News 74 – Dinner and Judging

Here is the plain text version of the latest Newsletter.

For the HTML version, why not subscribe? – just drop an email to


Newsletter 74

Wilson’s News 74.  September 2023
Memorial Literary Dinner.
Newsletter 74 contents:
1. Wilson Memorial Dinner. October 2nd
2. 100 word Tale competition. Judging in progress.

** 1.  The Wilson Memorial Dinner.

The J.M. Wilson Memorial Literary Dinner will take place at The Maltings, Berwick, at 7:00 p.m on October 2nd, the anniversary of his death.

The 2023 J.M. Wilson “Beans & Bacon” Memorial Dinner.  is open for bookings, though space is limited, and many places have been booked already.  A vegetarian option will be available.
Payment preferred via Bank Transfer or by cash/cheque on the evening.
Please note that in view of the limited places, ‘no-shows’ will be charged.
You may reserve a place by email to (
Fuller details are on the website – click here for information (
tickets are available in the shop by clicking here (
The Menu and programme is here, ( and are also linked from the website pages.

The programme features Chris Adriaanse reading one of Wilson’s own Tales entitled The Festival, about Tweedmouth Feast. It was originally published as the lead Tale in edition 38 on 25th July 1835.

The shortlist and winner of the 100 Word Tale competition, which was originated at these dinners will also be announced and read.

Why Beans & Bacon?
For those who don’t know, Wilson was a poet, and wrote, amongst other material, a humorous poem called ‘Beans & Bacon. The Tale of Toby Toothpick’ which describes the tribulations of an impoverished young man, reduced to a tramp, who picks up a scrap of folded paper that turns out to be a £20 note. Making the most of his good luck, he books into the first Inn he finds and orders himself a large plate of beans and bacon, accompanied by a generous quantity of ale.
All does not go well…   Though there is a happy ending.
You may care to read it, and our commentary, in volume 5.
At the dinner, the poem is read as a precursor to our own ‘Beans & Bacon’ dinner.  Chefs to date have risen to the challenge and produced delicious versions which Toby wouldn’t recognise..

The full poem and companion item are on the website here (

Monday 2nd October -Maltings Cafe, Berwick on Tweed.
Doors open at 7:00 pm.
The cost is £32 per head.   A Vegetarian option will be available.
2.  100 Words Competition.
This now annual competition was made into a prize competition open to all last year, and attracted entries from across the globe. This year’s competition closed on September 2nd, again with entries from round the world.
2023 entrants have been included in this newsletter, but you may unsubscribe from further mail using the optional at the bottom of the mail (there will be no effect on the judging!)
The addition of a stricture calling for a Tale which ‘could have been used by Wilson’ seems to have reduced the quantity slightly, but improved the quality, and it is especially pleasing to see many local entrants from the Borders beside the dozens from other continents.

Judging is now taking place, long listed authors will be advised by email, and the eventual shortlist and winner will be read and announced at the dinner.

Watch this space!

– Here is a 2022 shortlisted entry, by Jackie Latham

Tom and Dick

Dick was the best window cleaner in Northumberland, so thorough, took his time with every window.  The only thing that puzzled me was that he always came after dark.

Then last month he said he couldn’t use the ladder any more so was switching to a Reach and Wash system, so did I know that he could attach a camera to the pole to make sure he got into every nook and cranny?

I said I did. I kinda regretted that though when he was had up for being a peeping tom.  But my windows were so very, very clean.


We’re delighted to help the cause of local and independent bookshops.  Even more so when they stock Wilson’s Tales.
Now available from these high street locations;

Slightly Foxed, Bridge Street, Berwick.  :
Berwick Heritage Centre, Walkergate, Berwick  : (
Greives, Church St , Berwick  :
Main Street Trading, Main Street, St Boswells  :
The Reading Room, The Square, Melrose  :
The Village Shop, Cornhill-0n Tweed.   :

and if you missed last year and Volume 7, you may purchase them both together at a reduced price, but only on our website.
goto to purchase, or any of the booksellers above

Copyright © 2023 Wilsons Tales of the Borders, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you asked to receive information when you attended an event or opted in via the website,

Our mailing address is:
Wilsons Tales of the Borders
Mill Farm
Berwick Upon Tweed., Northumberland TD15 2HP
United Kingdom


Thirlestane Castle – Exclusive – August 5th at 7:00 pm

Thirlestane castle, and Midside Maggie

One of the finer ‘Tales of the Borders’ relates how Midside Maggie saved the Earl of Lauderdale wi’ a fine bannock.  

You can read it, renewed, in Volume 7.
And on August 5th, beginning at 7:00 pm, you can join an exclusive Wilson’s Tales visit to Thirlestane castle, where the Tale began its dramatic centrepiece.

