I am Londoner, a poet, puppeteer, artist and therapist who moved to the South Coast seven years ago with my partner soon after my mother died in very sad circumstances. Life down here has been a bit of a roller coaster for both of us. This blog was an attempt to find my feet in Brighton!
Life however is sweet, the landscape is beautiful and there is plenty to do. Walks on the beach and the Downs, theatres, cinemas, writing groups, courses in just about everything. Nevertheless I think there is degree of ageism within the arts here whereas in London all and everything seemed possible!
Courses abound, so as singing had been a passion I tried I’d try jazz classes and unusual craft classes at Evolution. We went to talks at the Whiteways Centre in Rottingdean and I joined an art club. As I had done some stand up comedy in London I signed up for a course with Jill Edwards, writing material, practicing, auditioning and finally appearing at the Komedia’s New Act Night. Several gigs for charity followed but I started to wonder if it really was for me!
Once a puppeteer one never loses the skills so I did some workshops in a local library. Later found myself helping out on the door for Pighog Poetry nights at Red Roaster and became a steward at The Grange Museum and Art Gallery in Rottingdean which is only once or twice a month, but all in all retirement is a strange state of affairs!
Writing – I have always been a compulsive writer. I followed in my mother’s footsteps and wrote material for Pelham Puppets which was published when I was 14. I’ve written monologues for Radio 4, articles for teaching magazines, a play about travellers that was performed at the Young Vic when I was in my forties. I became a freelance journalist and a member of the Society of Woman Writers and Journalists. Now in the world of the retired it seemed a good idea to write something new, poetry.
I started going to poetry readings in London and in Brighton and these re-awakened my love for it. I read more and attended courses at the Poetry School. I took holidays at Arvon’s creative writing centres rather than the south of France. (slight exaggeration). But then I discovered John McCullough, a poet and tutor teaching creative writing at Sussex University. At the end of his year’s course and with some earlier work I had a whole collection. How to get published was the next question. I had only had a handful of poems published in magazines!
Self Publishing – As I was not in a poetry circle and knew no one in the business, it seemed the obvious way forward, however I did get professional help with the editing.
John McCullough ‘Ann’s poetry covers the big topics of love and death with originality and satisfies the reader’s heart as well as their head. Take for instance the title poem which is full of surprises yet also wonderfully poignant. The energy of her work leaves you feeling revitalized and seeing the world afresh’.
Kiersty Boon says – ‘This collection of poems, fully illustrated by the author, is a wonderful journey from a magical childhood of puppets and seaside towns. The delicacy of the difficult stages of life and memories experienced are offset with humorous anecdotes and magical tales for young and old alike’ – Kiersty Boon, poet and author.
Black and white edition
The illustrations – some were oil paintings, prints or pastels I had done over the years that seemed appropriate to a particular poem – others were sketches in pen designed especially for the book.
Illustrations from colour version
The West Pier – pen and ink – Robin – oil on heavy paper.
Colour print done at a course at City Lit. ‘Weaving Spells’ in the colour edition
But onwards and upwards
2012 I won a competition judged by New Writing South at the Hatchery in Hove
2013 One of my poems was shortlisted in The Bridport Prize comp. The same year I was on the longlist for a poetry pamphlet with Cinnamon Press
2015 was lucky enough to get a mini residency in Postman’s Park courtesy of the Poetry School and London Open Squares.
I’ve just completed my new poetry pamphlet ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ – I am fortunate to have been mentored by John McCullough and had encouragement from Tim Dooley. It’s currently being considered for publication by a small poetry press.
Blogging however is brilliant – It’s loads of fun and I’ve made contact with people all over the world. It’s provided a focus, something to write on a regular basis that is, I confess, easier than writing poetry!
I include news, reviews, events, things that I find interesting, photography, home spun philosophy, visits to interesting places around Brighton and also London. Gradually a readership came out of nowhere. I think I am moving up to 50,000 hits.
Latest posts please click on this link.
More about the restless retired?
My partner – I am lucky to have one and have to give him credit to his love and patience. It may not sound like it but we do have some joint interests! Visiting our favourite city Paris is one! But on more down to earth level we also put our names down for an allotment and three years later we got one! A muddy field with a pond but it was a start. We also re-designed the garden.
My partner’s other passion is music so he went back to playing his flute and violin and later extended his range of instruments to four!
