A Sad Day for Hungry Tigers …

26/05/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘A Sad Day for Hungry Tigers …’ by Ms Paige Turner
Last Thursday 23rd May, writer and illustrator Dame Judith Kerr (95) died. For thirty years, on and off, I’ve been reading her ‘Tiger who came to Tea’ to my daughter Miss Trial and then to my two year old granddaughter Princess Maddie Moo. Both of them (apparently like Kerr’s daughter) would ask for ‘Tiger Talk’. Children and adults alike love it. At its core its premise is this: Sophie’s mother allows ‘a big furry tiger’ to enter the house and eat ‘all’ the food and ‘all’ the drink so that when Dad arrives home he has the brainwave suggestion of going out to eat sausages and chips at the café. Feminists have criticized this much-loved book for its reflection of rigid gender roles. Here’s my response:
1. It’s a story.
2. Sophie’s mum is far too busy playing with her daughter to stock the food cupboard, make the evening meal or run a bath for Sophie. The tiger is a great excuse for play.
3. When Kerr was 9, her German-Jewish family fled Berlin. Her father’s books were burnt and if I may stretch the premise of her renowned ‘Tiger’, possibly what might have been beneath its surface was the invasion of a destructive regime.
On Friday 24th May, Theresa May announced her forthcoming resignation as Conservative and Unionist Party Leader and Prime Minister. Once her job was finally done, she uncharacteristically broke down with emotion on her final few words for ‘the country she loved’. It was a sad day for Theresa May.
I’m not writing blogs to write politics and I’m not on Social Media for that reason either. But man or woman, once our job, effective or not, is done, let us be able to express how we feel publicly without criticism. For as we all know, hungry tigers are always poised to pounce. And as my former Miss Techie Wizard on my plays aka Kerriaberry said, ‘Let’s all go out for some sausages and chips …’

Keys to Wycombe Abbey

10/05/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Keys to Wycombe Abbey’ by Ms Paige Turner

Continuing with the Creative Ink theme of ‘Keys’ this year, I’ve spent a few days reading the Wycombe Abbey students’ entries for their 2019 Short Story Competition. I was then invited to read my Judge’s Report last night and announce the winners, whilst dining and then serving up some of my ‘Red Lipstick’ offerings.
I agreed with the organiser, English teacher Mrs Shivaun Mason: it was a wonderful evening. Writers as young as eleven years ranging up to the Lower Sixth, grappled with the concepts of Metafiction, the Villanelle and the Sestina. I gave a couple of writing exercises, although Lord love them, by seven o’clock in the evening they must have been school saturated. My four Ws I hoped might provide keys to opening up their stories, WHO, WHERE, WHEN, and, as many of us might ask about our lives: WHY NOW?
I must apologise for mistaking the four staff members for sixth formers. Yes, policemen are getting younger too. And I apologise to the two members of the Literary Society who so eloquently introduced me and gave the closing thanks. Over our lovely dinner I promised to tell them when the evening was over, what Alan Bennett – who coincidentally had a birthday yesterday – had said about our competition theme. ‘Life is rather like a tin of sardines. We’re all of us looking for the key …’

For the Silent

03/05/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘For the Silent’ by Ms Paige Turner …
I’m honoured to be in the same poetry anthology as Simon Armitage, Margaret Atwood, Ted Hughes, Philip Gross as well as Dawn Bauling and the editor Ronnie Goodyer of Indigo Dreams Publishing in aid of ‘The League against Cruel Sports’. The ‘For the Silent’ collection is available from Indigo or Amazon.
This last week we kicked off with one of four evening workshops this year on the theme of ‘Keys’. We were all unlocking our creative unconsciousness at the Seasons Café in Amersham, organised by Catherine Klyhn and led par moi. The next one is Wednesday 3rd July for ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ using fairy tales to open up inspiration. Email me if for £18 – which gives you a 2 hour workshop/handouts/wine and nibbles – you would like to bite. We had a lot of fun putting our keys on the table … but not 80s’ style.

