Fairy Tales and Orange Lilies …

12/07/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

Fairy Tales and Orange Lilies by Ms Paige Turner
The second of the Creative Ink for Writers’ evening workshops on the theme of ‘Keys’ took place in Amersham on July 3rd. We were looking at fairy tales to unlock the secrets of storytelling structure. Like WHO are we talking about, WHERE are, WHEN is this taking place and WHY NOW? It’s the four Ws. (There’s a bit more to it than that but just come to a workshop and see for yourself.)
So every year, it seems without fail, ONE, TWO OR MORE ORANGE LILIES, appear in our GARDEN on THE DAYS LEADING UP TO THE TWELFTH OF JULY/ORANGEMEN’S DAY and then it or they fade on 15TH JULY OR A DAY OR SO AFTER. What is significant about this NOW? My father was a member of the Orange Order and he died 42 years ago on St Swithin’s Day, July 15th.
I always seem to forget about the orange lilies. Somehow I never look for them but when I came home from our daughter Miss Trial and Master Mind’s house on Saturday there were two. Early. On 6th July. Then I remembered our cousin’s husband Gerry had died and was buried last week in Belfast.
It may seem like a fairy tale, but it gives me comfort. That’s my story for this bi-month.
Next evening workshop is ‘Keys to the Door’ on Wednesday 2nd October at 8.00 pm in Amersham and £18 for workshop, follow up hand out sheets and Catherine’s ravishing refreshments.

Shaking Our Spines Out …

29/06/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

Shaking Out Our Spines … by Ms Paige Turner
Seven of my cohorts from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama met up in our seventh decade at Fifth View, Waterstones, Piccadilly. I’m not quite sure how it exactly happened but I guess it might be a result of semi or near retirement with some time to spend.
We must have looked as though we were ladies who lunched as we munched through our seven salads but we were a packed powerhouse of people: documentary filmmakers, veritable voice bards, Shakespearian schools’ theatre directors, National and RSC actresses, actresses who have filmed with Elizabeth Taylor and those with daughters who are starring in Downton Abbey. Not to mention the voice over agents and radio presenters who missed their trains. And if you dressed us back in a pair of practice leotard and tights we could have passed off (to each other) as eighteen years old shaking out our spines in the Drama Studio.
When I arrived home with much mirth and glee and a stuffed tiger for Princess Maddie Moo Moo, I told my husband Mister Justin Case that our Central course in the seventies had been so diverse it was a wonderful training for all sorts of careers in teaching, theatre, film, radio and writing which in some way or another I have been doing all my life. My mother had referred to my four year training as ‘an intellectual Finishing School’. And I told him wasn’t I lucky to have has such a magical foundation and day. He thoroughly agreed and then added, ‘It’s just a shame Central didn’t teach you to create and read spread sheets. Tax returns tomorrow.’
Hey ho …
Two places left on the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ Evening Workshop this coming Wednesday 3rd July in Amersham. 8.00 pm and £18 for workshop, Catherine’s ravishing refreshments and my follow up hand out sheets. Keys to the Kingdom … are there any?

Touch of 64 Up Seasoning

15/06/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Touch of 64 Up Seasoning’ by Ms Paige Turner
Last May 2018, ten former pupils from my primary school met up after 53 years. We did a tour of the Ark Oval Infant and Junior school where our education began in 1959. We are just one year older than Michael Apted’s ‘7 Up’ documentary series which has followed a group of children every seven years throughout their lives. ’63 Up’ was broadcast recently and I was, as always, simply captivated.
Apted, now at 78, looks more than faintly like God, although he has, and I think succeeded, not played that role with his interviewees. What he has said is that the documentary series is a testament to ‘the ordinary life’ and its premise is based on Aristotle’s famous statement, taken up by the Jesuits: Give me a child until the age of seven and I will give you the man.
And so to this year’s primary school reunion. Nine of us met up again this May for lunch as a couple of the girls traced couldn’t get to us last year. Last year had been both magical and surrealistic: having the faces of children in one’s head and then seeing them fully formed but still quite patently ‘in there’. I didn’t expect this year’s meeting to live up to that first rendezvous. But it did.
We kind of discovered that the kids you play with become the people you truly know. Trish told me about a play ‘what I wrote’ when I was nine and performed it. She even remembered the plot line – someone got murdered – and I was tempted to write it down for future use. You see, I was doing it back then. And as Angela said – and I add both she and Di were always vying for top of the class and one or other managed to do it every term, never pulling rank on the rest of us – ‘When you’re kids, you’re raw. When you’re moving into retirement, the same rawness descends.’ Or something like that. I will be forever grateful to Angela for taking me into her warm sleeping bag on school camp when I had stuck my feet out of the canvas and got myself drenched. I like that word ‘rawness’. In the child is the same tone of voice, the same slant of the lip, the essence. Here we are back again:  only just slightly modified – raw with a touch of seasoning.
Creative Ink for Writers’ Evening Workshop in Amersham: Wednesday 3rd July at 8.00pm. ‘Keys to the Kingdom’. How Fairy Tales help us understand The Story. £18 for workshop, follow up notes and Catherine’s notorious nibbles and wine.

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 …