January E-Mail – Upcoming Gigs – Free Show: “The Queen of the Court of Claywood Flats” – Reflections on 2020

Posted: January 10th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

For those of you not on my mailing list, here’s the email I sent out this month. Details of how you could sign up are at the bottom.

Fellow Story Lovers,

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Happy New Year. I appreciate it’s a bit late for that now – you’ve almost certainly already got the decorations down, assuming you had any. Some of the more organised among you will be making plans for the Summer. Best of luck to you. But Happy New Year all the same and I hope 2021 unfolds rich in blessings. For those of you who like to skim headlines, in this email you’ll find:

A link to a recording of The Queen of the Court of Claywood Flats, available from Radio Crick Crack for a limited time: (https://crickcrackclub.com/radio-crick-crack/)

An upcoming online gig, 20th January, with Birmingham Storytellers:(https://www.tradartsteam.co.uk/calendar.html?a=viewevent&id=1434)

Advance notice of a spooky upcoming online Experiment with Adverse Camber – Seven Uncanny Candles (save the date 12th February).

Details of regular fixtures at Beeston Tales and The Storytellers Bookclub.

A Reflective Bit on 2020. (Something of a downer so feel free to skip.)

I’m not much for making profound statements. I prefer the specificity of stories – this happened, to this one person, once upon a time – over the generality of aphorisms or attempts at universal truth. Having said that, I do want to share some wisdom that has been a consolation to me over the past year. As I have had to assure a few people lately, it’s not compulsory to have had a tough time in 2020, but I will confess that I’ve found last year tough, lonely, full of disrupted plans, bereavement and the constant awareness that things have been a lot worse for lots of other people.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the concept of “ambiguous grief” by Gina, a wonderful woman who works in a charity that supports the families of missing people. The pain those families feel is akin to the pain of bereavement, but with the added complexity of not knowing. Not knowing if their loved ones are coming back. Not knowing what has happened to them. Hope, pain, confusion and fear interlace.

‘Ambiguous grief’ describes our response to any loss we can not understand or qualify, without closure or clear expectation of what will happen next. That could be the pain of a loved one with dementia, a loss of faith or just an inability to imagine where our life is headed. Ambiguous grief flies in the face of the idea that grief is a process that we can “go through”, showing just how inadequate that notion really is.

There is, Gina told me, only one thing to do if you’re living with ambiguous grief – and I suspect many of us whose lives have become chaotic, whose support networks are disrupted and whose plans are in tatters may be experiencing some level of ambiguous grief – and that is to find connection. To be in relationship with other human beings, where talking about and exploring the feelings we’re going through is not taboo.

I don’t want to paint an overly romantic picture of storytelling as a panacea for the soul. But I have found solace in old stories, in listening and telling, and in the wider community of story-loving listeners and creatives. They have made things easier for me.

And now, for those of you who have made it through all this, here’s a link to something radically happy –http://hitherby-dragons.wikidot.com/easy

Radio Crick Crack – The Queen of the Court of Claywood Flats

Bringing soul food to the nation during isolation, Radio Crick Crack opens the archive of the Crick Crack Club with recordings of their performers through years. The Queen of the Court of Claywood Flats is a show I put together in Sheffield more than a decade ago, inspired by the demolition of Claywood Flats, the 2007 flood, with glimpses of myth, story and mystery.

You can listen for free, although any money you donate will go to storytellers struggling to sustain an income during the pandemic. It’s at the top of the page!

With thanks to Graham Langley and Birmingham Storytellers as this particular recording was made in the Kitchen Garden Cafe at one of their evenings.

A Recipe for Hope – Birmingham Storytellers – 20th January 2021

And I will be returning to the Birmingham Storytellers on 20th January to join them for an evening of online tales. Whether you’re anywhere near Birmingham or not, hop along on Zoom to hear me and their resident storytellers fill the night with hope:


Seven Uncanny Candles – 12th February 2021

I’m working with Adverse Camber and Sarah Liisa Wilkinson on a fabulous, one off, online experimental ritual event – Seven Uncanny Candles.

There’s a folk game in Japan where one hundred candles are lit, one hundred stories of the supernatural are told, and after each tale a candle is extinguished so that the room slowly descends into darkness. (It’s called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai if you want to read more.) Inspired by this custom, we’re going to be telling stories of the weird and supernatural, and invite you all to join us. For the full effect, you’ll need seven candles, a dark room and a Zoom account, but you’ll be able to listen with just Zoom.

The event hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to get the date in your diary. Full information will be coming out shortly. I’m really delighted to be trying this out and I hope you’ll join me for it.

