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Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

How I became a Flairy : Or childhood dreams fulfilled.

Today was a good day.

Weather wise it couldn’t have been nicer. The sun was out and the temperature was unseasonably warm for the time of year. I woke up fresh and early , put on my work clothes , ribbons and all, packed my suitcase full of my handmade puppets and set off for a morning gig at a lovely Nursery , Puddleducks in Putney , South West London.

Kids entertainer and puppeteer Diane of Diane's Puppets

My work hairdo, jolly huh?

I trundled off down the road heading for the train station, dragging my pink suitcase full of my puppets behind me. The sun beat down and the birds sang. ‘Life is good’ , I thought.

I managed to catch the train without having to wait , a minor miracle in itself, and I settled down for an uneventful journey.

I hadn’t bargained on the very charming very old man who sat down next to me. Granted he was a little grubby, and worse for wear, it looked like he struggled to maintain a certain standard of dress but he was very old , so who was I to judge? I was certainly dressed in a rather unusual fashion with my ribbons and my gold sequined top and purple skirt festooned with butterflies, dragons and flowers. Most commuters gave me a wide berth on public transport usually, to be frank. Difference is often viewed with scepticism  in London ( there are so many nutters unusual characters about, it is just a part of London life and London caution and reserve).

This lovely man embarked on a question and answer session that would have made Michael Parkinson proud. He interviewed me thoroughly, grilling me ( in the nicest possible way) about my job as a children’s entertainer and puppeteer. Most people dismiss my job quickly as I don’t fit the usual model of adult in the workplace. It was highly unusual that this old gentleman kept saying how serious my job was and how difficult it must be to work with such young children. It was wonderful to have such validation from such a sage man, here was someone who naturally understood my #Respectthesilly campaign. As the train pulled into the station, we both got up to leave and this gentleman started to thank me for speaking to him, over and over again.

Maybe because of the way he was turned out, most people shunned him and wouldn’t talk to him? Maybe he was very lonely? To me he seemed like a wonderful old soul who was there to reassure me that I was on the right path in my life’s journey. Call me silly if you want.

So, after this most unusual start, I got to the nursery and began my first session with the under two’s. It was too sweet to see those little ones playing Sleeping Bunnies with my bunny puppet

s,ee

See the little bunnies sleeping

Diane and her puppets

Me and Bobby Bunny and Tabitha cat

I even had these tiniest of clients telling me the animals names in Old Macdonald’s Farm. They were clever little children. Clearly the Nursery is doing a very good job.

Of course there were cuddles all around from my ‘Easter’ bunny Bobby and my baby monkey Twinkle.

After that sweet session with the under 2’s I moved across the playground to the older children. As I crossed the playground, one of the mummies was dropping off her little boy. She stopped in her tracks when she saw me. ” I know you” she said. “I’ve seen you at a party before”. I  agreed that that possibility was most likely , after all I have been puppeting for over 18 years now. That same mummy turned to the Head of Nursery and said, “That’s Diane, she’s famous!”

I smiled. One aim ticked off my bucket list: to be famous for a talent.

I’m probably famous amongst the Under 5’s in London, well sort of.

What other sort of fame could I possibly want?

Well, we had a ball! Hopping with Bobby the Easter Bunny, laughing and quacking with Mummy Duck and her babies.

And all of her five little ducks came back!

It was when I was preparing the children to meet my puppet Fairy Fifi

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

and showing the children the fairy toadstools on my skirt

Magical toadstools where fairies live.

when the children came alive with their own stories of fairy sightings. One young boy’s voice rang out above the other excited enthusiastic contributers and he said: ” I saw a flairy ( sic) in my garden today and she looked like you!”

So that was my childhood dream and ambition fulfilled right there in that moment. I had always wanted to grow up to be a fairy but at a hardly delicate UK size 16 , I had all but given up on that ambition. This young lad had just confirmed that I had reached my goal.

So there you have it ladies and gentleman. I am now officially a f(l)airy, a rather substantial,a little older and a feminist fairy , but a fairy nevertheless.

An old man and a young boy made my dreams come true today.

This feminist fairy is very happy and grateful.

