Date November 1992


There was a very busy programme at Masques '92 which meant that it was well past midnight when our Cavern meeting got underway. Some of the members were unable to attend, for various reasons ranging from not being there (at Northampton) to not being there (anywhere!).

We welcomed everyone but we were pleased to greet five new members (one in absentia!) including BOTH the special guests - David Greenlee (still awake and going strong when I turned in at 2am) and Ritch Brinkley (already in the arms of Morphius at midnight) Both gentlemen have some previous experience of signing: Ritch told me he had to learn to sign in three weeks for a play in which he was the husband of a deaf women. He said he was "not a nice man". David told us all that his mother had a deaf friend and that he has been signing almost all his life.

I read out the Welcome letter for those who had not received one already and Amber gave us all a copy of an article about Hearing Dogs For The Deaf and told us how valuable these are to deaf people in helping them to live a full life. David added that he was amazed just what these dogs can do to take the worry out of things that hearing people take for granted: such as whether the baby is asleep or crying, whether the phone is ringing or if someone comes to the house.

* We were all asked to save our used postage stamps and send them to Gwen & Jacqui at HN(UK) as they are worth money towards the cost of training these dogs.

Everyone had a copy of the BSL manual alphabet and we ran through it with Amber showing the left-handed sign and me showing the right-handed sign. Before the meeting ended everyone had finger-spelled their name AND had a `sign name' given to them. David already had a `sign name' which has something to do with his ability to talk the hind legs off a donkey! Ritch in his absence was given the sign for `BIG' with a promise that if he wants a different one we will change it. Other `sign names' were as follows:-

Amber James - sign for Spain (like playing castanets)
Sue Haley - a hat (mime any type of hat being put on)
Sue Evans - sign for orange (`Squidgy' is her nickname)
Sandra Deville - sign for owl (draw circles round eyes)
Adam Deville - sign `A' then `tall' (hold flat hand high)
Mary Tummon - sign for cooking (like beating a cake in a bowl)
Kris Molle - sign for Canada (letter C)
Joanna Pereira - sign for smile (draw smile with thumb across mouth)
Ruth Merry - sign like holding ski sticks * later changed to `T2'
Joyce Clarke & Jaye Ayres - I'm sorry but I can't remember - well it was nearly two o'clock by this time and I'd been up since five. Considering I didn't take any notes I think I've done very well to remember this much.

Two books were recommended : The BBC book `British Sign Language' and the `dictionary' published by the Beverley School For The Deaf `Comunication Link'. I have some films and other programmes on video and Kris has a film which she will pass on to me next month to make copies. I said I would let everyone have a list so that they can send for copies if they want them. (USA members please note I can only copy in PAL format - not NTSC - sorry!)

None of us having any business still being awake! the meeting ended in the wee small hours... Although everyone was still there when I crawled into the lift to go upstairs. No stamina - that's my trouble!

Be Well and keep those hands busy!


Date March 1993


Laura's Cavern now has 30 members aswell as our special members Ritch and David and 17 of them were at Winterfest '93. The meeting took place after the banquet on Saturday evening in the bar area outside the main function room.

Amber opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and saying how pleased we are to have so many members. She also referred to the smashing letter we have received from Ritch & Kathi Brinkley. Ritch has said that a number of `groups' in The States seem to be winding up and this is sad news. We really need to swell in numbers to show a growing support for the series and hoped-for future projects. Amber also mentioned a recent appearance on TV by Terrylene which Sue would tell us more about.

I (Sue) welcomed four new members: Marilyn Preston, Christine Smith, Lynda Morgan and Sharon Avery. We reminded ourselves of `sign names' - as you may remember I forgot some from Masques but there are two changes aswell:

Ruth Merry - new sign name = T2 (what else?? I can't tell you how many times she has seen it because it's probably twice that by now!)
The other change:
Joyce Clarke - because she wears such beautiful blouses her sign name is the sign for BLOUSE (which is difficult to describe in words so ask someone who was there when you see them!)
John Picton - the sign for Vincent (of course!)
Gill Picton - the band she wears in her hair.
Edna Wilson - wasn't there but her sign is the sign for PHOTOGRAPHY
Jaye Ayres - wasn't there but her sign is `cuddling a teddy bear' (she collects them)
New members:-
Marilyn Preston - `M' and the sign for FIRE (flat open hands, palms towards the signer, flutter fingers upwards like flames)
Sharon Avery - Her nickname is `mushroom' because she's always in the dark so her sign name is the sign for DARK (flat hands, upright, palms towards the signer `close' together; like the barriers on a level crossing)
Lynda Morgan - ZZZ as in deep sleep
Not all members have a sign name yet - we are all trying to think of appropriate ones so if you don't have one yet you'd be well advised to think of something... before we do!

