World Mental Health Day

Last week I ran a poetry workshop in an Adult Psychiatric Rehab hospital for World Mental Health Day. Wonderful people – wonderful poems – used a variety of prompts and read poems by Frank O’Hara and William Carlos Williams for good measure! A wonderful woman called Sarah set it all up.

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Conversations ranged from memories – holidays, favourite food, families etc.
They were all keen to hear new poems as well as to write free verse, poetry in stanzas, experimental haiku etc. They were prepared to share some of their writing in the group and a buffet lunch was included!
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I know something about mental health not least because I have suffered from depression myself from time to time. but I recovered. These episodes prompted an interested in therapies and self help. Eventually I studied to become a counsellor and several years later a Master NLP practitioner and a hypnotherapist. I worked with two charities and a for Primary Care Trust.
Mental health issues often occur quite unexpectedly. Years ago two members of my own family committed suicide
The first death, affected the whole family some of whom never really got over it. Suicide was also very much a taboo subject.
I hadn’t written very much poetry at that time but remember I wrote a poem to my uncle, the grieving dad. It was something to do with picking pink roses to take to the funeral and he wrote an incredibly touching one back. I learned much later he had never written a poem before.
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The second person attempted suicide in midlife, he was older, with a family but divorced.  He got in touch from a psychiatric hospital.  He had not told anyone else and after being discharged we became close friends. He asked me to promise not to tell his parents about it in their lifetime, a promise that I kept. He died of natural causes some time ago
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Although I am not particularly religious I remember the phrase ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ My old granny was a methodist and always quoting godly things!
I guess we are all vulnerable.
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Since my partner and I moved to the south coast we have been aware of two more suicides. A local artist killed himself in his camper van eight years ago and another man tried to commit suicide late at night with on overdose and drink on the beach. Luckily I heard about it and called the emergency services in time!
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Ok people get ill but I think some situations are aggravated by isolation. There has been a significant breakdown in people feeling part of a community and  looking out for each other’ in general.
We were aware when we moved here that  people have lived here most or all of their lives and already had a network. Why we wondered should they include older newcomers? As someone said ‘without a dog or the school run it was never going to be easy!’
Fortunately we inherited friendly neighbours, We didn’t need to be close friends but just ‘look out for each other.’ Later we shared informal social events. We are also lucky that  we have a family, sons, daughters in law and grandsons who visit us. Eventually we joined things and met new people and created a ‘social network’ as it is called these days.   After a few years two of the original neighbours died but we found it natural to hold out the hand of friendship to the new people.
Looking out for each other is surely fairly easy and can take many forms, as simple as initiating a small conversation on the bus! Dare I say also using  social media in a supportive way!
Take care.
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A handful of my poems and pictures for National Poetry Day.

Sometimes I give my own poems an airing. The truth is that I can surprise myself by finding something I had completely forgotten about and being quite pleased that I wrote it. At other times I cringe with embarrassment. These are poem from my first collection.

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The Oleander

We found it in Albi,
no gentle sketch
but boldly painted
bright and blowzy
heady with scent,
out for a good time.

In London.
loving the culture
pink petals
flirted with passers-by
revelled in attention
posed for pictures.

Uprooted to Brighton
in a white fleece shroud
it faltered
leaves fell
naked boughs mourned
sensing life had passed.

Two years later
in a new pot
on a south facing wall
tiny green shoots emerge,
pink blossoms
show their party faces.

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Reconciliation

Seeds take flight with the softest blow,
on dandelion clocks you know.

Forever?

How long can that be?
And who’s in charge of time. Tell me?

Twin spirits drift and sometimes fly,
but cannot separate or die.

Distance is all in the mind,
a word for space I think you’ll find.

Alienation is a choice,
but takes an angry tone of voice.

Despite the walls, the gates, the locks,
think of the seeds around that clock.

They drift, they fly, they find some ground,
and safely grow until they’re found.

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The Salt Sea Winds

Where salt sea winds make their eerie sounds
and grey-green waves come crashing to the shore
and water washed pebbles tumble from obscurity
into an ever changing collage of muted colour.

High on the shore, a beached starfish lies rigid in the sun,
greedy seagulls eat oysters, leaving empty shells abandoned,
bobbly brown seaweed mingles with ribbons of green,
chalky cuttlefish lie beside a shiny skate egg husk.

