DIRECTOR of a security firm, part-time wizard and unlocker of the imagination - meet Peter Parker, the South Yorkshire story teller who’s bringing his parallel universe to various venues across Sheffield this month as part of National Storytelling Week
DRESSED in his cape and hat, it’s almost impossible to imagine Peter Parker as anything other than a wizard.
But when he’s not casting a spell, he’s a director of a Sheffield security company.
Today, however, he’s got his other hat on - the sorcerer’s hat.
Peter, from Dinnington, is a part-time ‘storyteller’ who travels across this city relaying tales of woe, horror and fantasy to people of all ages from schoolchildren to nonagenarians.
Clad in cape and armed with his dragons, Peter has spent much of this week going round Sheffield primary schools telling stories as part of National Storytelling Week, a celebration of the oldest art form - that of the story.
“Stories are part of everything, the newspapers write ‘stories’ everyday and about three hundred years ago storytellers would travel across the country and they’d never buy a drink or food because people would always buy them for them.”
And, much like the storytellers of yesteryear, Peter, along with various other storytellers in Sheffield, frequents many of the city’s pubs to tell his stories.
“There is a strong storytelling scene in Sheffield, though it’s not as vibrant a scene as Leeds, York or London, there are a few storytelling societies.”
And despite the advent of super high definition television sets, three-dimensional films and ever more graphically-advanced computer games, Peter maintains that no Hollywood budget can stretch to the visual capabilities of the imagination.
“Ask any one who’s watched a film after reading the book and they always say that the book is better. The imagination is limitless - we don’t have to worry about a budget.”
And children, according to Peter, benefit from having their imagination stretched as much as possible through storytelling.
But not only does storytelling ignite the imagination, it also boosts children’s confidence and prepares them for the adult world.
“There are tremendous benefits to storytelling for children. Getting them to stand up in front of a class from a young age prepares them for the things that we all dread as adults, such as presentations and talking to groups of people. It really sets them up for future life.”
And while the concept of storytelling seems archaic in a world of digital televisions, Peter says the storytelling scene is very much alive. “It’s making a resurgence,” he says. “We all love a story. Isn’t it lovely to go into a fantasy world? To have someone put us there is wonderful. It’s not just a children’s thing though - adults love it too. I have stories for adults and stories for children. The adult stories can be about anything - including scary stories.”
Peter’s children’s stories are centred on his own characters, such as Penryl the Wizard, who lives at Dragon Castle. “He gets up to all sorts,” says Peter, “He captures young girls and turns them into stone.”
And of course, there are still myths and legends that live on today. “There are always myths where ever you are.”
Peter, aged 59, also runs a children’s entertainment company and has been telling stories for 20 years. “This is my week off now and I spending it doing exactly what I want - telling stories. What more could I ask for?”
It’s a good job he enjoys telling stories. “Of course I do,” he says. “I’m always away with the fairies, I spend a fair part of of my life in a fantasy world.”
And, as part of National Storytelling Week, Peter is bringing his fantasy parallel universe to various schoolchildren across South Yorkshire as well as adults in the Fat Cat pub on the third Tuesday of each month.