The blank pages of my empty scrapbook gaze back at me accusingly. Why haven’t I filled them in with photographs, anecdotes, cuttings and the like? On the other hand, taking a more positive note - and I do like the
Daily Blog to shine with positivity if at all possible - maybe those pages are gazing at me invitingly, challenging me to remember and to locate precious memories to fill their waiting blankness?
The scrap-book was one of the many lovely presents I received from my family for my 70th birthday last year. It came with an agenda, if a scrap-book can be said to have an agenda. An accompanying letter, penned by the Eldest
of the Darling Daughters, explained that the thoughtful idea behind this most individual of gifts was that the scrap-book should tell the Story of the Jolly Girls, from 2009 to date. Indeed, it should go further, marking the events of future Jolly Girls Outings,
eventually becoming, my daughter suggests somewhat ambitiously, “a family heirloom.”
Ah, my Jolly Girls! I have recounted over the last five years,
via the Daily Blog, the story of our Annual Outing but for those of you who have come more recently to my Random Ramblings, I will recap. The original Jolly Girls were myself and the three Darling Daughters, the annual outing arising out of the rather prosaic
requirement to find appropriate Christmas presents for these girls of mine who have most of what they want and are well prepared to buy anything else they might desire for themselves. An experience! I cried, that was what we would give them. We would go to
the ballet - Sadler’s Wells, no less - and enjoy a Taste Of Culture, courtesy of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.
That was back in December 2009 and every
year since we have enjoyed a Jolly Outing. We have taken in three of Matthew Bourne’s ballets (adding Cinderella and The Red Shoes to our Bally Tally) wept over the fate of War Horse, sung along with Always Optimistic Annie, and been startled by the
unexpected sound effects of The Bodyguard. We also foresook theatre-land for the pleasures of Afternoon Tea in January 2015 on account of the fact that the Middle of the Darling Daughters had only recently given birth to The Twinkles and so couldn’t
be away from her littl’uns for too long.
The year of The Bodyguard, 2014, was the year that we added a new Jolly Girl to our ranks as Katie, the Eldest of
the Darling Granddaughters turned sixteen. Sweet Sixteen, I reckoned, was just about the perfect age to become a Jolly Girl. I even created a special certificate to mark her elevation to the Company of Jolly Girls. Two years later, the Second of the Darling
Granddaughters, Hazel (Bagel) joined us in Brighton for Annie, while the following year it was Eleanor’s turn, the Third of the Darling Granddaughters, making seven of us to watch The Red Shoes. Next month we will be in Woking to see Flashdance.
Two issues that may need clarification. Yes, I do sometimes feel guilty about my Jolly Boys - Our Boy and Jack, the Eldest of the Darling Grandsons - who are not able to
join us on account of not being, well, Girls. Especially as they would, if invited, undoubtedly be Extra Jolly if only to prove a point. I’m not sure they would appreciate, however, the very girly choices we make for our annual entertainment. Plus they
would have to give up on their Christmas presents of course.
Secondly, the titles. I am, according to the Middle of the Darling Daughters, the Ultimate Jolly Girl
- I have my own framed certificate to prove it. I am also known as TMANOATJG which is how I signed off my text message to my daughters from the train on my way to our very first outing. It stands for The Mother And Nanna Of All The Jolly Girls. Every other
Jolly Girl has a similar title but I will leave it to you to work them out. Should you have the time and the inclination and nothing better to do, that is.
years to come, the Twinkles - Tala and Lilia - will become Jolly Girls. I am hoping I will still be around to welcome them with official certificates, that I will still be fit enough to climb the steps to the Second Circle, that Even Greater Age will not have
taken its toll on my Inner Stores Of Jollity. Looking even further ahead there will hopefully be some Jolly Great Granddaughters - I may never know them, of course, but I treasure them in my heart already.
Maybe, just maybe, when each one of them turns sixteen her mother will sit her down, produce my scrapbook, turn its pages and say, happily:
“It’s high time - my dear, sweet, precious, jolly daughter - that I told you the Story of the Jolly Girls!”