Visitors bearing Gifts …

13/12/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

Visitors bearing Gifts by Ms Paige Turner
The final Creative Ink evening workshop of the year (organised by Catherine Klyhn) was entitled ‘The Visitor’ and the theme for Quaker Poets was Gifts. So here’s a poem which marries both themes.

Abou Ben Adhem
By Leigh Hunt
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

This is the poem I wish had been read at my mother’s funeral almost seventeen years ago. She loved it as she loved her fellow men and women. Have a warm Christmas.

‘Frankie and Di’

03/12/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Frankie and Di’ by Ms Paige Turner
I saw two people this past week who brightened up my mid-winter days no end. The first was Frankie Valli last night at the O2 stadium. Actually, I had seen Frankie twice before. The story goes like this. Mister Justin Case, Miss Trial and Master Mind and I are all Four Seasons’ aficionados, having seen ‘The Jersey Boys’ about 13 times. When Mister Justin Case and I were transversing the USA in those trains which have beds three quarters your length even if you are short like Mister Justin Case and me, we were stopping in Denver for the day. ‘Lo and behold,’ Mister Justin Case said. ‘Frankie Valli is appearing. Shall we go?’ So we did. After climbing lots of Colorado mountains.
We then saw Frankie at the Royal Albert Hall the following year and I was able to run down to the stage like those irritating people and I shook hands with him. I mouthed the words, ‘I saw you in Denver last year’. But Mister Justin Case said that his ear phones and 8000 people would have prevented him hearing this. I think he’s chocolate: Frankie that is.
I also saw Di. After 53 years. We went to primary school together and she always came top of the class. Di kept me on my toes. I never beat her but she was such a gentle winner. You couldn’t help but not mind the fact that she was always came first. She had lost her soft Scottish ten year old brogue but not her gentleness. I met Di with my lovely chum Pat who was in the same primary class. It was over our John Lewis salad that Di confessed that once she had come 13th. This memory slipped to the front of my mind as she said this. However, I couldn’t gain any satisfaction from this default. Educationists in the sixties used to think you had to be pulled down a peg or two. Walking with her on Oxford Street Underground to the tune of ‘While Shepherds Watched’ took me back to all those lovely primary nativities when I was always, indeed, a shepherd. Like singing with Frankie Valli I was walking on Cloud 9. That was chocolate too.
Still a couple of places on the Creative Ink Evening Workshop entitled ‘The Visitor’ this Wednesday 5th December at 8.00 pm in Amersham. £18. Email me. Catherine supplies copious chocolate …

Visiting and Scribbling in SA …

22/11/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

Visiting and Scribbling in SA … by Ms Paige Turner
I’ve been leading on some of the evening workshops at Fish Hoek Scribblers since 2009. This year was Fish Hoek’s Centenary and the Scribblers, founded way back in the 50s when I was toddling, produced a centenary anthology to commemorate the town. Largely under management of Karen and Paul Gray-Kilfoil ‘Southern Write’ was launched at the Fish Hoek Library, Cape Town in October and I gave a tribute to the inimitable Sybil A’Bear who was one of the founder members.
The Scribblers then had me for a Red Christmas and reading of my ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’. Throughout the years this group has assisted me in exploring the South African culture. After all, I’m married to a South African man and like the Cape winds, one has to check daily which way they are blowing and plan accordingly. So it’s an ongoing project. And like my spouse, this group is always a challenge and keep me on my ten toes. Mister Justin Case and I were fortunate enough to spend the last two weeks of our stay with our daughter Miss Trial and our granddaughter Madeleine Lily. The latter insists that she has two toes but ‘two’ is the operative word for her. She is it this coming Sunday.

Three places left on Creative Ink for Writers’ UK evening workshop on Wednesday 5th December at Amersham. 8.00 pm and entitled ‘The Visitor’. £18 to include drinks and nibbles. Wear red if you can and email me.

www.PaulKilfoil.co.za/SouthernWrite.aspx – for anyone who wants to know details about where to get ‘Southern Write’.

