories about my life, and the lives of family members my children didn’t know. These stories are an inheritance and my grown-up children have acknowledged the role they played in their childhood and adult identity. My second oldest has illustrated my children’s folk tales book, while my oldest wrote the forward. I tell stories every day to my younger children and still tell family tales to my grown-up kids when the moment arises. I have a ten-year-old who I share the care with and stories are a vital part of us feeling together when we have extended times apart.
Often you are giving voice to marginalised, excluded groups and individuals -what was the most surreal, heart-moving situation while telling the story to folks?
I have worked part-time with an early years organisation for the last six years, during which time I helped run a dads project. Storytelling was an important part of this, allowing the dads to tell their stories in many different ways, including in film and drama, as well as promoting the importance of storytelling with their children. I have run major storytelling projects in a number of Midlothian schools which have aimed to reach children who may otherwise struggle with formal learning.
So many heartwarming moments difficult to choose one. Perhaps when a child came up to me after a story and told me about her dad who had died, and that the story I told made her understand she can keep him in her heart by telling stories about him, and asking family members to share memories of him.
Where do you see Scotland and its heritage in the next 10 years?
I hope an independent Scotland within the EU. Scotland is a multicultural society and its diversity is its strength.
What would you say to the first-time dads living in today’s world? Any advice, any tips from devoted father as yourself?
Wow a book’s in that answer. But essentially remember that from your child’s earliest age, your influence and role modelling will be a vital part of how your boy or girl grows up, and how they see themselves and the world. It’s a hard job sometimes, but nothing is more meaningful. You will experience the love that you have never had before, and yes it can be emotionally painful at times if things don’t work out as planned, but being a dad will be the best and most rewarding role you will ever have.
To check Tim’s books go to Amazon
Can everyone become a storyteller, what skills and qualities are needed to become storyteller – what’s storyteller’s secrets?
Everyone is a storyteller. we all tell stories, and we always have. But using storytelling beyond the usual social stories we tell friends and family does require some thought. A love of stories is needed, a fascination with life, culture and the world about us is what storytelling needs and also creates. To be a good storyteller the most important thing is to be authentic; be yourself. You can get tips for telling and improve your performance skills from others, but essentially being comfortable with your own way of telling is vital. Also remember storytelling is about your audience, not you. Always think about your audience, develop an instinct for what you feel will work and appropriate for your listeners.
The secret is the passion. It’s not just a job (and certainly not a well paid one). It’s a way of being for many of us.
“Storytelling and fatherhood are both creations of love and attachment.”
To book Tim and check his work go here.