Marionettes – Something had to be done about them! My family’s whole collection from 1949 to the present day had moved down to Brighton with us. So they keep creeping into posts on this blog.
At least there was interest in those which performed on the West Pier in the film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ in the 60s, so I started conserving them, which meant mending many of the tiny soldiers that had fallen off the roundabout as part of the drama of the film. But finally we put all 200, including clowns, musicians, characters from ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Cabaret artists etc into storage. I will continue to try and get them placed in museums but at the end of the day I might just have to sell them.
Film making – Burning the clocks, Virginia Woolf’s garden, my youngest son Paul’s performance of Punch and Judy, part of a programme that opened the terraces in Rottingdean. Some films have 9.000 hits others 20 so take your pick.
Films associated with our marionettes please click on.
Alice in Wonderland – The following film was the first and hardest one to make. It is my favourite and was made a couple of years before my mother died She had climbed up into the loft of my house in South London to operate some of the characters in her late 70s. The boat scene in the garden was a labour of love and took forever.
One of the most popular films is Virginia Wolf’s garden.
A reconstruction of our popular puppet circus (but without the famous clowns’ repartee which was never recorded) from the 50s and 60s is now on youtube. It was part of our show that we had the honour of performing for the Queen at her first children’s party after the war at Buckingham Palace in 1952. The White Rabbit had a solo as did the little Dutch boy and girl. We also entertained the stars at their private parties including Kenneth More, Peter Sellers etc. Later Summer seasons, TV with Cliff Richards Saturday Spectacular, Cabaret etc.
Puppet web site http://www.puppethouse.co.uk
Puppet circus on youtube
‘The Hole in the Wall’ I am rather fond of this it’s a film of a picture book I once made. It jumped through several hoops with Oxford University Press, but in the end the editor that was interested left and the idea dropped.
Our puppet site – please click on http://www.puppethouse.co.uk/ for the dedicated website developed with my youngest son Paul 15 years ago. My stage name was Ann Field.
Newer puppet museum
Please click on https://annperrin.wordpress.com/puppethouse/
Our links with Brighton
Our marionettes’ performance in the film was directed by Lord Attenborough.
In the 80s – my friend, now my partner had a flat in Hove. We managed to buy a beach hut. We still have it and I call myself ‘The Beach Hut poet’
In 2013 – As part of their commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War BBC South East filmed the conservation of the marionettes and interviewed me about my family’s role in performing with them in the film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’. We all went to the Duke of York’s Cinema for a special showing the original film.
The marionettes will be on display at The Grange Museum and Art Gallery at the end of September as part of films associated with Brighton in the 50s. The iconic anti-war film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ is also included.
Our exhibit looks fantastic but there are artifacts and posters from the films and even two machines made by Emmett of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame! I know because I have been setting up our contribution with the dedicated and creative Marcus Bradshaw, the curator at the Grange, and had a quick preview of the wonderful things which will be on display.
Something else dear to my heart has been a career as a therapist, so I offer you ‘Relaxation and Self-hypnosis for Positive Health’ This can be useful for relaxation and controlling pain. There are two options -you can close your eyes and just listen, or watch the images – which were added later.
Qualifications – All my qualifications were gained later in life! Teaching Certificate, BA with the OU, MSc in Life Course Development from Birkbeck, counselling qualifications and Master Practitioner in NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming.
I was born with a cleft palate which caused speech problems and am discalculous. As I am the daughter of puppeteers formal schooling was often disrupted, grammar and spelling even now can be an uphill struggle.
Memoir – Currently writing it, although some might say this blog says it all, but they would be wrong.
End of story
IT and technical support Paul Perrin – email@example.com
Poetry Courses with tutors John McCullough, Ian Duhig, Jacob Polley, Jean Sprackland, Tim Dooley, Ann-Marie Fyfe, Jackie Wills and others.
Encouragement with poetry and support – Kiersty Boon who also downloaded my first book from Lulu, Jane Maker, Janet Cameron, John Davies and Simon Wrigley.
Film making Orpington Film and Video Makers, Spring Park Film Makers, Tom Hardwick for lessons and support with film making.
General family support Alan my long suffering partner who proof reads my posts, Robin my eldest son who has a sports massage practice in Biggin Hill, is a racquetball coach and regularly gives sensible advice. Paul my youngest son who has an IT company in Brighton and gives me all technical support I need for all my websites. Three grandchildren. I seldom mention any of my family on blogs as I like to respect their privacy.