Will Dean's ducks go down a bomb at Fringe?

A POET is looking to wow audiences at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his first one-man show - accompanied on stage by a blue plastic duck made in Lowestoft.

A POET is looking to wow audiences at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his first one-man show - accompanied on stage by a blue plastic duck made in Lowestoft.

Dean Parkin, who grew up at Carlton Colville and went to Sir John Leman High School, Beccles, will be performing his hour-long show, Dean's Dad's Ducks, in the Scottish capital from tonight until August 30.

The mixture of stories, poems and songs tells the story of a consignment of 30,000 ducks that were sailing across the north Pacific when their cargo vessel was bombed by a US fighter jet.

But it also draws on his own childhood, growing up in the Lowestoft area.

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Dean's father, who died in 2001, ran a plastics factory in Lowestoft called Lowplas.

It began life in the 1960s, blow-moulding the backs of TV sets; then in the 1980s it changed its name to Playmore Toys.

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Its top lines were cricket sets for the beach, pots and pans with sprayed-on smiley faces - Potty People - and ducks.

The ducks featured in Dean's show - a blue plastic one and a clear stand-in - are Playmore originals.

It is, however, more painful memories of his family background that provide much of his inspiration, his dad having left him, his mother and two sisters when he was six months old.

'He moved out to run off with his secretary, but the thing was that he didn't tell my mother he'd moved in with another woman.

'And my mother didn't tell anybody that he'd left. And we, his children, never mentioned this to any of our friends.

'It was the 70s, and there wasn't Jeremy Kyle on TV: you didn't talk about it,' he explained.

'In 1983, 13 years after my parents split up, they actually got 25th wedding anniversary presents from people who lived in the village!

'My best friend, who I was friends with from the age of six to 18, never sussed that my parents weren't together.'

Dean added: 'He (Dad) lied because he thought it would make life easier and he wouldn't hurt people; but it sets up this elaborate network of lies and it's not really healthy, is it?

'But it did give me a great imagination and make me a great liar!

'I say I use my powers for good, now, because writing uses a lot of the same skills: you have to have an element of truth, but the rest is imagination.'

Dean, who also works three days a week for the Poetry Trust at Halesworth, will be performing Dean's Dad's Ducks at the Zoo Southside cabaret bar from tonight after being chosen for Escalator East To Edinburgh, the regional initiative that helps artists to do their stuff at the fringe.

He has already had an outing at The Cut arts centre at Halesworth, generating some useful feedback from the audience, plus a personal message of congratulations on his answering machine from his old English teacher at Sir John Leman, which he left at 16.

'At last, I got a well done from Mr Hackett!' Dean reports on his blog. 'I've waited 25 years for him to give me good marks for one of my stories! My fault entirely, of course: I was a window-gazer at high school.'

For more on Dean and his show visit www.deanparkin.co.uk

Do you remember Lowplas and did you make those plastic ducks and cricket sets? If so, why not contact our Turning Back the Clock team? Email richard.wood@archant.co.uk or call 01502 525834.

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