The nights are closing in fast. Autumn is underway. But the end of the summer doesn’t signal the end of the chiminea season – the whole idea is a chim extends your alfresco potential by warming up outdoor spaces all year round, not just through the summer months.
Now’s the time of year when storytelling comes into its own, as we huddle around a hot fire pit or chiminea and let the tall tales unwind. And this is the perfect time to look deeper at storytelling, how it affects us, and what kind of stories you might want to weave next time you fire up your chim.
Use the gift of storytelling for an epic night’s entertainment
Humans are hard-wired for storytelling, whether it’s on telly or in books, magazines and newspapers, on the radio, in songs and poems, on the stage or silver screen, on computers and smartphones, in paintings, drawings and cartoons. As long as there have been people, there have been stories, from those told long ago in cave paintings to the bedtime stories children still love so much today.
Some stories have lasted hundreds of years, others thousands. Most cultures have a ‘great flood’ story of some kind or other, and some scientists think the stories all come from the same source – an ancient flood thousands of years ago that the human race never quite forgot, a kind of ancestral memory. These days the old oral tradition of passing wisdom down the generations is not something we do so much, but all the same we still love being told stories, whatever age we are.
Every society has its own stories. Stories are powerful. They can teach us morals, pass on facts, entertain us and scare us silly. Most of all, stories connect us to each other. But there’s a whole lot more than mere entertainment going on when we weave a tale. Our brains actually become more active when we hear a good story.
What happens in your brain when you hear a good story
When you listen to straightforward information the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas of your brain light up, stimulating the language processing areas. When you hear a story, it’s much more dramatic. The language processing parts of your brain light up, but so do the areas of your brain that would light up if you were actually experiencing the story yourself. It’s a much richer, deeper experience. If the story you’ve been told involves eating delicious food, your sensory cortex lights up like a Christmas tree. If the story concerns motion of some kind, your motor cortex gets involved.
Apparently Australian aboriginal people believe that important stories seek the right person to tell them, searching for the right storyteller in the same way an animal hunts its prey. It’s a slightly spooky thought… and it leads us on to the purpose of this post. Here are some ideas for storytelling around your chiminea.
Ghost stories to tell around your chiminea
If you’ve ever enjoyed a really good storytelling session, you’ll know how good it makes you feel. You feel a lot closer to the people you’ve shared the experience with, often dramatically so. You feel you’ve given your brain a treat, the same kind of satisfied feeling you get after a really good meal. You’re full of ideas, buoyed up, boosted, happy and excited. It’s fantastic. So what kind of stories can you tell gathered around your chim this autumn?
You can’t beat ghost stories for sheer entertainment. There’s nothing quite like that delicious spooked-out feeling you get from a collection of really good ghostly tales. And it’s amazing how many people have a ghost story of their own, or a family ghost story they’ve passed down the generations.
Here’s one of mine, to inspire your ghostly storytelling session:
“I was moving house, leaving my top floor rented flat in Farm Road, Brighton, for the last time. I’d taken all my stuff down to the van, hoovered every room and was just popping back up to triple check I hadn’t left anything behind.
When I walked into the living room, which was light and full of sunshine, I heard an older woman’s voice say, close to my ear, “Just leave then. See if I care.” She sounded angry, scared and sad. It made me jump out of my skin. Spinning around, it was clear there was
nobody else in the room or elsewhere in the flat. But there was a white, unmarked, sealed envelope in the centre of the room that hadn’t been there before. There’s no way I’d missed it, I’d hoovered so carefully, but there it was, slap-bang in the middle of the carpet.
I panicked, scooped up the envelope, ran out of the room and down the stairs without locking the door behind me. Outside, I opened the envelope. There was a fiver in it. No note, just a crisp, new fiver.”
More inspiring storytelling ideas
Alternatively, why not take turns picking a subject and getting everyone to tell a story about it?
- Your first love
- The funniest thing that ever happened to you
- Your greatest adventure
- Your biggest regret
- The best opportunity you ever missed
- A horribly close shave
- Your worst ever job
- The time you saved the day
- The thing that scared you most
- Your happiest moment
- Your biggest ever surprise
The list goes on. Here’s wishing you a splendid autumn’s alfresco fun. Let us know how it goes! In the meantime, if you have any questions about chimineas, fire pits and pizza ovens, we’ll be pleased to answer them for you.