Wednesday 10 August 2011

Lets Make Puppets!

Hello. Sorry for the lack of action recently, and thank you for all the marvellous comments from everyone relating to the last post. You're all ace. Back to business. What do we do in the school summer holidays?

We make puppets! This recent find (by A.R. Philpott, pub. Evans Brothers London 1972) shows us how to go about it. But like the hasty child I am, I've ignored the 'Let's Make' parts and skipped to the 'Puppets' bit. The young man on the cover seems to be a little ... apprehensive about the relic on his arm. He doesn't seem to be able to ... stop looking at it. It's all pupaphobia you know (yes there is an official label for fear of puppets, although as my father would probably say "Whats the Latin for 'For God's sake pull yourself together?'")

Maybe for a primary school production of 'The Fog'?

I refer the Right Honourable Readers to my comments on Found Objects.

I remember that glue. It ate into polystyrene and left a wonderful gummy cap over the nozzle when left for a while. It could also cause blindness and hallucinations. Be careful, little girl!

Yeah yeah, nice puppet. It's the background I'm interested in; slatted wooden benches, smooth pebbledashing on concrete surfaces, hardy shrubs in containers, plastic-coated wire fences with gaps just big enough to fit the toe of your Clarks in ... Ladies & Gentlemen I give you the Seventies School Playground!

The title of Janis Joplin's posthumous unreleased live album.

Barely able to function after being parted from his puppet-master, the young boy sits slumped on a bench in the playground. I'd be catatonic as well if I had to untangle the wires of 'the metal tape creature' whilst Miss Goody Two Shoes gets to swoop about with the ace 'Let's Pretend'-style cat. Look at his knees. Pre-five pound jeans, these haven't been patched for the sake of fashion!

'The thing that stuck in young Jenkins' mind was the hands. As the apparition bobbed silently behind the chair towards him, he noticed that the hands, ostensibly shaped rosewood, had a peculiarly sinuous and lifelike quality. Indeed, Jenkins was almost convinced that he could see the tiny veins rising and falling slowly and miniature beads of moisture glistening among the folds of skin. The effect was as if some person unknown had replaced the puppet's hands with those of a large frog.'

'The Imp' by M.R. James from 'Ghost Stories of an Antiquary', 1904.

I don't really fancy making puppets any more. Back soon with more handicraft, markets and shopping centres. And music. Check behind the sofa before you turn the light out tonight.


  1. I think the boy on the cover has an imaginary puppet on his right hand. Maybe it's telling the other puppet; "it's over, you're always so bloody happy, and I can't stand it. Plus, every time it try to kiss you, your nose gets in the way".

    The perfect accompaniment to this book, which would banish summer holiday boredom forever is this:

    Check out the suggestion to dress up as Boots, the chemist. No wonder everything's going so wrong in the country, with books like these out of print.

  2. That book is simply wonderful - I don't think enough children dress up as limpets or Belisha beacons these days! The Boots costume is unusual, although I can imagine Reeves & Mortimer wearing a costume labelled 'Talc', 'Tonic' & 'Tinctures'.

  3. BC, thanks for sharing your summer activites.
    "Sorting out the strings of the metal tape creature." would be a perfect album title as well.

    Lucewoman, that book is amazing.

  4. Fantastic! Thanks for putting this one up, BC, it's a corker. By coincidence I was about to post some pages from another puppet-related book on Flickr / Found Objects.

    Was there a rule back then that said kids must look bored and miserable in photos? I've noticed it in so many other "How To..." books of the period.

  5. "I remember that glue" sounds like it could be a documentary about old punk-rockers. Great post!

  6. Great post BC. I have recently seen some photos of me from 1970s, and I do look Bored and miserable in every single one.

  7. Keith> For God's sakes, man, post 'em up! I shall be watching your Flickr stream.

  8. Thanks for this gloomy playground treasure.

    I would like to add my vote to the 'morose 70's Seatman' campaign.

  9. Thanks everyone - and Keith, I'm afraid I'll add my voice to the chorus. If you do, I'll post the horrible picture of me in the late seventies wearing a Miss Piggy mask at a birthday pary. It's like something out of The Shining ...

  10. Keith, it can't be any worse than this:

  11. Bollops> those pants deserve some serious recognition !
    And talking of trousers; my Dad will see yours and raise you ! (taken during a charming family outing to the graveyard)

    + Here's one of me taken a few years later dressed in the flat cap,Dracula fangs/claws/bat frame glasses that everyone was sporting back then.

    Now Keith, as I often said to the horrified girls at primary school: "I've shown you mine, now you show me yours"

  12. I shall visit my sister this wkend and find these photos.

  13. Marvellous post. I was really digging some 70's vibes from this find.

  14. The Sulky 70s kid/KS is now on show at

  15. Fearlono> Ha ha! Cheers, Guv. That one of your dad is like something from a PIF!

  16. Got to agree with you there Bollops.
    Public info Film on Hatchbacks.
    Hatchbacks are for shopping and Suitcases
    Not for fooling around
    Before you get in one.

  17. Glad you both enjoyed that one, I need to contact Michael Jayston's agent to see if he'll read out Keith's words of warning for me. I'm sure the Government are crying out for a Hatchback PIF !
    That photograph is a still taken from some 1970's super-8 films I recently had converted to DVD. Watching them again has absolutely blown my mind as I hadn't seen them for over 30 years.

    Keith> your photos are magical, in a melancholic way.

  18. Babies of the eighties were far more beautiful:

  19. Keith> Hyuk! Spot on. You should record it! I can hear it *perfectly* in my brane, complete with nipper voices ("Daaad, are you sure this is safe?") and gruff but chummy dad (" 'Course it is, son!" *crash* "Argh!")

    Fearlono> Get your people to talk to Jayston's people with a view to collaborating with Keith's people.

  20. Keith / Fearlono / Bollops : tremendous stuff, all of you. I will hunt down the Miss Piggy mask picture.

  21. BC I can't wait to see the Miss Piggy mask pic. I will try to find a few more of mine.

  22. AR Philpott, Alex Robert Philpott,also known as Pantopuck the Puppet Man or Panto was rather deep into the puppet thing. In the ouevre is:
    The Puppet Book - second and extensive revision edited by ARP.
    Let's look at puppets, 2 editions - first published in 1966
    Modern puppetry, 2 editions - first published in 1966
    Eight plays for hand puppets - first published in 1968
    Dictionary of puppetry 3 editions - first published in 1969
    Puppets and therapy - first published in 1973
    He also edited the Puppet Posta quarterly magazine.
    His son Toby became a rather famous puppeteer too. I remember him juggling in Yorkshire.

    Gogglenobs to Jabba the Hutt!

    1. AR Philpott was my granddad. Toby Philpott is my uncle.
      I remember a number of GranPop's books, but sadly I don't have any.
      Puppetry was his life, and he made me and my brother an amazing puppet theatre! Thanks for sparking these memories.

  23. I had that book (and others in the series) as a kid. The cover and pic of the girl with the cat trod on my grave nicely. Cheers!

  24. When you are looking to learn about puppet making, online is a perfect place for you. online there are so many good websites available to learn puppet making.
    string puppets for sale