‘An introduction to Creative Writing at the Beaconsfield Adult Learning Centre …’ by Jan Moran Neil

26/11/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

An Introduction to Creative Writing at the Beaconsfield Adult Learning Centre this autumn … by Jan Moran Neil
It’s been a strange and interesting return to teaching Creative Writing at the Beaconsfield Adult Learning Centre this autumn. After twelve years of running these courses I left in 2000 to set up my own Creative Ink for Writers’ classes. I returned as the present tutor fell ill – initially I thought for five weeks. The group was so lovely I ended up teaching a full course of ten and was touched by their comments on a recent observation. (Which was also strange to experience after 52 years of dinosaur teaching.)
“I have loved this course – I wanted to experiment with creative writing. This course has taken me out of my comfort zone, but that has been good.”
“I was inspired by a friend to do creative writing, but didn’t know where to start. This course and Jan’s teaching have been inspirational.”
“I have appreciated the little hooks to hang things off that Jan has given, so helpful.”
“The feedback I have received has been helpful and constructive.”
“I am learning the rules around writing, this has been very helpful.”
“The homework assignments have given me inspiration.”
(The observer uses double speech marks – single now seem in vogue.) So I now have agreed to four workshops for 2024 listed here:
Saturday March 2nd ’24 – Poetry with a Pen and a Passion at Highcrest.
Saturday June 8th ’24 – Memoir – a gift for your grandchildren and/or for posterity at Beaconsfield.
Saturday July 6th ’24 – Writing which Raises a Smile – The serious business of humour at Gerrards Cross. Saturday November 9th ’24 – Writing for Children at Beaconsfield.
Book through Buckinghamshire Adult Learning.
Contact: studentenquiries@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Red Lipstick & Revelations – my poetry collection is now available again in paperback on Amazon at £7.99. Since my publishers Indigo Dreams have ceased to print it, I have been able to do this myself. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0CLC4XMCV

The audible narrated by myself is available here for £5.59.

Red Lipstick and Revelations

Please leave a review if you are able.

Writing Dates for Your Diary …

07/11/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

Writing Dates for your Diary … with Jan Moran Neil
Poetry with a Pen and a Passion – Highcrest Adult Learning Centre – Saturday 2nd March, 2024
Life Writing – A Gift for Your Grandchildren or for Posterity – Saturday 8th June, 2024 – Beaconsfield
Writing Which Raises a Smile – Humour – Saturday 6th July, 2024 – Gerrards Cross
Book through Buckinghamshire Adult Learning.
Contact: studentenquiries@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

The present group at Beaconsfield this term is lovely.)
Red Lipstick & Revelations – my poetry collection is now available again in paperback on Amazon at £7.99. Since my publishers Indigo Dreams have ceased to print it, I have been able to do this myself. Here’s the link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0CLC4XMCV

The audible narrated by myself is available here for £5.59.

Red Lipstick and Revelations

Please leave a review if you are able.
I am snowed under with recording my second novel ‘Shakespeare’s Clock’ for Amazon Audible.

Creative Writing Courses with Jan Moran Neil …

26/10/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Creative Writing Course with Jan Moran Neil …’
There are two places left on my 5-week Creative Writing course at the Beaconsfield Adult Learning Centre beginning next Wednesday 1st November. To enrol go to studentenquiries@buckinghamshire.gov.uk
Most writers have re-enrolled from the first few weeks. Lovely group. Email me if you want to find out more.
And …
If you are an Amazon customer you can buy the audible of my poetry collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ for £5.59 here: Red Lipstick and Revelations. You can taste a free sample right next to the cover. Please leave a review if you do purchase.