One pebble, grey and white – with a gleam of light
shining through its centre, a shape, strangely soothing.

Rolled over in the palm of my hand its hard cold surface
seems like a symbol of something mystic, other worldly.

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The Supply Teacher (an extract)

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The tall inspector entered
on her half day as supply,
Charlie threw a tantrum
and she couldn’t find out why.

“Settle down now, quickly”
she said, and read the book,
glaring hard at Charlie
who had a treacherous look.

When they’d finished writing
they’d make some paper springs,
for a different kind of sandwich
with lots of cut-out things.

The brushes were all slimy
as they sloshed them in the glue,
the tables were a sticky mess.
and all the children too.

Some water in the corner
made a merry sound
as Charlie washed up all the pots,
it splashed onto the ground.

With sodden shoes, the inspector
headed for the door,
saying “Must try harder,
there are only thirty-four.”

Charlie helped to clean the classroom,
and she was fair but firm,
but her teacher’s heart had left her,
never to return.

So to all you tall inspectors
we hope your shoes are dry,
for we work daily miracles
and you’re just passing by.

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Eating Apricots in France

for Jean and Mado

Under the sun umbrella
on the terrace
old friends meet.

Watching the mist on mountains
listening to the call of the cowman
urging his herd to milking.

Eating apricots, sipping wine,
a gentle informality,
born of shared memories.

from The Puppeteer’s Daughter – there are no illustrations yet!

Miss Lottie’s Last Chance.

She sets the brim of her straw hat
at what she hopes is a rakish angle
brushes bits of twig from her brown
cotton skirt, pulls the arms of her holey
cardie closer like a hopeful hug.

She climbs on a stool and places
bits of stray string into a rusty tin,
wipes secateurs with an oily rag,
seals half-opened seed packets, placing
them into an obliging array of jars.

She takes a swig of a brandy from a bottle
marked for emergencies, while a grumpy owl
painted on a shopping bag glares.
She makes short shrift of him shaking the bag
upside down to dislodge lurking spiders.

From the corner of her eye she catches
sight of her old black wellies, blushes
at the memory of sitting, only yesterday
on her bench, near to tears, her limbs
too soggy with fatigue to pull them off.

How lucky that an old gent on his bike
was passing and joined in the tussle.
Today she slips out of her old gardening shoes,
watches a flock of rogue cockatiels
spreading their wings and taking flight.

This poem has been read on this blog 387 times.  Reading your poems at Open mics is another way to gain confidence and to share.

‘Miss Lottie’s Last Chance’ and ‘The Oleander’  are about my mother. She died in difficult circumstances after a short illness. I had cared for her in her later years.

I did the illustrations in watercolour for my first book ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ for the sheer joy of it and for a limited edition  Later I reproduced it in black and white and it is on sale on Lulu, Amazon and in City Books. My second  as second collection is called ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter.’

Please note although I blog regularly the technical bit has always been a struggle.  Tonight finding the pics and trying to remember how to get the best quality got me into a real tangle so I have just done my best!

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As autumn approaches – a poem – a visit to Emmetts – bits and pieces.

I enjoyed painting an image for another of my poems – could become a habit!

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1. Emmetts
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Robin savours the smell of the toffee tree (Katsura tree)
Love the Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) too.
Not to mention plenty of other joys at Emmetts.
Link such pleasures to earlier trip to dentist.
2.

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‘Where the bee sucks there suck I’

Roots for one rogue passion flower growing through first step to garden!
Needs to be chopped.
Had a chat to bees about it and they would welcome some sort of compromise!

3.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, hat and outdoor Image may contain: drawing                                                                                            Summer disappeared just as I found the right hat! Back to the drawing board! 

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Sometimes worth turning left approaching Sheffield Park Gardens for the privately owned walled garden. Been popping in for at least 20 years! Same owner who used to have a bad tempered goose! Modestly priced plants vinery and posh wine! Just love the word ‘plethora’ only he could come up with that!

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Sipping Hampstead tea
eating coffee walnut cake
waiting in the sun
for Mrs Lowry and son.
‘Everything starts with flake white`
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Last of garden harvest not very prolific but can’t beat taste!

