Sunday, 26 September 2010

Driving the Poetry Bus - first stop memory lane...

So who did you pick? And what have you done with your characters... fun, horror, misery, nostalgia, weirdness..? The prompt was back here – write using characters from some kind of children's story (in book, comic, TV or film form) as your starting point.

I picked the three girls from one of my favourite books from childhood – 'Ballet Shoes' (1936) by Noel Streatfeild. The girls are called Pauline, Petrova and Posy. My copy of the book (and I still have it... complete with homemade library stamp on the inside) looks like this:

I read this book several times when I was a child and I watched the series that was on BBC TV in 1975. I loved this story for many reasons:

- the girls are all abandoned babies (no tiresome family to deal with, no daft Mummy, no annoying Daddy),
- they are rescued by an eccentric academic with a big rattly house (who then wanders off abroad and leaves his niece, staff and, when times are harder, boarders/lodgers to deal with the children... and who wouldn't if they could, eh?),
- lots of the story is set in theatres (all the girls get to go to stage school thanks to one of the lodgers – the eldest girl is a good actress, the youngest a gifted ballet dancer),
- it's full of excellent details... about their outfits for stage school (knickerbockers with everything!), about their food (lots of hot buttered toast and crumpets), about their walks around London,
- it isn't all stereotypes (the middle one of the girls wants to be a mechanic/racing driver and hates all the theatre and dancing)
- and finally, my favourites are two of the lodgers who are older lady doctors (Jakes and Smith...serious academic types... they arrive together... one specialises in literature and one in mathematics... could this be lesbians in kids literature? Oh, I do hope so.).

Anyway, here's my 'Ballet Shoes' poem:

(temporarily removed - sorry!)

RF 2010

And now you, Bus trippers!

Jinksy is in the Hundred Acre Wood - here

Jeanne Iris has seen another side to Cinderella - here

Peter Goulding is up and running here and then all washed up here

The Bug is off to the Alps - here

NanU is building houses out of the strangest things - here

Jessica Maybury is thinking about carrots - here

Helen is off with Wonka - here

Dave King is seeing red... and he likes it - here

Cinderella is in demand - Chris at Enchanted Oak is taking another look at her here

Niamh has some games to play - here

Titus has an amazing man - he's here

Karen's chosen someone from what they call the good book - here

Muse Swings takes another turn with Cinderella (she's a popular lass!) - here

Doctor FTSE is all mixed up - over here

It's all blowing in the wind for Swiss - here

Izzy is flying high - up here

And our founding member (Totalfeckineejit) is running for the bus (and the windmill) - here

Mrs Trellis mixes up her Cinders - here

Oh, one of my favourites... it's Mr Benn and Domestic Oubliette - here

And still they come... Erratic Thoughts is on the trail of Tom & Jerry - here

Argent is in a spin - here

Keep sending me your links and I'll add you to the list. The more the merrier...



Dave King said...

Lovely poem. I really dig it. Just off to seewhat's happened to mine - Blogger strikes again?

Rachel Fox said...

Excellent reaction, Dave. I did go looking for yours but didn't want to put the link till it was in place.

Rachel Fox said...

Got it now, Dave, so it's in the list.

Helen said...

Your poem is a delight .. raised one of three girls, I related to it on a deep level!

Jinksy said...

I listened to Ballet shoes on the BBC radio's Children's Hour, way back in the dark ages!I also remember a serial called the King of the Golden River, and another called David of the White Rock...I must have listened well! lol :)

Gwei Mui said...

Delightful, took me down memory lane!

Rachel Fox said...

What I forgot to say, Helen, is that they're not biological sisters and the 'fossil' in the title is the surname they choose as a collective name (because their guardian is a fossil-hunter).

Glad some of you know the's not as well known as some kids' fiction.


Titus said...

That's me Rachel. Back to check yours out in a while, got some homework to do...

Rachel Fox said...

You're on the list, T. I should think I'll be in bed before your return!


Peter Goulding said...

Never would have got past a title like 'Ballet Shoes' But the poem is well formed!

Rachel Fox said...

Now you've got me wondering how many boys and men have read 'Ballet Shoes' in its whole history. Not many, I imagine!

