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Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

A Case Of Mistaken Identity…Or Was It?

It’s been a busy few days.

In my job as a children’s party entertainer, puppeteer and face painter, I do get to meet lots of lovely children. Today was no exception.

I spent the morning in  sunny Kensingtonat a lovely party for Eva. She is a delightful little girl with very lovely, caring parents. We spent a good forty five minutes giggling with my puppets, in fact one young boy was laughing so hard he could hardly get his breath. Twinkle the Baby Monkey

Twinkle, my very cheeky baby monkey. A dear friend.

charmed the children with his refusal to say hello and his banana trumpet,  Bobby Bunny

Bobby Bunny puppet for birthday parties

Diane's favourite puppet bunny, Bobby.

played Sleeping Bunnies with 20 or so chuckling children and naughty bunny that he is, snored when he was supposed to be sleeping and kept shouting out Tuna fish! (You have to be there to understand). Trust me, if your sense of humour is like mine, it’s all hilarious.  Fifi the naughty baby fairypuppet

Fairy puppet Fifi from Diane's Puppets

Look at her pretty hair!

got all the words wrong to Twinkle Twinkle and Baa Baa Black Sheep but managed to give lovely twinkle toes wishes to sweet 3 year old Eva and sing Happy Birthday in her own inimitable style. Hilarity was all topped off with a good old jumping on the bed session with Jaffa the Monkey.

During the lunch session, I was on duty face painting. I painted numerous butterflies with twinkly noses , flower fairies, a lion, a tiger , a bunny and a few kittens. Face painting little children is so rewarding. It’s all about that moment when you show them their completed painted faces in the mirror. That magical moment when their faces light up and the smile crinkles across their cheeks, it’s just the best feeling . The last child I painted today was a sweet, shy girl who didn’t put herself forward for face painting immediately. In fact, I wasn’t sure she wanted her face painted, but I was ready to pack up and needed to make sure that she didn’t want to have a go first before I made my way to the next party. After all, no one likes to disappoint children. So I smiled at her and gestured towards my chair, asking her gently if she would like her face painted. She was a little reticent but after  a little cajoling she had her face painted as a very delicate flower fairy.

It was time for the big reveal. I picked up the mirror and held it in front of her face.

There it was, that wonderful smile that made the eyes twinkle.

She ran off to her mummy, clearly very delighted with the result and maybe just a little bit proud of her courage.

” Mummy,Rosie painted my face!” she kept exclaiming, over and over again.

“But that lady’s name is Diane”, said mummy.

“No mummy, Rosie did it” insisted my little flower fairy.

I decided Rosie was a lovely name and accepted it with grace.

At the next party in the afternoon, also in Kensington , after painting rainbow butterflies, spiderman and a host of flower fairies, princesses and notably for the very first time of my 18 years of face painting, a volcano(!) another child referred to me as Rosie to her mummy. I mentioned to this mummy that that was the second time today and did she know why ?

Rosie is on CBeebies. She is a ragdoll character who wears ribbons in her hair.

AAAAAh! So that’s it!

Spot the difference.

This is Rosie

This is me.

 London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Rainbow on my head

I know,  I know. Totally indistinguishable.

I love my job. The life of a children’s party entertainer is just full of surprises!

If you’d like “Rosie” ( aka Diane aka me ) to come to your child’s party, just pop over to my website www.dianes-puppets.co.uk to find out more about my party entertainment service.

Diane’s Puppets: Children’s puppet parties to remember with fantastic facepainting and giggles galore.

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A Face Paint Fiasco

Here is Aunty Lena and her wonderful hat and myself with Fifi the fairy.

Anyone who knows me  and Diane’s Puppets over the years, will know that for over ten years I was more than ably assisted by my dear friend ‘Aunty Lena’. We made a formidable team, being best friends gave us a natural rapport and an understanding that didn’t need much communication to work. We simply knew what each other was thinking.

Having a laugh with Aunty Lena

Lena would also assist me with the face painting during the tea time.

Aunty Lena face painting

When I first approached Lena about working with me, she said ” I’ll do anything but I won’t be able to face paint”. Oh woman of little faith. You turned out to be a face painter of much merit, able to turn out fast and delicate faces with a deft touch and always with a silly sense of humour and a gentle manner.

