Creativity Found

Anna Lussenburg and Crump the Cat

May 08, 2022 Anna Lussenburg Episode 46
Creativity Found
Anna Lussenburg and Crump the Cat
Show Notes Transcript

Anna Lussenburg’s boarding school was sometimes unusual, for example when the staff purposefully put out NOT enough breakfast places for the amount of students, and while Anna wasn’t a shining star academically, she did enjoy literature, and relished being able to study the works of Shakespeare. She had a love of words, something which is apparent in the creative activity she has embraced in more recent times.

Anna’s nanny training involved a lot of observation, something that has stood her in good stead as a super nanny in Canada, and as a writer of satirical allegories commenting on the social and political issues she observes every day.

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 Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk

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Claire Waite Brown:

For this episode, I'm speaking with Anna Lussenburg, who trained as a nanny and has worked as a Super Nanny in Canada for a number of years. Nowadays, Anna uses the observational skills that plays such an important role in her work with children and parents to create characters and to comment on modern day political and social issues in a humorous way. Hi, Anna, how are you? Hi, Claire.

Unknown:

Thanks so very much for having me on your podcast. I'm looking forward to chatting with you.

Claire Waite Brown:

You're welcome. You have had a very successful career as a Supernanny which we will hear more about later. But what is the creative activity you have been enjoying and focusing on recently,

Unknown:

I have been really having a whole lot of fun with writing satirical allegories, and by satirical allegories, I mean, sort of taking what's happening in the news, both socially and politically, and having a lot of fun with it, having fun and making a comment at the same time.

Claire Waite Brown:

Brilliant. I look forward to hearing a bit more about that. Did you have a creative childhood at home and in your education?

Unknown:

Yes, I had a very creative childhood actually, I was very lucky because they didn't have screens in those days. And I think that's a huge issue. I used to turn the back of a sofa into being a horse and no, I had a great imagination. And in fact, one of my relatives was an Archdeacon of London and I remember as a little girl, apparently, he was in his regalia in the church, and it's in pools I think. And I ran up the centre aisle of St. Paul's shouting in it, there's God. And I remember my aunt after the event. I don't remember this but my mother does. Currently my aunt off to the events so their child's got a wonderful imagination. Please don't squash it. So, so that was really quite cute. But no, I had a lovely, lovely old fashioned UK childhood and the respect I lived in a little British village not far from Sherburn in Dorset. And it was lovely actually, it was really, when you think about an English village it's exactly the kind of childhood I had. I went everywhere I went under bridges and climb trees and have a lovely childhood.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, brilliant. What about your school life?

Unknown:

Well, my school life was my academic life was singularly unimpressive, or should I say that I perhaps was singularly unimpressive. When it comes to my actual academic abilities that I showed in school. I didn't actually do very well in school I didn't like Go very much I was particularly bored of by many of the studies they have on offer. I went to a public school that was very much like Hogwarts. It was an interesting education. I mean, I think they, they perhaps went too far in one direction in the respect that I think, you know, if you compare that with a lot of schools nowadays, you go from one extreme to the other. So we were doing a lot of fording rivers at seven o'clock in the morning and things designed obviously, to build resilience, we actually have a situation where they would have less room for breakfast, we have, I don't know, 450 students or something like that girls in the school, and they wouldn't put out quite 450 Breakfast spaces. So there was almost a competition to sort of get breakfast it and if you didn't arrive, you didn't get a spot. And it was, it was an unusual, you know, I wouldn't I am not sure I would, I would send my kids. Now to, to that set up. I think it was an interesting upbringing, I'll have to say that. But from an academic standpoint, I didn't really take to it. And I really got interested in things much later on in life. So I kind of was a bit of a flop I did actually do quite well in English literature. Probably the only reason I did well at that was because, you know, you do Shakespeare and Macbeth and all those other plays. I love to the words, the words really did something for me. And I really enjoyed that. You know, and I even to this day, I still remember them, pretty much. Pretty much all of it not quite but close. And that has stayed with me. It's quite interesting. Actually, at one point, my parents were looking for the right kind of school for me. And they took me to this very sort of free flowing school. It was a bit hippie ish. And I remember being, you know, quite surprised. I think my parents were quite surprised and thought, No way, there's no way we're going to send it here. My parents had a meeting with the principal of the school where they had mistress, and she came out and she gave me a poem to read while I was sitting waiting for my mom and dad, and I remember the poem, and it was Ozymandias, BIPV Shelley, King of Kings look upon my work, you see mighty and despair. You know, it was a wonderful poem. And I remember being told to look at this. And of course, I was bored and didn't really look at it. And when the headmistress gave it a, she had a bunch of questions. And I wasn't able to answer any of them, because I hadn't really even looked at it. And so I remember this sort of look of disappointment on her face, there's sort of odia What a shame you didn't use your time more wisely. And I guess the expression on her face was such that it stuck with me. And I took that poem back. And I studied it for several weeks thereafter. And it stayed with me all my life. I love that poem. It's because I think that expression she had on her face, you could have used your time so much more wisely.