The Solitary Walker said...

Ballet, Rachel? What's that?

Karen said...

Hi, Rachel. I hope you don't mind a swindling ticket holder. My poem fits/doesn't fit for reasons that will become obvious when you read it. Anyway, here I am:

Totalfeckineejit said...

I've never heard of 'Ballet shoes' but then I wasn't born till 1948.
Poem has contemporary gritty reality to it and not a ballet shoe in sight.Huzzah! Coolio!

Good prompt too getting some interesting reactions out there.Thanks!

The Bug said...

Now I want to read this book! I think I would enjoy it a lot, & these days a book aimed at adolescent girls sounds just about right :)

MuseSwings said...

What a lovely book! I've not read it, but I will make a point to do so. I chose to write some motherly advice to Cinderella - I see her character was the choice of others as well. It will be a delight to see all of the posts! Here's my link:

Titus said...

Whoa, confession-ville. I've never read it. Good thing: I want to now. Love the three girls' first names starting with the same letter. And Mum went to stage school.
You got me with the "finest city/to the death with pity" lines (brilliant!) and then that final one. Good stuff.
And a great prompt.
Are you in bed? I've been poring over graffiti and have now overstimulated myself...

Titus said...

Oooh! Peter's bar one! Peter's bar one!

Enchanted Oak said...

Oh, what a good story! Was it published only in the UK, I wonder?
And now you're able to share it with your own child(ren)? That's really fine and wonderful.
Your Fossils piece is loads of fun, and I imagine you writing it with pleasure. Thanks for the prompt and I'm off to check out our fellows.

Anonymous said...

This is such a trip down memory lane for me. I loved 'Ballet Shoes' as a girl. I actually thought I still had a copy of it but I can't seem to find it. I am going to visit all the secondhand stores this week to see if I can get a copy.

Your poem is wonderful!!!

Rachel Fox said...

At least one or two of you know the book/story. I presume I got to it via the 70s TV show first (my book has the pic from that show...must be a tie-in...). They did remake it for TV in recent years with Victoria Wood and others but just as a one-off play rather than a series so it was all a bit rushed.

I should point out that ballet lessons and I were not well acquainted! I think I went once or twice but it wasn't a lasting relationship. I liked my freedom after school and our (one) daughter is much the same.


Rachel Fox said...

The book is probably aimed at younger girls, Bug, but to be honest it can be read by any age (if you like this sort of thing). It's a lovely period piece too now.

Karen said...

I've never read or heard of your Ballet Shoes, but it sounds like the perfect childhood series. I've read that children prefer reading about orphans to any other character, supposedly because being abandoned is childhood's greatest fear, and reading about plucky, strong children who survive and thrive is comforting.

Rachel Fox said...

I certainly loved it. Our daughter would prefer it if it had dogs in too I think but apart from that she likes it.

swiss said...

not so much children's stories as the stories i was told as a child - this’ll be mine

Totalfeckineejit said...

Blakey! I'm on the Bus!
Love, Butler.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love your poem - do wish I had had time to join in - I might do so later in the week - better late than never eh?

Niamh B said...

really like your poem rachel, that book sounds like a precursor to fame, thanks for driving

Domestic Oub said...

Loved your poem!

And here, I've finally hopped on

Rachel Fox said...

Whenever you can make it, Weaver. I'll be here. And if you don't do Anne of GG I'll cry!

Thanks to the rest of you. And yes, Niamh, I do sometimes wonder if we should blame 'Ballet Shoes' for X Factor etc.


Erratic Thoughts said...

Superb poem Rachel!
It's always a delight to read your poems :)

Mine is up here

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks ET. Your comments are always a delight too!

Argent said...

I'm running late again. Mine's here. I'll be round to visit everybody as soon as poss.

Argent said...

Rachel, I think I read that boomas a kid and your poem does it great justice. I really like the light-on-its-feet language, especially the last lines.

Rachel Fox said...

Excellent typo. And thanks.

Argent said...

Heh! Meant book, of course. Note to self: read through before hitting 'post'. The recording of mine is up now in my widget on the right.