As Amber mentioned earlier, Terrylene was the guest star on last weeks episode of Cagney and Lacey and I had taken a recording of this with me. Kevin had agreed to show it on Sunday morning. It was a very good part for Terrylene and showed her skill as an actress. I think it was probably made between IMPOSSIBLE SILENCE and STICKS AND STONES. I have added this episode to my list of videos available from me. (It runs for 46mins)

Copies of the BSL alphabet and of the sonnet were given to those who had not already received them. We then ran through the alphabet as a sort of `warm-up' exercise. (As before; left-handers watch Amber, right-handers watch me) We then ran through Sonnet 29 which we plan to sign at Masquerades '93. The good news is that Roy Dotrice, if he is able to be there, has agreed to read the sonnet for us while we sign. It was particularly nice to get such a positive reaction to the sonnet from new members. I have to admit that it does look well and we had some enquiring looks from the `other' function across the hall from ours. There is a videotape of a few of us signing the sonnet and I can do a copy for anyone who sends a tape and enough stamps to cover return postage. It runs for less than five minutes so if you have a space just eject your tape in the right place and I'll tack it on for you.

I brought my copy of the new BSL/English Dictionary which was launched last November by HRH The Princess Of Wales. It is a fantastic book in which the signs (photographed) which are numbered are arranged by handshape so you can translate in either direction. The English section at the back gives not only definitions but also examples of how the word might be used with the number of each sign which has that meaning. The book has 1084 pages and to try to keep it accessible has only been published in paperback. It has been very popular already - they had to reprint it in January! The price? You won't believe it but it's only 14.99 The Dictionary was passed round for members to look at and all were very impressed. (The price has risen since then to around 20)

There are also two basic sign books for beginners; the `Sign And Say' series which are available from The RNID at 3.49 each. I have order forms if anyone would like one. (For those in The USA there is a book called `American Sign Language Concise Dictionary' by Martin L A Sternberg published by Harper & Row ISBN No 0-06-080996-5 The price on my paperback copy is $5.95 USA $7.95 Canada but that may have increased since 1990.)

Ritch Brinkley and David Greenlee celebrate their birthdays on 18th & 19th March respectively so I had prepared special `Laura's Cavern' cards for them which all at the meeting signed. I added a greeting from all members who were not able to sign them personally and the cards were posted on 3 March. The message inside the cards was `Happy Birthday' spelled out in American Sign Language.

We look forward to our next meeting in Birmingham at Masquerades '93.

Be Well and keep those hands busy!


(with acknowledgement to Robert Burns)

Should all Deaf Children be forgot
And always last in line?
Should all Deaf Children be forgot
And never taught to Sign!

Nor seldom shown a Sign of Love
And often left to pine?
Alone, without a helping hand
Until the end of time!

Give me your hand my trusty friend
And here's a hand of mine
We'll free the hands of each Deaf Child
And teach them how to Sign.

We'll free the mind of each Deaf Child
Remember all the while
The light of learning in their eyes
The sunshine in their smile.

(Author unknown)

Date August 1993


But before that...
May 10 1993 saw a few of our members in Manchester for a Garnet Cavern meeting (nearly all Garnet Cavern members are also in Laura's Cavern) and as luck would have it there was a "Festival Of Signs And Music" in Manchester on that day. Eight of us went to it and saw many different forms of Sign Language used to convey stories from the Bible and Hymns and songs. There were deaf choirs there from all over the UK including one from the deaf club here in Birmingham. We had a very enjoyable afternoon and the programme and photos are in the Laura's Cavern Journal which I usually have with me at cons for people to look at. I wrote afterwards to Gaynor Turner (the organiser) to tell her how much we enjoyed it and to ask her to let me know if any more similar events are to be arranged. I only learned of the festival just before the weekend so it was not possible to let all Laura's Cavern members know about it in time for them to attend - sorry!