Claire Waite Brown:

Interesting that that still sticks with you. It still sticks with me. Yeah. So after this, perhaps not shining? Educate. What What was the plan for after school? Was there a plan? And if there was, did it come to fruition?

Unknown:

Um, no, not really. I was at a bit of a bit of a loss watch into the what to do. I remember member being encouraged by Lady Diana, who was doing her nanny work at the time, and it was much the same. I don't know if you remember, she was working in childcare. At that point in her life, he was about 19. And I was about three or four years behind her. And I remember being influenced by her and I thought, I'll work with children. I liked children, I enjoy being around children. And so I went and did this any day, that sort of nanny course, if you were going to have a nanny, that's what you use the train that you would, you'd have somebody with that training, I enjoyed the training. It's interesting actually, because there is an aspect of the training that that I find extremely useful in my day to day life later on, which is led me to do what I do now with these satirical allegories, and that is the sort of power of observation because we were made as part of the training to do observe observations of children in all sorts of situations. So you know, a child in a bath on a walk, you know, very boring, mundane things to be quite honest. And you had to watch very carefully and you had to report absolutely everything the child did, you had to notice everything. And it seemed to me at the time to be a complete waste of time. But, of course, I probably was in that a bit at that stage leftover from school, but I did it anyway. And actually made quite a few of them up. I remember after I got good the fact that, you know, I was able to, I was able to use my imagination, I did quite well. But anyway, in terms of the in terms of the observations, when you have to look that closely, it does actually teach you a very useful, valuable skill, which I've been able to use in doing what I do because I now observe people in my work as Supernanny or the Canadian version thereof. I observe people what they're doing, how they're doing it. And that tells me an awful lot. So I'm able to get a really good idea of what's happening. And apparently just by not any watching people, but listening to exactly what what they're saying, and what the message is behind the words what the message is behind the actions.

Claire Waite Brown:

So can you explain to me what a Super Nanny is? What's the difference between the Super Nanny and a nanny? Okay,

Unknown:

the difference between Supernanny is many I started out my business, I did a lot of work in various different centres. So I worked, for instance, with children that were at risk of child abuse, and I worked with all sorts of different age groups in different sorts of settings. So I took that experience. And then I opened my business, I think in about 2004, which was, yeah, something like that. And I opened my sort of Supernanny business. And I you I know you've got a Supernanny in the UK, but Joe frost, which he has the same training that I do. So what I do is I go into families, and I actually used to do this more physically before COVID. Obviously, COVID came along and kind of disrupted that a little bit. But I would go physically into families, I would watch what was going on. And I'd follow them around with my little black book. And I would basically, and then at the end of the night, I would sit there and say, Well, you know, this is what's happening, this is what's going on. This is what's working well. And this is what isn't working. And from there, we would be able to make a plan about what to do and how to fix it. And I would go through the practicalities of, you know, how do you stop temper tantrums? And how do you deal with picky eaters, for instance, because a lot of parents end up being cafes for their children, because they're making one meal little work for one child on one meal that will work for another? And before you know it, you're making three different meals. So how do we deal with picky eaters? How do we deal with bathtime? How do we get them into bed? How do we get them to stay there all the practical aspects of bringing up children. And that's what I do is I basically now do it online. I basically sit with people go through what's happening in their day. And I don't need very long because I've been doing this so long now that that I'm able to narrow down quite fast, what is happening in a particular family. So it takes about two to three hours. And then we go through all the practicalities of how to fix that. And they get an implant and

Claire Waite Brown:

yeah, so is there an element of creativity in dealing with or rather remedying some of the situations?