 

 

 

A Cuddle from a Tiger Who came to Tea : A Real Life Fairy story

A true fairy story

Once upon a time there was a lady who brought fun and silly antics with her whenever she went out to work. Children's entertainer and puppeteer Diane

Like the seven dwarves in another fairy story she loved her job and would sing and whistle while she worked.

She loved bright colours and would tie a rainbow of ribbons and clip crocheted daisies in her hair. She really was a very happy lady.

One day she left her colourful house, with its angels who lived on the kitchen ceiling

Painted kitchen ceiling Madonna and Angels

The lady's kitchen ceiling

and pink leopards on the walls,

Pink leopard painted walls

Pink leopard walls in the lady's kitchen

and pretty magical mosaic fireplace

colourful mosaic fireplace

Magical fires burned here

stepping out into the cold air with a song in her heart and a bag of face -paints on her shoulder, dragging a pink suitcase full of funny puppets and cheeky characters behind her. The puppets grumbled as they rumbled across the cracked paving, bumpety, bumpety bump. The lady blew magical cold air smoke from her mouth as she ran for the big red bus. Rarrrr! She was breathing fire like a dragon.

Fire breathing dragon puppet

Rarrrrrrr!

The big red bus took her to a nearby land called Clapham . There was a big green park in the centre of this land and in the centre of the park there was a pond. It was so cold that the  ducks were skating on the frozen water. Brrr, their bottoms must’ve been so cold.

The lady trundled her grumbling puppets in her pink suitcase until she came to a door with a magical number painted on it. Bright bouncy balloons bobbed as she knocked on the door.

Ten little children and a  birthday boy called Rory were gathered in the house. Rory was three, what a big boy!

Grumbling no more, the puppets popped out of the pink suitcase one by one and made friends with the little boys and girls and big boy Rory. The funny rabbit Bobby Bunny made everyone giggle with his naughty snoring when he was supposed to be sleeping. He loved giggling with the boys and girls as they hopped together.

White rabbit puppet

Sleeping Bunny Bobby

A funny clucking hen and a mooing cow played a Dingly Dangly game and the lady kicked up her legs and did the Can Can which made the children giggle. A naughty monkey called Twinkle

Cheeky monkey puppet

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

played Happy Birthday on the banana to Rory and learned how to say please. A fairy came to visit and sang Happy Birthday to Rory and sprinkled magic wishes on his toes.

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

Then tummies rumbled and it was time for tea.

In the kitchen the lady had laid out all her beautiful colours ready to paint the children’s faces. She painted princesses with golden tiaras, flowers and pink and tigers with terrible teeth and wiggly black stripes , all with very sparkly noses .

Tiger face painting

Diane says Rarrrrr!

Batman made sure everyone was safe. All parties need a Superhero, just in case, you never know.

Rory was painted as a tiger and had tiger paws to match. Now his face matched his very lovely name. Rory could roar with the best of tigers. RoAAAAAAR!

After a nice cup of tea the lady felt very happy. She really did love her job. Children around her were smiling and playing and pretending to be tigers and princesses.

Feeling satisfied , the lady went to pack away her cheeky puppets since they had all collapsed in a big exhausted heap after all the excitement of the party.

Rory the tiger came to help.

As the lady put the lion back in the pink suitcase, Rory said: I’d like a cuddle.

The lady asked : A cuddle from whom?

” The lion” answered Rory, who was feeling very brave now he was a 3 year old tiger.

So Rory had a cuddle from a sleeping lion.

The lady went to put back the chicken. She had stopped clucking and her feathers were ruffled and ready for bed.

“I’d like a cuddle” said Rory.

‘From the chicken? ‘asked the lady.

“Yes.”

So Rory cuddled the chicken.

The lady zipped up the suitcase , the puppets had all gone to bed.  Rory the terrible tiger stood still.

” I’d like a cuddle” said Rory the tiger.

” But they’ve all gone to bed! ” said the lady.

” Who do you want a cuddle from?”she asked.

“YOU!” said Rory the tiger.

So the lady went home, skipping and hopping, happy to have been cuddled by a tiger.

As she stepped down from the bus, powdery snow started to fall from the sky.

The lady sighed.