‘Priceless Themes’ …

22/04/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Priceless Themes’ by Ms Paige Turner
Arthur Miller always placed his theme at the top of every A4 sheet of paper he was typing. ‘Theme’ is the core of a piece of writing: this Miller knew well and took great pains to encapsulate his theme not only in every sheet of paper but in his titles. Thus is ‘The Crucible’ a means of heating a substance which dissipates into the air or a severe and testing trial which produces something new? Are we talking about the burning of witches or are we talking about persecution of the innocent? Whose view are we observing in ‘A View from the Bridge’? Are we observing the incoming illegal immigrants from a safe and cosy stance? Who exactly are immigrants? And without giving a spoiler who exactly are the sons in ‘All my Sons’? I love Miller’s double entendres. Or multi-entendres.
Last week Mister Justin Case and I went to see David Suchet in Miller’s ‘The Price’ at the Wyndhams. Are we talking about the price the assessor is offering two brothers for their deceased father’s furniture or are we talking about the price we pay for the choices we make in life? ‘The price we pay for our lost loves’ quoted from Jan Moran Neil’s poem ‘Bread Pudding Days’ and published in her collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’. (I just love to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Arthur Miller …)
On quite a different theme, two days later on Good Friday we took our granddaughter Princess Maddie, along with her parents: Miss Trial and Master Mind to see ‘Where is Peter Rabbit?’ at the Haymarket. He was of course, nowhere to be found. The rest of the weekend was about bunny hunting.

Funny Men …

06/04/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Funny Men’ – Blog 213 by Ms Paige Turner …
There’s a theatre about 20 minutes from Africa’s toe, overlooking Kalk Bay which has a restaurant that overlooks an intimate performance space and 72 of the most comfortable audience seats imaginable. It’s a good view whichever way you look during your pre-theatre meal.
The theatre came up twice trumps for us this 25th Swallow Drop to Cape Town. Firstly there was a really good Safari Show for kids and we took our two year old granddaughter Maddie Moo, who, sitting in the front row promptly got up in the middle of the show to handle the stage props. Yep, chip off the old Creative Ink block, if I live long enough I will teach her the importance of props and how not to ever forget them.
Aaron Mcllroy’s one man adult show entitled ‘ADHD and other gifts …’ was unforgettable. For those of you old enough to remember the comedian Bob Newhart, Mcllroy takes a leaf from his style. He swivels into several different characters during an hour and speaks to a host of people clearly visible in his imaginary eye. As an audience member, imagining the responses from this host of motley angels, I near on wet myself. I hadn’t laughed as much since my last dose of Dave Allen. And I didn’t know that Isaac Newton, Billy Jean King and Sir Winston Churchill had Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or as one of Mcllroy’s ‘angels’ says: ‘ABCD’ …
For my three UK Blog readers I guess you won’t be able to catch this show. If you’re reading in SA you might.
In my next life I’d quite like to run this magical theatre.

Two places left on the Creative Ink Evening Workshop ‘Unlocking Your Creative Unconscious’ in Amersham. £18 to include refreshments. Wednesday 1st May.

For UK Mother’s Day

30/03/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘For UK Mother’s Day’ by Ms Paige Turner …

For mothers: Kerry and Lisa …
And the mothers’ mothers …
Elana and Pendisa …
For Cael and Thabisa …
Who saw too few Easters …
May the fragrance of your flowers linger on …

Cael Rawley Bell (From Manchester, UK) 28/7/95 – 24/2/19 – aged 23 years
Thabisa Nkatshu (To Masiphumelele, Cape Town) 3/1/17 – 2/3/19 – aged tiny two.

‘Buffel, the Elephant Seal’

07/03/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Buffel, the Elephant Seal’ by Ms Paige Turner
At the beginning of the year (a tagged) Buffel swept up on Fish Hoek Beach, which is around 20 miles from the Cape of Good Hope. He took up residence to shed his old skin and get a brand new one. Mister Justin Case and I had hoped that he would stay until we got here in February so we could see him snoozing as we walked the mile long beach to Clavelly. But alas, the day we were due to fly from Heathrow it was reported on Facebook that Buffel had ‘disparu’. Hours later, before we swallows took flight, this was reported as ‘fake news’. Buffel had just gone to take a swim in Skellies Pool nearby and was back on our track. Here’s what the Fish Hoek Beach daily chalked report said of him:

‘Advice from Buffel, the Elephant Seal on Chalkboard on the Beach’.