The picture speaks for itself, never easy to face paint a one year old, but here is a very happy little baby with sweet flowers.

Too sweet for words

So, Aunty Lena was able to tackle most challenges in the face painting department, including rising to tractors and even racing cars. Not bad for someone who claimed not to have any artistic merit.

However, there was one memorable exception: the notorious, hysterical case of the rocket.

Picture the scene, a busy party, lots of mums are standing around chatting while the rest of the children are eating their tea.  A sweet four year old girl sits down in front of you, eyes wide and excited, looking forward to being face painted. After asking what she wants, you start to paint a rocket.  It’s not looking quite right so you ask the other person to help you. That other person was me.

I looked over at sweet four year old to see her with a white rocket shaped object , but with a red triangular tip on her cheek. Child is blissfully unaware of the two ladies in front of her starting to giggle.

I realised the rocket was missing engines.

Paint some engines on, I suggested. That should do it.

NOOOOOOOOOO!

Both of us realised what we had done was inadvertently ended up painting a rather gruesome phallic looking thing on this very sweet and innocent girls face.

That’s when the giggles started to take over. Aunty Lena couldn’t speak for laughter, tears were streaming down her face as she realised how inappropriate this face paint had become. Quite innocently of course, but there it was, a four year old girl with a very rude looking face paint.

I hastily reached for baby wipes and started over, tears running down my face.

We both hoped none of the yummy mummies had witnessed our fiasco.

Aunty Lena avoided rockets from then on. I tackle ( no pun intended fnar fnar) them carefully to avoid repeating any  similar situations.

I mean what was that little girl thinking asking for a rocket anyway ? What’s wrong with a fairy?

( As a very dedicated feminist , that last statement is not to be taken seriously )

 

 

Aunty Lena now works in Morley Gallery but remains my loyal and lovely and very delightfully silly friend.

Ah those were the days.

 

Mermaids have more fun

Oh the things I do for love.

 

The love of my job that is.

My job as a London Children’s Entertainer and birthday puppet show provider keeps me on my toes, or my fishy tail.

 

I’ve had a request to do a mermaid themed party. Being a lady who likes a challenge, I’ve been exploring all things mermaid and am excited at the creative possibilities of the theme. I’ve unearthed my 20 year old carrier bag full of sea shells that I collected yes, twenty years ago with the idea of doing something creative with them. Who says that hoarding isn’t a useful habit? I’m about to put them to good use after 20 years. I’m still not quite sure what I’m going to do with them as yet, but something grotto-ish will be inevitable.

I’ve found a use for that long blonde wig that I’ve had hanging around for some reason I can’t even remember. I decided to paint my face as a mermaid and try out the mermaid long blonde look.

Oh dear.

Why do wigs make me look like a man in drag?

I thought I’d look like this

My mermaid puppet

 

But instead I got this:

I don't look quite how I expected to look. Sigh.

At least the face painting looks nice

 

I’m not sure that blonde is my colour. I can’t believe I bleached my hair for over 20 years. I’m so glad I’ve found my sense in my forties.

I’m not sure the pearlised white base is terribly flattering for late 40’s skin either…

So I took the wig off.

Ah that's better.

 

I think I shall stick to being a brunette mermaid with grey streaks.

 

 

Banana selling point

All successful businesses need a USP : a unique selling point. For the last 15 years or so I’ve thought that it was my ability to combine entertainment and fast face painting into one party package. This saves lots of money eliminating the need to book a separate face painter.

Fantasy eye make up for big girls

A fast and pretty butterfly

I suppose not many entertainers can offer that, hence the unique part of the USP.  I’m always complimented on my fast and delicate face painting. Of course, there is always a slight compromise on detail when it comes to speed but I do try and make the face painting as detailed and delicate as I possibly can in the time allotted. Do stop by my website to have a look at the different packages I offer including face painting. They start from as little as £140 for 90 minutes.

Well that was up until today.

What changed?

Well let me set the scene.

I was in full swing, entertaining some lovely London children at a delightful 5 year old girl’s birthday party( thank you for inviting me Asha), raising giggles and smiles all around. As per usual , I was starting the entertainment off with my baby monkey puppet, Twinkle. He is a very well loved and remembered character in my repertoire, one of the very few shop bought puppets that I use.

