Thank you Martha❤️

Look what’s arrived! The new book by Martha Kennedy. All the way from the states. I can’t tell you how excited I am to read it. Its about her life teaching English at South China Teacher’s University in Guangzhou in 82/83.

I’ve been reading excerpts from it in her blog, ‘I am a writer, yes I am’ on WordPress and I’m really looking forward to it. (If I can get it back of my hubby who just snaffled it!)

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Scenery

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This is a papier mache hill I made out of willow withies covered in newspaper and glue. The idea was to depict the last ice age. I painted a couple of wolves in the distance. This was another mystery play a few years ago. Set in the area which then became Penkhull. It was about the way the village evolved and the town surrounding it. I don’t remember much about the play except it had Romans and Celts in it, then victorians and a riot. We seem to riot a lot in the plays!

I wonder what we will be doing next year.

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Gran

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It’s 23 years since she died and I still miss her. I miss the visits with my mother to see her. She had an open fire in her living room and when I was little I used to make spills of rolled up newspaper to light the fire with. I think my grandad used to use them to light his pipe. Infront of the fire was a big peg rug, made of pieces of rag cut into thin strips and pushed through a hessian sack backing. The chimney caught fire once because gran had put a board across it to draw the air in. The fire caught the soot in the chimney. The fire brigade arrived.

At one stage I remember the kitchen had a tin bath on a ledge at the end of the kitchen. They must have had it infront of the fire. The other downstairs room in the house was the front parlour. It had a big heavy suite in it and an aspedistera in a pot on a stand. The parlour was only ever used for formal occasions. I think I remember dusting it for gran sometimes.

At the back of the house was an alleyway but it was only narrow and beyond that was the gate into the back garden. Gran and grandad used to keep hens.

Once you start remembering it’s funny what comes back.

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War horse

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I don’t have any photos but I did a quick sketch from my memory of the horse in Warhorse that I went to see tonight.

The play starts with a puppet foal which is quite small. The story shows him being bought and then brought up on a farm in England in 1914. Suddenly the foal becomes a fully grown horse. He is sent along with thousands or possibly millions of horses across to be part of the cavalry in the First World War.

The story charts what happened to him and also his owner who enlists so he can find him.

The horses in the play are depicted by puppets which contain two puppeteers inside them and one moving the head and neck. In scenes where he is galloping extra puppeteers move the four feet. The horses move in realistic ways, flicking it’s ears, moving it’s tail. Rearing and bucking.

There are sections of horrific violence but through it all there is a strong streak of humanity. There are good and bad on both sides. I found myself enthralled  The play seemed to fly by.

I need to mention the other puppets, the goose, swallows flying on the wing, and a first World War tank that were  so well used to depict reality. You forgot there were puppeteers, you just saw the things they were meant to represent. If you get a chance to see it, its worth it.

Timothy Trow

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Sorry for the blurry photo. This is the memorial to a man called Timothy Trow.

I’d known about this for a few years but got a leaflet today and it explained he was a local hero 125 years ago.

Timothy Trow was from neighbouring area of Shelton. He was a conductor on a tram that ran along London Road in Stoke. When the tram reached the West End area of Stoke, at a spot near James Street, he saw a young girl who had fallen in the canal. She was later identified as Jane Ridgeway. He jumped into the Newcastle Canal and rescued her but he then got cramp and despite people trying to rescue him he drowned. All of this happened on 13 April 1894.

There is a memorial stone in recognition of his courage. In recent years our local Councillor has encouraged an annual commemoration. The local West End Methodist Church and local people have turned it into an annual event. One of my friends actually wrote a song to commemorate his bravery and a couple of years ago we walked along the course of the canal (which has since been filled in) and my friend sang the song next to the memorial stone.

Classy lighting

Having taken a photo of an old gas lamp in Rhyl last year, I came across these today.

The lamps seem to have almost the same design as the lamp in Rhyl. But these are in much better condition because they were protected inside the Guildhall in Newcastle-under-Lyme and seem to have recently been restored.

Each lamp sits at the bottom of a sweeping curved staircase that splits at the top and comes down on either side of an almost circular lobby. Above the upright lamps hangs a formidable, eight branched chandelier with curving arms. Both the lamps and chandelier are lit with electric light bulbs. But looking at them they appear to have had gas mantles in the past.

Presently the guildhall at the ironmarket in Newcastle-under-Lyme is being run by volunteers. They are holding a cake making competition on Saturday 9 March 2019 for the finish of the fair trade fortnight. They are always looking for new volunteers.

As a bit of extra information apparently the hall was once used for grand ballroom dances. With stairs and lamps like this I’m sure it’s true.

Photowalking

 

In 2015 I went on a photo walk organised by a friend round a local town called Burslem. The town is quite run down in places, but thats what made it interesting. Neglect sharpens architecture. Photos taken on an old vodaphone.

Green wood

Red sign,

Green door ,

Blue door,

Bricks by glass,

Breeze blocks behind window,

Rust and wood,

Blackberries colonise

With ease.

Document these,

Please.