‘A Garden in my Ears …’

27/02/2020 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘A Garden in my Ears …’ by Ms Paige Turner
Fish Hoek Scribblers in Cape Town guinea-pigged my ‘Birth of an Idea’ workshop this last week and grateful I was to the 17 writers for being patient with my blocked right ear. In my writing I’m always endeavouring to ‘hear myself better’. At times this can be a challenge but it was a pleasant one last Thursday.
The forthcoming ‘Birth of an Idea’ evening workshop in March at Beaconsfield is now full. But do watch out for the next one in the series fully covering our slim adolescence. I will post details after March 19th.
With clear ears (thanks to Doctor Estherhuisen at Constantia Mediclinic – doesn’t Mister Justin Case know the car park well?) I did a ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’ perf at Simons Town High School on Monday. I always shower and wash hair for a perf but our water was cut off so that was a first. (Eskom for power or the euphemistically called ‘load shedding’ is a challenge too.) Another first was to perform my rap to twenty Xhosa youngsters who were bemused when this elderly, white, UK woman said she would read her rap: fingers crossed. I loved watching their mouths open and then could almost catch them saying at the end of the rendition ‘Stitched Up’ – ‘Hear, hear’.
Thanks to Khuls Nkatshu, Karen Gray-Kilfoil and Earl Mentor for giving me passports into their communities.
Tuesday 3rd March – Book signing of ‘On Reflection’ at Beaconsfield Library by a group of Creative Inkers at 2.30 pm. See you there. All ears …

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What do you want to do ?

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On Reflection

18/02/2020 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘On Reflection’ by Ms Paige Turner
A group of Creative Inkers has put together this anthology of poetry and prose and I’m looking forward to attending their launch at Beaconsfield Library, 2.30 pm on Tuesday 3rd March. Ladies. Very. Well. Done.
I’m also looking forward to leading two evening workshops: ‘The Birth of an Idea’. Scribblers in Fish Hoek, Cape Town at the SARS Hall this coming Thursday 20th February at 6.00 pm.
Then Creative Ink for Writers’ Evening Workshop in Beaconsfield/Thursday 19th March at 7.45 pm. Suzie is hosting and I am leading so email me for venue details.

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God and Lipstick … by Ms Paige Turner

02/02/2020 // by Jan Moran Neil

God and Lipstick

My first day! My first client! Oh, my God.
And her completed form tells me she’s eighty seven.
I’m giving her Bubble Bliss Heaven. Number
sixteen massage on the Client Care List. I say, “I hope
you have a lovely stay. Is your lipstick
Max Factor? Or X Factor? Let’s make a start then.”

She lies on the bed, all quiet like, and then
I’m thinking, it’s like stroking a post mortem, dear God.
I say, “You’re wearing such a pretty lipstick.
And why not? Just a number, isn’t it, eighty seven?
You’ve done well to get to that age. I hope
I get to that age. Head up a little. Yes, just a number.”

Then she croaks, “Shall I tell you a story about a number?”
And I say, “Oh, I love a story. Go on then.”
And then she says, “It’s a Story of Hope.
It’s a Story of how I wish to meet God.
It’s a Story about not just being eighty seven.
It’s a Story about a Consignment of Lipstick.

“In the days of release they gifted us lipstick
and to us it meant we weren’t just a number.
My number was A, two, six, one, eight, seven.
I had been a number, you see, up until then.
We were women who had never seen our faces or God
for years. We had forsaken hope.

“That ruby red stick gave us not food but hope;
we were just hollow women wearing lipstick.
I couldn’t be sure, you see, there was a God
or if there was, was I to Him just a number?
I had been a number, you see, up until then.
I was A, two, six, one, eight, seven.

“And now I’m eighty seven.
And I’ve learned to make friends with hope.
It gave a female corpse the thought that then
she might meet God with a slash of lipstick
on her sealed mouth. A mouth with a number
and no name. Just Lipstick and God.”

It’s then I notice it. Oh. My. God.
She’s in Room Seven. The VIP Gold Star Suite number.
Hope she won’t report me for mentioning her lipstick.

For 75th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. To hear me reading this it’s bottom right hand corner on the Home Page of my website.
‘Birth of an Idea’ workshop/Thursday 19th March at 7.45 pm. Email me for details.