‘Alma Maters’

03/10/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Alma Maters …’ by Ms Paige Turner
In one weekend I was invited to three of my four alma maters from which I graduated and hath flourished. The first was the Ark Oval Primary School – or as I knew it – Oval Road Primary – last Friday for their 150th Anniversary. The second was the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – or simply ‘Central’ as we knew it – on Saturday. And lastly the University of Cambridge – on Sunday.
Such institutions encourage financial donations – and why not? Ark Oval sits in Oval Road, Croydon – a mere javelin-throw or so from Croydon High Street where tragically a fifteen-year-old Old Palace pupil was knifed to death. It’s a deprived area and after speaking to two assemblies of pupils in a sea of maroon uniforms – which has not changed in sixty years – I took a tour of where I grew up and was reminded of how far I had come. To …
‘Central’ which – apart from celebrating Professor Sally Mackey’s retirement – a former Head of Applied Theatre and Education – was fund raising for students having difficulty in financially support themselves in our capital city. The Embassy Theatre was jam-packed and I watched a film of our beloved Studio 1 – where I rehearsed and learnt and flourished – being demolished to make way for a new future studio. Hundreds of A4 sheets of paper – with memories of hours spent in that venue descended upon the to-be-built studio’s foundation as a time capsule. I reminded myself that I had emailed in some words and at that moment, Professor Sally Mackey asked if Jan Moran Neil was present. She read out the sonnet I had written in 2016 when the demolition took place. Here it is:
Bedrock by Jan Moran Neil (nee Titterington) T 72- T 76
after James Elroy Flecker and for Studio 1.

Future students of our sweet English tongue,
beneath this bedrock sit our foreign words.
We once danced above, sang, gave breath, were young,
spoke sonnets, supped, flew with Pinter’s old birds.
Unknown fleeting footfalls now it’s your turn.
We can only guess at your far-flung lives;
embed worded messengers in this earth
and send to you these underpinned archives.
Dig deep. For what is central to your art?
A core, a base, solid unweathered rock,
backbone, root, foundation, pulse, beating heart,
a place to return when all runs amok.
But hey, like us, laugh, sleep rough on barley wine.
Hello from the back syllables of time.
Sally Mackey is filmed reading the sonnet at the end of this link on You Tube.

I cannot begin to tell you how proud I was and hope that the time capsule will be opened in 150 years to come. A third reminder to me as to how far I have come and that it’s not where you are in life but how far has been your journey. And that journey begins at a parental knee – hence our ‘alma maters’.
My covid jab took place on the Thursday so I’m afraid I didn’t have the energy to get to Cambridge on the Sunday.
If any past Oval Road students would like to donate then here’s the email address.

Ark Oval Primary Academy 150th Anniversary fundraising campaign – JustGiving

If any past Central students would like to donate then go to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama website and the Sally Mackey Bursary Fund and you can donate here: donate online 
And if you would like to purchase the Amazon audio of my poetry collection ‘Red Lipstick and Revelations’ for £5.59 then this is the link: Red Lipstick and Revelations

‘To Market, to market …’ or ‘The Life of a Mayfly …’

15/09/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘To Market, To Market …’ by Ms Paige Turner
So having spent months upgrading my laptop, buying recording equipment, recording my poetry collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’, opening accounts with Amazon Audible, filling in all my details, finding the right pixels for my cover, uploading all my files, waiting for approval, I then realise that I must go to market. What’s the point in having it out there if no one listens?
Amazon Audible give you a few ‘promo codes’. Free codes to give to ‘influential’ people who might help sell your spoken words by giving a review. But generally, one has to go out to one’s contacts and well, sell. That’s if you don’t have an army of publishing marketeers behind you. Which, like all the other thousands of authors out there in the market place, I don’t.
I am used to having a reading and signing books with real people. Not watching a slowly moving sales dashboard so I suppose the audible launch was a bit of a deflated balloon.
Undaunted and fuelled by the fact that my spoken collection had reached number 1 on Amazon for Grief and Loss Poetry and Love Poetry (I didn’t know I had written any love poetry) last Tuesday, I decided to enjoy my day in this September sun. Like the mayfly, I was certain this number 1 spot would survive only the day. So before setting off for Quaker Poets, I did two things. I paid £10 to have an ad on Facebook. I thought I was just paying for my cover to be spread more widely amongst my own friends and not to the general public. (I don’t read instruction leaflets.) So how disconcerting was it, to have two very, very, rude comments from people I don’t know and whom know nothing about my word wares? It took me two whole days to stop the ad on Amazon Audible.
The second thing I did was to take a screenshot of my first place to print out and frame.
So, to my three blog readers, if you haven’t bought it for £5.59 then here it is: Red Lipstick and Revelations