The Project has arranged a guided tour with the castle, with, of course, some dramatisation of a Tale or two along the way.  The evening will consist of:
7pm  arrive with own picnic in grounds.
7-50 for 8pm assemble at front door for welcome and glass of bubbly.
8pm. Welcome and introductions
tour of castle stopping at  suitable spaces for;
a retelling of Midside Maggie
Background on the Duke of Lauderdale, a highly important figure in Scottish history

Limited Tickets
Sadly, there is a strict limit on the number of tickets and all places must be pre-allocated, for to be sure of a place, please visit our web shop here and purchase, or reserve a ticket.  We can accept payment in person on the night, if you prefer not to use PayPal but we MUST have a pre-allocated ticket.

Midside Maggie is one of Wilson’s own tales, and it demonstrates what a good writer he was.  A Tale to really get your teeth in to!

Go HERE to purchase your tickets

Radio Rooms to host Wilson’s Event July 2nd

Wilson’s Tales return home to Tweedmouth after 200 years. 


Local writer, John MacKay Wilson would be proud to know that almost 200 years after he originally wrote his Tales of the Borders, his stories will come to life on stage at The Radio Rooms in his native Tweedmouth this week.

Forming part of The Radio Rooms’ “Journey Through Genres” programme, on Friday 2nd July The Wilson’s Tales Project will present an evening of music and drama inspired by some of the hundreds of stories that were published in the 1830s.

Joe Lang and Jackie Kaines Lang will give a light-hearted retelling of “Grizel Cochrane: a Tale of Tweedmouth Muir”, complete with a touch of Covid-secure audience participation. Musicians Eilidh Campbell, Iain Petrie and Carol Whinnom will perform traditional and new songs and ballads inspired by the tales and their setting in the Borders.

The evening is the first in The Radio Rooms’ programme “A Journey Through Genres,” a series of twelve events showcasing different musical genres and featuring local performers. Supported by the Arts Council Grassroots Live Music, free tickets are available for people aged between 16 and 21 on application to The Radio Rooms.

“It is wonderful to bring MacKay’s tales back to his home in Tweedmouth,” said Andrew Ayre of The Wilson’s Tales Project. “He is buried in Tweedmouth Parish Churchyard, which is very near to The Radio Rooms, so he’d almost be able to hear what we’ll be doing on Friday evening. I wonder what he’d make of the venue’s name, though, as the radio wasn’t invented for almost a century after he wrote the stories!”

Tickets are available in advance at . The event is on Friday 2nd July at 6pm, at The Radio Rooms, 95, Main Street, Tweedmouth, TD15 2AW




Beans & Bacon night! Tonight at 6:00 p.m.

Sunday 8th November – 6.00 p.m. in conjunction with the Berwick Literary Festival, and in celebration of the anniversary of the first edition of “Wilsons tales of the Borders”, Berwick’s own 19th century  international best seller, we will be hosting…  

’Intoxicating Tales of The Borders’

Register at 

Visit the registration page, collect your ticket, and at the appointed hour:
Pour a glass of something for the Toast, settle back in the comfortable chair, and direct your browser to the link:-

Proceedings start at 6:00 p.m.

Introduction    Andrew Ayre

6-05 A Toast to Wilson  – have your glass charged and to hand!

6-06 “Beans & Bacon” edited recital of the poem on which our literary dinner is based.    Joe & Jacqui Lang.

 6-10 Wilson’s intoxicating tales – a whistle stop tour of tales involving booze.    A. Ayre

6-14 “The Heir of Elphinstone”    Stuart MacHardy

6-22 “The Pentland Smuggler”    Stuart MacHardy

6-30 Wilson’s Tales Revival Edition launch of Volume 7    A Ayre/J Lang/R Wilson.  The WTP Committee pick their favourite and give some comment on it

6-40 100 word tales    Richard Wilson

6-45 Q & A

6-55 Farewell;  The temperate mans song    Joe Lang.


Andrew Ayre is Project Director of The Wilson’s Tale Project

Stuart MacHardy, aka “Bloke in a Bunnet,” is a professional storyteller and author.  Contributor to the Edinburgh Storytelling Centre and others.

Joe Lang and Richard Wilson are Directors of The Project


Proceedings will start at 6:00 p.m.

The website shop at

Will remain open to sell Volume 7 at a launch special price for 48 hours after the event.
Volume 7 is also available from:-

Fourth revival event on 15th March 2015 at the Guildhall, Berwick-upon-Tweed

A second opportunity to enjoy ‘The Monomanic’ (the photograph is of the cast taken in the Picture Gallery at Paxton House at the time of the first performance in November 2014.)

Mary Kenny , a professional storyteller , will be retelling ‘Judith the Egyptian’. Mary had the following to say about the tale and her preparation:

“You may wipe images of pyramids and sand dunes from your mind’s eye, for this is a tale closer to home and of a different grandeur, of a proud race whose name is connected with the small town of Kirk Yetholm – Royal seat of the King of the Gypsies. Set amongst the towering Eilden Hills, and along the banks of the Tweed, this romantic story of love and pride winds, inevitably as the river runs to the sea, to a dramatic and fateful conclusion. My task as an oral storyteller working with this extraordinary, encyclopaedic collection of tales is to adapt what can be difficult and outmoded written language, and re-interpret the story sensitively for telling to a new audience.”

