"There's s a fine, fine line..." sang my Hazel Bagel, there in the spotlight on stage at Basingstoke's Haymarket Theatre.
And it had been a fine, fine line, indeed, between
my getting to see her and not on a day in which everything seemed to go wrong around breakfast time. The original idea had been that Mr B and I would both be in the audience to see our granddaughter in her very last performance for youth theatre group, Bats
NextGen. I had hired a wheelchair from Shopmobility, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters had booked a wheelchair space and accompanying seat for me at the theatre, and our ever-obliging Son in Law was standing by to do the heavy work of pushing. Not only
that but a table had been booked at nearby Zizzi's for family and friends to get together between the matinee and evening performances. What could possibly go wrong?
Except that sometimes, just sometimes,
all my elaborate planning turns out to be a Step Too Far for my poor Mr B who, when it came to it, really couldn't manage to summon up the strength for the journey. I would have to go alone, he begged me, he couldn't bear it if I missed out as well.
As you know, I am one of those people who can't bear to miss out on anything. Even small things, let alone major events in the lives of my Tremendous Ten grandchildren. Had I not already had to miss out on seeing Our
Jack as a tap-dancing Sailor Henry in the University of York musical theatre company's production of "Anything Goes"? Such a very long way to travel, no one to look after Mr B overnight - one might say that anything (or anyone) might go but not me. Now it
looked as if I might miss out on Hazel as Kate Monster in Avenue Q.
An hour later, it was all sorted. I'd prepared a hasty lunch on a tray, filled a flask with coffee and our lovely neighbours were all primed
and ready to pop in during the afternoon to check all was well. I could be back home by 6.30 p.m. if I got a move on...
At the end of a trouble-free journey (I'm reckoning I deserved a break) I arrived at
the home of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters to find that I would not, after all, miss out on seeing the Rampaging Rascal and The Twinkles who would be calling round for half an hour. Half an hour is better than no time at all, don't you know? Plus Jack
was home on a flying visit to watch his sister on stage so I could catch up with him too. My last couple of letters to him have had to be hand-written given that I am experiencing Printer Related Problems - had he been able to read my truly appalling handwriting,
I queried. He said, loyally, that only a couple of words had been completely indecipherable. I hope they weren't, well, important words.
Oh, what a fun show is Avenue Q! If you haven't seen it, then think
Sesame Street with multiple messages. This was, of course, the School Version so considerably tamed down from the show you'll see in the West End. Tender plant that I am, I probably enjoyed it all the more because of that. It was also a special production
in that it was the last with this youth theatre group not only for Hazel but for several of her fellow performers, all heading off to Pastures New once their A Levels are done and dusted. I'm pretty sure none of them will end up on the British equivalent of
Avenue Q, talented lot that they are.
Rather than think of poor me sitting all alone at the matinee performance , my daughter, son in law and his mother decided, as one, to book extra tickets so we ended up
Quite Some Party. I don't think they needed much persuading, to be honest.
On stage, most of the Principals had the additional complication, besides singing and acting, of manipulating large puppets and trying
to make the audience believe in their alter egos' characters rather than their own. Thus Hazel's puppet was a hairy monster, albeit a feisty and lovable one. I never imagined a monster could make me laugh and cry but in Hazel's hands, Kate Monster did both.
There was no time for Zizzi's after the performance if I were to be home by 6.30 p.m, so I resolutely forced myself not to think about what I would be missing. In the car park, I phoned Mr B to let him know I would shortly
be on my way. Hazel took over the phone: "You'll be able to see the show because it's being filmed. Plus, when I see you next, I'll give you a Special Performance," she told him, adding, "I love you SO much!"
a fine, fine line - but I think I can safely say, we walked it rather successfully.