The Mule Before Muffin
Back in 1933 Jan Bussell and his wife Ann Hogarth were touring Britain with their puppet theatre and found that their performances had become pretty slick and they therefore had enough time for an extra act as part of their puppet circus. Jan Bussell designed, or probably more accurately scribbled on a piece of paper, an idea for a kicking mule puppet to compliment his puppet circus. They then commissioned Fred Tickner, a highly respected Punch and Judy man and puppet maker, to make this kicking mule. The mule, as I understand it, came on towards the end of the set and tried to kick the clown.
After a while, although the act was pretty popular, Jan and Ann felt the act had run its course and so used the ‘kicking’ Mule rather sparingly as part of the circus. However, they were always keen to use good puppets and soon a second reincarnation was found for the mule in the ballad of ‘The Curate and the Mulberry Tree’ by Thomas Love Peacock. This as we all know now was only temporary!