Panto season has begun. Cinderella is on at our local theatre and you might remember that my middlie is one of the dancers. She has been working long and hard to learn her dances and has attended every rehearsal. She does get to miss quite a lot of school which is a good thing in her world but not so good from my perspective, what with me being the fussy parent type who clucks too much about all the school work she is going to miss and worries about how she might fall behind and fail miserably and won’t ever be able to get a job and will turn to drink or drugs or crime and be swallowed up by a seedy underworld from whence she may never return.
Alternatively, she might live out my own personal dream and become a professional dancer. How good would that be? I can see it now – all the famous musicals. All the famous city theatres . . . Manchester, West End, Broadway. Sending us exclusive VIP tickets to her shows. Meeting the crew for the after-parties. Or maybe she will be scouted by the Royal Ballet and will perform in front of Princes and Princesses. Maybe she will dance with a famous Russian dancer from the Bolshoi Ballet. The world is there for the taking.
Anyhoo, fantasy time over. My son has also been on stage. Thrice this week he has played the cutest and best-looking donkey you could ever wish to see. His primary school put on a *school* version of the Dickens classic – A Christmas Carol and it was super. Very funny indeed. I do admire those children. Not everyone finds it easy to stand in frong of a large audience and perform. It takes a lot of guts, hard work, practise and much preparation all round and they did marvellously well.
Once I was an innkeeper in our school nativity. A bloody innkeeper! And not even the nice, kind innkeeper who gave the weary expectant Mary girl a stable for the night. No. Lucky me had to be one of the grumpy innkeepers who chased the holy couple away.
Every year how I yearned to be an angel . . . to have shiny tinsel in my hair and wear a flowing white dress and silver, glittery wings. But oh no! All the angels had to be blonde. I wouldn’t do at all. Timid little me with my unruly dark locks and my freckles? Quiet shy me with my deep frown (which wasn’t really a frown but more of a if-I-hide-behind-my-eyebrows-no-one-will-see-me look) and my mousey voice? Lordy no. I would look more like one of Satan’s little demons than a pure and glowing celestial being.
Anyhoo, as the grumpy Innkeeper, I had two lines to say. And I remember them still. I had to shout . . . you should learn to read notices then, shouldn’t you! Now go away! And in spite of being as nervous as can be, when I stepped out from behind that cardboard door, I was word-perfect. I said my two lines just the way they told me to – very loudly and very crossly. And I pointed my finger exactly how they showed me.
The audience – what did they do? They laughed their effing socks off. And I was truly mortified. Why the hell were they laughing? It wasn’t a funny bit. It was a serious part. Don’t they know anything?
I was traumatised. Maybe I should hand some of my hang-ups to those stupid, dumb parents who laughed at the wrong times and even more so to those shallow teachers who held deep and sinister, Nazi-like prejudices against dark-haired angels.
What do you think?