Regular Features – Beeston Tales & Wild About Story

Beeston Tales is this Wednesday, 13th January, on Zoom, with dynamo Katrice Horsley telling tales and troubadour Owen Shiers singing songs. Come along!


And Wild About Story’s “The Storyteller’s Bookclub” is back in 2021, with our first event on 1st February. I’ll be in conversation with Dominic Kelly about Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard. This 1970s travel novel interweaves Matthiessen’s experiences of grief, his exploration of his Buddhist faith in the landscape that gave it birth, his official goal to look at some Himalayan goats and his unofficial yearning to glimpse the elusive snow leopard.

https://www.wildaboutstory.co.uk/storyteller-s-book club

What else am I up to?

Some of you may be aware of the work I do with researchers, teaching storytelling skills for public engagement. Here’s a blog post about a project I ran for the Political Ecology Network in 2020, written by Judith Krauss.

Apart from that, I’ve been pretty busy with things lately. I’m involved with Equity’s Storytellers Network and we’re exploring Equity’s statement on Cultural Appropriation to make sure it reflects the particular nuances that storytellers have to navigate. Plus it’s January, which is traditionally the time when I ritualistically swear that I won’t leave my tax return so late next year.

May our paths cross in 2021

And until then, all blessings of the New Year to you!


Pirate legends will climb wherever they want

Posted: June 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

Last Saturday, I was part of Leeds Royal Armouries’ “Legends” programme. They take a character worthy of a whole weekend of events, open up the museum and go to town.

For June, they were looking at “Blackbeard”, with events ranging from cannon demonstrations over the dock to pirate courts abiding by the official regulations.

Here’s me with my world premier of “Treasure Island”.


And my favourite thing about this picture is that you can clearly see the words “Please do not climb” on the side of the stage. ARRR! Do ye think ye can tell a pirate where he can or can not clamber, lubber?

Some of you may be rushing to comment that Blackbeard isn’t in “Treasure Island”. Oh sweet, facetious darlings. Legends are legends. And anyway, Blackbeard was a lamb compared to Captain Flint.

Remembrance of Lost Species

Posted: December 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

Last week, I was involved in a special night of remembrance for extinct species, along with the wonderful Nancy Kerr and Sarah Smout. It was a part (albeit slightly late) of the now international event, initiated by ONCA.

It is a gift in my work to occasionally get to do things that feel incredibly important – that step outside the normal remit of performance and become something timely and meaningful. Our night was full of song, story and ritual elements, all against the backdrops created by the event organiser and craft guru Abi Nielsen.

Sarah Smout on cello, Nancy Kerr on fiddle, Tim Ralphs reading a long list of extinct species.

Sarah Smout on cello, Nancy Kerr on fiddle, Tim Ralphs reading a long list of extinct species.

It was a powerful evening, and I thought I’d include here the text of the communion I wrote and read before we broke and shared bread.

Welcome back
Hello and welcome back. I hope you’re all feeling refreshed and settled and ready for more. We’re going to start with a short ritual, a breaking and sharing of bread, and I will say a few words to acknowledge why we are here tonight. I want to apologise in advance to the gluten intolerant here with us—and invite you to participate in whatever way feels appropriate.

We choose this symbol of breaking bread and partaking in a communion together because of the ancient ritual associations that permeate it. Beyond the Jewish and Christian connotations, the idea of sharing bread runs through our culture and our language. In Aramaic, the word for “friend” is “balinjeera”, one with whom we share bread. In English, “companion”, from the latin words for togetherness and bread. But I want us to recognise that here today this act has its own meaning, it is a new and radical communion.

In the Ascent of Man, Bronowski argued that the history of human civilisation was the history of our relationship with wheat. For the hundreds of thousands of years that humanity has been in existence, we have been in a dance with this planet. Living on it and with it, guided and shaped by the land, the weather, the movements and lives of other species. But with the domestication of wheat there came a shift in the balance of that dance. Where once we had been followers, now we were the leader. Now we would shape the earth, toil and sweat in the dust to make the ground bring forth the crops we planted.

And I don’t condemn human beings in our desire to impose our own vision upon the land—this is, as I said, the basis of civilisation. But the time has come to recognise that in this dance, our steps have been clumsy, that we have twirled this planet wildly, cruelly. Dangerously.

There is nothing new in extinction.

Let me say that again—there is nothing new in extinction. The lifetime of all species on this planet is ultimately finite, a macrocosmic reflection of the mortality of each individual life. Species have risen and fallen before, sometimes in isolated incidents, sometimes in seemingly great, mass die-offs.