Red Lipstick at the St James’s Retirement Home, Cape Town with thanks …

06/11/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Red Lipstick’ at St James’s Retirement Home, Kalk Bay Cape Town with thanks by Ms Paige Turner …
St James’s is like a stationary cruise liner docked in the ever-changing Indian ocean. The elegantly pink dining room is reminiscent of the age old First Class Queens of the Seas. Tea is served in porcelain cups and the ample library is stocked with Dick Francis and novels like ‘Careless in Red’. I tried not to be: I spoke my poems loudly, slowly and clearly as I’m not a lover of microphones.
There must have been at least 1500 years of living in that sunny lounge last week. The youngest was Khululwa Nkatshu. Khuls showed up with her mate Cindy who works on the cash till at Woolworths in Long Beach Mall, Fish Hoek and Khuls was the actress who performed my one woman play ‘A President in Waiting’ at the Masambe, Baxter Theatre two years ago. Thank you for coming to my perf, Khuls and Cindy.
A number of my poems feature those wonderful Xhosa Dlongwana sisters: Maria, Beauty, Patricia, Wendy, Miranda/Busisiwe, Pumeza and Kutala. Pumeza texted me at 6.00 am last Sunday to say their father had died. Pumeza is taking seven children by car to the Eastern Cape this Friday after work to get to her father’s funeral on Saturday and returning home on Sunday to go back to work on Monday. Pumeza, thank you for the Tuesday work you do in our home.
I want to thank Betty Halstead OBE for thanking me after every poem I read. Betty is a 100 years old and told me that I had enriched her life last week. She was awarded an OBE for tribal work in Zimbabwe. When I called for Qs and As she asked me where I would like to end up. I said I thought St James’s was a fine place to be … Thank you, Betty for enriching my life.
Next stop/Fish Hoek Scribblers/Thursday 15th November at 6.00 pm for another perf of ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’.

Small and Trusted

15/10/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Small and Trusted’ by Ms Paige Turner
My ‘Red Lipstick’ audience last Friday at High Wycombe Library almost beat my Guinness Book of Records hit in 1979. That was with my Ruddles Theatre Company (sponsored by the lovely Rutland brewery) performance of Barry Keefe’s ‘Gotcha’ which had an audience in Grantham of two. And they were mates of one of our actors. To be fair I was competing with a Royal Wedding and the 11 Plus results.
But it doesn’t matter to me if I have three or a thousand punters: a perf is a perf. The audience was small and very appreciative and so was I.
Writing Magazine included a tiny book in their last issue of writers’ quotes. Thumbing through I see Rose Tremain has written: listen to the criticisms and preferences of your “trusted first readers”. A further draft of my novel has come back from one of my “trusted first readers” and I’m listening hard. Writing is re-writing …

Blog 200/A Well Good Working Week

06/10/2018 // by Jan Moran Neil

Blog 200 – A Well Good Working Week
When I let go of my regular Creative Ink for Writers’ classes I didn’t expect to be quite so busy with … well … work. Like London buses, editing work comes in showers. I had a downpour this week but rain is in my genes: I come from a long line of umbrella makers, so the pennies from heaven are welcome. And my, is it raining today.
Last Wednesday evening saw the third Creative Ink workshop this year organised by Catherine Klyhn and my topic was ‘The Stranger’: the person or incident which comes from a foreign and unexpected field to change the course of your life or your central character’s life. Next evening workshop is Wednesday 5th December in Amersham and it’s ‘The Visitor’. Email me if interested. Catherine puts on lovely mulled wine and picks. £18.
How great it is to see former Creative Inkers for coffee and cake. When the lovely Galit Gibson suggested this on a Saturday morning, I thought – what a great idea. Especially after an hour on the treadmill watching ‘Coronation Street’ catch up. Galit and I never stopped talking: not surprising if you know either of us.
Don’t be a stranger. Let me know how you and your words are getting along.

I’m at High Wycombe Library next Friday 12th October – 11.00 am until midday reading from my ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ poetry collection for National Libraries Week.

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.