Unknown:

Yes, no, you know, the thing with children, and I hate to say this, because everybody likes to feel that they're unique, but really, we're human. And so and we're a human animal, really. And when you do certain behaviours, or when you, when you act out certain behaviours, as a parent, you will get certain behaviours with your children, they will react in certain, rather predictable to be gone is wait. And so quite often have parents come to me and say, Well, you know, this has never happened to anybody else, I think. And we're an awful lot of people. So don't feel bad. Because every you know, there are so many people in this boat. And, and I think we've been affected by media in the respect that new. It's very hard for parents these days, and COVID has only made it more difficult. So I help them through and I'm somebody to talk to. And actually I've worked with quite a lot of English parents as well, I work with parents all over the world. So it's not limited to where I can go physically.

Claire Waite Brown:

That is something that has been shown and made people more aware of because of COVID, that there are some quite easy ways to reach further afield than maybe we were doing before. If that can be one of the benefits of it with plenty of negatives of it. So you've been doing this for quite a number of years. Now how and when did you start writing your satirical poems? And can you tell me a bit more about the kind of characters you've created in the situations that you write about?

Unknown:

Well, I started writing my poetry. Actually, that was a quite an interesting evolution with that I was getting at one point I thought maybe I'll just upgrade before I started my nanny business. I thought maybe I'll go to school, and I'll do teaching or I'll do something, you know. So I went and did degree my teaching degree. And that was interesting because I had to teach some history classes. This is part of the practicum you do you do the theory and the practicum. And the practical bit, was having to teach in this particular setting that I was there was sort of bored 14 year old, just like I had been in school, and this was a history class. And because I had no idea about Canadian history, you know, I really what that wasn't, wasn't really my thing. And I remember talking to the teacher and the teacher said, well teach something that you know, and I said, Well, fine. I love English history, because, you know, that's something that I had a fascination with. And so I thought, well, how do I make How do I make English history interesting, for the sort of 14 year old age group, because I find it fascinating, but I'm sure a lot of 14 year olds again that really want to learn that. So I ended up putting the life and times of Henry the Eighth as an example, to wrap. I'll give you a verse if you're interested. It gets me what I remember. It goes like this. It goes it's 1547 and I'm getting old but you must in my story before I turned cold I've had six ways to see from beginning to end a done more things than that they should really defend Catherine of Aragon was the first of the lot a little too old, the new songs in the pot. So why is the book to rip me off this down around my neck and marry me or wipe it doesn't look like a wreck anyway, it goes on. But so that was an example of how one would teach, you know, Henry the eighth's life, and I got the whole class up doing it that a lot of fun. That was a sort of the beginning of my creative, I wrote some plays that I really had a lot of fun with. And I guess over time, I've, as I watched what was going on and use my observational skills about what was happening in the world in general, with climate change with all the things that we're going through right now. COVID politicians, I started to look at what was happening across the board and make allegories, animal allegories of social and political issues. For instance, the book that I've just written and it's out now is called Crump, the cat. And, obviously, Crump, if it's Donald Trump, and and he's a lovely cat authority full of himself. And of course, it's really the sort of the rise and fall of a feline death bot. Compact, the cat is the one that's published, but I've got a whole whack of other ones, some of which you can see on YouTube, there's one called Bobo the baboon, which is details, Boris Johnson's handling of the pandemic in the UK. And it's all very nice. It's done in fun. So whether you're pro Boris Johnson, or you know, against Boris, it doesn't, it's not going to really hurt you either way. But it is it isn't a joke. And it's fun. And it's an observation.

Claire Waite Brown:

I think they work really well for being read by you, then are going to ask you to read some a little bit later. But generally, how have you taken your observation and writing the poetry? How have you then decided to take it to a next step? And publish them in the book to be reading them and putting them out there on YouTube and making audiobooks?

Unknown:

