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.
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.