Or if you are ‘influential’ tell me, and I will gladly send you a promo code. You just need to be an Amazon customer – which many of my contacts aren’t. So, I will have to rely on that number one spot. Which, (and I check) had slipped down the top ten by lunchtime last Tuesday when I arrived home from Quaker Poets and will probably be 661 by tomorrow.
Such is the life of a poor performing poet …
PS You don’t need to be an Amazon customer to listen to a freebie sample next to the cover on the link. If you do listen to the whole thing and like it, please leave a review. You see … I can’t stop …

‘The Long Road to Amazon Audible …’ or ‘Reading the Instructions …’

25/08/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘The Long Road to Amazon Audible …’ or ‘Reading the Instruction Booklet’ by Ms Paige Turner
Seven months. It took seven months.
February 2023. I listen into some samples of something called ‘Audible’ on Amazon and think – I can do that. I could even do that better.
So, I found, through Adrian Spalding – my co-editor on the pandemic anthology ‘When This Is All Over …’ the email address of someone who could tell be about Amazon Audible and edit my ‘recording files’. I didn’t know what ‘recording files’ were at the time – or what Windows 11 was. Both my audio editor and my son-in-law Master Mind soon told me that I couldn’t keep sitting on a Windows 7 laptop if I wanted to create an audiobook. So, upgrading to Windows 11 took time. Time also to order and assemble the right recording equipment for my ‘home studio’ – with the help of IT support. (I am amazed how these people read instructions and follow them to the number and the letter – and with such patience.)
Then I had to learn how to sound proof a home studio, how to record on to my laptop and how to send files to someone I don’t know but have come to trust implicitly: my audio editor who ccd me in on lots of emails to my IT support. I had a team and I didn’t even know I was creating it.
Then the files had to be sent back to me and I was ready to upload to Amazon Audible – which actually turned out to be the trickiest path of all: finding my way around Audible accounts. There’s two – and I didn’t know it. One for just narrators (which I am) and one for author/producers (which I am). Then there’s bank information and tax details. (Mister Justin Case helped me out there). And your book must be on Amazon Kindle – so I had to upload the cover and the book. Ah, the cover. Who thought the cover would be a stumbling issue? Indigo Dreams Publishing had created a beautiful cover for me when they published my poetry collection. Could I find the original? And when eventually I got the right squared size, I found the pixels were all wrong. I moved through three graphic artists before finding someone in Nigeria who turned it round in a few minutes.
This all took longer than a few minutes. I realised I had to go into my account and change my ‘Retail Sample’ as I had uploaded the wrong one.
It’s here on: Red Lipstick and Revelations

And after seven months of discussing, Googling, requesting, uploading, downloading, emailing, recording, cutting and pasting, waiting for Amazon acceptance and much, much more – there I am. For £5.59 (if you can find the button to download to your phone via an app) ) you can hear me reading my poetry collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ with some introductions.
Of course, it’s all about selling and making a buck. On the first day I saw I had sold ‘one unit’. Who was that person? Let me know. I want to kiss you. I know it’s not Mister Justin Case as he told me two nights ago, he had bought it. So that’s two sales. Make my day and let me know you have bought and ‘downloaded’. Right now, I am looking for ten influential people to endorse the audiocollection.
And if you need any advice and tips on ‘Amazon Audible’ you know who to come to – someone who might have read the instructions first …

‘Dreary ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ …’