Twinkle, my very cheeky baby monkey. A dear friend.

Actually, before I get to the crux of the story, let me tell a little bit about my current Twinkle. He isn’t the original one that I bought around 10 years ago from that massive toyshop in Regents Street, London. He  belongs to a girl who now must be in her teens. She was one of my little clients who had fallen in love with Twinkle and had begged her mum and dad to buy her one from the same shop. So they did, lovely parents that they were.

The next time I was invited to the little girls house to entertain for her birthday party, she ran up the stairs anxiously telling me to wait. She came charging down the stairs in great excitement, clutching her ‘Twinkle’.

‘Please can we swap?’ She pleaded. I couldn’t possibly turn her earnest request down. How could I disappoint such a sweet little girl? So we swapped, despite her monkey looking very well cuddled.

I only hope that she wasn’t expecting that now she had the ‘real’ Twinkle that he would talk like he talked when I used him at parties. She would be so disappointed.

So I was at the point in the routine that Twinkle plays tunes on a plastic banana. ( It’s hard to explain, suffice it to say it’s very silly) . He plays Happy Birthday to the birthday girl on the banana. It was at that point that it hit me!

THIS IS MY UNIQUE SELLING POINT!

What other London Children’s Entertainer wishes happy birthday to their client with a monkey playing tunes on a banana? Who else could top this triumph of silliness?

The Magic of Puppets

 

I’m not a great fan of magic; unless we’re talking Dynamo ( now he is just special).

You know what I mean, that flouncy, hand wafting, mis-directional camp affair that passes for performance on the Las Vegas stage. David Blaine used to intrigue me until he locked himself in a cube and went without dinner for a while. That killed it for me.

Most birthday party entertainers do some magic.

I don’t. Why is that?

I’m a terrible liar.

Without wanting to give the game away to those who really and truly believe in magic,  magic is all about lying. It’s about illusion, convincing people that stuff that is impossible is real.

To be a convincing magician, you have to be able to look people in the eye and say ‘That’s magic’, in inimitable Paul Daniels fashion. I’m not capable of that, I’m afraid.

If I did magic, I’d just want to tell children how it is done; that would make me a bit of a killjoy. I’d rather not. I’d rather stick to puppet magic.

I can’t even mislead children when they tell me that the puppets I use aren’t real. I agree, well, in a manner of speaking. I tell them that the puppet is real,  but that the animal /character isn’t real. After all, it would be really scary if the monkey puppet I was using was a real monkey, and a talking one at that. Now that would really freak me out, let alone a bunch of children. That honest explanation seems to put children at ease, especially when I explain that the puppet has to borrow my voice to speak. I’m  not a ventriloquist, nor do I try to be. I don’t find it necessary. For me the magical aspect of puppetry is that the puppeteer brings the puppet to life through belief. If the puppeteer believes in the puppet, the puppet will animate and be believable as a character in it’s own right.

As a child, my first experience of puppets was Mr Punch on the seafront at Skegness Beach.

Watching Mr Punch , age 5

Mr Punch in turn thrilled and repelled me. I couldn’t understand his squeaky raspy voice or why he was hitting Judy with his slapstick but I didn’t really care. What I saw was strange and fascinating and other-wordly. I was hooked.

Off to the beach with mummy.

Shari Lewis‘s Lamb Chop, the gorgeous sock puppet won my heart on our black and white television. Then with the advent of colour television came Basil Brush.

Basil Brush

Image via Wikipedia

He was real to me then and still is now. I cannot imagine Basil the lovely English gentleman fox with his distinguishing laugh      ( Ha ha ha ha ha ..BOOM BOOM!)

having a person attached to him. To my child’s eyes he wasn’t a puppet, he was just Basil : the fox that spoke. There was no other explanation needed.

Then along came Thunderbirds.

That show messed with my head.

Those puppets looked so real to me . I remember having a real problem working out whether they were real ( as in real actors) or not. I saw the awkward walk ( beautifully lampooned in Team America) and doubted my convictions , then they would put in a close up of a real hand operating machinery and I would be back to my original idea that they were indeed real people. So confusing.