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‘From Planet Janet …’

12/01/2020 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘From Planet Janet…’ by Ms Paige Turner
I was going to write this short blog before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s (or are they still?) announcement last week that they were ‘stepping back’ from Royal Duties.
This must be in part because the duchess (is she still?) believes that one should ‘thrive and not have to just survive’ as she mentioned in the Tom Bradbury documentary interview last October.
What planet is the Duchess of Sussex on? The majority of people in this world learn to survive. I did. And when we can thrive comes in moments if we are fortunate. The Duchess of Sussex is very fortunate to hold this belief. She is rich and famous. And I am not racist.
Let me know if you want to come to the Creative Ink Evening Workshop on Thursday 19th March – 8.00 pm until 10.00 pm. £20 for the session, Suzie’s stunning snacks and hand out sheets. ‘The Birth of an Idea’. Beaconsfield.

Happy Writing …2020

29/12/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Happy New Decade …’ by Ms Paige Turner
At this time of year, there are no better words than the ones our three year old granddaughter was heard to say on Christmas morning, midway opening a tumultuous pile of presents, ‘I need to go and lie down …’
If you feel this way, then go ahead and Happy Writing and Other Things for 2020.

Happy Boris Christmas, then …

17/12/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

Happy Boris Christmas, then … by Ms Paige Turner
Just wanting to thank Catherine and her ravishing refreshments for the last of the Creative Ink evening workshops in Amersham. That litless road at night was getting too much for me. And I thank Catherine for hosting these workshops for the last seven years. I think Catherine counted 25!
And good news for 2020. There are plans afoot for a Beaconsfield Creative Ink evening workshop in the spring so watch this space and mail shots.
I must mention the poet Chris Johnson who has been coming to me for one to one consultations for years. A widely published poet in prestigious poetry publications, he has a poem coming up in the highly regarded Acumen in January. What a way to start the New Year.
It remains for me to wish you a Happy Boris Christmas – as I expect he is.

‘The Significance of the Original …’

28/11/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘The Significance of The Original …’ by Ms Paige Turner
Here follows an excerpt from my Slice of Memoir Story ‘The Great and the Good’ which I wrote in 1997 and was published in my collection ‘Serving Bluebird Pie’.
‘The day after my father’s mother died, I took the train up to Victoria with him. He was heading for the sleeper to Stranraer and for her Belfast funeral. He silently took a secret from his coat pocket. He smoothed his thumb over the creased faces on a faded brown and cream photograph, as if in a caress. It was a photograph of his father and himself, aged about nine. I was nineteen. I had never seen a photograph of my grandfather or my own father as a child.
“Do you still remember him?” I asked naively. I was then the same age that he had been when he lost his father.
“He is as clear and close to me as my mother is now,” he replied. Then back into the cupboard of his pocket the smoothed out photo went. He looked out of the train window and stared up at the sky.’
That one inch by one inch sepia photo was about fifty years old at the time in 1975 and it was the only photo my father possessed of his father. After my father himself died some eighteen months later, I found the tiny photo in a red cardboard Old Spice box and when I published my collection it was reproduced hundreds of times. I also had it enlarged and on display in two frames.
But recently I discovered the original in my photo album torn, defaced and according to Greg at GS Photos in Gerrards Cross, beyond repair. I told Greg that I blame myself for the loss of this much loved and now 95 year old snippet of a photo: carelessness. Greg, an Orange Free State South African (these natives are close to my heart) told me not to think about it. He might be able to work with the enlarged photo so that will last. His comforting words: ‘these things happen’. And so they do.
But the original has gone and alas, like some things in life, cannot be repaired even though I have tried to piece it together and make some overall sense of the picture. I shall place the pieces in my father’s Old Spice box, where I should have kept it all along and I will wrap it in a copy of this blog. In this World of Digital and Photo Plenty, maybe The Original has lost its place. Or at the least, can be edited and distorted. Maybe princes think that … or maybe they don’t.
Coming up: Blogging Your Personal Experiences at Evreham Adult Learning on Saturday 7th December/Day Workshop
Speaking with Confidence at Evreham Adult Learning on Saturday 25th April 2020
01296 382403
Creative Ink Workshops – The final Evening Workshop at Amersham with Catherine’s ravishing refreshments is on Wednesday 4th December at 8.00 pm. Two hours with me, hand out sheets, wine and nibbles and ‘The Key to Christmas’ for £18. Email me for further details. You can also arrange your own day or evening workshop with me or my 50 minute one woman readings from my collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’.

