Signing up for a Monthly Linocut Challenge seemed like a good idea, though when I saw the ‘brief’ for March I wasn’t so sure. The basic theme was Fairy Tale characters, which was fine as far as it went. It was the ‘on Popsicle (icy pole) sticks’ specification that put me off. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy cut-and-paste, but I have to be in the mood. I spent most of the month thinking I would wait for April’s challenge, but the puppet aspect niggled. The Muse was jigging up and down. She’s always loved puppets, but icy poles she can take or leave, now the weather is cooler.
The only puppet show I remember taking part in was at Primary school. We were tasked with making a hand puppet. The head was to be Papier–mâché mounted on a piece of dowel, with a sewn body like a hand puppet. I remember Miss Fothergill very well – the puppet’s name, not the teacher’s. She was rather school marm-ish, with woollen hair coifed in a bun arrangement, red lips and stern face. She was named for an unfortunate young girl (nothing alike in appearance), a classmate of my younger brother’s. I wonder what sort of personality complications the poor child ended up with, being constantly avoided as a desk-mate, because she ‘smelled bad’. She also seemed to often be in trouble, the teacher admonishing ‘Miss Fothergill’ on an almost daily basis, according to dinnertime conversation. I don’t know that I ever actually knew the poor kid’s given name, but her family name stuck in my mind. Repetition will do that. Miss Fothergill – the puppet, not the girl – ended up falling apart, no doubt due to moisture absorption.
As a result of the Muse’s relentless nagging I decided to tackle the challenge, just to shut her up, but with my own take on the puppets. I had as much fun doing the linocut as I remember having when making Miss Fothergill. The print seems be part of a developing personal theme – kids in times gone by. Most of my grandchildren, especially the older ones, probably wouldn’t be inspired to either make puppets or put on their own puppet show. A pity, as I’d be vying for the best seat in the house, front row on the floor.