The way the brain may cope with self isolation –

The current coronavirus crisis creates fears that are similar to those of bereavement.

1. Shock and Denial ( hasn’t happened.)

2. Pain and Guilt (life feels chaotic.)

3. Anger and Bargaining (blame others / if only I had done this or that.)

4.Depression and/or Isolation (not clinical depression more sadness. Sometimes best to listen…not talk someone out of it.)

5. Gradual acceptance…

6. Starting to seek solutions to your changed circumstances.

7. Resolution (becoming more optimistic, even carefree.

There is no set timescale to these stages and some people may miss out a stage completely.

Life at the moment is changing daily which seems all the more reason to to keep going, to be as creative as possible.

At the moment ways of coping might include taking up a new activity or returning to a hobby enjoyed in the past.   Art galleries and museums are offering virtual tours. Plenty of free activities are springing up on the internet, cookery, crafts, art and many others.

I am lucky that I am retired and have taken up painting again. This time I am trying acrylic rather than watercolour.  I am also doing a lot of gardening and making a more sustained effort with my writing.


My partner used to play the recorder. More recently he took up the violin again and has started to learn to play the madolin.

It is important to keep optimistic

Please note the spacing on this page has gone wrong and currently am trying to find out why.

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A magical mother – pictures – poems – stories.

My mother  had always loved  ‘Alice in Wonderland.’  
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These are some tiny ceramics she made after she and my father had given up their careers in puppetry. She also made dragons and my father threw pots and made moulds for vases and goblets.

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Her life was one of chasing butterflies, a promising dancer grounded by the realities of war. Adapting her creative skills to meet new patterns in our lives, sewing costumes for our marionettes and performing with them.

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In between rises and falls in our puppetry enterprises she did other things. Once she set up a flameproof children’s nightwear mail order company after she heard news of a child being burned to death near an open fire. She spent ages tracking down the material, creating the patterns, making the nighties and even got a mention in Nursery World.

We rented our flat and studio in our grandparents house because it was an economic necessity for all concerned.  Grandpa still worked part-time in the family greengrocers and fruit shop in Goodge Street, but had been shell shocked and gassed on the Somme and was never as robust as he had once been.


He used to say one of the best moments of his life was being taken by my parents  to Buckingham Palace when they entertained the Queen at a children’s party for Prince Charles and Princess Anne. My mother decided he could go along as their assistant to pull the curtains in between scenes. My sister and I were bit put out because we had always done it and grandpa had never pulled a curtain in his life!  But mother said he had fought for his country and it was right that he should go!


Our grandparents often looked after my sister and I when our parents were touring. I guess they were responsible for much our our upbringing. Something I discovered we had in common with other entertainers including Roy Hudd whom I met several times when I was in show business.

But our parents sometimes took us with them  from May to the end of September when they had shows for  summer seasons in Bognor, Clacton, Blackpool and Scarborough.


The North Pier Blackpool

‘It’s a small world’ for our marionettes,
three shows daily on the North Pier.

Our parents busy, we take stock – the mighty
black tower, the circus and ballroom.

Donkeys stand in line ready for a ride
trams trundle along the promenade.

Crowds gather on the famous golden mile, kiss me
quick hats, tuppence to see a mermaid.

The man from Mars in a bright green jump suit
is surreptitiously eating a big cream bun.

And so the season goes on, families from the mills
the mines and the factories, everyone laughing

My sister was very bright, she worked in the fashion industry when she left school. She also helped my mother with a series for Granada TV. She married when she was quite young and had two lovely children. A few years later I married too and had two sons, but we became single parents at about the same time and re-trained in our thirties to be a primary school teachers. That did not stop us working as a double act briefly in an attempt to boost our finances!


The very the last time we got together as a family for anything to with with puppetry was making the marionettes and performing with them in the film ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ on Brighton’s West Pier.

Oh What a Lovely War – 1969

Her needle flies over tiny white gloves.
Stitches develop a regular rhythm,
she can almost hear the sound of marching feet.
Braid on bright blue hat and jacket, red pants,
a shiny metal helmet, a gleaming breast plate.
Fine nylon strings bring them all to life.

Now they bump along the road
in a Bedford Dormobile,
immaculate, neatly packed.
No muddy trenches for them,
off to the West Pier in Brighton
to take their place in the sun.

