|Around the World With Mr. Punch
|Vol. 8 No. 2 March 2005
The March Of Time
1945 American Presidential Election
The following archive item is reprinted from a 1945 publication: The Seventeenth Wartime Bulletin of The British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild (edited by Arthur. E. Peterson) and was contributed by Ray DaSilva. The photographs mentioned in it refer to the original newspaper article and, regrettably, were outside the scope of reproduction in the British magazine.
The Doodle Bugs
The front cover of the same newsletter showed a picture of a group of children aged 14 and under in Londons East End who under the company name of the Doodle Bugs - said, in true Hollywood style, why dont we put on the show right here? The words Punch and Judy may just be seen painted on the top of the puppet stage on the right.
The "auditorium " held about fifty at a pinch, with "gate-crashers" along the fence. Admission was a halfpenny, half of which was donated to the funds of the Red Cross. Three performances a week were given and there was a cast of seven. The Punch outfit was made out of material from the blitzed neighbourhood and was made by a boy called John Ward, the only one of the children above school age.
The photograph illustrating this article, as well as a copy of the Church monthly, from which these particulars have been taken, were kindly loaned by the Rev. J. W. Fitkin, Rector of All Hallows, Devons Row, Bow, E.3, who interested himself in the matter and to whom our thanks are due.
Golden Slapstick Award
THE Punch and Judy College of Professors recently made their own small award to founding member John Styles to mark his receipt of the MBE. The College award was in the form of a mounted certificate tastefully encircled by golden sausages, surmounted by a Golden Slapstick bearing his name. The wording on the certificate read as follows:
Lore and Disorder
IN an outbreak of seasonal goodwill The Punch and Judy Fellowship and The Punch and Judy College of Professors are pleased to announce jointly that the community of Profs has minted a new piece of traditional lore effective henceforth. They wish to let it be known that to see 2004 out with a collective and responsive raspberry to those petty minded individuals who increasingly burden the art form with restrictions, the Punch and Judy Professors of the United Kingdom declare the red stripe in the traditional red and white stripe canvas roundings of their booths to be dedicated as a perpetual symbol of the creeping red tape of bureaucracy and of Mr. Punchs eternal disrespect for those jacks-in-office responsible for it.
For the benefit of those outside the UK: 'Red Tape' is the commonly understood term to mean petty Government rules and regulations. It stems from the days when such official legal documents were parchment scrolls literally tied with red tape. The decision behind this act of symbolism stems from the current regulations that Punch Profs - and other performers find themselves encumbered with. These include the need to provide evidence of Public Liability Insurance, the need to complete Risk Assessment paperwork to comply with Health and Safety Regulations, the need for any mains electricity PA system to carry a current Portable Appliance Test certificate, the need to provide an Enhanced Criminal Record Disclosure certificate to prove eligibility for working with children and in the pipeline the requirement to perform only on appropriately licensed ground. (Non-transferable licenses to be purchased six weeks in advance of performance.) The majority of this bureaucracy has arisen since the start of the 21st Century. Punch & Judy hasnt been singled out for special treatment. Public entertainment as a whole is affected.
Scholarship and Forgery
"The authors certify as Colliers 'earliest essay in deception' a fictive account of a Punch and Judy show written for the times from Margate; the deception lies not in the essay itself but in Colliers citing it 16 years later as a factual contribution to the literature of the subject on which, however, were told he remains a standard authority. (Emphasis added, Ed.) But he could not let the truth alone. His fabrications usually brief and often scattered amidst authentic testimony or text .can be far more difficult to identify than large-scale imposture, and are more likely to corrupt or distort.'"