Category Archives: Musings

Random thoughts on just about anything

Gerry Anderson Tribute

Torchy the Battery Boy

Torchy the Battery Boy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thunderbirds Creator Dies

Most puppeteers will know that during the Christmas season Gerry Anderson passed away at the age of 83, on December 26th.

Gerry, the film and television producer, created a studio that became one of the greatest puppet film organisations that was known throughout the world, and many of the series of iconic programs that were made are still being shown in many countries.

The early programmes such as ‘Torchy the Battery Boy’,‘Twizzle’ and ‘Four Feather Falls’ were typically puppet style figures. Later the series became major works based on international rescue pursuits, featuring more naturalistic characters, curious creatures, and monstrous flying craft. The puppets were often based on well known film stars. It is interesting to know that Gerry admitted that it was a mistake to make naturalistic characters.

Despite the fact that the programmes were made with puppets, he never really liked them; the only puppet that he liked, and did keep, was ‘Parker’, from ‘Thunderbirds’, his favourite series. It was the last puppet character that I created, and the time that I left the studios. Gerry’s ‘Parker’ was sold in Japan for £38,000, the highest price paid at that time for a puppet in an auction; more recently another Parker was sold for £50,000.

The Anderson studios provided many well known puppeteers years of work, making puppets and manipulating them creating them.

The creators of special effects had their own studios and were one of the most talented groups of special effects creators in the film industries, many of them continued to produce masterpieces of special effects for some of the finest major cinema films. The writers and the actors were also some of the leading film and television personalities.
Two years ago, at the last ‘Fanderson Event’, I was invited as a special guest; sadly Gerry was very ill and found it difficult to remember people. The event was extraordinary in many ways, with writers, actors, creators and other specialists involved in the films related to the creation of the various programmes, spent many hours signing books, photographs and other objects. There were remarkable extraordinary hobbyist copies of puppets and the various crafts seen in the programmes. Gerry and the other guests provided talks and interviews to packed audiences. People of all ages, young and old, travelled from many parts of the world to join the event.

It was wonderful to see so many people young and old alike that have, and are inspired by the programmes. Some of the many talented hobbyists ultimately found themselves working in the studios and special effects departments. The ‘Fanderson’ organisation and the world wide following of fans will certainly make sure that the legacy of Gerry Anderson and the team that created the films will continue into the far distant future.

John Blundall
December 2012

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Measuring Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is achieved when you feel good about something you have done. It is an intangible thing which can’t easily measured.

Children watch a Punch and Judy Show

Job satisfaction measured in smiles!

You can’t produce statistics about job satisfaction! I have always believed that being happy at work is incredibly important. I am very lucky because I really do enjoy my job. Working with children is great because they nearly always want to join in and have fun.

I was talking to a lady, just the other day, after performing a Punch and Judy Show and she kept telling me how much the kids enjoyed it. “You should have seen their faces” she told me repeatedly.

For me job satisfaction is dependent on how much the audience enjoy my shows. The more they enjoy it, the happier I am. This photo illustrates the point. I suppose I could try and measure it in smiles per minute?

How do you measure job satisfaction in your line of work?  Make a comment below to let me know.

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The Ripon Hornblower

Coat of arms associated with the City of Ripon...

Image via Wikipedia

Whilst working at Ripon, North Yorkshire I had the very great pleasure of meeting The Ripon Hornblower. Although I have been to the City of Ripon many times I must admit I was completely unaware of it’s ancient traditions.

Every night the horn is blown in the city of Ripon to set the watch. There is a little ceremony followed by an explantaion of the old customs. I was also presented with a special lucky wooden penny inscribed with the Coat of Arms of the City of Ripon.

The Ripon Hornblower

The Ripon Hornblower

Personally I think it is important to keep old traditions alive. What is your view?

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Mayor For A Minute

It was an honour to be invited by the Mayor of Richmond, Councillor Barry Heap, to visit the Town Hall and take wine with him in the Mayor’s Parlour. We had been invited as a thank you for offering to put on our Christmas Show on Xmas Eve for local children, an occasion I am really looking forward to. The entire Wood family went along ( myself, Hazel, Natasha, Katrina and Daniella ) and we took our neighbours Colin and Lorraine Vincent, Jim and Chris Phillips plus some friends, Graham and Karen Gomersall. We were treated to a tour of the Town Hall, The Mayor’s Parlour and The Council Chamber. Richmond ( North Yorkshire ) is a fascinating place with a very interesting history and Councillor Barry Heap is an expert. We all enjoyed listening to his stories of the many objects and pictures on display. We were even allowed to hold The Great Mace Of Richmond, a priceless ceremonial mace which symbolically represents the authority bestowed on the town Mayor by the Monarch.