Masquerades '93 proved to be a very successful con for our Cavern! Our membership increased to 37. New members include Armin and Kitty and since then Jay and Fonda have joined us. Cindy Riddles has kindly agreed to take a letter to Terrylene at the Great Expectations con in Austin Texas this month which asks her to be a special member too. I will let you know her response as soon as I receive it.

On Sunday evening, when Jacqui announced that we were going to Sign the 29th Sonnet, it was great to see how many people reached for their cameras! I didn't actually see this at the time since I was busy panicking!!! but I have Joy's video to refer to. Armin delivered the sonnet beautifully for us to Sign.

Armin was very impressed with Laura's Cavern members and what we are trying to do and Kitty spoke to me in the dealers room about it for some time. She also had some of our stationery from me so hopefully she will use that to write to other people and we may get some more members!!! (Are you listening Kitty?)

The role of honour on Monday morning was brimming with Laura's Cavern members. Forgive me if I've missed anyone off the list:-

Joyce, Marilyn, Adam, Mary, Gill, Sandra, Stephanie, Joy, Amber & myself.

Between us we took something like 15 awards!! But the icing on the cake for us (Amber and me) was that our short story "Not Even The Rain" came first. Please look out for it because it is a story about Laura. (For this reason we didn't think it would have a chance of winning) We were thrilled, thrilled, thrilled!

May I take this opportunity to thank all members who sent money to me for the Kevin & Sheila fund. Altogether the Cavern sent 21 to Moonstone Cavern who organised the collection. There is a thank you letter from Sheila in this month's Journal from The UK Chamber. Whatever you may have heard, I have it in writing from Sheila that Cavern members do not have to be UK Chamber members as long as the Cavern Co-ordinator is a member (which I am).

Finally I would like to share with you some poems that were given to me at The Royal School For The Deaf in Cheadle Hulme (where I took an exam in July '93)


Stop your ears and for a moment shut all sound away...
Then think of what it means to live in silence day by day.
Think of little children who have never ever heard...
A mother's voice, the wind, the sea, the singing of a bird.
They must learn by signs and symbols; patiently they're taught...
To grasp and to interpret what is said and meant and thought...
Through the language of the lips and the moving of the hands,
Though no spoken word is heard the deaf child understands...
Thank God for their teachers, those who choose this work to do...
Knocking at the doors of silence, trying to break through.

Patience Strong


I'm trying to learn a new language
It's not very easy to do
And I need your help and assistance
So I thought I'd explain it to you

Next time you are going to speak to me
Don't turn your face away,
For only by seeing the words on your lips,
Can I understand what you say.

Talk to me more distinctly,
Not too loud and not too fast.
Don't hide behind a cup or a hand,
Or keep talking after you've passed.

When you impatiently say "Never mind",
I shrivel up inside,
For I frantically fought to hear what you said,
And you don't even know how I tried.

The tick of a clock, the song of a bird,
The sound on the roof of the rain,
Approaching footsteps, a loved-one's voice
What I'd give to hear them again.

Will you help me to remember,
Through the picture of a word,
A sound, a melody that once I loved...
And that once I also HEARD.

(Author unknown)

I don't think I can really add anything to that can I? I hope to see many of you at Masques later this year. Until then...

Be Well & keep those hands busy!


Date November 1993


MASQUES '93 weekend was altogether a very good weekend for Laura's Cavern. The con itself was particularly enjoyable, having a real `family' atmosphere among the 50 or so attendees. For us it was the first time that our Cavern meeting had appeared on the programme - Thanks to Kevin and Sheila for that - It also brought our membership to 50!

Our meeting took place on Sunday morning at 10am and we welcomed four new members then (and two more after the closing ceremony) "What do we have to do to join?" they asked me. "Just tell me you want to join!" I answered... and they did.

Present were: Sue Haley, Gill & John Picton, Sue Evans, Ann Hewitt, Maria Smith, Joyce Clarke, Marilyn Preston, Mary Tummon, Ruth Merry, Lynda Morgan, Annie Medlock and Bernadette Crowther.

I explained that I bring two Laura's Cavern folders with me to every con. One contains copies of all letters and reports etc. sent to members plus photos and some correspondence which may be of interest. The other contains cuttings, leaflets and other odds and ends about deaf issues and Sign Language which have been sent to me from Cavern members all around the world. Both these folders are available for anyone to look at who wishes to do so (rather like Ruth's photo albums! The second folder is now too heavy to take to cons abroad.) I then read out a postcard received from Angela Higgins who is on holiday in The States. She hopes to visit Griffith Park LA (tunnel and carousel) so let's hope there will be photos in due course.