I see this interesting quandary echoed on my children clients faces every time I enter into the magic of puppets. I can see their eyes questioning how real the puppets are every time they engage and invest in the puppet’s personality. When it all gets to much for them then they ask the question if they are real.

My answer satisfies them enough for them to still talk to the puppet once it is off my hand and back in the suitcase, shouting their goodbyes at the empty shell of the puppet.

Now that’s  the sort of magic I love.

Twenty reasons I love being a London Children’s Entertainer

  1. Being a London children’s entertainer,  I get to work in my home town but in different places every day. No drab office for me!
  2. Being a children’s entertainer I raise smiles on my way to work , because of number 3…
  3. Being a children’s entertainer , I get to wear silly clothes to work.
  4. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to perform for the most honest audience: children.
  5. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to blow raspberries and wiggle my bottom for fun. At 47.
  6. As a children’s entertainer,  I am my own boss.
  7. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to play with puppets and get paid for it.
  8. Being a children’s entertainer, I get high fives and spontaneous cuddles for tips.
  9. Being a children’s entertainer, I can dye my hair pink if I wish and still be employable.
  10. Being a children’s entertainer , I get to sing for people who won’t judge me like Simon Cowell.
  11. Being a children’s entertainer, my homework is making up stories and keeping up with Kids television.
  12. Being a children’s entertainer, I get offered cake , champagne and sausages as part of my work perks. ( Occupational hazard, I call it)
  13. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to inspire the future leaders of the world.
  14. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to gild lillies every time I paint those sweet faces.
  15. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to impart calm and focus to chaotic situations.
  16. Being a children’s entertainer, I often get hugs from tearful parents at the end of the party. Tears of joy, I might add.
  17. Being a children’s entertainer, I get to have a reason to make elephants from milk cartons. And knit six foot pythons.

    SSSSsssssssssssss

    I was once a plastic container

  18. Being a children’s entertainer , I witness true love every time I see parents smiling at their hopping children playing Sleeping Bunnies.
  19. Being a children’s entertainer, I can fulfill my dream to be a fairy, vicariously through my puppet Fifi the Baby Fairy.
  20. Being a children’s entertainer, I can dispel the myth of the 30 second attention span. Children can focus for a good hour if you give them real interaction.

Diane is Diane Goldie from Diane’s Puppets , a London Children’s Entertainer.

Diane Goldie : London Children's Entertainer

Out of Africa

an Axatse (rattle from Ghana)

Image via Wikipedia

I was born in the midlands, England ( ahem) years ago. When I was ten my parents decided to emigrate to South Africa so I packed my teddy and prepared  to see lions.

I never really did see lions, except in a Zoo. My childish ideas of Africa were born in the mythology of the childhood Jungle where the Lion is the king. I didn’t expect the bright lights and heaven forbid, fish and chip shops! Cape Town and the beautiful Table Mountain became my home for over a decade.

I lived at the very tip of Africa for eleven years, and soaked up the sun and the culture and vibrancy until I decided it was time to return to my roots. I didn’t regret my African experience, far from it, Africa fired my loins and gave me my love for bright colours and a deep passion for African music ( and an awakening of my political awareness as I was dropped into Apartheid South Africa which shook me to my very core).

Today in my job as a children’s entertainer and storyteller, I told African stories at a South East London school. It was lovely to be able to bring a piece of my African memory and passion to such lovely children. They lapped up the stories of the trickster Spider Anansi, and were enthralled at my clumsy rendition of Nyame the Sky God,

My vision of Nyame the Sky God, in papier mache

as I hid behind my paper mache mask. They chuckled at the burping Lion and the silly witch called 5 and we explored yams and beautiful African fabric.

The box of stories and the sticky doll

I spoke about the web of stories that Anansi has spun around the globe, reaching far and wide from their origins in Ghana , travelling across the Caribbean and over to North America and all over Africa and we ended the stories by jumping on an imaginary bed with Jaffa, my monkey.

The cast and crew from the Anansi Spider tales

It was a delightful day at work.

The last time I told Anansi stories at a school in Brixton, upon showing the children the Sky God mask and the magic box of stories, one boy declared that he was going to call the police as I had stolen stuff from the museum. Bless him. I had to get him up to the front so he could see that the mask and box were just made of cardboard. 🙂

Storyteller Diane of Diane's Puppets tells Anansi Stories

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