Finding my feet
Posts – creative non fiction, poetry, articles, photography, events in Brighton and London, the natural world, progress in my garden, allotment, trying to place my marionettes, my films and sometimes a touch of home-spun philosophy.
I moved to Brighton ten years ago with my partner, having spent most of my life living and working based in London. I had also cared for my mother for the last ten years of her life and when she died I was at a very low ebb.
I am well versed in starting all over again, so created a new garden, did some puppet workshops in Saltdean Library, got back to writing poetry and started this blog.
This link wil take you to the latest post.
On becoming a poet …
A long time ago I had a poem published in The Sunday Times magazine and two poems read on Radio 4. Much later I had three poems published at different times in Writing Magazine.
Soon after moving to Brighton I studied for a day a week at Sussex University with John McCullough. Later attended courses with John at New Writing South and went to Arvon and studied at the Poetry School.
Gradually I got back to writing and had two short stories and five poems published in two local anthologies and won a poetry competition in Hove. I published my first collection called ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ with illustrations and five years later my second collection ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter.’
I have been long listed in the Bridport Prize and for a pamphlet competition with Cinnamon. I am still trying to become a better poet.
The moral of this story is never give up!
I come from a family of marionette makers and performers. I was born in London in the middle of the blitz with a cleft palate and could not speak properly as a child for several years. So even I cannot understand how at fifteen I had my own marionette act, touring in the Variety Theatre with stars such as Morecambe and Wise, Alma Cogan, Max Miller, Bobbie Dennis, Graham Stark etc. But I do know that show business can be creative, demanding, exhausting, exhilarating, competitive, ruthless and often very lonely!
I have been married, had wonderful sons but it did not work out. Single parenthood was a challenge but I worked part-time at just about everything. Later I retrained as a teacher. In mid life I became a therapist.
‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter ‘
Poems that explore the complexity of life as the daughter of marionette makers and performers. But there are also poems concerned with life, love and loss, the seaside, artists, allotments and the eccentricities of life.
Some of the poems were written during a residency in Postman’s Park in the City of London, thanks to The Poetry School ‘Mixed Borders’ and ‘Open London Squares Weekend.’
Available in City Books 23 WESTERN ROAD, HOVE and at the Open Art Cafe in Nevill Road, Rottingdean at £6.95 and available from Lulu and Amazon. Please click on the link at the side of this page to purchase.
The following endorsements are probably over generous but never mind.
John McCullough –
My poems cover a wide range of topics in many different styles. Readings include Pighog in Brighton, Rottingdean Fair, Lumin and the Troubadour Coffee House in London. Enquiries welcome – I will even bring my White Rabbit marionette with me!
This is our white rabbit busy on a stint peddling poetry along the seafront before he collapsed from exhaustion!
‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’
On sale in City Books 23 WESTERN ROAD, HOVE. TEL: 01273 725306 and the Open Art Cafe in Nevill Road, Rottingdean.
John McCullough ‘Ann’s poetry covers the big topics of love and death with originality. Take for instance the title poem which is full of surprises yet also wonderfully poignant.’
Kiersty Boon ‘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.’
The colour version is lovely but unfortunately had to be priced at £18 due to the cost of colour printing!
Above – The West Pier – pen and ink. Robin my eldest son as a child – oil on paper.
‘The Hole in the Wall’ – unexpected success came in 2018 with a picture book/poem that I wrote and illustrated about twenty years ago. I did not get it published at the time but later made it into a film and put it on youtube.
What a surprise when The Dry Stone Walling Association discovered the film and asked if they could produce the book in colour and sell it on their site.
This link will take you to the book on the Dry Stone Walling Association where you can buy it for £2.00. A lovely book that fits in your pocket. Well recommended as a bedtime story, a teacher’s resource for classes on mini beasts and just for fun!
This link will take you to poems some more of my poems for children.
I was very proud to be chosen by The Poetry School three years running as one of the poets in residence for London Open Squares Weekend.
We were each allocated a park or garden where we wrote our poems inspired by our surroundings, we read them to the public and created poetry related activities. A selection of our work went into a Flicky book on The Poetry School’s website.
photos from first residency.
The following link will take you to some of my poetry
-a child – oil on paper.
Films, puppets, mini documentaries, poetry etc.
I once starred in a second feature film called ‘Tom Boy’ but I also discovered that I love making films too. I became a member of a film club OVFM and sometimes won minor awards. Some are on youtube with thousands of hits, others have just an handful.
Note – I have included two films of The Telegoons but I did not make them. My family worked on the pilot and I was a Telegoon puppeteer for fifteen episodes.
This link is to a film wandering about in Virginia Woolf’s garden.
Marionettes update and website.
I have had a website for our marionettes for over fifteen years. It is old in terms of website design but I still have affection for it.
please click on the link http://www.puppethouse.co.uk/
Our marionettes have performed since 1949 in our various productions, a puppet circus, singers, dancers, musicians, underwater ballet, our own plays and extracts from the classics including Alice in Wonderland. The picture on the right below is from a satirical series we made for Granada Television.
Finally as a family we made the marionettes and performed with them in the feature film ‘Oh What a Lovely War/ on Brighton’s West Pier.
Alice in Wonderland – was hardest film I made. It’s my favourite and filmed a couple of years before my mother died. In her late 70s she climbed up into the loft of my house in South London to operate some of the characters. The boat scene in the garden was a labour of love and took forever.
Our puppet circus.
A puppet circus is a standard part of a marionette show. Our shows were performed in prestigious London Hotels for parties given by the stars. They also took place in theatres, on piers and in schools. On one occasion we performed at Buckingham Palace for a children’s party given by Her Majesty the Queen – in the 50s.
I made a film of a reconstruction of our circus several years ago it was inevitably without the sparkling repartee from our clowns Nicky and Charlie (my mother and father). My mother insisted we included two elephants that were not part of the original show. But our circus had once included a strong man and an acrobat on a horse but they were among marionettes in a basket stolen from our garage in our family home in Highgate
In 2014 – As part of their commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War BBC South East filmed my efforts to conserve our marionettes that we performed with in the 60s in the film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’. Subsequently I was invited with my partner, children and grandchildren to the Duke of York’s Cinema for a special showing of the original film.
2015 – Our marionettes were part of an exhibition called ‘CINEMA BY THE SEA’ at the The Grange Museum and Art Gallery In Rottingdean 2015 -2016.
I am seeking other places to display all or some of our 200 marionettes currently in storage. Two museums are interested in some of them, but I hope to keep the collection together.
Our allotment on the Weald –
We were given a starter plot after three years on the waiting list. Basically a small muddy field with an abandoned pond so naturally it became the subject of a blog! We have tamed it over the years and I update the blog from time to time.
Creativity and mental health.
During the last 15 years of my working life I became a therapist working for Primary Care Trusts and in my own practice. I studied for an M.Sc in Life Course Development whilst I was still teaching, and became a Master Practitioner in NLP.
I mention this because I started a blog called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ with tips and ideas for managing seasonal depression. I also made a recording/film for relaxation and creative visualisation. I suffer mild SAD myself and wanted to create a free resource.
But to end on a much more cheerful note here is an attempt at podcast with some of my earlier poems from the first book.
Brighton is not like this!
Please note I seldom if ever mention other members of my family still in the land of the living! I adore my grandsons all doing interesting things but it is really a case of respecting everyone’s privacy!
If you have got this far thank you for your patience.