The Great Mace Of Richmond

The Great Mace Of Richmond

Another very special treat  was to be allowed to wear the ceremonial robes worn by the Mayor whilst on official duties. This is me when I became ” Mayor For A Minute ” Sadly my moment of fame was short lived and I had to return the chain of office and regalia before I had a chance to try and exercise my authority.

Ron is Mayor for a minute!

Mayor For a Minute

I am very proud to live in Richmond and I am glad that we are able to contribute in a small way to the affairs of the community. I hope our Xmas Show will be a huge success and that we can offer our services freely at other events from time to time work commitments permitting.

Hazel and Daniella examining the Mayor of Richmond's Chain of Office

Chain of Office

How old do you think  The Great Mace Of Richmond is and can you guess how much it is worth?

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Urinals You Have Just Got To See!

Yesterday I came across some amazing urinals. You will appreciate that Hazel and I travel a lot. We are children’s entertainers and work at events large and small throughout the UK. We also do entertainment for adults including race nights, close up magic, temporary tattoos etc. In the course of our work we have doubtless visited hundreds and hundreds of public conveniences from Lands End to John O’Groats. Well, I have to admit I can’t remember any of them. The only exception to this is that we were impressed by the cleanliness of public conveniences in Germany as experienced on a recent visit to our eldest daughter Natasha who is over there at the moment working in a German school.

I am in the habit of taking photographs of interesting objects. If something catches my eye I’ll try and get a picture. So it was yesterday. I do get around a lot but I’ve never seen toilets like these before.

Unusual urinal

Unusual urinal

unusual urinal

unusual urinal

unusual urinal

unusual urinal

Unusual urinal

I really like this idea, it’s artistic, it’s unusual, it’s fun. What is your reaction?

Desert Rats, Treasure And Redcar

One of the great things about my job is that I get to travel to lots of different places and meet lots of interesting people. Today was no exception. I was performing my Pirate Puppet Show in the restaurant of Barton Grange Garden Centre near Preston. I was all set up and a very substantial audience had gathered, eager to be entertained. An elderly couple were sitting at a table close to the front, ring side seats you could say. The show began and the audience were very enthusiastic joining in at all the appropriate moments. We were really raising the roof ! I noticed that quite a few of the adults were also joining in, not least the couple I have just mentioned. We were all having  a great time.

After the show I asked the elderly gentleman if he had enjoyed himself. Very much so he said. He explained to me that his name was Treasure and that he and his wife had found it rather amusing to be sitting watching a puppet show about pirates hunting for treasure.We had a good laugh about that.

It turns out that Mr Treasure, 89 years old, from Preston, was one of the original Desert Rats. As a young man he had joined up right at the beginning of the Second World War and served as a ” tankie ” in the 7th Armoured Division, the famous Desert Rats. He had fought with them throughout the North African Campaign and then in Italy. He said he was one of the lucky ones and that many of his comrades never made it home. He told me he had experienced some terrible things and was always grateful that neither of his two sons had to go through a world war.

He then paused as if in deep thought and out of the blue said ” It’s a terrible thing about Redcar ”

Two things struck me. First, what an odd thing to suddenly come out with when we had been discussing the war . I realised that my new friend was obviously a compassionate man and he must have been thinking about the consequences of the closure of the steelworks at Redcar. Yet why should he care that a community in another part of the country is facing the devastating effects of a major employer closing down?

Second, I wondered how many other people in the country are equally concerned. It certainly bears heavily on my mind ( but I am originally from Redcar so perhaps it has deeper significance for me )

I have had a very satisfactory and enjoyable day today. I have worked hard and my shows have gone down very well. The icing on the cake was meeting Mr and Mrs Treasure. I was proud to have met a Desert Rat. I only wish I could have listened to some of the many interesting stories I’m sure he could tell. I hope I meet him again one day.

Here is what Mr Treasure had to say about my show.


How do you feel about the closure of the steelworks at Redcar? I’d be interested to hear your opinions.

Children’s Encyclopedia Britannica Problem | Help Wanted

A few weeks ago I decided to reorganise the book case in our dining room. Almost the entire bottom shelf was occupied by a beautiful set of Children’s Encyclopedia Britannica. I love books. I am the kind of person who will happily spend hours browsing in a book shop. When I find a book I really enjoy it is cherished and becomes a valued member of my collection. The trouble is the collection grows and eventually you run out of space. Drastic action is required. My kid’s are grown up now and so the poor old EB is surplus to requirements. I think we paid about £20 a book so altogether they set me back around £200. These days most children have a computer and seek information on the Internet referring to sites like Wikipedia when they are doing homework / schoolwork. Encyclopedias it seems have had there day. This is a great shame as there is a certain skill in sourcing information in books, cross referencing and note taking by hand as it were. These skills may be lost if we do it all on the key board. Perhaps this is not important?

