The Youngest of the Darling Daughters lives at a conveniently midway point from most of the rest of the family. This means that, unfortunately for her, when it comes to family get-togethers hers tends to be the obvious
Fortunately for us, she is also blessed with an ample share of the Usher Gene, which bestows on those possessing it the ability to cram anything
into whatever space is available, however inadequate. As with saucepans and cupboards, so with family members and bedrooms. Somehow or other she will manage to sleep us all in relative comfort. With the emphasis on "relative".
Hence it was that a goodly number of us met up at hers yesterday to bid farewell to 2013 and extend a warm welcome to 2014. This also afforded us the opportunity to head to South Hill Park Theatre
to watch Hazel Bagel in her last panto performance of the season. Oh, yes it did!
This was a pantomime like no other. Snow White without the dwarves, but with
a company of Rainbow Children, among them our Hazel. The children lived in a cottage with Dame Dotty and spent their days perfecting the art of telling extremely bad jokes.
There was a charmingly camp Prince in a bright pink suit and gold shoes, a glamorous Wicked Queen, a sweet Snow White and a Mirror who looked like Liberace in his heyday. There was also an audience not content to simply sit back and enjoy the show but
determined to play a full part in the proceedings.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" the Wicked Queen asked, unoriginally.
"Well it's not you," shouted a wag from the stalls, "You're ugly!"
she may have been, but the Queen certainly kept her wits about her: "Shall we let the mirror decide?" she purred, menacingy. One-nil to the Wicked Queen.
all taught "The Cleaning Song" with actions and were encouraged to pick up all our rubbish and deposit it in bins held out for that purpose by the Rainbow Children. Presumably they can't get the staff nowadays. Having collected all the ice cream wrappers and
drink cans, the cast then proceeded to throw sweets into the audience which demonstrated a certain lack of foresight in my humble opinion. Like all such audience participation songs, the Cleaning Song would run round and round in our heads relentlessly for
the next 24 hours.
After the performance we sought out the Middle of the Darling Daughters in the foyer only to find that Young Faris had joined the line-up
of the cast and was being cooed over by the Wicked Queen who turned out to be a right sweetie. Our boy beamed at everyone and accepted all the applause and compliments coming his way, for all the world as if he had been up there on the stage with Dame Dotty,
the Mirror and the Rainbow Family. Only Dame Dotty, towering over everybody in his high heels and massive headgear, slightly fazed our star-struck boy but his mum rescued him quickly and the smile was back there on his face in seconds.
Back at base we had the most chilled of New Year Eves. A delicious chilli supper, an impromptu concert put on by the four oldest grandchidren, champagne to see in the New Year
and a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Mirror, mirror on the wall - what does the future hold for us next year?
No, don't tell me, I'm happy just to wait and see.
Happy New Year, to you and yours!