We are now in what archaeologists, palaeontologists recognise as the sixth period of mass extinction that this planet has faced. All this has happened before and will happen again. The only difference this time is that we, human beings, have lead and pushed and guided the course of our planet, our environment, into this time of death.
And there is a question, a burning question around what we should do next. Around how we should change. How we can fix this. I say, leave that until tomorrow. For now, let us join together as a human community. Let us recognise those species that have departed with a profound empathy, shared partners in the great dance of life. Let us acknowledge our animal bodies, still very much dependent on the bounty of the Earth to grow and thrive.

Breaking of bread
I invite you to take a few moments of silence. To reflect on whatever powers you hold to be important, whether that is the God of your understanding, the magnificence of the natural world, the glory of our shared humanity. I offer up this loaf of bread. It is the bounty of the Earth, our home. It is born from the light of the sun, watered by the gentle caress of rain. It is the labour of human hands.

As we eat it, may we be nourished. May we remember our place, our connectedness. May our hearts be open.

May it become, for us, the bread of life.

And so it is.

And we'll stand beside the shore.

And we’ll stand beside the shore.

Audience Comments from Birmingham Storyelling Cafe

Posted: May 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The fine folks at Birmingham Storytelling Cafe had me along to tell stories from my show How to Spin Enchantment. Here’s some of the audience feedback, I’m particularly impressed by the poetry:

9/10 a very good night,
laughter, wit and the occasional fright,
We’ll come see you again,
every now and then,
unless there’s a defined schedule or something.

The night was splendid
It was a shame it ended
But I guess it must

Whispered stories

What a feat of endurance! Brilliant 25 stories in one!

What a joyful gallop through a gaggle of lovely Italian stories.

Someone pay this man more money! Not only is he a brilliant storyteller, but he needs money for SHOES! Bare feet? How? My feet are frozen!!!


What a brilliant storyteller Tim is. Most enjoyable evening once again. Love your stories.

Fantastical stories within stories. A most enjoyable young man.

First time here. Great stories tonight. Thank you for a great night.

My first experience of storytelling. I enjoyed the twist and adventures in each story. Quite humorous and very charismatic.

Tales of wit and great imagery—a joyful performance!

Absolutely brilliant.

Brilliantly told, a masterful performance. Very entertaining.

Wonderful story, shame your hair wasn’t RED! (Tim says: This is a reference to the posters, which showed me as having the most magnificent shade of auburn hair.)

Absolutely fabulous! Great stories!

Wonderful evening, our best evening yet and we’ve been to a few…

A very enjoyable evening. The stories were enchanting and entertaining. Thank you for sharing.

Reviews and comments for recent gigs

Posted: April 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

My performance of Can the Mountains Love the Sea? got a review by A Small Mind.

“An excellent night.” * * * *

Read the full review here.

I also got these kind words from some Viking reinactors who came along:

“What a great experience this was! My friend J~ and I were completely enthralled by your enchantment and sheer professionalism. This was storytelling at its best and we were truly privileged to have witnessed it.

Not one single word was wasted. The pacing was spot-on. The characterisation was vivid and varied. You were totally absorbed ‘in the moment’ of the story, as was your audience. You made mythology live and breath…”

– the wannabe Vikings!

~ ~ ~

And some great audience comments from my performance of Jonathan and David at Night of the Storyteller. (All comments used with permission.)

“A few centuries ago listeners might have found the intimacy between David and Jonathon unsettling, but not have baulked at the violent massacre of the Amalekites. Now our sensitivities are reversed, but it is a credit to Tim Ralphs’ telling that he does not flinch at nor soft-pedal the difficult parts of this story. The show that results is touching and tender, rich and many-layered. A paean to love, friendship, and promise-keeping.”

Sarah Rundle, Storyteller

“I thought your performance at The Miller was beautiful! I loved the multiple narratives, juxtaposition and how many layers there were. Deftly, discretely & generously done (because you never demanded we think any particular thing). Congratulations!”

Giles Abbott, Storyteller

“Thank you for last night’s performance which I found profoundly moving. There are scenes which, although understated in your telling, remain vividly etched in my consciousness – the deeply human interaction between Saul and the Witch of Endor, for instance, to name just one.

Your subtle and deeply respectful crafting of links between Bible story and Life story created a rich tapestry which brought the spinning of story, and the fabric of life to life, a subtle veil through which you facilitated the potential to get a glimpse of the ineffable.

The formal musical framing device you used was masterful.

You are truly breaking new ground in the form.”

Leon Conrad, Voice Specialist

Beeston Tales

Posted: April 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

Hi there! This is a little post about Beeston Tales, a monthly storytelling night based in Beeston, Nottingham. 