08/08/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil


‘Dreary ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ … by Ms Paige Turner
Mister Justin Case and I booked a cruise during lockdown as we spent much time looking at travel brochures. We booked to go to Odessa in the Ukraine and Romania. Cyprus was also on the list – and I hadn’t been there – or the Ukraine. Well, I’m not going am I? So, Mister Justin Case and I decided to cancel that cruise as it wasn’t going much places anyway and decided to invest in lots of theatre trips.
When we were done, we realised that five out of the six bookings were for the grandchildren. Or. So. We. Thought. Until we took our eldest one to see ‘Mrs Doubtfire’. This granddaughter has been enthralled by ‘Phantom of the Opera’ etc, etc but Mrs Doubtfire worried her. A man was dressed as a woman. We’ve happily been to see dames in a panto’. But this woman was the daddy all along. So worried was she that we decided to leave at the interval and I think our granddaughter was relieved that her grandparents both simultaneously said, ‘What a lot of rubbish’. I don’t often say this about theatre as I do know what the writing, sets, lighting, props, costume, direction and performances entail. But it was a lot of rubbish and billed for over-six-year-olds – which our eldest granddaughter is despite the fact that she’s probably not going to appreciate unkind jokes about Angela Merkel. And dare I say, Margaret Thatcher?
We also realised that six theatre trips with taxis and lunch is pretty much the cost of a cruise. (Mister Justin Case sat in the gods once with me thirty-eight years ago and that’s the last time he did that although I have since been to the National’s gods and that’s like being on Neptune.) And sixteen quid for a lunch of potted chicken and three strips of avocado? I ask you.
However. We did take the youngest granddaughter to ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. No surprises there. It was our third visit. Which just goes to show that there’s not much beats a hungry tiger …

PS I seem to have found a way to post a photo – completely unintentionally colour-co-ordinated but now lost my profile photo

Creative Writing Sessions with moi – Autumn 2023 and Coming Full Circle …

28/07/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

Creative Writing Adult Learning Sessions with moi – Autumn 2023 and Coming Full Circle …
Wednesdays 1-3 pm at the Beaconsfield Adult Learning Centre, Wattleton Road.
Wednesday 20th, 27th September and Wednesday 4th, 11th, 18th October.
Can you believe it? This is where I began in 1989, thirty-four years ago. On Wednesdays 1-3 pm. Same time, same place.
I was asked to ‘fill in’ so I said, ‘Yeah, okay’. Not realising that I had to do a Safeguarding course online, then a second DBS check (first one for Stoke Mandeville Hospital earlier this year/ workshops for those with spinal injuries).
Anyway, there is where I will be (briefly) this autumn – back where I began. I do believe that Life is a Circle. Let’s go round one more time …
Book through Buckinghamshire Adult Learning.
Contact: studentenquiries@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

‘Free Education for All’ – The Ragged School Museum in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets opens its doors …

14/07/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

Free Education for All – The Ragged School Museum in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets opens its doors …
as published in ‘The Educator’ magazine
In June 2023, the Ragged School Museum opened its ancient doors on Copperfield Road, Mile End but its journey from being the largest Victorian ragged school in London which opened in 1877 has been a bumpy one.
Dr Barnardo took a 21-year lease on two canal warehouses on the Regent’s Canal in Copperfield Road for the purpose of opening the ragged school to two hundred destitute boys and girls and seventy infants. Its numbers would swell to thousands of children whose families could not afford the few pennies to pay for a Board School education. There were four paid teachers and six paid monitors. Each floor was made into a large classroom and the basements became covered playgrounds. It’s believed that the road in which it was situated was named after Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield as the writer was a close friend of Baroness Burdett-Coutts after whom the nearby Burdett Road was named.
In 1890 the London School Board abolished the Board School fee which signalled the end of ragged schools but the poorest children still flocked to the ragged school. Barnardo was known for helping the children find ‘a job for life’ on leaving the school as wood choppers and city messengers for the boys and work as housemaids for the girls.
The school, the largest of 148 ragged schools affiliated to Lord Shaftesbury’s Ragged School Union closed in 1908 when London County Council schools were able to meet the needs of the poorest children. The rag trade moved in until the 1980s. The warehouses were due for demolition in 1983 but local activists campaigned to save them and the Ragged School Museum Trust was set up. The site was then listed in 1985 as Grade 11 historic buildings when the Greater London Council Arts and Recreation Committee provided the funds to purchase the buildings and in 1988 work started on repair and refurbishment. In 1990, the site opened as a museum with exhibitions about the East End and the story of education and youth provision in London. Lady Wagner rang the old school bell which still, to this day, exists on the pediment and warehouse wall cranes.
Recently the museum has undergone much refurbishment with a 4.3 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded just before the national lockdown. Meetings took place virtually and the museum has been open only for school groups but is now open to the general public. Victorian lessons for schools are recreated in one of the classrooms on the first floor and are led by an actor in Victorian costume: a way for children to discover how their great, great, great grandparents might have been educated through role-play, talks and hands-on exhibits such as slate boards and dunces’ hats. There is even a domestic kitchen as it would have been in 1900. The café in the basement, which once was the covered playground, has opened its doors for the first time to the canal towpath. The classroom is painted in the old ragged school colours: chocolate brown and primrose yellow.
The aims of the RSM are to save the building, to be open to the public which has wheelchair access and to exhibit and animate the world of Dickens and Doré through the stories of children who attended the school. The museum is keen to show how philanthropists, especially Doctor Barnardo and Lord Shaftesbury drove social change. The museum is a testament to that social change and shows the promise that the benefactors, teachers and children did two centuries ago.
There is an admission charge as the Museum has no core public funding.
The Director of the museum, Erica Davies says:
‘The Ragged School Museum is witness to the movement for universal free education, and a tribute to the men and women who struggled to achieve it. We urgently needed to repair and restore this important building and preserve the stories of the children that are part of its history and the community that surround it. It has been a huge challenge, particularly as we were hit with the first national lockdown, three days into the project in 2020. We’ve overcome challenges to expand under-developed areas, improved access and make it a desirable venue. With thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to be able to share the newly renovated buildings with everyone, we will be combining a strong education programme, with hireable-spaces and a new canal side café. We cannot wait for people to see inside in time for summer.’
Tel: 0208 980 6405
For school bookings or for any enquiries regarding our Schools Programme, please email schools@raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk
Family/Holiday Programme (We won’t be doing this until next year)
For information regarding our Family Learning and Holiday Programmes, or our Sunday Open House, please email schools@raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk
Venue Hire
For any enquiries about venue hire, from photo and film shoots to paranormal investigations, please email erica@raggedschoolmuseum.org.uk

Jan Moran Neil
There are some great photos which I will be posting on Facebook and Instagram.

The Cost of Living …

02/07/2023 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘The Cost of Living …’ by Ms Paige Turner
It isn’t often I veer from the written and spoken word as theme for my blog but my dear three blog readers, I have to share the story of the scallops with you. Mister Justin Case and I decided to treat ourselves to a sushi takeaway last Saturday as we have discovered the Deliveroo app.
I ordered scallops and an edamame bean salad and Mister Justin Case had those raw fish with the rice stuff I can’t eat. The whole thing with delivery and tip came to just under 40 quid. When my package arrived I opened to find two tiny pieces of raw fish and a lettuce leaf. For eleven quid. I kid you not. I tried one – which was disgusting and phoned the restaurant asking where my food was. I was looking at it: the other half of my meal – one squiggle of fish. I repeat – for eleven quid. I worked out that I have worked for an hour editing and commenting on a poem for less. I was sick later – sorry, readers. Mister Justin Case put it down to the edamame beans which he said I should not have eaten the shells. Does one not eat edamame shells? If not, there was nothing else on my plate for sixteen quid. It was a local sushi restaurant in Beaconsfield.
On another note, Mister Justin Case and I were in A & E last week on account of his detached retina risk. We spent a number of hours at Wexham A& E before they told us to go to the Windsor Eye Clinic which we did. Toby at Wexham was thorough, informative and kind. He said we could get to Windsor before five o’clock closing and by the end of the day you should have the assurance that all is well. Nine digestive biscuits later (much more filling than the scallops) we received that assurance. The NHS was brilliant. I would have been happy to pay them an extra 40 quid and forgone the raw fish.