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Love distortions, patterns, natural tree sculpture, humour.
Wisley with fellow artists a few days ago.
8.
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as I get older
it’s the dance in the detail
and closer to home
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Our old coal scuttle – modern haiku and other small poems.

Currently I am experimenting with linking sketches to poetry.

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mad Ella ate coal
small pieces from our scuttle
unwed and alone
gran said they took her baby
and the shock sent her insane

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a shimmering globe
mirror of distortion
white space crumpled sky

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talking to yourself
is a sign of sanity
said my old granny

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She looks how I felt
after spending all morning
clearing out the pond
thank goodness for begonias!

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waiting in the wings
was the story of her life
until the tide turned

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Ageism
“We don’t do kindness.
How do you spell sweet reason?
Best check our website
if this is in the prospectus
there will be a waiting list!”

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Right of passage
I was eighteen when the part of Tomboy came up in a second feature film about
travelling in a tiny yacht through the canals of France to St. Marie. A braver girl from a sailing family crossed the channel in an Avon dinghy, a stunt that helped with the finance. My journey was hazardous too, but my right of passage came to an end dancing in the grounds of a chateau in a dress designed by famous fashion house ‘Frank Usher!’

Finding this Avon dingy last week reminded me of the story above.IMG_20190824_144932 (1)

Reference to this journey was included in a poem called ‘Ambition’ from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ IMG_20190824_191915-001

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Happy days!

Born in London blitz seventy nine years ago today with a broken mouth. My mother used to say considering all the setbacks, it was a miracle that I learned to speak and then I never stopped talking!

All my current sketches are in acrylic.

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The Traditional Village Fair in Rottingdean

Luckily a sunny day and an event intent on lifting spirits and raising money for lots of local charities. This is the kind of fair I remember as a child in London in the late 40s.

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Where else, but a village fair would you find people choosing which toy pig to back in a race, a ukelele band, art, craft, a male voice choir, a Japanese dancer, stalls with jam and homemade marmalade  for sale, plums straight from someone’s garden, and Rottingdean Village News giving away hats made out of newspaper!

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Tbe local bee keepers, Newhaven RNLI, a raffle for the church spire, the local drama association were also there.   There was a big programme of entertainment, the Rottingdean and Saltdean Lions association organised the refreshments and volunteers looked after the temporary carpark that raised funds too. 

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Love the hats people had decorated and met several artists and poets having a happy time in the sun.  There was even croquet in Kipling’s garden but I did not get that far!

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This fair is on the same weekend as Brighton’s Pride but I know a few local people with enough energy to do both!

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When I was a child my Granny was sometimes asked to open the local summer fair. She always wore a hat that she had decorated herself, with trimmings she had bought during the January sales in the haberdashery department of Bourne and Hollingsworth.

As we had a fruit shop in Goodge Street she always contributed a very colourful and edible raffle prize!

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P1040921 ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ Ann’s poetry on  Lulu, Amazon, in City Books in Brighton and Open Art Cafe – Rottingdean.

Recently most people reading this blog are from the States. If you are one of them and like anything I post would be good if you could press Like it really does cheer me along.

 

 

 

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Poetry at the Little Chelsea Food and Art Festival in Eastbourne last Saturday.

IMG_20190725_220903Mister John’s Poetry Cafe line up last Saturday, included William Chasseaud, Brian Doherty, Alvin Culzac, Peter Wathen, Keith Willson, Paul Raffety, Zara Luther, Ann Perrin, Philipa Coughlan, Stacy Carl-Mcgrath and of course Mister John.

Poems, about travel, one about addiction, a monologue with a different take on the tale of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and many more including Mister John ending with a poem for children about Drusilla’s.

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Nickie the clown and the White Rabbit were very proud to be helping me with my part in the line-up. I read a new poem about being in Variety ‘Home from Home’ and ‘I wish’ all about wishing my dad worked in the circus!

There was such a long queue of parents with children waiting to get their books signed by Jacqueline Wilson no less, that we had a bit of a ready made audience.

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These lovely photos taken by Pollie Rafferty – many thanks Pollie.