We’re back Baby! – From now on we’ll be hosting events at Our Lady of the Assumption church hall, Foster Avenue, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 1AE Parking at the venue. Short walk from a tram stop. Cake and drinks will be available, feel free to bring your own booze!

There is a hypnotic feel to the tales: you’re back round that prehistoric campfire again, rapt.
– Matt Turpin, LeftLion. (Read full review.)

Let yourself be transported to worlds that are otherwise unreachable. – Bryony Ashmore, Nottingham City of Literature. (Read full review.)

Your hosts Tim and Mike

19th October 2022 – Jon Mason’s “Taliesin: Power and Catastrophe”

Emerging from upheaval, the British kingdoms are graced by a very special boy: Taliesin, born of ancient mysteries, who will go down in history as the greatest bard of all time. But, as the land tries to heal, the air is full of uncertainty: refugees flee disaster, the rising sea waits beyond the walls, and they say there’s a new illness on the way… Who will you trust? Which leaders have the answers? Has a hero got what it takes?

A wild and magical blend of fact and fiction, drawn from medieval texts and revealing a world that is really, entirely different from our own.

What? Beeston Tales is a club dedicated to the vibrant and ancient art of storytelling. Hosted by Tim Ralphs and Mike Payton the club features themed nights, showcases up and coming local tellers, invites renowned guests from around the world, includes musical spots and much more.

Cake and drinks will be available, feel free to bring your own booze!

Where? NEW VENUE! Our Lady of the Assumption church hall, Foster Avenue, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 1AE.

When? 7:30pm on the third Wednesday of the month.

How? Ticket sales to attend in person are available on the door for £8. Tickets can also be purchased for £6.50 ahead of the event at https://www.tickettailor.com/events/beestontales/

NEW! Attend Zoom livestream: You can attend the event online by joining our Zoom stream. Details here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/beestontales/

The Room Behind the Bookcase ~ Episode 5 ~ The Four Chambers of the Heart

Posted: March 31st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Podcast | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Click here to listen!

Or subscribe with Feedburner.

This podcast features Clare Murphy and was recorded by Tom Donegan of The Story Museum.

The intro music was from Hymir’s Maidens used you as a trough by Prometheus Project. The outro music taken from Death Jig by Sharron Kraus.

Jonathan and David at The Miller

Posted: March 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’m very happy to announce that I’ll be telling my version of Jonathan and David as part of Tailspin’s Night of the Storyteller.

The chosen people cry out for a King. An aged Prophet looks at his sons and knows they are unworthy. And God knits the souls of two young men together, binding them in a love that will rip apart families and stain the hills with blood.

Mixing biblical sacred love with stories from the lives of gay people of faith, join Tim Ralphs as he asks some questions about the divine nature of sexuality.

This is a show that I originally developed for Hidden Perspectives as part of their 2013 Festival. I interviewed gay and lesbian people of faith, including trainee ministers, listened to their sexual and religious stories, and then wove them across the incredible narrative that is Jonathan and David. I was deeply humbled by their openness and by how powerfully their words resonated with the ancient text.

On 16 April 2015, I’ll be performing the show at The Miller, Snowfields Road, London Bridge. Show starts at 7.30pm Tickets are £7 on the door, with money off for cyclists. It’s going to be a great night of stories and music, and it would be grand if you were there.

Night of the Storyteller

Night of The Storyteller

Fringe Guru reviews Rebranding Beelzebub.

Posted: August 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Lizzie Bell from Fringe Guru reviewed Rebranding Beelzebub and gave it a big, fat four stars.

“This is a funny, cleverly-done show that is very much worth seeing: one that will delight, amuse and surprise you by turns. It’s a highly entertaining hour with a top-rate storyteller. If you enjoy tales of supernatural trickery and having a good laugh, this show will suit you perfectly.”

We’re working really hard up here and I’ve been attending a lot of the industry events organised by The Fringe Central. We were planning on writing more reviews but what with three hours of flyering and performing every evening, time has been short.

Last week now! Don’t miss out!

Tim Ralphs is a storyteller and his show of urban devilry Rebranding Beelzebub is on every night from 2 August 2014 to 24 August 2014 at 9:50pm in The Banshee Labyrinth. A PBH free fringe performance – you only have to pay what you think the Devil is due.

Jaminaround 2014

Posted: June 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Just got back from Jaminaround 2014, a great little festival in Dorset that takes place in the Ancient Technology Centre. I’ve heard a lot about that place and it was wonderful to finally visit.

Here’s me telling Princess Vasilisa and the Firebird. in the roundhouse.

Photo by Jo Stephen

Photo by Jo Stephen