Be thick-skinned.
Spend a month on the beach every year.
Forget the banting diet and try moulting.
Growl if anyone wakes you.
Occasionally have a swim in Skellies Pool.
Enjoy Fish Hoek Beach.
Swim every day. Rest …
Travel to faraway places.

He waited until we arrived and took our first beach walk the next day. Then he was gone: skin moulted and new one rendered him ready to go. It’s kind of what we hope to do when we swallows drop in your valley: moult and re-new. Thanks for waiting for us, Buffel: magnificent creature that you are. And you know what? Bet you don’t spend thousands of rand on Botox and Fillers …

Scribbling Away in SA

23/02/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Scribbling Away in SA’ by Ms Paige Turner
Scrabbling around more like. Since we arrived in Fish Corner (Fish Hoek) our phones haven’t worked, the alarm has gone on the blink, along with the internet. We had no water for 48 hours as the men are laying fibre on the pavements and pickaxing into water pipes whilst we have a leak in our pool. But anyway, we’re privileged to have the latter. And today the sun is shining and all seems well after the mist.
Scribbling with the Fish Hoek scribblers in South Africa I have been starting up with my theme for the year: Keys with ‘Unlocking your Creative Unconscious’ which I am doing on May 1st for the Evening Creative Ink sessions organised by Catherine Klyhn in Amersham UK. (Email me for more details.) And later that month with Wycombe Abbey School for their short story competition.
I meet with the lovely Fish Hoek Scribblers twice a year and kicked off this session with ‘Put Your Life in Six Words’. Everyone did this magnificently but a newcomer beautifully christened as Gideon brought the house down with: Still. Trying. To. Puzzle. It. Out.
Mister Justin Case have been doing that all week …

Bread Pudding Days by Ms Paige Turner

14/02/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

Bread Pudding Days by Jan Moran Neil

On soggy days
when the rain spits
my mother’s house is filled
with the warmth of cinnamon sticks,
rich dried fruit
and softly sifted sugar.
She folds and wraps our words:
- the bargain cost of my orange gloves
- the price we paid for our lost loves
- our woeful tales of wicked hate
- our splendid plans to be great.
All are measured, sieved, considered
for their mixed worth
baked into something sturdy,
crusty, spongy and deeply palatable.
And in that cooking fragrance
- the weight and varied textures
touching half remembered edges -
my mother’s syllables and smiles stretch on:
a balm against the greying bits,
a refuge against the rain which spits.

For Muriel – 10.6.22. – 14.2.01.

Actually she died on a beautiflly sunny Valentine’s Day just like today.

Princely Sums and Brexit

29/01/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Princely Sums and Brexit’ by Ms Paige Turner
A couple of weeks ago Miss Trial took me to Buckingham Palace for my Christmas present. I adore the Georgian period for its architecture, theatre (all that fun Restoration which gave birth to Farce), costume and wigs which persist into our court rooms today.
Buckingham House was built for the Duke of Buckingham and then bought by George 111. His son George 1V, responsible for the Royal Pavilion, also known as Prinny’s Folly in Brighton, largely turned the house into a palace. His only surviving child and daughter Princess Charlotte died in childbirth at the age of 29, motivating the then Prince of Wales’s (George 1V) brothers to scurry around and marry European princesses to carry on the royal line. George 1V died without further issue, as they say and despite his brother William 1V having had 10 children with his mistress (an actress of course) he also died without further legitimate issue. Apparently William paid off his mistress Mrs Jordan and then left her to die in poverty in Paris as she renaged on their contract and returned to perform on the stage.
George and William’s younger brother the Duke of Kent had a baby daughter: Victoria and on her Uncle William 1V’s death, she Took Throne (as her dad had died of pneumonia) and the Rest is History.
Here is the nub of this bi-monthly blog. A direct descendant of William 1V’s illegitimate issue and Mrs Jordan (the Anglo-Irish actress – and what may I ask is wrong with being either Anglo-Irish or an actress?) is … David Cameron. Which brings me to Right Royal Pickles and Princely Sums.

My novel ‘Shakespeare’s Clock’ had lift off into Agent/Publishing Space last Thursday. God bless her and all the work I put into her.