Lesley is a puppeteer, puppet maker and owner of Puppet Planet in Clapham. She describes how she set up Puppet Planet to help do her bit for the world. Lesley also explains how her love of puppets enables her to work in the community, giving a voice to the under represented.
Film Maker: Reece Lipman
Questions & Answers
- What's your first memory of London? I came on a coach trip from Rutland to see the Tutankhamun exhibition in 1972 at the British Museum (also visited the 'Biba' shop). The buildings seemed so monumental - I resolved never to live in a city, yet alone London (I've lived here since 1983...)
- What do you miss when you're away from London? I miss the cinemas and theatres, the rivers and the parks and above all the cosmopolitan mix of cultures from all round the world.
- What's your favourite neighbourhood? My favourite neighbourhood is where I live - between Clapham Common and Battersea Park. It's the best of both worlds - up on a hill yet close to the river.
- What's your favourite building? Apart from the classic double-fronted shop 'Puppet Planet' of course, my favourite building in London is Battersea Arts Centre, which I first visited for dance rehearsals in 1979.
- What's your ideal day out in London? My ideal day out is a boat trip on the tidal Thames from Greenland Dock under all the beautiful bridges to Teddington Lock and beyond on the non-tidal Thames.
- What's your ideal night out in London? I like to go to the OneSpirit gatherings - ecstatic dance, sound baths, hugs and smiles. No drugs or alcohol needed - a natural high.
- What's your most hated building? All the prisons - Josef Beuys said "Criminality is negative creativity". I'd like to see a positive approach to prevention rather than punishment. It's a crime not to provide more support and opportunities in our society.
- What's the best view in London? I like to look out over London from Hampstead Heath, where I first heard about 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo'.
- What's your favourite open space? The River Thames, the tide turning - going back in time, looking to the future...
- What's the most interesting shop? Puppet Planet of course!
- What's your favourite place to hang out? Greenland Dock is where I like stay on a dutch barge which was originally called 'Albatros' and is now renamed 'Albert Ross' (it's said to be unlucky to change the name of a boat, so luckily it still sounds the same!)
- What's been your most memorable night out in London? I set off travelling round Europe with a friend in 1976 - on the way to the ferry we went to a 'Who' concert, then huddled into an old-fashioned red telephone box for the night as we had nowhere to stay!
- How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London? I enjoy walking along Southbank, so I'd start with a visit to Tate Modern, have a picnic on the beach by the Royal Festival Hall at low tide, then watch a film in the BFI Cinema.
- Where would you take someone visiting from out of town? We'd go to Exhibition Road for the wonderful museums, then to the Serpentine Gallery. A walk through Hyde Park and Green Park to Trafalgar Square, then take in a West End show in the evening. We'd travel on the Undergound and a double decker bus for sightseeing.
- What's the worst journey you've had to make in London? One evening in 1982 I'd been mugged by a cyclist in Dulwich and was being driven round to see if I could spot him, in a police car with 2 policemen. One of them made a pass at me - I felt trapped and vulnerable and was relieved to get out of the car, and didn't dare report him.
- What's your personal London landmark? The SGI Buddhist Centre in Brixton is a personal landmark for me as I co-hosted some of the first Buddhist meetings in Brixton on 'the frontline', Railton Road back in 1984.
- Who's your favourite fictional Londoner? William Blake's narrator in the poem 'London' from 'Songs of Innocence and Experience'. I'm always escaping those 'mind-forg'd manacles.'
- What's your favourite London film, book or documentary? The 'Mass Observation' documentary films from the 1930s inspired me to come up with the concept of 'Video Diaries' back in 1987.
- If you could travel to any time period in London, past or future, where would you go? I'd like to discover the origin of the Roman foot-shaped lamp (with the flame coming out of the toe!) now in the Museum of London. It was discovered during an archeological dig under my home which took place when the 'original burghage' building I lived in was demolished to make the Jubilee Line Underground entrance at London Bridge - despite being in an 'Area of outstanding conservation' (or 'outstanding conversation' as we liked to quip...)
- For you, who is the ultimate Londoner? Ken Livingstone epitomised London for me - the GLC women's committee funded my first film 'Behind the Scenes' inspired by International Women's Day 1983.