Extras play with parasols or eat ice cream.
The film crew balance on flimsy ladders,
“Camera, action, take one.”
Jean Paul Cassell bangs the drum,
“Roll up, roll up, for the greatest show on earth.”
Curtains open. Puppets take the stage.

The soldiers’ rubber boots bob in time,
the captain jerks his bugle from his lips,
the French general sheathes his sword.
Only the old brown horse borrowed
from another show looks weary, while in the wings
a small platoon makes ready for their fate.

‘A copper collection will take place
at the end of the performance’
says the writing on the wall.

When our summer seasons came to a halt my father, mother and I moved to Cabaret and the occasional TV appearance.  But we still had our touring theatre and did a great many Road Safety Shows in London Schools,


As well as the many ups and downs in show business,  my mother eventually had to stay at home to care for our grandparents!

Fast forward several years!

My mother in her sixties and without a pension, went back briefly to fashion design, but later became the Principal of The Royal School of Needlework, bringing to the role her business skills, teaching and knowledge of embroidery.

She had her own office and was instrumental in the choice of lace for Princess Diana’s wedding veil.

Later on because she was the only one that knew how the antiquated telephone system worked, she was asked to stay in the school during  the siege of the Iranian Embassy next door.

In mid and later life both my parents had creative enterprises quite independently from each other. They were always friends but at one time had separate flats in London.

Fortunately with the help of an inheritance from an aunt she had bought a cottage in her 50s and finally retired to it with my father.

In her seventies, when my father died, she could no longer manage the cottage and sold it to my son Robin and moved to live near me. This is the  cottage in winter!


My mother quickly decided we had to have an allotment. It provided many hours of pleasure for both of us. She often rode to it on her tricycle when I was working.

She also had a her own small garden and loved planning and planting.


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

(Based on memories of my mother on her allotment)

From time to time in my life I tried to get stories published. Every time a piece was rejected my mother would say ‘they’ll be sorry.’ Luckily I had modest success with freelance journalism

My father was often impossible! He went to war a few months after I was born and my sister was on the way. We did not see him again until she was 5 and I was six  My mother once said that she believed  that he never really came to terms with to the loss of the musical career he had had as young man. Sad by probably true.

Music From Another Room – 1948

Flying through banks of clouds, sucking barley sugar
off to Paris to stay with Madame Roy and daughter Juliette
father’s war time friends. Bonjour, bonjour
polite exchanges, cups of English tea.

Madame throws open her kitchen window to reveal
on a white cloth, my mother’s home made cake
carried from London. Neighbours gather, “ooh la la”
“c’est magnifique”, plant wet kisses on our cheeks.

Music seeps in from another room, my father
not used to playing second fiddle to anyone
let alone my mother and her cake is playing La Mer
on Madame’s baby grand, we move to the sitting room.

Family portraits hang on the wall, father’s performance
is applauded, pieces of cake passed round, while Juliette
stands close to father and sings in perfect English
‘Pedute Cose’ a love song he wrote during the war.

In the days that follow we visit the Eiffel Tower
jog along the streets in a horse drawn cab, wander
Montmartre, watch artists fill canvasses with bold colours
bow our heads as we enter the Sacre Coeur.

We learn how to row on the lake near Versailles
every detail captured on father’s 8 mm movie camera
but the highlight the Theatre du Paris, where a tiny figure
dressed in black takes stage, picks up the microphone,

‘L’accordeonniste’ ‘Je ne regrette rien.’
for this is the little sparrow of Paris Edith Piaf
the audience stand, they shout bravo, bravo
she bows her head, smiles, reaches out in a final gesture.

The grown ups chatter, father in perfect French
they gather their things, my mother is ahead I follow
glancing back I see my father reach out and clasp
briefly Juliette’s hand.

Years later when I recall Paris, the apartment, my father’s
passion for the music of the age, Juliette looking down at him
as he played, I realise for a brief moment he may have had
all he ever wanted.


Whatever the truth of the situation my parents adored each other and worked creatively together for much of their lives.