That's a good question. I think it really comes down to well, as you said, I did have some acting background. I enjoyed that as a sort of performance aspect. But in terms of of actually sort of getting this out as a published book. I didn't feel very confident when I first started doing this. The story goes that I heard this poor man, this cartoonist on the radio. It's a long story, but essentially, he was a cartoonist that had got into a bit of difficulty with another cartoonist over a Trump cartoon that had got very popular in the in the United States. And there was a question as to why this other cartoonist to this Canadian cartoonist had been fired for creating this cartoon. And they've gone and hired the man that I heard on the radio and, and he didn't actually know and so he felt sort of somewhat maligned anywhere, this entire story on this on the news in Canada, and I thought, oh, you know, here's a guy that's been is a very, very good cartoonist, and I actually looked him up. And his work was excellent. And I thought, well, you know what, I'll send some of these audio poems to this cartoon. It's because what I what these parents really need are good illustrations. And this guy was just had the most wonderful sense of humour. I mean, he really did. He had fabulous sense of humour. So I sent him some of my poems, and he came back. He said, what have you? What have you done with all these? Have you stopped them in a closet? Because they're wonderful. And I was very excited. And I mean, he's a, you know, nationally syndicated cartoonist. So I didn't think really take any notice of me at all. But he did. And I was very excited. And I said, Well, would you like to work on a book with me? And he said, Yeah, sure, that sounds like a plan. And so we worked on Crump, the cat. And he was brilliant, because he absolutely read my mind as to what I needed in terms of these allegories, and he came up and added things of his own. And his his illustrations are just marvellous. So that was a lot of fun. And he was able to do extra things, which were really, you know, bought, bought, and another aspect of my work, so that was really great.

Claire Waite Brown:

Creativity, found.co.uk is the place to go to find workshops, courses, supplies, kits, and books to help you get creative. So if you're looking for your own creativity, found experience, go have a browse to see what's on offer so far. And if you can help adults to find their new creative passion, please get in touch on social media, or through the contact details on the website. With that, from him, that approach from him and working together must have given you because you mentioned at the beginning of that, that you didn't have a great deal of confidence about putting these out there. But did that help you to feel more confident and want to continue as well with this?

Unknown:

Absolutely. I mean, it's been it has been much harder than I thought it would be not in the respect of actually finding him to work with or indeed, people's reaction to my work, I've had a lot of really positive reaction. I went, for instance, when I first started out to the birds, poetry groups, and they all just loved what I was doing. And since I've written these poems, now, the Green Party of Canada wants me to read my poems ahead of their events, which is, is very nice as well, because I have ones on climate change. And, and so that's been a really positive thing. But I did feel very much lacking in confidence when I when I started out, and his reaction and other people's reaction really helped push that forward. But we're now in a situation and this is the difficult part, of course, when you write something political, I mean, this was my first one. And I could have actually chosen to go with something that was to do with climate change. Greg and I didn't choose that one. We chose Crump. Because Crump was in office, and it had a sort of time limitation on it in terms of, you know, should we get this out now before he comes out of office? And we did. But you know, we run into issue after issue simply because we'd been banned off Google Amazon, Facebook's let the occasional one through, but really there they banned me as well, because this is deemed political. And the divisiveness in EU US politics at the moment is quite extreme. To the point where, you know, when I have put up something on Facebook, but one or two that it's sort of squeaked through the response on Facebook by a lot of us Republicans is has been well, yikes, is probably the way to put it. It was very, people were very aggressive. The Democrats, a lot of people have lost their sense of humour. They hate Trump so much, that they can't even laugh at him anymore. So that's been an interesting it's been very interesting in terms of of the US reaction, I find the reaction far better in many ways in Canada, because there's three degrees of separation. And people can actually see the funny side of of Trump rather than being so invested in how badly he did and how he really messed things up that they can't see the wood for the trees anymore.

Claire Waite Brown:

And have you been affected in so much as changing your style or changing your subject matter?

Unknown:

I think now I'm trying to find a publisher. The ones that I've got now are, let's put it this way. They don't have that aspect, the political aspect, which is always a tough sell, even though it's a lot of fun, and I got very good reviews from the book but it you know, it is a tough sell because of the huge feelings that surround Trump. The ones that I've done on climate change. I have lots of different characters I have for instance, Celeste, the chicken is about fallacy of endless growth. on a finite planet, so you've got a chicken, who is a captain of industry, chicken, and she sets up, you know, chicken coops where chickens can lay 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She's a real capitalist chicken. She's a wonderful character, because she thinks the more the more the chickens work, the biggest pile of cash she can sit on. And she's very excited by that. But she calls doesn't notice that the river that runs through the farm that she's on is getting decidedly clogged up with goo, and smells decidedly suspicious. And so of course, the animals start rebelling. And then she's she ends up in a situation where she, she says, Well, you know, progress is something that can't be stopped. If we If you won't work with me here, then I'll have to go somewhere else. And so she sort of creates an arc as in her rocket to her another planet that she can exploit without burns. Anyway, she. So these are characters that I play with that that's one. So there are lots of interesting characters, you know, and I have a lot of fun with them. I have Florence the frog, she's into green energy, and then discovers that still green energy as good as it is, and that is much better than oil. Still, we need to consume less as a message.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, it sounds like you have already a lot to say, and, and a lot more to say a lot more that's gonna keep coming out in the future. We've had a few snippets there, as you've got along in conversation, which has been lovely, but I was hoping you'd like to read a slightly longer piece from one of your poems.

