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 come from a family of marionette makers and performers. I moved to Brighton ten years ago with my partner, having spent most of my life living and working 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 started a new garden, got back to writing poetry and started this blog.
This link will avoid all the chit chat of the Home Page and take you to latest post.
My interest in poetry was rekindled quite soon after moving to Brighton by studying for a day a week at Sussex University with John McCullough. I later attended courses with John at New Writing South and went to courses at Arvon and at the Poetry School.
Gradually I got back into the swing of writing and had short stories and poems published in two local anthologies and won a poetry competition in Hove. I published my first collection ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ and five years later a second collection ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter.’
I have been long listed in The Bridport Prize and for a pamphlet competition with Cinnamon. The moral of this story is never give up!
There have been some lucky breaks. 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
‘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.
My writing career – As a daughter of marionette makers and performers, I helped with the scripts that were needed. I also wrote ‘Plays for Pelham Puppets’ at the age if 10.
My mother’s playbook and later our joint venture were published in the late 50s to complement the work of Bob Pelham who was both a friend and the creator of Pelham Puppets. Both books had several re-prints. I loved writing the monologue for the witch!
I followed in the family tradition and had a career in theatre at 16. I was billed as the youngest professional puppeteer in Britain and first appeared in ‘Light Up The Town’ in Eastbourne with Cherry Lind, Graham Stark and company. This was followed by Variety all over the country as well as a tour in ‘Nite Life New York’ with comedienne Bobby Dennis.
I married and had two sons, but later as a single parent had other part -time jobs as well as trying to be a writer.
My poem about divorce was published in The Times Magazine Supplement. I have also had three poems read on Radio 4 and two poems published in Writing Magazine at various times.
I trained as a teacher and taught in a primary school for two years and then taught gypsies/travellers on a permanent site in South London. I wrote a book called ‘To Lizzie with Love’ about my experiences. However, I couldn’t get it published so I adapted some of it into a play called ‘Travelling Nowhere’ which was performed at The Young Vic. I finished my teaching career as a Senior Manager and a tutor in Adult Education in Lambeth.
I have often worked as a freelance journalist and was invited to become a member of SWWJ (Society of Woman Writers and Journalists)
Films on all sorts of topics, mini documentaries, poetry etc.
Originally I made films on Hi 8, later on digital. 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.
I loved making this one. 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, including our 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. I was 17 when I toured in Variety with my own solo cabaret marionettes.
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.
Link below to a series of films – remakes of some extracts from our shows
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 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 was still alive at the time and insisted we included two elephants that were not part of the original show.
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 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.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
During the last 15 years of my working life I became a therapist working for Primary Care Trusts and in my own practice.
I have an M.Sc in Life Course Development and am a Master Practitioner in NLP so decided to share tips for SAD on a new blog.
Lastly there is a podcast with some of the poems from my 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.