When my  mother came to live  nearby we  also decided to collect up as many of our marionettes as we could find. She conserved our the vast collection, re-dressing, mending, restringing etc


Finally we recreated some of our early productions in the loft of my tiny terraced house  Just the two of us. Of course the manipulation was tricky and I had to jump up and down from our makeshift bridge to operate the camera. But we had so much fun. Some of them are now on  youtube. My favourite is ‘Scenes from Alice in Wonderland’

We also filmed excepts from our cabarets.

I found some cuttings recently and realised that in the late 50s I was playing one theatre while my mother was performing at another.  I had no idea what my father was doing, possibly looking after the old folk and decorating the house!

Well its mother’s day and I guess we all have something we could say about our mothers!

I write a lot of poetry, my way of coping with life.  I just wish she was still here, I think she would have liked some of it.

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.

This is the book of Alice in Wonderland she was awarded – a red bound copy for good conduct at an ordinary state school in North London.


More than a mother of two children of course, a creative partner, a magical person, a grandmother, a great grandmother to three grandsons, she adored.

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The Puppeteer's Daughter
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Hands upon hands and so expressive.

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Started to look at our marionettes hands, always so expressive. In the late 50s with two big productions, one in Blackpool another in Scarborough at the same time, my father abandoned hand carving, in favour of turning hands on a lathe moulding, pouring etc. A few years after died I returned to carving this time with Tony Webb and made a film for Youtube.


My father’s  on the left, mine on the right-  carved in Lime Wood


Lime hands
mine enfold
my fathers
both have
a fingertip
lost in the
50 years
that set
us apart

the vice
the tools
the block of lime
choosing the chisel
banging the hammer
the ryhthm of the chipping.

The Puppeteer's Daughter
Ann’s Poetry Collection 
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Signs of spring in Saltdean despite wild weather…

All over Saltdean
clumps of bright yellow flowers
to cheer the spirit.

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Out in the garden
for a few blowy minutes
new flowers have emerged

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Seagulls seek shelter
wild winds and billowing sea
batter the coastline
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A garden poem and love the marionettes!


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What is there not to love!


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Don’t you dare!

My garden
I could sit here in my garden
all my waking hours
simply entranced
by the profusion
of the flowers.
Clouds of blue wisteria
float above my head
and Aquilegia pink and mauve
frame where the birds are fed.
Pansies almost tumble
from my unruly pots
and spring bulbs left to sleep awhile
obscure for-get-me-not.
The cherry blossoms sprouting
before the bluebells fade away
and roses gather all there strength
to make a good display.
The passion flower is teasing
the ivy round the tree
lily of the valley
share their scent with me.
I could sit her in my garden
all my waking hours
simply entranced
by the profusion
of flowers.
One of my early poems written in my garden in London.  I created our garden in Brighton on similar lines, even if the wisteria has taken ten years to bloom!  Our marionettes are always interfering obviously!

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Lace making – poem and pictures


The Lace Maker
I found the brown hessian lace cushion
in the loft wrapped in crumpled paper
the pattern and pins still in place
wooden bobbins, one with buttons
on the metal ring instead of
the more traditional spangles
a tiny flat mother-of pearl button
from a nightgown, another cut
from a man’s shirt, a round brass metal
moulded button from a soldier’s

Fine white cotton led to the last
twist in the pattern that her wrinkled
brown hands would ever make.

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I’ve Just discovered there have been 100k views and 48k visitors on this blog in ten years.
So that’s not bad, even if some people have clicked and I was not what they wanted.  No I don’t make money,  the days when I did some journalism and was paid for play I wrote have long gone!

But I love creating things, painting, puppets, a new garden and I can get lucky and sell a few books, or  get a small fee for a reading.

The main attraction is that it has helped me cope with the  grief of losing my mother,  the complexity of  living in a new area,  giving up my job as a therapist and living with my long term partner for the first time.

I based the poem on one of my mother’s lace cushions.  She had taught herself lace making very late in life and also collected old lace bobbins

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The Puppeteer's Daughter


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Pure escapism painting, photography, singing and puppets.

Recently life has been difficult all round, so sometimes just gather things together to cheer myself along.

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I love taking pictures, but painting is soothing and a good kitchen table activity! Paint and paper is inexpensive so why not give it a go? I don’t usually copy established artists but did today. But also love this sketch of chairs I did a few years ago in Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I’ve just rescued the card collage that was falling apart. It represents larger work created in the past.