Unknown:

I would love to read a bit from one of my poems. This is the political one. This is not a climate change one, but this is a political one. And this is complicated and it's actually out in book form or audiobook. Actually, I think you can get it on Amazon and a number of other places. So I'll start with this. Okay. Crump the Tomcat love to be a star of note on NBC. An orange tabby quite wrote and the owner of a large Trust Fund, a business mogul Crump succeeded, where others had only been impeded his fans the cats the rank and file late in all of his lifestyle. The kitties hung on his every word. Your stripes and just orange. That's absurd. With golden stripe, You are our hero. Show us how we too can start from zero. He has been felines in the hot new Crump was not that smart. But he had a strength that they admired. And he wasn't afraid to say you're fired. You see in a lot of cats not all was well, and Crump could feel a new groundswell of opinion, popping up here and there. That like was really quite unfair. That cats just seem to be getting better. And poor cats. Well, they didn't matter. Democracy had lost its meaning with all these fat cats intervening. If I lead, loved Crump poor cats will follow and then I will suddenly wallow in all their love and all their admiration when I achieve inauguration. His support is perd we love you. So you are genuinely SEMO you will bring back jobs and build a wall and rule instead for one and all. But other cats thought comps, Gary with your points that seemed arbitrary, prejudicial and unfair. They wind and robbed each other's skin over the boat that they were in. It's not right. They said not fair. He'll say goodbye to our healthcare. He was loud and rude and without manners and hated cats that carried banners. His star Shawn for cats, not what is could be free at last to grab those proceeds. So Krump el presidente tastes swept to power was made to leave his lofty guitar for a house a point that stood iconic to which many cats now seem demonic. Crump said I want gold so make it snappy. When I look at it, it makes me happy. I don't care about the money so make it gold raise debt to GDP nine fold. We need more walls bridges rows will get worked on here and change tax. Oh

Claire Waite Brown:

brilliant. I'm laughing away there. I've just I've just come up with another question actually listening to that, which is and I can see the characterizations, but which come first, the character or the subject matter. So that's one thing or the animal because a ginger cat is absolutely perfect for from we're talking about the duck the duck is a perfect kind of animal for the the character so So, how did the two come together in your head?

Unknown:

That's very interesting. Actually, that's a really excellent question. You got me stumped. I think he came. Yeah, I don't know. I think it came. It comes together. Really, I think the subject matter if this comes over several months, it doesn't take me several months to write. I actually write them fairly fast. But they percolate in my brain for quite some time. And I have something usually it's, it's because of something I want to say. Okay. And then I start thinking, Okay, I want to say this, this is a point I want to make, how would I make this point? And then the character starts sort of appearing.

Claire Waite Brown:

That was so lovely, and thank you, how can people connect with you and find out more about you and all your books,

Unknown:

they can connect with me, I'd love to hear from people actually. My website is probably the best place to go to to see my work. I've got links to my YouTube videos, they're all I'm going to have them done. My sons are filmmakers. So that really helps thing so I might get them to make a little film for me. But my website is, is WW dot Anna Luxenberg. That's a n n a lussenburg.com. You can find out about my work there. And by all means, please contact me. I just I would love to hear from people. I have a lot of fun. That's the bottom line. I have a lot of fun.

Claire Waite Brown:

I can tell. Brilliant. Thank you so much for speaking with me today. I know it's been super

Unknown:

well. Thank you so much, Claire. I really appreciate you inviting me on your podcast and I think he'd do such group terrific job with his podcast. So I'm, it's a pleasure to be part of it. Thank you.

Claire Waite Brown:

Thanks so much for listening to creativity found. If your podcast app has the facility, please leave a rating and review to help other people find us on Instagram and Facebook follow at creativity found podcast and on Pinterest look for at creativity found. And finally, don't forget to check out creativity found.co.uk The website connecting adults who want to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them tap into their creativity.