Finding the printing press – puppets – poetry – presents

Well we’ve eaten all the mince pies!

The Adana

P1120480.JPGI uncovered the Adana press and IMG_20181219_160906a long lost box of printing blocks just before Christmas, as one does when one is looking for last years wrapping paper!

The blocks looked intriguing and as Nicky the youngest grandson was home from uni we unpacked them.

He thought the newspaper wrapping was almost as interesting as the blocks.  One went back to 1964 and several others were packed away in 1974. So we ironed them to read later and then he printed some of the blocks by hand coloured and laminated.

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The block of Cinderella would have been used for publicity and a programme for our first performance of Cinderella which was at The Torch Theatre Club in London in the 50s.  After that performance different versions of the pantomime and new scripts seemed to go on forever.

In the box there were several sets of blocks and typeface in place from shows performed years ago!

IMG_20181219_161224From 1947 my parents made marionettes, costumes, wrote scripts, designed and painted scenery, sometimes with the help of aspiring puppeteers and local artists.

An agent called Arnold Stoker secured one their early engagements, performing at Buckingham Palace for the Queen. This was at Her Majesty’s first party after the war.

The Arnold Stoker Agency was still around and getting me engagement for my cabaret marionettes, when I was a young mother and training to be a teacher.

But our Adana printing press was our life line. When I left home at 15  heading for Eastbourne Hippodrome with a basket of cabaret marionettes and an Equity card my father handed me a set publicity photographs and newly printed business cards!

The poems


The old Adana
never stopped clanging
virgin paper fed its jaws.
Nearby large drawers held
sets of single letters in
Garamond or Dorchester
for straight talking
Venetian Gothic, curvy
and romantic
for invitations
Typsetting done
sheets destined to be
hand fed between rubber rollers
emerge in sticky black ink
publicity flyers, leaflets
programmes, plays for
Pelham Puppets
all laid out on every
available space to dry.
We did everything ourselves
to cut costs.

A hundred years ago
TJ Cobden-Sanderson threw
all the type from Dove Press
into the Thames when he fell out
with his partner.

137 Bus
We are travelling
on the top
of the 137 from
the Archway
to the West End
to collect a
new type face from
the Adana shop
so why on the
way home
a deep blue
ceramic dish
full of tiny pebbles
a soapstone hill
two small houses
a mirror pond
a bridge and
tiny Japanese lady
with a red parasol.


Now for something completely different …

Sooner or later things change and now all the grandchildren are in their twenties Jamie is living in Japan and Joshua is a pharmacist, so I did not think we would continue our traditional and somewhat haphazard attempts at making Christmas presents.

It all started after the years of Leggo and gadgets and things and I once received a innovative bird feeders made out of coat hangers, even if my knitted hats and scarfs never really happened!

But now Robin and Sheila have started hand painting lights and glassware for craft fairs, so we had wonderful personalised  jars, lights and glasses. My youngest son loves leatherwork so he made keyrings and I had glass mats of course even if I did cheat a bit by adding a  glass and a bottle of something to go it.

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This entry was posted in Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Christmas - love or loath it?, Creative non fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Marionette, Photography, poetry, Puppethouse mayhem and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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