Tag Archives: Pocket Dragons

Last Tango In Sudbury

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A couple of weeks ago, Antonia asked what I’d prefer as a Valentines gift: a romantic weekend in Manchester (a place I’ve been wanting to revisit for years) or the red, retro, replica telephone box / display cabinet that I saw in a shop in Long Melford. I chose the telephone box, of course – not only is it a beautiful and jaw-dropping collectible piece of furniture, but it’s the perfect kooky habitatat for the remaining fifty or sixty pocket dragon ornaments I hadn’t yet managed to showcase. Anyway, as a result, we will probably be spending a significant amount of time this weekend under my duvet… with a bowl of salty popcorn / kettle chips / other random tasty vegan snack whilst tuning in to the rest of ‘Last Tango In Halifax’. That’s what we’ve been doing all week actually, and we’ve become so hooked on the show that we’ve already binge-watched two seasons in the last five days!

The BBC one comedy-drama about lost opportunities and second chances, was written by British BAFTA winning writer Sally Wainwright and was inspired by her mother, who gained a new lease of life after she married her second husband. The show follows widowed septuagenarians Alan Buttershaw (Derek Jacobi) and Celia Dawson (Anne Reid) who reconnect on facebook then rekindle a romance which started nearly sixty years before. Alan and Celia’s later-in-life relationship and their live-life-to-the-max attitude is juxtaposed to the modern day mayhem that governs the lives of their respective daughters, Gillian (Nicola Walker), a bed-hopping farmer who works part-time in a supermarket, and Caroline (Sarah Lancashire), an Oxford-educated head mistress of an elite secondary school who, unbeknownst to Celia, has become intimate with a female colleague following the breakdown of her marriage to lovecheat ex, John, the father of her two teenage sons.

To be honest, I only started watching this show because of the lesbian storyline between Caroline and Kate (Nina Sosanya): I’d read the appraisals in Diva magazine regarding Sally Wainwright’s portrayal of the relationship between the two forty-something divorcees, and I was curious to know what was so special about it – well, that and the fact that you rarely see lesbians on tv unless they’re in a prison drama or a fleeting fancy in a soap. And I wasn’t disappointed. Aside from the brilliant dialogue, I was pleased to see that neither Caroline or Kate rushed to define themselves ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ (although, interestingly enough, other characters did label them); nor did storylines include any long drawn out coming out scenes which ended in hysteria, or tortured depictions of either woman struggling to accept their sexuality. They were shown as just a normal couple.

So I’m glad that Antonia’s mother lent us the DVDs so we could watch ‘Last Tango’. But not just because of the queer-themes. No, I completely fell in love with Alan’s character, and Celia was particularly inspiring with her gutsy gung-ho adventurous streak – I could almost forgive her homophobic references and the stupid faces she pulled whenever she didn’t get her own way. But more than that, I was pleased to see elderly people being represented on TV as something other than doddering old stay-at-home windbags who criticise and complain about everything.

Now I just have to work out what to give Antonia for Valentines day. I’m thinking, perhaps, a few more shades of red, pink and purple acrylic paint. And maybe a new blank canvas. She likes to work whilst the TV is on in the background and has been manically creating recently. I just hope she doesn’t get too excited during season three and splatter the lot on my bedcovers!

The Whimsical World Of Lynsey Calderwood

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Yesterday, I almost stepped on a baby bat whilst I was out hunting dragons. Now I know that doesn’t sound like very vegan behaviour but it really wasn’t my fault: the bat was lying by the edge of the road, and it’s not the sort of thing you expect to see in broad daylight; besides, like I said, I was hunting dragons at the time.

I have been a ‘Pocket Dragon’ hunter since 1996, ever since my old school friend Elaine Blackie gifted me one for my eighteenth birthday. Pocket dragons, as their name suggests, are small enough to fit in the average pocket; they’re made of pottery and not to be confused with those pewter ‘Myth And Magic’ monstrosities, or the rather ferocious but somewhat impressive ‘Enchantica’ ones, which have recently made a mysterious appearance en masse in three of Sudbury’s charity shops despite becoming practically extinct in the late nineties.

Anyway, I fell in love: I don’t know if it was the mischievous grin or those black shiny eyes, or the fact that he was dainty enough to perch on the palm of my hand. Dragons are traditionally described as being huge, impending monstrous beasts with fangs and claws and firebreath that could roast you in a heart beat, and a tendency towards malevolent behaviour; this one, however, was called ‘Oh Goody’, and he looked the sort who was more likely to kill you with kindness.

After that, my mother bought me a second pocket dragon, and then I bought one, and then another… then I joined the pocket dragon collector’s club (the membership came free with one of the annual pieces) which came with it’s own news magazine via snail mail.

I soon learnt that there were hundreds of the wee beasties; and that the ‘Whimsical World Of Pocket Dragons’ was the brainchild of Texan sculptor, Real Musgrave, and his wife, Muff (yes, those are their actual names – he also has a brother named ‘Story’ who is a famous astronaut). Produced by ‘Collectible World Studios’ (formerly known as ‘Lilliput Lane Land Of Legend’) the company responsible for ‘Piggin Pigs’ and ‘Cherished Teddies’ and a load of other figurines, the first twenty-five pieces sculpted by Real were released in 1989 (this included two gargoyles and a teddy bear which were affectionately known as ‘pocket dragon friends’) followed by a large limited edition piece a month later and a xmas ’89 piece which was held up in production and actually didn’t make it to the shops until the new year.

I met Real once. Very briefly. I was at ‘Wetheriggs Country Pottery’ in Clifton Dykes near Penrith where the ‘National Collector’s Centre’ was and he’d come over from America to do a UK tour. I can’t remember much about it to be honest. I think I was more interested in getting one of the special tour ornaments before other fans snapped them up; that and visiting the pocket dragon museum which had rare never-been-seen-before prototypes.

Sadly, Collectible World’s marketing headquarters in Stoke On Trent were burnt down in July 2000: ten years worth of archived photos and irreplaceable artworks by Real and other prestigious artists were completely destroyed. Then, a couple of years later, there was a blaze which also destroyed the museum at Wetheriggs. I went back in 2006 but it just wasn’t the same.

Real retired shortly after this and the pocket dragons whose moulds hadn’t been broken by then retired with him, although he did make a special one-off piece in 2011.

I have approximately one-hundred-and-fifty of the wee green guys now. It’s difficult though to find them in real live outlet nowadays so my purchases tend to be from E-bay, which can be expensive. However, I have come across two pocket dragons in Sudbury in the last couple of years. And I regularly scour the charity shops just in case. That’s what I was doing when I nearly stepped on the bat… which surreptitiously took flight when a man tried to help it by scooping it up out of the way of the traffic…