It had been a perfect day.

She unlocked her door and went into her colourful cosy  house to eat a slice of lemon drizzle cake and have a nice cup of tea.

A Special Puppet Show for a Special Birthday Party

The Pearl Dragon and the little Bird who wanted to fly

 

Dragon puppet for birthday parties

Diane's beautiful and fierce Pearl Dragon

 

Following on from Monday’s post about the Chinese New Year and all things ‘ Dragony’ I thought I’d show you more of the cast of my most enchanting puppet show that I perform at kids birthday parties across London.

The story, written by my very lovely friend and one time side-kick ( pre recession!) Lena Augustinson,

Children's entertainer Diane with Aunty Lena and Fifi the fairy

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

 

tells a timeless story of the impatience of youth.  A small bird is in an outdoor cage hanging from a tree ( a magic singing tree as it happens) somewhere in China. He is owned by Little Girl who tells him that he cannot come out of the cage until his wings grow bigger. Little girl puppet Bird puppet for birthday party puppet shows

Little bird isn’t satisfied with having to wait, so one day he takes an opportunity to escape the cage when Little Girl leaves the cage door open after feeding time.

 

He takes advice from the magic Singing Tree who tells  him to find a magic pearl somewhere on the moon and give it to the Ferocious Pearl Dragon to gain his wish to have big wings. But how was bird to get all the way to the moon?

With the help from the young audiences who instinctively understand and relate to this story, Little Bird manages to find himself on the Golden Moon where his adventure really begins.

Monkey puppet and bird puppet for birthday party puppet shows in London

Little Bird meets the trickster Monkey

Beautiful tiger puppet, golden tiger, tiger puppet for birthday party puppet shows

Beware of the Golden Moon tiger Grrrrrrrrr

As all good stories go, this one ends with a happy ever after and a magical transformation.

 

Want Diane to come to your child’s birthday party? Inquire here or call her on 02078209466 for availability.

A New Skirt for the Kids Entertainer and Puppeteer, Diane

2012 and it’s back to business, back to being a London Children’s Entertainer and puppet lady extraordinaire…

Time to brush off the cobwebs of 2011, throw out the old and bring in the new.

I’ve just taken down my Christmas tree, well better late than never. I was loathe to take it down this year as my darling granddaughter Erykah-Rose was totally fascinated by it and did the most marvellous Donald Duck impressions upon spotting the robins that nestled within its’ branches. I put it up rather late too as the life of a Children’s Entertainer in the Festive Season is rather a busy one and your own celebrations tend to have to wait. So the tree overstayed it’s welcome with permission.

Such a cutie!

So that was the old out.  Or was it?

I looked at my skirt that was hanging up, waiting for the next outing at a Children’s birthday party and I saw it with fresh eyes, horrified fresh eyes! My goodness, all my hard work of being a puppeteer/ children’s entertainer and face painter  in 2011 showed in that skirt. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Evidence of the wear and tear of life as a kids entertainer

Still can’t see it? Let me zoom in for you.

The scars of hard work.

See the patches and tears? That comes from kneeling on the floor.  I do that rather a lot when behind a puppet booth when I’m performing a puppet show at a child’s birthday party. Even before the show starts, I do like to sit on the children’s level, it goes with my child-centred philosophy of playing with children rather than merely performing at children. But all this getting down to floor level  does take its’ toll on my clothes: my shoes have dents in the toes. Strange side effects from my job!

Anyway I digress. It was time to use the lovely sewing machine that  Santa ( well, my lovely partner) had bought me for Christmas. Out with the old skirt, in with the new and improved puppeteer /entertainer skirt.

Ta Da!

So here it is.

As you can see, I’m rather partial to a bit of applique ( who wouldn’t want a fire breathing dragon on their skirt? )

I’m sure over the course of 2012, the skirt will evolve. I’ll add bits and pieces to it, inevitably given my obsession with all things crochet, it will acquire a crochet embellishment or two, but this is the start of the new skirt.

I think it’s rather splendid, don’t you? It sure beats having to power dress for the office! This is my sort of power dressing: dressing with imaginative power, the super power to charge little minds with creative visions and fantastical imaginings.