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‘Patience is a virtue’ my old granny used to say. So if you nurture orchids year after year you have to put up with some dull old branches from time to time.

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A programme about Scotland reminded of our singing group in my tiny house in South London. Six single mums, one guy! We met weekly, found a teacher willing to teach us once a month for just £25! Eventually we sang in old peoples’ homes and finally hired a studio for a couple of hours! We sang ‘The Skye Boat Song.’

A few years later when we had all moved on I found myself in Scotland and filmed the battleground. Decided to use our soundtrack.

If you google – Ann Perrin and The skye boat song  the link on youtube pops up.
For me much of the joy of life is my family, but also creativity, gardening, painting, even changing a room round ! But luckily my family’s livelihood was making marionettes. These puppets are my favourites. Lewis Carroll’s birthday this week. 
Ann shared a memory from 3 years ago.
Setting myself a timescale to complete my memoir. The starting point is our house in Highgate. It will be a mix of prose and poetry and may emerge as a Haibun.
Have started collating the marionette photos from 1946 shows to 1968  Variety, summer seasons, cabaret etc. but they will be included in an archive and a film.  I started the beginning of last year.
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Sorting essays, stories and photos of our marionettes at last.

I have spent the last week sorting out archive boxes full of essays, stories, my mother’s notes, pages of family history,  photos of our marionettes taken over several years.

There was an early journal about a school journey to France in 1956. I remember the trip made a big hole in the family finances but it started a love of France that stayed with me. 

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I also found a fan letter in the papers dated 1959 and realised that it was not long after the school trip that I was touring in Variety on my own!

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I have been busy copying the photos into files, many of which I don’t remember seeing before. I think they will form an interesting archive. 
The following collage however are photos that may have appeared in posts on this blog in the past.

I seldom advertise but my poetry books are available on Amazon, Lulu and in City Books in Brighton. It would be lovely if you purchased one.

‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’

John McCullough –

‘Ann Perrin writes brilliant poems that fizz with originality, satisfying the reader’s heart as well as their head. Her work is frequently surreal yet, crucially, never strays far from poignancy. Its energy leaves you feeling revitalized and seeing the world afresh.’
Tim Dooley –  
 ‘Ann Perrin is an original. Her memories of a world that is almost completely lost are coloured with wit and a vivid eye for detail. These are poems that resonate long after one has finished reading them.’

‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter ‘ 

IMG_20191209_114131 I have read poems at Pighog and Pier Poets in Brighton and at Troubadour up in London. 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, the seaside, artists, allotments and the eccentricities of life. P1040921

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.’

Other news –

Like many others I find January and February quite depressing so have been grateful for the following:


My friend Maggie showed me a collage she had made. Told me it was a Mandala and gave me a lovely circle of hand made paper. But said can also be done on a pizza base!
Love it!
Knew there were spiritual connections but did not look up until finished mine below – just now! Recommended…calming, absorbing. Going to put mine up somewhere.

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I was just passing

so were they
one of those lovely moments.

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I have re-worked poems written in the last few months and started to send them off to competitions. ‘Nothing venture nothing gain’ as my old granny used to say.

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Keeping my spirits up in February – nature – haiku – wonderful museum visit.

On misty mornings tears of rain on winter trees shine a little light.


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Ok vanity! But love my picture and poem, cheered me up! Earlier when clearing out I found ‘Blackpool Illuminations’ written at Arvon in 2007. The typed anthology had poems by Polly Dunbar and Rachel Rooney. Oh how talented they were! Always grateful for grant for train fare to first Arvon few years earlier. Published Blackpool poem eventually


No photo description available.   Image may contain: possible text that says 'The Tortoise when the tortoise crawls out of hibernation from the box box of straw, do the rings of his ancient shell shield him from regret does his wrinkly head recall the sound of her voice the haunting echo of her wild, warm laugh as he takes his first bite into into a lettuce leaf are tortoises bereft of feeling is that the secret of their their long life?'

Looking for the light
found poetry and woodcuts
early signs of spring.


Floating worlds at Brighton Pavilion Museum combined wonderful woodcuts and haiku

the link to the exhibition on line

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So many wonderful woodcuts and printing techniques the last print was one that inspiried the impressionists.