31 Years Service with Adult Learning …

11/11/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘31 Years Service with Adult Learning …’ by Ms Paige Turner
It’s been a wonderful six weeks: we had an attempted break in at our lovely home in Cape Town. When the smashed patio window was replaced a cat took up residence being sealed in for days on end setting off the alarm. The upholstery and carpets had to be cleaned, the razor wire (yes we have it) replaced, the intercom fixed. En route to Cape Town I left my boarding pass with Yves St Laurent (I know them well at Heathrow). I reclaimed it to find one hour before boarding that my pass was for Helsinki … That settled I locked myself in the Ladies and a kind lady told me not to panic.
I did manage to get to Cape Town despite the obstacles and watch the Rugby Final with the natives whilst reading Kate Atkinson’s ‘A God in Ruins’ with a collapsed left ear which seems, with some assistance, to be back on track.
I’ve done 31 Years with Adult Learning and they gave me £300. So that was nice! And I’m still at it …
Coming up: Blogging Your Personal Experiences at Evreham Adult Learning on Saturday 7th December/Day
Speaking with Confidence at Evreham Adult Learning on Saturday 25th April 2020
01296 382403
Creative Ink Workshops – The final Evening Workshop at Amersham with Catherine’s ravishing refreshments is on Wednesday 4th December at 8.00 pm. Two hours with me, hand out sheets, wine and nibbles and ‘The Key to Christmas’ for £18. Email me for further details. You can also arrange your own day or evening workshop with me or my 50 minute one woman readings from my collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’.

Friends on Good Writing …

23/10/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘Friends on Good Writing…’ by Ms Paige Turner

I’ve been Home Tutoring for the national Writing Magazine for thirteen years. I’ve proof read and given feedback on Scriptwriting, Poetry, Novels, Features and Memoir and made some long distance friends: correspondents whom, as in Helen Hanff’s ’84 Charing Cross Road’, I will probably never meet in person. Writing Magazine is offering a sizeable discount on their monthly periodicals if you quote this code: WM/TUTOR/JANMN

Call – 01778 392482
Visit – https://writ.rs/subs

I don’t get any remuneration for this but I thought it was worth mentioning in the same breath as Friend of Creative Ink for Writers’ Gavin Extence. He is an award winning novelist and Richard and Judy Good Read. His fourth novel ‘The End of Time’ is published by Hodder. The premise is: ‘Two young Syrian brothers flee their homeland in search of a better life in the UK’ and it’s informative, topical, historic, prophetic and gripping. A modern day ‘Grapes of Wrath’. I will always buy and read this young man’s books.

Creative Ink Workshops – The final Evening Workshop at Amersham with Catherine’s ravishing refreshments is on Wednesday 4th December at 8.00 pm. Two hours with me, hand out sheets, wine and nibbles and ‘The Key to Christmas’ for £18. Email me for further details. You can also arrange your own day or evening workshop with me or my 50 minute one woman readings from my collection ‘Red Lipstick & Revelations’.

Coming up: Blogging Your Personal Experiences at Evreham Adult Learning on Saturday 7th December/Day
Speaking with Confidence at Evreham Adult Learning on Saturday 25th April 2020
01296 382403

The End of a Lollipop …

09/10/2019 // by Jan Moran Neil

‘The End of a Lollipop …’ by Ms Paige Turner
Or as Edna O’Brien once wrote: ‘We die by degrees but there is one part of us that decidedly knows when it’s all just over.’
I want to thank Catherine Klyhn (I have referred to her here as Ms Evening Workshops) whose organization of Creative Ink Evening Workshops at her home or at Four Seasons’ Café in Amersham for almost seven years has been exemplary. It’s been a great run and great fun: she is the quintessential hostess and administrator but we had both been thinking about moving on to new pastures for a while.
So the final Creative Ink Evening Workshop with Catherine’s ravishing refreshments is on Wednesday 4th December at 8.00 pm and is £18 for the two hour workshop, handouts sheets and wine and nibbles. Please email me for details. It’s ‘The Key to Christmas’.
And as Catherine has said: one door closes and another opens. ((Our theme this year has been ‘Keys’.) Perhaps we should tell this to the estranged cat who decided to live in our South African house for a number of days before being released into the sea air. Yes, one door closes, Cat and for you another one was thankfully opened by our trusty manager. So I’ll be posting details of my day workshops in 2020 in the next blog. And just email me if you would like to organise a Creative Ink day of evening workshop. Always a new lollipop.
Thanks also to Mr Double Cream from Uxbridge, one of my three blog readers who attended the October ‘Keys to the Door’. How I love to have him in the classes and how odd – or is it – that themes precede reality?