The skirt is on its’ maiden journey today. I’m off this afternoon to entertain , paint faces and do a puppet show in a traditional style puppet booth for a lovely 4 year old girl’s birthday.  I shall wear my skirt with immense pride!

 

Here’s to a splendidly creative 2012. I’m off to breathe fire into the New Year.

Toodle pip.

 

 

A tale of two Christmasses

So 2011 is drawing to a close. I’ve sung my last Jingle Bells for the year.

The Festive Season for a jobbing Children’s Entertainer can be a very busy time and Xmas usually starts earlier for us than most people. For me it started on the 3rd of December with my very first Nursery Christmas party. About a hundred verses of Jingle Bells later, I’m now packing up my Father Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer puppet  with the tinsel and the Xmas props. By the time proper Christmas starts it can feel rather rehearsed. I had a few days to prepare my own Xmas, buy presents and put up a tree. I did it in the (St) Nick of time. Christmas this year was pretty special as my darling granddaughter has just turned 18 months and her Christmas experience was wonderful to behold. From her saucer eyes and Donald Duck impressions as she spotted the robins on my Christmas tree to her clear excitement upon opening her presents, her joy was infectious. Christmas really is all about children.

I wish some of  my last clients had signed up for that theory.

My last Christmas party of the year was in Canary Wharf for a very large group of Investment Bankers and their families. For me it was a surreal affair. To be perfectly honest, Canary Wharf gave me goosebumps and not in a good way. It doesn’t feel human.  I’m not really a corporate animal, I’m much more Brighton in spirit than what is expected of someone in Canary wharf and it showed. I almost caused the security to have a heart attack at my raggedy pile of puppet stuff that I brought through the ludicrous glass revolving doors  in shifts ( I have a lot of stuff). Maybe they thought I was an anti capitalist protester ( my ribbons and bright clothes would fit the profile). I hated to disappoint them, but I was simply the Christmas Kids entertainment. No Flying Squad required.

After being asked for ID and being issued with an ID badge, I was shown into the place where I was to perform. I bumbled in with my various bits of wooden stage and equipment, ‘Merry Christmassing’ as I went along. I walked into a room full of children and a magician making balloon animals.  One man was introduced to me as the ‘Santa’ for the day. He was nervous about his impending performance. I  took note of his pink shirt and decided that he would be fine once he got into character. I reassured him that Fifi the Fairy would make sure his entry and time with the children would run smoothly and indeed it did. Fifi the Fairy charmed the children in her inimitable style and had her picture snapped as she chatted with children for quite some time. A good two hours of entertainment  was had by all including a very funny Christmas themed show where Fifi gets to be naughty and steal the star from the top of the tree.

Fifi in her new found freshness

Happy Christmas!

As I packed up , feeling satisfied at the very positive reaction from the children and their parents, one of the female staff said to me:

“Oh thank god you’ve stopped that fairy. Her voice was so annoying. I was about to come and throttle her if she had carried on any more. ”

Merry Christmas.

I smiled . What else could I do? I think that lady banker and I lived on different planets , there was no point in joining in with her debate.

I couldn’t wait to get out of there. As I waited for my cab, I watched the ice skating on the open air rink . It should’ve been festive what with all the Christmas music , fairy lights and Santa hats but there was something missing.

That something I found in bucketloads a few days later in Brixton. It was emotion.

I ran my very first Crochet stall at Brixton Makers Market on Xmas Eve. It was a very lovely experience, albeit a cold one ( in temperature). What the temperature lacked in degrees was more than made up by the warmth of human spirit that I witnessed from my fellow stall holders, the lovely Lisa and Tony who ran the market and the every day Brixton people who embraced my new stall with enthusiasm and pure delight.

People would double take in front of the stall and back track to come and admire my produce. Grown ups were walking past and shouting out compliments, many bought things even though they had already done Xmas shopping but they just had to have something. I was humbled by the reaction. I was so thrilled to have followed my heart and gone with what made me feel happy: bright colours and magical things ( and dogs of course). Clearly my love resonated with others as their reaction showed.

Christmas is about children and the child within us all.

Forget that at your peril.

Diane makes all of her own puppets.

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