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Welcoming the New Year

Sometimes the unexpected happens even flowers can bloom where they want to.
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I have been writing this blog for nearly ten years. It keeps my creative spirit going and ensures I still take photographs of my garden, allotment and when I am out and about. I still paint a few pictures, write fragments and poems. 
Whatever you are up to Happy New Year.
Fragments from 2019
The sheer joy of a horse chestnut tree, kicking through wet leaves, finding the last  conker.


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Well it’s like this even a witch can have a bad spell day

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Guess it’s my interest in shadows from the past still haunts me when I am drawing

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the sunset

the sea
a solitary bird
a crescent moon
a full blown rose – just an ordinary evening

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Shoreham on a stormy day!

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swans sleeping at Shoreham

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Love the more disorganised charity shops. Warmed to ‘How to look after your Hamster’ although haven’t had one for years. Bought ‘Beningfields Countryside’ but the ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary’ volumns one and two’ will probably stay there forever thanks to the internet and their weight alone.
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Summer disappeared just as I found the right hat! Back to the drawing board!

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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!

Love the Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin)

Not to mention plenty of other joys at Emmett’s.

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The Depot
Sipping Hampstead tea
eating coffee walnut cake,
waiting in the sun for Mrs Lowry and son.
‘Everything starts with flake white`
loved the sad film and gritty north.
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Enjoyed painting an image for another of my poems – could become a habit!
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As I get older it’s the dance in the detail and closer to home.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor Bits and pieces on my kitchen windowsill.

I was 18 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.

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My rite of passage came to end dancing in the grounds of a chateau in a dress designed a famous fashion house ‘Frank Usher.’ Nothing in life goes to plan!


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The experience was captured on the left in my poem Ambition from The Puppeteer;’s Daughter.
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She looks how I felt
after spending all morning
clearing out the pond
thank goodness for begonias!

Trying acrylics rather than watercolour or oils, this is a sketch of a globe from a pic I took in Earls Court Square when I was a poet in residence two years ago. 


Written in Lavender time. – Maybe just in time to make an old fashioned lavender bottle, the lavender must not be too brittle. Here is one we made earlier’ as they used to say on Blue Peter! Good luck


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I planted a climber ten years ago, praying it was the same as Grandpa’s rose arch in London. He had returned from the Somme suffering from the aftermath of gas and shell shock and was hospitalised for two years. Later he worked part-time in the family fruit shop ‘R W Parkin and Sons’ in Goodge Street and walked back up the hill every evening from Tufnell Park Station. On most summer nights he could be found in the garden watering hls precious roses. Identical to mine


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The Poetry School

Wonderful walk in Rotherhithe with Tim Dooley as part of a Poetry School course ‘The Urban Pastoral’. Tim and Tamar Yoseloff take alternate weeks.
Tamar took us for a walk in Lambeth a couple of weeks ago. All with wonderful poems associated.
It was an extra treat for me because my Pa lived and worked in this area in the late seventies as part of an Adult Education programnme.

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Rottingdean Bazaar – Wow! James from Rottingdean Bazaar brings me a bouquet and a copy for each poet including me, featured in their new book ‘Paul Smith by Rottingdean Bazaar!’

I’ve been running this poetry group, which is strictly for beginners and aspiring poets, at Open Art Cafe for eight years. So thank you lovely poets and to James and Luke from Rottingdean Bazaar.

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Kemp Town Carnival – Loads of music, amazing food, craft stalls and fun!
Sheila (one of my daughter in laws) is here with her hand painted Glow bulbs. Robin is helping of course!
Going to be a long day and night!


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along the walkway

listening to rhythm of waves
washing the pebbles

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Red moons blue Mondays

thank goodness nearly Tuesday
and we are still friends

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74 Dartmouth Park Hill. N.19   – Art work I did a while ago but used for a project on family history earlier in the year at The Keep.
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Our Christmas Pantomine marionettes made in that house in the 50s that I filmed 15 years ago.
I caught sight of her

checking her Oleander
light dancing on glass

Image may contain: sky, plant, cloud, tree, outdoor, nature and water  in memory of my mother.
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Posted in 'The Puppeteer's Daughter' Ann Perrin, Brighton - out and about, Creative Nonfiction, Gardening, Life and Times of a New Age Granny, Living by the sea, Marionette, Photography, poetry, Retiring to Brighton - ups and downs, Rottingdean | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
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