Down in the stalls at London’s Adelphi Theatre, the audience are on their feet, clapping and dancing along with the cast of The Bodyguard.
get up and have a dance too?” I ask the Youngest of the Darling Daughters who is sitting next to me. A look of sheer alarm crosses her face. She reminds me that we are in the very front row, high in the Upper Circle, where just the tiniest
slip of the foot would send one of us (no names!) toppling into the auditorium, creating even more drama than we have seen on stage for the last two and a half hours.
Ah, my Darling Daughters, how they look after me! We are in London for our Jolly Girls Outing, now in its fifth year. It is their annual Christmas present from Mr B and me – an experience instead of a gift, we say. This year is even
more special because we have a new Jolly Girl joining us – Katie, the Eldest Daughter of the Eldest Daughter of the Mother and Nanna of All the Jolly Girls, in short, TEDOTEDOTMANOATJG, is sixteen years old and thereby qualifies, officially, as a Jolly
Girl. She even has a framed certificate to prove it.
I have been staying overnight with the Middle of the Darling Daughters to catch up on some Faris cuddles but,
once he has been safely handed over into Daddy Daycare this morning, we head off to catch a train and to meet the Youngest of the Darling Daughters at Waterloo. The M of the DDs buys me a cup of takeaway coffee which I will be seen, clutching tenderly,
in all the photographs we take as we wander, in the sunshine, past the London Eye, through Jubilee Gardens and across Waterloo Bridge. We negotiate lots of steps on the way. “Hold onto the rail, Mum!” they keep advising me. It’s not that
easy when one hand is taken up with a cardboard cup half full of coffee.
At Smollensky’s in The Strand we meet up with the Eldest of the Darling Daughters
and her Darling Daughter and our party of Jolly Girls is complete. I am finally persuaded to exchange my coffee cup for a glass of Prosecco. It wasn’t that difficult, when it came to it.
We all try very hard not to order the same starters and main meals as each other but inevitably we all end up with the lemon and herb chicken. This also happens every year. We check with our friendly waiter on the exact
pronunciation of “Smollensky’s” because the M of the DD’s cabbie husband has assured her it is pronounced “Smollsky’s”. Our waiter says its “Smollensky’s” but adds that, being Spanish himself,
his pronunciation is probably unreliable. This does not stop the M of the DDs crowing with delight to have been (more or less) proved right.
At the end of our
lovely meal we give in to our Usher Gene and visit the facilities, not all together but in turns. “Be careful of the steps down to the wash basins, Nanna,” my grand-daughter warns me, sweetly. She is a Jolly Girl, born and bred.
We love The Bodyguard. Beverley Knight is not appearing in this Saturday matinee and her starring role is taken by a girl from the ensemble who does a cracking job.
We jump out of our skins at the sound of sudden gun-fire, we make sure none of us miss the assassin standing in one of the boxes, pistol pointing at the star of the show, we sway along with the big numbers and try not to embarrass each other by singing
too loudly. We take photographs of ourselves, taking it in turns to be the person in the foreground who will be blessed with an unfortunate double chin when the picture is published on Facebook later.
My Boy is a bit fed up that, through an accident of birth, he cannot be classed as a Jolly Girl. Nor, we suspect, would he find our girlie choice of theatrical productions much to his taste. But we all agree that we will have
another Jolly Outing later in the year and this time Jolly Boys will be allowed.
In Prêt a Manger after the show, we grab a swift coffee before heading off
in different directions. We are still chatting, still laughing, still kidding each other. We don’t really want to say goodbye so we text each other continuously to check we are all safely aboard our respective trains. “Do you have a seat?”
they all text me, jointly and severally as the legal eagles say. Still looking out for me, my Jolly Girl bodyguards.
If you have a Jolly Girl (or two or
three) of your own, be sure to treasure them. They are worth their weight in gold.