Finding my feet in Brighton
I started this blog seven years ago when I moved to the South Coast..
Some kind people recommended me for an award.
There are posts about events, people, places, visits to galleries in London, the natural world, my garden, allotment, my marionettes, mixed at times with a bit of humour or home-spun philosophy. I still paint and write poetry so both are in here somewhere. I’m also keen on photography so there are plenty of pics.
There is only one ad on this blog and it’s for my poetry book. Please consider buying one? If you live in Brighton you could support City Books our independent book shop.
At the end of the page there is a bio. info about my films on youtube, our marionettes and my other blogs.
Or please just click on the link below to read the latest post …
Some of my poems are in traditional forms but mainly free verse, a few even dare to rhyme! Others are experimental.
The Puppeteer’s Daughter
Published August 2016 – Available in City Books 23 WESTERN ROAD, HOVE. TEL: 01273 725306 and the Open Art Cafe in Nevill Road, Rottingdean at £6.95. It is also available from Lulu and Amazon.
Some of the poems explore the complexity of life as the daughter of marionette makers and performers. But there are also poems concerned with life, love and loss, also the seaside, artists, allotments and the eccentricities of life.
There is a section of poems written during my residency in Postman’s Park in the City of London. The Poetry School and the London Parks and Gardens Trust gave me this opportunity as part of ‘Mixed Borders’ and Open London Spaces Weekend.
The endorsements are probably over generous but never mind!
My first poetry collection was a bit more hit and miss but I loved getting it together and it includes my own illustrations.
‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ came out six years ago. Some of the poems had been published in Writing Magazine and in anthologies.
Available 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 a work of art (but I am prejudiced) and unfortunately had to be priced at £18 due to the cost of colour printing.
Available on Lulu and at The Open Art Cafe Rottingdean
Above – The West Pier – pen and ink. Robin my eldest son as a child – oil on paper.
Bio – I was born in the blitz with a cleft palate and had problems with speech as a child. My sister was born a year later. After the war my parents became marionette makers and performers based in London. We sometimes went on tour and my sister and I helped with their shows.
In my late teens I developed a marionette act with cabaret-sized marionettes and performed in a summer season at Eastbourne Hippodrome. I later toured in Variety on the same bill as well known performers such as Hylda Baker, Alma Cogan and Max Miller.
The whole family were together again when we made the marionettes and performed with them in the feature film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ on Brighton’s West Pier. I also worked on the TV series ‘The Telegoons’
I married and had two sons, ran a nursery, worked for charities etc. When I became divorced I trained to be a primary school teacher, attending the teacher training college with my sister!
Later I became an art teacher in a comprehensive school, studied for a BA with the OU, taught gypsies, worked as a freelance journalist, a manager and tutor in adult education and studied part time for an M.Sc at Birkbeck. But I am particularly proud of the fact that I once had a play called ‘Travelling Nowhere’ performed at The Young Vic.
Like many people I have written poetry on and off, as well as working, bringing up children and caring for my mother in her later years.
But as a young mother Sutton Writers encouraged me to send a poem out and it was published in a magazine called Compact. Later in life I had three poems published in Writing Magazine and a short piece in The Sunday Times Magazine supplement.
I discovered the Poetry School in London and went to two Arvon courses, but with the latter it tended to be writing just for that week, and then back to work and family responsibilities.
It was in retirement and moving to the south coast that I really had the time to write. I discovered a wonderful creative writing course at Sussex University with John McCullough who encouraged me with my poetry.
It seemed far late to try to build up a readership in poetry magazines and who knows if I would have been accepted? But by this time I had quite a collection of poems and several new ones, so decided to add some sketches and called the collection ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ which was the title of a poem.
Kiersty Boon had the technical expertise for the downloading and I published it on LULU. Of course family and friends loved it but it also sold in two local shops and it’s still on sale on Amazon.
In 2014 I had one of my poems shortlisted in the Bridport Prize and a collection was shortlisted in a pamphlet competition. Additionally, a single poem ‘Miss Lottie’s Last Chance’ won a local competition in Hove judged by New Writing South.
So at this late stage in life I self published again! John agreed to be my mentor and Kiersty did the downloading and so for a modest outlay I had a new book! At least this way with ‘print on demand’ you don’t end up with loads of unsold books in the loft!
