Private: Writer/Puppeteer

AL Kennedy writes about being a writer. My favourite part is when she talks about one of her first jobs, as a puppeteer:

Finally I managed to secure a position in a children’s puppet company funded by a government scheme to reduce unemployment. My fellow unemployed persons and I were supposed to make puppets and then act out dramas intended to teach children that the disfigured were not to be mocked or feared, but embraced in a spirit of harmony and inclusion.

Actually, we very rarely performed anything because the couple who ran the business did not like children. Our very few outings tended to make me think they had a point.

Parents look upon puppet shows as splendid opportunities for abandoning their offspring and sprinting off, who knows where. Any large number of abandoned and unsupervised children will mutate within minutes into a medieval mob, complete with improvised weapons and rudimentary command structures. Hapless puppeteers will find themselves rapidly surrounded by a baying, Neanderthal mass and and yet will be wholly unable to defend themselves, due to their hands being shoved up the hollow nether regions of various furry animals. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun.

Our little troupe operated both from a central, closed booth and behind a low wall, over which we would work rod and stick puppets. There were opportunities for clowning (and stamping back little hands and the little hands’ owners) out in the body of the room, but eventually we would retreat behind our wall and, as the diminutive rabble began to hurl itself towards us we would, with infinite regret, take off our puppets and, holding their soft bodies aloft, swing down their plaster and chicken wire heads in close proximity to the swearing and shoving hordes that threatened to overwhelm us at any moment.

Nobody died, as far as I know.