I looked on E Bay and there are lots of people selling Children’s Encyclopedia Britannica. So what to do. I don’t want to consign them to the tip. I’d like them to be appreciated and put to good use. They are fantastic books packed full of information and knowledge with lots of photos, illustrations, diagrams and charts.

Can anyone suggest the best place for my Encyclopedias to go?

York Visit Kindles Minster Wedding Memories

A visit to York University yesterday brought back happy memories of our wedding day. Hazel and I were married in York Minster on 30th April 1988. What a brilliant wedding it was. We were so lucky. The wedding took place in the Lady Chapel and we had the full Regimental Band of the Yorkshire Volunteers playing as the guests arrived and to accompany Hazel and her Father as they made their entrance. There was a trumpet fanfare, guard of honour and hundreds of Japanese tourists all with about three cameras each ( or maybe that was the American contingent ) It was like being a celeb. I do remember it was quite a cold day. Hazel must have been freezing but she didn’t show it.

Ron and Hazel Wood, Wedding In York Minster

Our Wedding in York Minster

Has anyone been to York Minster lately? I wonder if they still have the same carpet?

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Storytelling | Are Fables Relevant Today?

Storytelling has been important to man since earliest times. In modern society traditional storytelling  where groups of people would gather and tell stories to each other round the fireside has been replaced by stories told on television, cinema and now the Internet. Some of the old tales also had morals with important lessons about behaviour and the possible consequences of certain actions. I try to incorporate little messages in the stories I use in my shows. My Pirate and Princess Puppet Show has a lovely moral about ” not taking things that don’t belong to you ” Children learn from listening to Fables but these stories were meant for adults too. Here is one I like:

The Mouse And The Frog

On an ill-fated day a mouse made the acquaintance of a frog and they set off on their travels together. The frog pretended to be very fond of the mouse and invited him to visit the pond in which he lived. To keep his companion out of harms way  the frog tied the mouse’s front foot to his own hind leg and thus they proceeded for some distance by land. When they came to the pond the frog told the mouse to trust him and be brave as he began swimming across the water. No sooner had they reached the middle of the pond than the frog suddenly plunged to the bottom, dragging the unfortunate mouse after him. Now the struggling and floundering mouse made such a commotion in the water that he managed to attract the attention of a hawk who pounced down upon the mouse and carried him away to be devoured. Since the frog was still tied to the mouse, he shared the same fate of his companion and was justly punished for his treachery.

Whoever plots the downfall of his neighbor is often betrayed by his own treachery.

Do Fables like this have any relevance today? What do you think?

Is Twitter A Complete Waste Of Time?

There is no doubt about the popularity of Facebook. Every one seems to have an account. You can connect with all of your friends, talk about what’s going on in your life, upload photos, upload videos, join groups, add applications. There is just so much you can do on Facebook. I have a wife and three daughters and we all log on to Facebook every day and usually several times a day. We all like it!

So what about Twitter. It’s so limited. All you can do is send short messages of no more than 160 characters.

Do you really want to know that someone is late for work, is thinking about their holidays or watching a DVD. This is so dull.

I am the only one in my family who regularly uses Twitter. I suspect that the four ladies in my life all think Twitter is a complete waste of time.

Why then do I Tweet?  Do I know something they don’t?  Is there a hidden secret?

I like Tweeting because it’s in the moment.You may suddenly have a profound thought that you just need to share with the world. You don’t have to wait. You can send a Tweet and broadcast it instantly.

You never know who might read your Tweets. I’m sure that most of mine are lost in Cyberspace for ever, but there again I’ve always  enjoyed  talking to myself. on the other hand there might be some one out there in some remote corner of the globe who picks up on that little gem you just cast out.

I use Twitter to follow people I find interesting. I am very interested in Web Site Design, Search Engine Optimisation and Social Media and so I look for experts in this field to follow. I look for authors of books I read and enjoyed and follow them too.

You can find a lot of experts on just about any subject you could imagine. Yes, they are often trying to sell a service or promote themselves but they will also give advice and tips for free too.

For me the verdict on Twitter is still pending. The jury is out.

Personally,I like it.

Find me on Twitter @ronwooduk

What’s your take on this subject?  I’d love to hear your views.

Is Twitter a complete waste of time?

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