Some of our members have recently enrolled on Sign Language courses:-
I have begun another Level II course (as I failed my exam earlier this year) All being well I will begin my Degree course next year.
Amber has also booked onto a Level II course to "brush up" her signing. She says that she was getting into bad habits - Well we knew that Amber!
Mary Tummon and Edna Wilson have each begun a Level I (Elementary) course. Mary says it's great fun. We wish good luck to both of them.

At this point I decided it was time we all did some work! We each introduced ourselves by spelling our names and giving our sign names if we have them. John pointed out that I wasn't wearing a hat (my sign name) and Gill wasn't wearing a headband (her sign name) and Lynda didn't sleep last night (her sign name is "zzzz" ) and Joyce, whose sign name is "blouse" was wearing a tee shirt! Thanks to John for that - at least he was taking an interest!

Sign names were given to:-
Annie Medlock - She wanted the sign for ferret but I don't know if there is one so she settled for "Mouse".
Bernadette Crowther - Such enthusiasm can only be rewarded with the sign for "excitement"
Following the Adventure Weekend when Jojo was an Elf and didn't want to part with her ears, (she went home on the train still wearing them!) her sign name has been extended from "smile" to include the elf's ears.
Sign names are still needed for Ann Hewitt, Maria Smith, Pat Bacon and Tracey Wootten. I hope to produce a full list of sign names so if I don't have yours yet let me know if you have a hobby... or peculiarity (that we can use).

After preliminary introductions we each signed where we live. Some towns have more than one sign and some signs for towns mean other things too. I told everyone how pleased we were with the response to the Sonnet at Masquerades '93. When it was announced the room began to `buzz'. We have been thinking of what we can do at Masquerades '94 and thought it would be less work for each member taking part if we sign some scenes from the series with each person taking the role of one of the characters. There are also some brief introductions which will be signed. I have lifted soundtrack from eight scenes and I gave copies of the typed script for them to each person there. The tape runs for about 45 minutes and it was thought this may be too long to hold the attention of the audience so we may need to shorten or even omit something altogether. After consultation with Amber we have decided not to include scene 5 (Nancy and Cathy) We may trim the others depending on casting. ("Balcony scene" from the Pilot has since been omitted too)

Now we realise that you have limited knowledge of sign language so this is what we plan to do... Amber and I will take the roles with lots of dialogue. The other roles will be given to whoever asks for them but we will try to cast them so that you are near to the others in your scene. eg. If John plays Vincent in scene 3 then Gill could play Mouse (although I believe she wants to play the part of Vincent and John to play Mouse!) Anyway I think you get the idea. There is one role which has only one word, one with three words and the introductions (which will be recorded by John Picton) are quite brief so there is plenty of scope for those who have limited time to learn a part....

This time your signs won't be `pasted up' like they were for the Sonnet. Amber and I will work out the signs and then with Joy's help we will make a videotape of the whole set. Anyone who wants a copy can send to me in the usual way and you can learn your lines from the tape. We hope to produce a video `phrase book' of everyday signs to help those who have been unable to enrol for a formal course. Copies will be available from me in due course.

We ran out of time then because rooms had to be vacated by 11am. Everyone (who knew) wished me good luck for later on... There was a slot for me in the entertainment programme in which I signed five songs:- Nothing Else matters by Metallica, Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad by Meat Loaf, I Saw Red by Warrent, The Story Of My Life by Neil Diamond and Two Steps Behind by Def Leppard. The reception was heartening (I was very nervous) At the closing ceremony John Picton sang his own composition Promises Of Someday and I signed that while he sang. I was even more nervous about that as I had only worked out the signs on Saturday but it helped that I wasn't the only one up there. My thanks go to John for his help and encouragement.


1) Song The First Time I Loved Forever
2) ------deleted------
3) "From TEMPTATION. Vincent has returned from the Crystal Cavern. He goes to see Mouse"
4) "From GOD BLESS THE CHILD. Catherine has brought Lena Below to meet Father"
5) ------deleted------
6) "From SIEGE. Catherine is talking with Sophie Langer"
7) "From LABYRINTHS. The Tunnel community are telling their stories to Brian"
8) "From DEAD OF WINTER. The Candle Ceremony"

Be Well & keep those hands busy!