I sell my book slowly and surely, partly because I blog, but also run a ‘pop in and write poetry’ in a local cafe. This year I have got myself a pedlars licence so I could sell my book on the promenade in the summer! Who knows?
As Charles Causley is quoted as saying ‘Poetry is for everyone, not just the chosen few.’
A Beach Hut Poet
We bought our beach hut twenty five years ago when my partner had a flat in Hove and they were less trendy. Fishermen kept rods in them and families just had rugs and bought sandwiches along with them. By the time the grandchildren had gone off to uni, we were both living on the South Coast and our beach hut has proved to be a perfect place to write.
Our Allotment on the Weald
After three years on the waiting list we acquired a starter allotment plot, basically a small muddy field with an abandoned pond.
Films on youtube – I was an amateur film maker for several years when we lived in London. I belonged to a film club in Shirley in South London and later became a member of Orpington Film Club and sometimes I won minor awards
Now with easy access to the internet I have put several of my films on youtube and am still making new ones.
some have 32,000 hits others just a few. Take your pick!
But I loved making this one.
Virginia Woolf’s garden.
‘The Hole in the Wall’ from the sublime to the ridiculous but I am rather fond of this film which is of a picture book for children I once made. The book jumped through several hoops with Oxford University Press years ago but in the end the editor who was interested left and the idea was dropped.
I confess got a bit carried away with blogging and have more than one blog. Retirement is not easy and this was a way to find a new purpose and to have something interesting to do.
Films on youtube associated with our marionettes.
Alice in Wonderland – was the first and hardest one to make. It is my favourite and was made 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 reconstruction based on our popular puppet circus in the 50s and 60s but sadly without the famous clowns’ repartee which I subsequently found on a reel to reel tape..
A circus was always part of our show which included a strong man and an acrobat on a horse. Unfortunately some of our marionettes were stolen from our garage in Highgate so I could not include them. Ironically the strong man turned up at an auction alone with some other favourites such as ‘Mademoiselle de Paris’ a few years ago. I hasten to say the seller was completely unaware they had once been ours.
A re-construction giving a taste of some of our circus, part of our show at Buckingham Palace for a children’s party given by Her Majesty the Queen in the 50s – please click on the following link
Our dedicated website for our marionettes
please click on the link http://www.puppethouse.co.uk/
Our marionette collection has puppets we have made and performed with since 1949. It includes clowns, musicians and characters from extracts of plays we once performed including ‘Alice in Wonderland.’
This Alice appeared in an Ice Show in Morecambe in the 50s. My mother had to learn to skate to be part of it.
In 2014 – 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’ on Brighton’s West Pier in the 60’s. We all went to the Duke of York’s Cinema for a special showing of the original film.
In 2015 – There are artifacts and posters from the various films, a model of the car made by Emett for the film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.’ I know because I helped to set up our contribution with the dedicated and creative Marcus Bagshaw, the curator at the Grange, and had a quick preview of the wonderful things which would be on display.
So please don’t miss an opportunity to see these amazing marionettes on display
at The Grange Art Gallery and Museum in Rottingdean. A free exhibition.
Please note I am still seeking a museum who would like over 200 marionettes for a temporary or permanent display. They are currently in storage.
Lastly here is a Self Hypnosis and Positive Health film.
There are two options – you can close your eyes and just listen, or watch the images which I added more recently. Later in life I retrained as a therapist, working for two charities and for Primary Care Trusts in London. I gave this kind of tape to clients at the end of a session. I just thought someone might benefit from the contents today, so put it up on youtube. There is also a site for SAD (seasonal affective disorder) because I am prone to it myself!
Although I come from a large family and am a mother, grandmother and have a partner, sister, cousins etc. I seldom write posts about any of them. I think it is really important to respect other people’s privacy.
I have worked, studied, brought up two children on my own, often all at the same time! I helped develop woman’s studies in adult education in the 70s. Developed all kinds of community education projects, worked for charities, One outcome was ‘Creating Cinderella’ on youtube. I have trained counsellors to work with people suffering from cancer and MS. Now l am old I find ageism particularly frustrating, but have no energy to do anything about it!
But I write this blog! It’s a labour of love and I am glad to have had thousands of people from all over the world tuning in from time to time.
If you have got this far thank you for your patience. Ann