Mister John and an enthusiastic band of poets for their afternoon stall, with a poetry book swap. A chance to read a favourite poem at the mic or take a lucky dip and a chance to make up a  poem on the spot, or just browse and chat!

Mister John runs the Poetry Night at The Under Ground Theatre Commuity in Eastbourne.
It provides a supportive platform for poets to present their own work in a relaxed cafe bar atmosphere.  The Poetry Cafe is on facebook.

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P1040921 ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ Ann’s poetry is available on Lulu, Amazon, in City Books in Brighton and Open Art Cafe in Rottingdean.

 

 

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Ann Perrin – stage name Ann Field was this really me?

A couple of weeks ago a friend rang to tell me they had seen my name on a playbill on a programme about Morecambe and Wise on ITV 3.

My stage name was Ann Field and I do remember Hulme Hippodrome and chatting with the rest of the cast in a coffee shop before the show! I was about 16 with a marionette cabaret act and often travelled from London to provincial theatres in Variety. Most of the time we had no idea who else might be on the bill until we got there,

I found a repeat of the T.V. programme and there I was ‘Ann Field and her little people’ Little people’  not sure who thought of that daft title? But I was reminded that the famous pair had completed a not too successful TV series and were back on the road in Variety.

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Recently, looking through some archive boxes, I discovered newspaper cuttings that indicated I was once performing at Leeds City of Variety and my mother was performing in Newcastle the same week!

No wonder I was never taught to make cakes!

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A second surprise in June.

A friend sent a newspaper article featuring the comedian Bobby Dennis. Well I’ll never forget him!

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I once had a temporary job typing invoices for Goodlass Wall Company. (we used to call it resting in show business) when my father suddenly appeared one lunch time with my basket of marionettes. Apparently I had to leave immediately for Skegness. I had been booked to appear in ‘Nite Life New York’ because someone had dropped out of the show!

When I got to there I discovered that as well as my marionettes, I was expected to perform in sketches with Bobby Dennis the star of the show!

Oh dear, I had to learn lines and stage directions in a couple of hours. Luckily with the help of two stagehands to sort out endless entrances stage right, and stage left, I got through the first night.

The show toured various theatres in the Midlands and ended up in Bognor on the Pier. But the skimpily clad stage girls were considered to be far too racy for family audiences and the shoe by was closed by Wednesday!

Gradually things got better and I did cabaret including one at the Cafe Royal  and a summer season at Eastbourne Hippodrome. Later I tried acting and got a role in a film called Tom Boy taking a tiny yacht through the canals of France.

Ambition

I’ve not flown to New York
but I’ve taught gypies to read
and watched Rosie bottle feed
a newborn goat.

I’ve not gone on a cruise,
been seated at the Captain’s table
but I’ve crossed the Channel in a tiny
yacht with some tow bit actors
who promised they could sail.

I’ve not run barefoot over hot coals
but I’ve wandered the Argonne Forest
dodging unspent ammunition
giving thanks for simple being alive.

My parents were involved with Tufty and Road Safety Shows in London schools and at one point we all did New Faces on TV and appeared on Cliff Richard’s Saturday Spectacular at the Palladium.

We made and operated the puppets for  ‘Oh What a Lovely War’on Brighton’s West Pier and did all the puppetry for the pilot for the Telegoons.  I was a Telegoon puppeteer for 15 episodes.

I was still working as a puppeteer years later while also studying to be a teacher. I was a single parent by then and it was only due to a serious accident that my career in show business ceased. Sadly I had to send my contracts back to The Arnold Stoker Agency who had always supported me. Luckily I qualified as a teacher with a distinction in art so when I was a lot better taught instead.

Years later when I moved to the South Coast intent on becoming a better a poet. I ended up doing Stand up comedy instead in various venues in Brighton and ran puppet workshops in Saltdean Library! Oh dear a butterfuly brain!

I guess having been born in the blitz in London I have always been a wee bit surprised to have survived at all.

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‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’ available from Lulu, Amazon, City Books in Brighton and Open Art Cafe in Rottingdean

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Photo by Pollie Rafferty at Mister John’s poetry event last week.

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Posted in Ann Perrin stage name Ann Field, Ann's memoir, Ann's poems, Becoming a poet, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Finding my feet in Brighton, Marionette, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment