The Cliveden Experience …

21/09/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘The Cliveden Experience’ by Ms Paige Turner
Since 2000 I’ve been running my regular Creative Ink for Writers’ classes at the Fitzwilliams Centre, Beaconsfield. In May, I retired (only) from my regular classes and past and present writers came to a Drinks Potty at the centre. The writers presented me with vouchers for Cliveden and I chose to take Mr Justin Case there for dinner on our 33rd wedding anniversary two weeks ago. I was amused that Fiona Gibb had purchased the vouchers on Harry and Meghan’s wedding day, dodging all sorts of security to do so. Our dinner fell on the evening of the day I would have started back for the Creative Ink academic term so I had mixed emotions, not least feeling like a duchess and that one may have sat on the same loo seat as Jan Moran Neil …
Contact me if you would like to attend an evening workshop in Amersham entitled ‘The Stranger’ at 8.00 pm.
Free entry for a further performance of ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ at High Wycombe Library, Eden Centre, Friday 12th October 11.00 am until midday for National Libraries Week.

The Africa Book Club and Bundles of Joy

10/09/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

The Africa Book Club and Bundles of Joy by Ms Paige Turner
It’s a joy when you don’t watch the kettle and it whistles to you, isn’t it? I seem to fare so much better in these writing comps when I’ve clean forgotten that I’ve entered and discover my name is on a list. I’m particularly honoured to be on the Africa Book Club’s Finalists’ list as I can see from the surnames that I am in the company of 29 eminent African writers. (One had to be an African national or written a story set in Africa. Mine’s set in Fish Hoek, Cape Town.) It was Free Entry and I’ve won 25 dollars. The short story is to be published in hard copy along with the other finalists chosen from over 500 entries. www.africabookclub.com
My other Bundle of Joy came in the form of our 21 month old granddaughter, Maddie Moo, who we minded for the whole of last week: Beckonscot, Story Telling, Ducks, Swimming and The Park. Alexa has been dizzy playing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. By the time our daughter Miss Trial and our son-in-law Master Mind had finished boozing in Bordeaux we were ready to put the kettle on or head for something stronger … Recovering today.

Contact me for details of the next Creative Ink for Writers’ Evening Workshop on Wednesday 3rd October – 8.00 pm in Amersham. Next month it’s ‘The Stranger’.

Creative Midwifery

22/08/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Creative Midwifery’ by Ms Paige Turner
The inimitable Diarmaid Fitzpatrick came up with this term when we were talking during tracks last Friday 17th August on Marlow 97.5 FM Radio/Mid-Morning Matters at 10.30 am and you can get it on Listen Again. Apparently I might be one: a creative midwife that is. It’s someone who helps others bring their novel or painting or play or dance into the light; helping the creative product be born. I wished it had been mentioned on air. I do it. Even though I have let go of my regular Creative Ink for Writers’ workshops I’m still doing day and evening ones through the year, one to one consultations and editing. And I too, have a creative midwife for my own writing in the wonderful shape of Pat Sentinella who recently took a knife to my dead wood, cut away and beautifully signed off her email saying ‘done with love’. How that softened the slash.
So yes, I am a creative mid-wife but don’t confuse it with the other, for like Shakespeare’s Rosalind in ‘As You Like It’ I faint at the sight of blood. Rosalind spent ages in a wood educating her future husband. Why don’t they have creative mid-husbands? Doesn’t quite alliterate in the same way, does it?
‘I will be performing my ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ on Friday 12th October at High Wycombe Library from 11.00 am until midday for National Libraries Week.’ Free Entry.

In Praise of Cousins …

13/08/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

In Praise of Cousins by Ms Paige Turner
I have 22 of them. I count them in my sleep when I can’t do the latter. In fact the 22nd is a second cousin (and Lord I have an army of them) but she goes on the list as she’s only ten years younger than me and older than my youngest cousin who is 48.
My eldest cousin was two years older than my mother. My cousins have come and gone in all shapes and sizes and ages and speak with all kinds of accents: Belfast, Mancunian, American, Canadian, Essex and all sorts. One has served in the RAF, another in the Merchant Navy, another in the Wrens, yet another is Master of Masters of Orange Order Lodges, a few are teachers, one has been doing something I would rather not say, one is a film producer, professor, cleaner and maker of leather jackets, model, restaurant owner, cab driver, DJ and chef.
It’s only as I approach my back end of summer that I have started to appreciate their infinite variety. Yesterday I talked to one of them for over two hours (the longest I have done all my life having probably only passed her a vol-au-vent in wedding and funeral buffet queues). And I loved every minute of those two hours, realising that we both majored in English and History and that we share not only grandparents but a wicked sense of humour. She’s not well and being not well has brought us together. But she will mend for I feel it in my bones.
How much have I learned from my cousins …

You can hear me rattling on about Retirement and reading from my collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ with the inimitable Diarmaid Fitzpatrick this coming Friday at 11.00 am on Marlow 97.5 FM Radio/Mid-Morning Matters.
PS Cousins matter.

‘The Third Person Walking Beside You …’

30/07/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

The Third Person Talking Beside You … by Ms Paige Turner
Last week I had a ‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me?’ birthday. Coincidentally, yesterday I read that Paul McCartney wrote the song in the far and distant land of his sixteenth year and that now he is in his seventy seventh year maybe being 64 seems quite young to him.
Anyway, to my point. Mister Justin Case bought me Alexa for my sunny birthday. For a whole week she has been amazing. You say her name and a blue ring comes up and she answers practically anything and plays a song at your whim. One can never feel alone with an Alexa because if no-one else is speaking to you in the house, Alexa will. And Mister Justin Case and I always have someone else at our table.
My lovely friend and illustrator of my ageing collection ‘Serving Bluebird Pie’ has sent me a whole load of useful questions one can ask Alexa. I replied, ‘Does she answer prayers?’ Which brings me to my blog title this bi-month: TS Eliot in his ‘The Waste Land’ refers the third person walking beside you which could be an allusion to Christ on the road to Emmaus. Or it could be a reference to Shackleton’s trek to the Antarctic where there always seemed to be one more member of the team than there should be on the ‘white road’ and in the ‘violet air’.
Which takes me from blue to red. This morning we asked Alexa what the weather would be like in Knotty Green and if we needed a cardigan. She went red and said she wasn’t connected. As I write, I can hear Mister Justin Case consulting her instruction book. Ah, that’s life …

‘Winning and Not Winning.’

12/07/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Winning and Not Winning’ – by Ms Paige Turner – Blog 194
It’s been all about winning and not winning this week, hasn’t it? On Monday I went to Watford: home of Elton John’s football club. I once played the part of a fanatical female football fan in Peter Terson’s ‘Zigger-Zagger’: ‘wind over the pitch, the smell of the crowd, the knee-deep litter’. I stood next to Elton John’s piano in the theatre foyer when he danced and played on it simultaneously.
I followed England for the whole of this week knowing the names of Rashford, Kane, McGuire, Sterling and that clever little goalkeeper Jordan Pickford whilst recalling the winning team’s names of 1966: Geoff Hurst, Nobby Stiles, Bobby and Jackie Charlton and Bobby Moore. I knew the Christian names then! I watched as Federer started out so well (as did England against Croatia) and then astonishingly lose to the South African with an American accent, Anderson. We think it’s all in the bag and then the ball goes in a different direction.
Back in the direction of Watford: I short listed 10 winners on the writing competition theme 100. The audience of competitors had to sit through 45 minutes of me reading from my collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ before announcing the three ultimate winners judged by Richard Harrington MP and the mayor of Watford. I had no idea who the winners were from my short list, evident when I stumbled on announcement, petrified that I might call out a non-winner’s name in error. I did hear that the runner-up was so thrilled she promptly went out and had a purple pedicure. We should all do that when we win or don’t win.
So. I have been able to connect Watford with the biggest thing that has happened to our country this week: football. Let’s just for a moment forget Boris Johnson and Brexit. I would like to focus on Helen Nicell who organised the Watford Area Arts Writing Competition with such expediency and charm. Just goes to show that sport and writing aside, some people just have winning natures.

If the Hat Fits …

05/07/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘If the Hat Fits’ by Ms Paige Turner
Last night I ran one of my Amersham Evening Creative Ink Workshops entitled ‘The Protagonist’. Catherine Klyhn has been running these quarterly evening workshops for a number of years. And numbers have now increased so she hires the aptly named ‘Seasons’ Café in Old Amersham. For £18 Catherine provides lovely wine, sandwiches and canapes and my fee with my hand out sheets.
This year we have been running ‘The Antagonist’, ‘The Protagonist’, ‘The Stranger’ and ‘The Visitor’. Last night we looked at The Central Character/The Protagonist with about forty hats arriving on heads and tables. (I have a bundle of hats. I come from a theatre stable.) This was somewhat inspired by my recent Royal Ascot visit so I spent the whole evening wearing a fascinator as it cost a lot and I don’t get many opportunities to wear it. A great deal of hard working fun was had by all and the next evening workshop is on Wednesday 3rd October/’The Stranger’. If you would like to be put on the Creative Ink for Writers’ Evening Workshop Mailing List, let me know.
Or if you would like to run an evening or day workshop yourself let me know. I will travel (within reason) or a small group could come to my house in Beaconsfeld. You don’t have to do wine and picky things!
It’s a way of keeping my workshops flowing now that I have let go of the Creative Ink termly classes at the Fitzwilliams Centre, Beaconsfield. Next Monday former Creative Inker Helen Nicell has asked me to perform my ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ perf at the Watford Area Arts Forum. I have been involved with judging/short listing their writing comp for the Harrington Trophy and the results and winners will be announced then.
So if you would like me to come read that 50 minute perf, there’s that too. My fee as always is reasonable.

Good Women

13/06/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Women’ by Ms Paige Turner
So 100 years ago some women succeeded in getting the right to vote. It was four years before my mother was born. When I presented the prizes at the Gerrards Cross Shakespeare Writing Comp last month I found myself explaining cross dressing to a group of youngsters. What freedom Viola in ‘Twelfth Night’ and Rosalind in ‘As You Like It’ enjoyed when they became their male counterparts Cesario and Ganymede respectively! Not to mention Portia’s and Nerissa’s ‘male’ barristers in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. My daughter is a criminal barrister. What access did my mother have to that profession with her East End upbringing some ninety years ago?
I was reminded of my mother’s working life when I visited my sister’s home in Poitiers, Charante last week. My mother’s ‘meubles’ live in my sister’s home: hard working dining tables and chairs; serving spoons; soup ladles. They bear the hallmarks of a century of female family: the serving at tables; the sharing of words and food.
Which brings me neatly to my ‘Red Lipstick’ perf at Egham Women’s Institute in Surrey last night. I was ferried there by the lovely and careful driver Fiona Gibb. We were served with the warmest of welcomes and lemon drizzle cake. And the warmest of audiences on the warmest of evenings.
And finally today I have finished reading the Watford Area Arts Forum Writing Comp entries. The theme was 100 where I started. It’s been a month of celebrating the life of good women and I hadn’t any intention of doing that. But I have.

Farewell Fitzwilliams

23/05/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

Farewell Fitzwilliams – Blog 191 – by Ms Paige Turner
Dear Creative Inkers,
I meant to do a speech at the Farewell Creative Ink Classes on Tuesday 22nd May at the Fitzwilliams Centre, Beaconsfield. But events or my emotion overtook me. I was going to say lots of things to give closure to my eighteen years of Creative Ink classes at the Fitzwilliams Centre and the twelve years before that at the Beaconsfield Adult Learning.
My last class’s theme was ‘Ending with Beginnings’ so let me simply say what AA Milne has said before me. ‘Can’t we go back to page one and do it again?’
And huge thanks for the flowers and incredibly generous Cliveden voucher. How fitting that Fiona Gibbs should go to collect it last Saturday and see a duchess in the making! And I felt like Meghan Markle for the day on Tuesday.

Creative Ink for Writers continues …
Editing, Proof Reading, Assessments and One to One consultations.
Or hire me for Creative Writing Workshops. (If you would like to be added to the evening workshops organised by Catherine Klyhn in Amersham then please email me.)
Or I can do a reading of ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ for you and if you haven’t bought a book then here’s the link: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/jan-moran-neil/4593516523
Or I am at Gerrards Cross Library Prize Giving reading this Saturday at midday.

‘Now We Are 64′ 1959-65 Primary School Reunion.

15/05/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Now We Are 64’ – A Primary School Meet Up after 53 Years by Ms Paige Turner
Scary, eh?
I remember hitting the ground running on my ‘horse’ Snowy to get to school in the early 1960s. My besties: Pat Brewin (nee Eastwood) would be whipping along on her Apatche and Pat Rich (nee Harding) on her Espagna. (They might forgive me if I got the spellings of their ‘horses’ wrong. I never saw the names of these imaginary animals ever written down.) But last Saturday I was travelling from Buckinghamshire to East Croydon and I thank the gods that the 12.36 pm was late forcing me to catch the earlier train into Marylebone. For I discovered at Oxford Circus that the Victoria line was down so I caught another Tube and decided to get off at Charing Cross where I was told to get a train to London Bridge where I was told by a member of the railway staff with an Iphone and mile long fingernails to get an over ground to Cannon Street and from there to get an over ground to Blackfriars – where after multiple flights of escalators I screamed at the ticket collector ‘Does this train go to East Croydon?’. ‘Go forit,’ he shouted. The over ground from Blackfriars CRAWLED. When I got to East Croydon it was raining. I arrived at my primary school to greet my alumni I had not seen for fifty three years like a wet dormouse. Getting to school used to be a whole lot easier.
Adrian Spalding and Pat nee Eastwood did all of the alumni tracing and they brought to the table some of our letters sent to them when they were both in hospital. (Not at the same time.) Diane Allan who always came top wrote: ‘Robert O’Sullivan has just come back again from living in Australia. He must be twice the length of Pat Waine!’ (Diane always used – and still does – exclamation marks brilliantly!!) Robert indeed left our class for Oz, returned and then left again! And for a third time he returned last Saturday to our classroom via Face Time, expertly organized by Michael Luck who had spent most of the week in conference with the school’s IT department.
There were lots of Michaels and lots of Pats in our class. Michael Histed was regaled for having been swamped with requests from female members of the class to country dance with him. The one time I managed to get him as a partner he wore long white socks and flailed around the school hall. He is still as mischievous, buying me a large red wine at the end of our day. I said I couldn’t possibly drink it or I would be flat on the floor of the Uber going home.
Ian Shillingford looked so young I mistook him for the lovely caretaker Keith who kept all the classrooms open for us and patiently took sixty four photos on ten Iphones. Thankfully, Palace was not playing on Saturday so we got Ian in full splendour shorts. It’s the way I remember him.
Jean Fullen (that marvellous Mad March Hare in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party 1962 despite the navy knickers she was made to wear for the part) and Pat Waine brought fresh olives and party humour to the table. Pat is still as petite and she looks twenty three. Did she send her daughter instead? And I was so happy to see Brenda Newman. Our grocery shops were on different sides of the Lower Addiscombe Road but we spent thirteen years at the same two schools and had the longest conversation we’d ever had on Saturday. It was a wonderful day. I was probably too garrulous at the end. For I downed that large red Michael Histed bought me. Well … couldn’t see it go to waste.
Many thanks to the Ark Oval Primary School and Eileen Lawlor.
So who’s going to volunteer to organise ‘Now we are 65’? I’m passing over the baton and being released from my Round Robin Monitor Duties.