Re-written as short plays by retired Eyemouth GP Michael Fenty are “The Monomaniac” an early description of post-traumatic stress and the events giving rise to it during an eventful trip to India. And “The Monks of Drybrugh”, presented in radio style by the Duns players provides an amusing finale to the evening. Both of the latter tales have been

Future events in 2015.

1st May at the Wigton Spring Book festival, where Morag Eaton’s “Red Hall” prints will also be exhibited.

In October 2015 we have the launch of ‘Revival edition, Volume 2’ at the Berwick Literary Festival , which will be an expanded edition, containing 6 tales with companion pieces on the historic context and the first chapter of a biography on Wilson and the Tales.

The Fifth Revival event is a re-telling of the true tale of the seizure of Lindisfarne castle as part of the 1715 Jacobite uprising on the 300th anniversary of the event. Look forward to ‘Lancelot Errington and his nephew Mark; A tale of Lindisferne’. A joint collaboration between The Berwick 900 Project, Northumberland Theatre Company and the Northumbrian Jacobite society.

Wilsons Tales Project Revival event no.4 – ‘Tales of Honour, Humour & Horror.’

We are pleased to announce details of our fourth “revival” event presenting a retelling of a selection of tales. These are attracting a growing audience with over 60 attending our last 2 events and the Paxton event selling out. To the left is the cast of ‘The Monomanic’ taken in the Picture Gallery at Paxton House at the time of the first performance in November 2014.

Our next event will be at Berwick Town (Guild) Hall on 15th March at 7-30, so reserve the date now. Tickets will shortly be available through the Maltings.

The format of this event and tales included will be:

Introduction to the evening and update on the Wilsons tales project  – Andrew Ayre

‘Judith the Egyptian’. A tale gypsies and romance gone wrong set in the Norham area, recited by professional story teller Mary Kenny.

‘The monks of Drybrugh’. As a radio style play. This a humorous tale adapted by Dr Michael Fenty and presented by the Duns players.

‘The Monomaniac’. This is a second presentation of the performance at Paxton of a very strong piece of drama covering the misadventures of a young bride arising on a passage to India and the consequences of this. This again has been adapted as a play by Dr Michael Fenty. It is produced by Joe Lang , stars the talented young actress Abigail Hood, who responded to our public appeal for someone to step forward and fill the role, with Joe, Jackie Kaines and Stuart Faed in supporting roles. We are delighted to give a wider audience a second chance to see this.

‘A follow up email will follow with a link to the Maltings box office when ticket sales up and running , but please reserve the date now! Please also pass on details to anyone you think may be interested, as with a zero marketing budget , we do very much rely on word of mouth and spreading of the event by Followers and supporters.

Sea Trial I

Yes – finally, the Great Day arrived

Four men in a boat, plus one woman

Today we placed Pride of Aln in the sea off Alnmouth beach  and set off to Holland.  After 50 yards, Dave mentioned that he had secreted a bottle of whiskey in the wine cellar. so we stopped, anchored, and toasted the boat, each other, the weather, the sea, and Alnmouth.

Then we forgot Holland and rowed back

Crew for the event were

Bow – Simon
two – Richard
DSCF1225athree – Rhoda
Stroke – Dave
Cox – Charles

Some photos were taken, to prove it happened.



‘Nautical Tales’ at Paxton House on Sunday 26th October 2014

This event is focusing on a selection of nautical tales. Program as attached and further reports from the producers below.

Mary Kenny , one of the star performers from our first Paxton is presenting the tale and song “Tibby Fowler”.
“Tibbie Fowler  of the story and Tibbie Fowler of the well -known song share little but the name- and well,  perhaps a heap of gold, and certainly a bunch of very suspect suitors!
But the woman herself is very different. In Wilson’s story she cuts a romantic and resourceful figure in a tale of rags and riches as her fortunes are swept up in the stormy sea of life.  Yet her namesake in song is portrayed as a proud and haughty flirt!
There are traces in the land and in history  to which both characters have a claim, though fifty or more miles separates them.

However, both get an airing here, and you may make your own minds up…maybe the song was written by one of those false lovers midst the sour grapes of jealousy?”

The Belford Players are presenting “The Prisoner of War” adapted as a multi media presentation by Christine Fletcher.
“Successful first read through with our two best women and they were able to find things in the characters which I’d never even thought about…so, that’s good.
The performance will run for 30 minutes….first 10 will be information/talk/establishing character/setting…..then variety with action and singing….then last 10 minutes we make use of projected images of ships/carnage on deck at time to support spoken words..  ”

Joe Lang and friends will be presenting the “Monomaniac”. adapted as a play by Dr Michael Fenty.
“This is a tale which portrays the very real threats and traumas and adventure’s that befell ordinary people as they travelled to various parts of the globe as Britain’s global influence and Empire days spread. It also is   perhaps one of the first attempts to describe what we would now recognise as “post-traumatic stress”. It will be a very intimate presentation in the confines of one of Paxton’s period bedrooms.”

The event will involve a promenade through the house with he three plays being told in different rooms. Paxton will be offering the chance to purchase refreshment at appropriate moments in the proceedings.

Hope to see you there.